What is it like to live in a place that most view just as a University town? I have called Oxford my home for more than two years, slowly learning its ways, discovering its secrets. As I am moving out to take on new challenges and adventures, I decided to head out for my last Sunday morning stroll through Oxford, taking The Sketching Project with me. What follows is a post packed with tips on hidden (some not so much) gems, photos, and of course, a sketch!
Oxford in a nutshell
I will always remember Oxford as the city where I spent the pandemic. A city where I brew my fresh coffee each morning, sitting by the window to see the sun slowly rising above misty meadows and a river. A city where people live in fancy colleges, overpriced semis ruled by landlords, and in houseboats along the canal. My city of cobbled alleyways where one can wander and feel like a tourist in awe every single day. City of farmers' markets, smelling of fresh bread, where neighbours gather on Sundays to fill up their jars with soap, rice and beans before heading out to volunteer in a community garden. City of most amazing cafés which never fail to bring you impressive amount of instant happiness for £2.1.
Sunrise by the river
As we head out, the air is crisp and clear, fresh and chilly. The world would be dead silent was it not for all the birds singing and accompanying me. Oh, and also the rowers, who apparently wake us much earlier than the birds.
Swipe to walk along the river canal with me as the sun rises.
For Christ Church!
One thing Oxford's planners have not thought through were bridges. You simply cannot cross the river east to west in south Oxford, which means that my Sunday walks (partly involuntarily) take at least an hour and a half to complete. Along the river canal, I reach the Christ Church meadows entrance. That's the Oxford view I am always most proud to share and tourists most proud to take selfies with.
That strong smell of coffee
I call them the triumvirate. They are The Society, Missing Bean, and Jericho Coffee Roasters. My cafés, my companions, my friends. I cannot imagine my Oxford life without handing over a considerable part of my salary in exchange for freshly brewed goodness. What do we feel like today, flat white or filter?
Sketch 42: Cobbled streets, grand avenues
Oxford has it all.
Date: February 2022
Location: Oxford, Magdalen Bridge
Queuing for bread that's worth it
One of my lockdown pleasures was queuing for a freshly baked sourdough. The Hamblin Bread bakery makes fresh bread from locally-grown flour and sells lots of fresh local produce, from cheese and butter to wines and juices. Well, that is a GREAT story to tell as a business, and the neighbourhood sure appreciates it
The South Oxford Farmers' Market
The SOFACOMA (notice the knowledgable locals' jargon) is a communal event all neighbourhoods should have. Friendly encounters, stalls filled with seasonal fresh veggies, a fill-your-bottle shop, a local bakery and a Jericho Coffee van make it almost too poetic and good to be true.
With red cheeks, fresh croissants for breakfast and veggies for a homemade soup, I am blissfully returning home just before 10 am. Have I offended all the people who like to sleep in on Sundays? Well, at least through this post, you can become an early bird, even if just for a couple of minutes.
Dear Oxford, I sure realise what I will be missing. Bye. For now?