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  • Maeve Waite

    Maeve Waite

    24 year old work psychologist, mental health advocate and future dachshund owner. occasional writer, baker and photo taker. posts have been featured on time to change and mental movement magazine, and I sometimes like to write all lower case.
    Oxford, UK


    This post has been a long time in the works! For someone who literally lives on the doorstep of one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the world (I'm biased, and I don't care ha), I don't take advantage of it anywhere near enough.


    Home to the oldest English speaking university in the world and the alma mater of hundreds of famous people - including actors, writers, presidents, researchers, you name it - Oxford has a rich history that influences so many who come to study or live here.
    As a local who was born and raised in Oxford, I have a slightly different perspective. I wasn't a student here, but it's my home, so I'll always have a soft spot for the city.


    After reading a big amount of posts about Oxford, I thought it'd be a good idea to write something with a bit more of an insider's take on the city, because it's not entirely about the University, you know...
                                                            

    Where to stay

    Oxford is not a cheap city. In fact, it's officially the most unaffordable city to live in in the UK (no I'm not bitter about the millionaires moving here to commute to London easily which has driven up the cost of living, not at all).
    The great thing about Oxford is that it's bang in the middle of the country (width-wise), so if you're in the South of England, you can easily go for the day if you want. Sorry northerners, it might be easier to stay the night, but you get more of the Oxford experience, hey?! 
    Not that I've ever needed to, but 2 pretty swish hotels are Malmaison Hotel, which is in the Oxford Castle complex, and is literally an old prison - but don't worry, it's fancy and nice and all that now.
    If you're famous/rich and reading this, you're probably gonna wanna stay at The Randolph Hotel right in the centre of the city. I can't comment on the rooms, but it has several drawing rooms, so you know it's gonna be of a pretty high standard.



    Another hotel further out from the city that I've heard are pretty nice is Artist Residence, out towards the market town of Witney (a name you might recognise as the constituency of our ex-PM...let's not get into that) which is actually quite a nice little day out if you're looking for something more Cotswolds-like without actually venturing that far.

    Or if like me you don't have a lot of money, there's a Travelodge on the Abingdon Road which isn't too far from the centre - you can easily get a bus taking you to the centre of town.

    I'll be honest - I don't know much about the hotels here as I've never needed to use them, so you're on your own with that one...
                                                             

    What to see/do

    Ok, this is where you start to feel it was worth reading this post. I hope. I'm gonna include both the obvious (in case it's your first time to Oxford) and the less well known spots in the city, and slightly further out, that I think are worth visiting. So, here are my picks for Oxford:
    • Radcliffe Camera - probably the most instagrammed place in the city, and you can kinda see why. After living here for nearly 22 years of my life, I don't get tired of it.
    • Christchurch College, Cathedral & Meadow - this is one of the biggest colleges at the university, and probably the most famous. The Cathedral is actually what the Great Hall in Harry Potter was modelled on, and they filmed a lot of scenes in the college corridors. The meadow is a great option for a picnic in the summer, and you can walk right down by the river if you fancy seeing some rowers. Totally up to you, it is also a nice walk too...

    • Bodleian Library - the official University library, the second biggest in the UK, one of the oldest in Europe, it's huge. Worth a quick visit just to see the architecture!
    • Punting - you can go to the Cherwell Boathouse or Magdalen Bridge (which is cheaper), but you MUST go punting in the summer, preferably with a Pimms.
    • The Bridge of Sighs - even though it's more like the Rialto Bridge in Venice, this bridge, opposite the Bodleian and down the road from the Sheldonian Theatre, actually just connects 2 parts of Hertford College. It's a big tourist spot though!
    • University Parks - though it's further out of the city than Christchurch meadow or Wellington Square Park, it's a far bigger park, and perfect for a picnic.
    • Museums: Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers, National History - The Ashmolean has a huge selection of exhibits on, often with a lot of prominent or important historical artefacts or art, it's definitely worth going to (and it's free)! Pitt Rivers and National History Museums are more focused on anthropology, archaeology, and obviously national history, with collections from the university. Check out the shrunken heads at Pitt Rivers especially!
    • The Botanic Gardens - the oldest in Europe, and so so beautiful. A great place to get away from the bustle of the city and for a bit of calm. Read my post about it here.
    • Sheldonian Theatre - where everyone goes and graduates, but it often hosts concerts and speakers, so worth checking out. Also the Gargoyles, they're something too.
    • Port Meadow - perfect for a walk just outside of the city, making you feel like you're more out in the countryside, and you can walk down by the river too. Also, you're likely to meet several cows on the way.
    • The Covered Market - full of individual cafes and boutiques, this is one of my favourite spots in the city. 
                                                             

