The Oxford Diaries

Post date: Friday 9 May 2014

For the past three days, me and Eloise have been up in Oxford, visiting friends at university, seeing the sights and soaking up the Oxford lifestyle. Being there felt like being a little bubble of quaint streets, grand buildings, lovely people and good food; what more could you ask for?
Before we left, I was a little apprehensive about immersing myself in to student life seeing as the whole reason why I took a gap year was because I simply wasn't ready to be a student. However, it's safe to say that the Oxford experience is slightly different to your run of the mill university lifestyle. Don't get me wrong though; if there's one thing I learnt from my visit, it's that the majority of students there don't live up to the "Oxford stereotype". I didn't meet one single person whose family are friends with the Prime Minister, or who owns a Bentley, or has partied with Spencer Matthews. Of course, I heard stories from people who had spoken to someone who knew someone from a different college whose brother's girlfriend's sister had done those things, but I guess that's ok.

We started our trip with a visit to Frevd, a converted church that now serves cocktails and coffees whilst retaining most of its original features. I fell in love with the artwork hanging under the stained glass windows, something about the juxtaposition of the two gave the place a pretty edgy vibe.
Seeing as we were on such a tight schedule, we had our cocktails pretty early, meaning we were the only customers at the bar and we couldn't quite get the whole Frevd's experience; as soon as I realised how tasty my Perfect Pimms was however, it didn't seem to matter that we were the only people in there.

After having a little wander round the town centre, and spending far too long getting ready, we headed down to the dining hall of St Hughes college for a formal dinner. They have these once a week, and they're basically just slightly posher meal than normal, that gets served to you by waiters. You also have to stand up when the High Table arrives and leaves, and there's a whole load of knives and forks to use for different courses. It was unlike any dinner I've been to before; but having to act like I know why I need three knives at dinner time, and like I care about a load of people sat at a "High Table", was certainly worth it when the food is so darn tasty. The starter was Niçoise Salad, followed by creamy mash with vegetable ratatouille and some unidentified vegetarian thing placed on top (the meat option was belly of pork, which I'm not a fan of). The dessert really stole the show though; a beautifully moist and creamy Tiramisu sat smugly in a glass bowl in front of each of us. 

It's safe to say this was all polished off in a timely fashion, before Charis uttered the words "Can you take Kathryn and Eloise to the croquet lawn? I need to book a punt." At this point, we were ushered off to the lawn by her housemates and fumbled our way through a rather unsuccessful game of croquet. But holding a mallet and whacking a ball whilst in a full-length dress and heels was pretty liberating. 

The next morning, we arose bright and early to take advantage of the punt Charis had previously booked. When I imagined myself punting, I envisioned a sunny day; a gentle breeze would help us glide along the river whilst I relaxed with a book and snapped a few photos on each of my cameras. Of course, the day was overcast and the winds were so strong we were blown in to the riverbank several times, before we almost committed a duckling massacre and decided to call it a day. Needless to say, I was all too scared to get out my pride and joy and start taking photos incase we capsized, so these will have to do...

Once we were safely back on dry land, we made a pit stop for lunch (lunch in the hall was leftovers from formal, so it was second helpings of Tiramisu all round) before heading off to check out some of the other colleges. St Hughes and Keble (photographed below), are less Hogwarts-like than some of the others, and instead look like elite boarding schools; I think I prefer them to the others as they're still grand whilst maintaining the feeling of being a school, as opposed to  a castle. 

Keble has a pretty spectacular chapel that we wandered around, totally in awe of the gorgeous architecture and detailed decor.

Next on our list was the Pitt Rivers Museum. The museum houses the archaeological and anthropological collections of the University, including a lot of skulls and shrunken heads. There's also some beautiful jewellery, a real totem pole, a mummy and whole display on Native American clothing. 

Once we felt fully educated on all things gruesome, we headed over to New College. This is an example of one of the more castle-like colleges, and actually home to a courtyard where the infamous "Made-Eye Moody turns Malfoy into a ferret" scene was filmed for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Of course, I was very excited by this and, looking a little too much like a tourist, posed for a picture on the exact spot Malfoy transformed in to a ball of white fluff.

We paid a visit to a old-fashioned sweet shop; the shelves were piled high with jars of bonbons and fudge, and the walls were adorned with candy canes and bizarre slabs of chocolate. We spent a good twenty minutes ogling all the treats, before leaving with bags full of pick 'n' mix.

Photos with funny street signs are obligatory...

After a full day of exploration, we headed out to one of the clubs that is frequented by students. There was copious amounts of wine and cheesy pop music which made for a rather fun night; however given that none of us got copious amounts of sleep, it didn't make for a very fun morning. Charis guided us to a cute little café where we picked up some brunch. In our delirious state, me and Eloise weren't sure what to go for, so we decided to split some fries and a Millionaire's Shortbread, along with some freshly squeezed OJ. The others got traditional breakfasts and sausage and goat's cheese toasties.

We spent the afternoon in a pub, in which I greatly appreciated the garden decor. I approve of anywhere that has a collection of vintage signs, and I'm not sure why.

As the evening rolled round, we packed up our suitcases and said our goodbyes. However before we caught our train home, we stopped by University College to have a formal dinner with our friend Chris. This one consisted of a goat's cheese tartlet, followed by chicken and veg, and a Bakewell slice. It wasn't quite as impressive as the St Hughes food, but still better than mum's cooking!

All in all, I had a lovely mini-break and will definitely be returning soon to explore more colleges, pubs and cafés; thanks for having me Oxford!
KJ xo

P.S. Voting closes soon for We-Heart-Fashion's guest blogger competition - I would appreciate it hugely if you could follow this link and vote for me! If I win I'll be posting hair tutorials on their blog for a month, so be sure to check them out!
2 people left notes on The Oxford Diaries
  1. You are so lucky to live in Britain. I've never been there myself, but what I see from other people's beautiful pictures, such as your own, I fall in over and over again. And Oxford sure does sound like the place you'll meet a lot of those people, but it's great you met genuine people haha. Even if you did hear stories.

    Beautiful post and lovely read.