In case you hadn’t figured it out by now, the entire city of Oxford is my favorite place – the place I want to get back to, all the time. But certain corners of it are particularly dear to me, and during my week in Oxford, I was able to visit several of them.
North Parade Avenue (above) is just a step from the house where I was staying. It contains a couple of pubs, a creperie, a small convenience store (run by two friendly Middle Eastern men), and On the Hoof – my favorite sandwich shop in the world.
Debbie, the owner, has run the shop for 17 years, and she remembers hundreds of students who have passed through. The shop’s cheery camaraderie and its sandwiches (my favorites include the Sexy Brazilian, Tom’s Le Club and a bacon-and-egg baguette), are equally wonderful.
A couple of blocks away, University Parks offers walking trails, velvety green lawns (for playing cricket or football or tossing a Frisbee), a few ducks, and many beautiful trees.
On my last morning in Oxford, I took a long walk in the Parks with Laura and her family, plus Jacque and baby Matilda. We strolled through the dappled sunshine and talked of “cabbages and kings.” It was delightful.
The center of Oxford is full of beautiful colleges, but Radcliffe Square is the heart of it all.
Surrounded on all four sides by university buildings, this cobblestoned square is full of enchantment.
I made it a point to pass through as often as possible.
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin stands on the south side of Radcliffe Square, tall and proud. I’ve climbed its tower many times, but I always love to climb it again and take in the four views of the city, spread at my feet.
Laura was my companion that day – it was her first climb.
I can’t visit Oxford without a browse in Blackwell’s, so Jacque and I popped in one afternoon.
It’s a wooden postcard and it is just perfect. I had to bring it home with me.
Down Queen’s Lane, just down from Radcliffe Square, sits Queen’s Lane Coffee House, which serves a delectable cream tea.
I came here on a Sunday afternoon for some tea and solitude, sitting at my favorite table in the front window, with its view down the High Street. I sipped tea and scribbled in my journal, and savored every last bite of my scones with jam and clotted cream.
For my last meal in Oxford (for now), we girls (Jacque, Laura and their daughters) headed to the Jericho Cafe. They serve yummy soups, sandwiches and heartier dishes, though eight-year-old Molly was content with a basket of French fries.
After lunch, Laura had to go teach a class, but Jacque and I took the girls to another favorite spot: G&D’s.
I couldn’t leave without a scoop of ice cream from this Oxford institution (I’d already had a bagel sandwich, earlier in the week). My Dime Bar Crunch was delectable. (Molly, who got the same flavor, agreed.)
“When are you going to go back again?” a friend asked, soon after I got home. My answer?
“As soon as possible.”