    Places to eat

    • There are plenty of pubs throughout the city - Oxford has a very good selection - but my personal favourites are The Turf Tavern (an old haunt of Bill Clinton apparently), The King's Arms, and The Eagle and Child (apparently C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien used to meet up here). Both are popular choices, where you'll get a mix of locals and students alike. Another favourite just outside the city is The Perch, which has the nicest gardens leading down to the river.
    • To get a good brunch selection, I'd suggest The Handle Bar Cafe for your Instagram needs, Turl Street Kitchen (the menu changes every day here FYI), or Queens Lane Coffee House, which is the oldest coffee house in Europe, and a personal favourite!
    • For a coffee stop, my favourites are: The Missing Bean, which is a cute little independent cafe (but is always full of students so get there quick if you want a seat!); Georgina's in the Covered Market, which is the most adorable upstairs cafe and they do a mean hot chocolate; or Society Cafe, Oxford's closest thing to a hipster-like-London cafe, where they are coffee experts.
    • Moo Moos do the BEST milkshakes. Better than Shakeaway and all the others. They're in the Covered Market - go go go!
    • An Oxford institution is G&Ds. There are 3 branches across the city, all with slightly different names, but they do amazing ice cream, sundaes, and bagels! A must do!
    • For afternoon tea, The Randolph does a cracking selection, but it's a little pricey. Other options include The Grand Cafe, which is pretty swish; The Rose, which is a cute little cafe on the High Street, and Vaults Cafe and Garden, which is right next to the Radcliffe Camera.
    • Dinner wise, it depends what you're after. With the new addition of the Westgate, Oxford has now got a huge selection of chain restaurants, but if you want something independent, there's plenty on offer. For American food, I absolutely 100% recommend Atomic Burger on the Cowley Road, or Oxford Blue Smokehouse. A HUGE Oxford favourite is Oli's Thai, just off the Cowley Road - it's so popular, there's like a 3 month waiting list, so book in advance! For Tapas, I recommend Al Andalus on Little Clarendon Street, or Arbequina on the Cowley Road. And for something fancy/romantic, go for Gee's on the Banbury Road (it's also highly instagrammable if that's your thing too).
                                                             

    Cocktail O'Clock

    • Jericho is popular for its drinking scene. I love Raoul's Bar as they have a HUGE menu full of things you'd never try anywhere else. Angel's and The Oxford Wine Cafe are also good spots too!
    • I went to The House bar just off the High Street to celebrate my 24th birthday with friends, and really loved it! The decor is really lovely, the drinks menu is varied, and it's decently priced. Another hidden gem is the new bar called Under The Shop which is under Pint Shop on George Street. Very cute decor, and a very reasonably priced menu...
    • Somewhere you absolutely must go is The Varsity Club, and in particular, its rooftop bar. Here you can have a cocktail overlooking all the spires of Oxford, and it really is one of the best views of the city. Perfect in the summer!
                                                             


    Nearby...

    • Everyone and their mothers usually go for a trip to Blenheim Palace, which to be fair, is pretty nice. You can get passes to explore the palace and the grounds, and there are buses from the city centre. Also worth a visit to the nearby town of Woodstock too, as they have some nice pubs and boutiques.
    • If you're going as far as Blenners, you may as well go to Bladon, to see Winston Churchill's grave, particularly if you're into your history.
    • A lot of people make the trip to Bicester Village, which is a designer shopping outlet filled with all the fashion designer stores you could think of, at a fraction of the price. You can get a train there from Oxford station, and it takes about 15-20 mins.

    If you liked this post, don't forget to pin it!


