Posts Tagged ‘G&D’s’

radcliffe camera st mary's tower oxford

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 oxford

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.


on the hoof interior oxford

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.

university parks oxford

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.

jacque laura ja uni parks

The center of Oxford is full of beautiful colleges, but Radcliffe Square is the heart of it all.

katie radcliffe camera oxford

Surrounded on all four sides by university buildings, this cobblestoned square is full of enchantment.

radcliffe square dusk oxford

I made it a point to pass through as often as possible.

cobblestones oxford silver flats

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.

view st marys church oxford west side

Laura was my companion that day – it was her first climb.

laura st mary's tower oxford

I can’t visit Oxford without a browse in Blackwell’s, so Jacque and I popped in one afternoon.

blackwells bookshop oxford

I came away with three books: a delightful YA mystery, a grown-up mystery set in Cambridge, and a Tolkien Christmas book that I’m saving for December. I also found this gem:

oxford calling postcard phone box

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.

queens lane cream tea oxford

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.

jericho cafe sign oxford

After lunch, Laura had to go teach a class, but Jacque and I took the girls to another favorite spot: G&D’s.

katie ice cream g&d's oxford

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.)

girls ice cream g&d's

“When are you going to go back again?” a friend asked, soon after I got home. My answer?

bridge of sighs twilight oxford

“As soon as possible.”

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(Interior of the Jericho Cafe, taken Aug. 2009)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Oxford lately (really, when do I not?), as I’ve reread some journals from 2007-08. Most of my journal entries include place-names in their headings – I like to note where I am when I’m writing, particularly if (as so often in Oxford) it was somewhere inspiring.

Many of those journal entries were written at Oxford cafes – my favourite haunts for drinking tea and scribbling. There’s a pub crawl poster available at Blackwells Bookshop in Oxford, and I always wished I could design a “cafe crawl” poster and colour it in as I drank tea and ate scones in different cafes. So here, in no particular order except the first few, are the places I’d put on my cafe crawl poster:

1. Queens Lane Coffee House – reputedly the oldest cafe in Oxford, though it vies for that title with the Grand Cafe, across the street. Anyway, their scones are always warm; their tea is delicious and so is their hot cocoa; and it was a perfect halfway stop between North Oxford and Cowley (my two homes), if I needed it. And they hung snowflakes made of blue lights in the windows at Christmas.

2. The Jericho Cafe. This place is heaven – wood floors, red-and-gold walls, cozy tables, homemade flapjacks (a sweet oaty cake) with berries in them. I’ve spent many an afternoon here, with Jacque or Moose or just by myself, writing and drinking tea, and watching the world go by out the plate-glass windows. It’s on Walton Street in the heart of Jericho, in northwest Oxford just a step from the ACU houses.

3. On the Hoof, home of the best sandwiches I’ve EVER had. The Tom’s Le Club is my fave – Cajun spicy chicken, cheese, tomato and bacon – and the Sexy Brazilian, chicken tikka masala with cheese and tomato, is also famous. (My friend Cole even has his own namesake sandwich now.) They also serve pastries and breakfast in the morning, and tea and hot drinks any time of day. The staff are lovely and the food is delicious – and it’s just down the road from ACU-Oxford.

4. G&D’s. This is a local Oxford chain – there are three locations now, and each is quirky and charming in its own right. They all feature stuffed cows (and cow figurines, and various cow items), homemade ice cream in both classic and unusual flavours, and a closing time of midnight – so nice if you’re feeling restless in the evening and don’t want to go to the pub. (Their bagel sandwiches and pizza bagels are also supremely delicious.)

5. Gastro’s Deli – another Jericho treasure. It’s tiny, but you can sit out on the sidewalk and people-watch, and their fresh apple cake is delectable, as is a cup of hot soup if it’s chilly out.

6. Chez Gaston – on North Parade Avenue, literally a block from the ACU houses. They serve fresh mint tea in tall glasses stuffed with real mint leaves, and their crepes are magnifique. Plus, if you sit there long enough you’re sure to hear a Frank Sinatra song.

7. Caffe Nero is the Blackwells bookshop cafe, and there’s also a freestanding one on the High Street. I love to grab a few books from the stacks in Blackwells, then go to the cafe and read for a while. It’s also one of just a few places where you can find chai lattes in the UK.

8. Cafe Puccino, at the entrance to the Covered Market. Some of the best tomato soup I’ve ever had, served with warm ciabatta bread, and the option of sitting inside or out.

9. Brothers in the Covered Market has wonderful sandwiches and delicious hot cocoa. My friend Nicky and I nearly always met up here when we met for lunch. It’s warm and cozy on a cold winter day.

10. Starbucks in Headington, in far east Oxford, became one of my haunts because my Lizzie worked there. I’d rather support a local independent with my money, frankly, but I’d go see Lizzie sometimes to make her smile, and sit in a soft green chair and drink a peppermint hot chocolate.

11. The News Cafe on Ship Street is quiet and pleasant – its walls are hung with black-and-white photographs, and their scones are good.

12. The Nosebag on St. Michael’s Street has wonderful soup, and it’s up a flight of stairs, so you feel all cozy tucked under the eaves.

13. QI is short for Quite Interesting, and it used to be a combo bookshop/cafe. They’ve closed the bookshop part, sadly, but you can still get lovely ginger or lemon cake.

14. Combibos Coffee is on Gloucester Green, where they have the open market – which makes it the perfect spot for people-watching. And, oh blessed day, they serve chai.

(Here’s a very intellectual G&D’s cow. Isn’t he adorable?)

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