    M x
    . Friday, 1 June 2018 .

    popular posts

    . Friday, 25 May 2018 .


    Recently, my anxiety has been fairly high. I’ve started a new job in a place I don’t really know, I don’t know anyone in my office, and I’ve had some massive changes to my personal life that will take a long time to adjust to.

    It’s meant that my general anxiety levels are all over the place, relating to things that don’t really make sense to me…if that makes sense. My brain is a bit all over the place, and I’m only now starting to calm down enough to think straight.

    My anxiety has been creeping in on the everyday. By that, I mean that I’ve even had anxiety to go get a glass of water. Not paralysing, crippling anxiety (most of the time), but enough that I’ve felt self-conscious about doing it, so I’ve convinced myself I don’t need it, and so I don’t go.
    It might seem completely ridiculous to a lot of people – believe me, I know that, and I feel ridiculous writing it. Even deciding where to go to lunch has been a struggle, so I’ve spent most lunchtimes in the Pret-A-Manger literally opposite my building, where I’m fairly sure the staff have begun to recognise me.

    It’s very, very easy to find yourself sticking to a comfort zone – even a temporary one – when dealing with anxiety. I know I want to socialise more in my office, but because my anxiety levels have been high for the past few weeks, I’ve tended to close myself off. Which isn’t good if you’re a remote worker.

    I can’t really describe what’s going on in my head when I shy away from certain things. I think it’s because I’m already going through a lot of change at the moment, so my brain is like, ‘STOP’ and desperately trying to find some sort of routine to keep me calm. This sounds very much like me. Even the simple things like getting some water can make me anxious, because my illness is telling me I’ll embarrass myself because I didn’t have a proper office induction and I’ll look like a moron rummaging around for mugs and the dishwasher etc. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but that’s what’s happening in my head! It’s hard to ignore when your mind is already racing more than normal. I don’t expect everyone to understand these anxieties, but when you’re alone in your mind they can become much, much bigger than they actually are.

    I’m aware that I’m getting into patterns – I don’t really want the Pret staff to recognise me, to be honest – so I’m having to force myself to do something different on the days I feel ever so slightly better. Today, I went to another cafĂ© down the road and ate on the grass on the sunshine, reading my book and listening to music. It was very nice. I also spoke – albeit briefly – to other people in my office today. They were very nice. I also went and made myself a drink without being told where anything in the kitchen was. It was fine.

    As uncomfortable as it is – and it really is – it’s helping me combat these anxious feelings. The more I’m stepping away from my comfort zone, the more confident and happy I become. Some days I definitely will want my routines, and I’m letting myself have those days. I don’t expect this to go away overnight, and slow progress is still progress. I’m making it my mission to explore more over the course of the year, and as everything in my life calms down, I’ll calm down and things won’t seem quite so unfamiliar anymore.

    M x
    . Monday, 21 May 2018 .

    When life gets you down, what do you do? See your best friend and have an amazing day out in your hometown.

    My friend Annie and I spent a Saturday in Oxford a couple of weeks back and we had the best day. We got ears pierced, drank cocktails, did a bit of retail therapy, and went to the beauuuutiful Botanic Gardens in Oxford - which are apparently, the oldest Botanic Gardens in the country.

    Sorry Cambridge.

    I've not been there since I was about 7 or so, so to go back with a pair of adult eyes was a bit of an eye-opener, to say the least. I can't believe I've taken this place for granted for so long!

    It's about a fiver to get in, and you can see some of the most incredible plants, flowers and fruit across their beautiful grounds and greenhouses.

    It's also right by the river, where - especially in the summer - you're bound to come across some punters, rowers and pedalo-ers. It's this time of time I love Oxford the most. Everyone comes outside all happy, and the city is just SUCH a nice place to explore.

    If you're going to visit Oxford, do it in the summer. It is absolutely the best.

    We spent about an hour/hour and a half there, but you can take a picnic and sit amongst the flowers if you want to make a day of it. It's really peaceful, so if you're a student, go for free and enjoy the peace.

    I won't ramble on, but will let the pictures speak for themselves. These are some of my favourite ones I've taken, so I hope you like them!