We decided to spend the day after R's birthday in Oxford. It was the loveliest sunny day and it felt for the first time all year like we were finally seeing the back of winter.
I have written before (
) about what a special place Oxford is for R and I. It is the place where we met and fell in love and so it holds lots of memories for both of us. We love going back and revisiting all the places we used to go and discovering new places that have popped up since we left. But going back is a bit painful too, in a strange sort of way. We both feel it, whenever we're there. Something to do with never being able to re-capture the past I think, and a rose-tinted yearning for simpler times. Anyone else feel like that about places they once lived and loved?
This time we parked up in North Oxford and got the bus into town. We got off on Banbury road and wandered along North Parade Avenue, a very pretty avenue of shops and restaurants which now hosts a wonderful
selling all sorts of delicious foodstuffs. We also stumbled across the
, a beautiful little shop stacked to the rafters with balls of wool and yarn, needles and books. It also hosts workshops and there was a crochet workshop taking place when we visited. R basically had to drag me out of there.
We stopped to gaze at the very many pretty houses that we passed and had our usual conversation about whether we should move back to Oxford.
Next we headed to Jericho which is my favourite area of Oxford and which has become even lovelier than when we were last there. There were lots of new shops and restaurants and it was bustling with people mooching around on a sunny Saturday morning. Our favourite cocktail bar (can you tell why?!) had also had a facelift!
We stopped for coffee and a cake at
towards the end of Walton Street which I had heard good things about. Oh my is all I can say. Probably the best piece of cake I have eaten in a coffee shop in the last 10 years.
Loooook at them!!!
We shared a piece of matcha and rhubarb which was DIVINE. The cafe has been open since November 2015 and all the cakes are homemade by the owner, Emily. They also have a sweet little garden out back with tables. If only we lived round the corner!
Another exciting discovery was this beautiful pottery
owned by Katie Coston, a potter who makes her work in her studio below the shop and sells it upstairs. I loved the cup wall!
We also met her assistant kitty, Lucie Maud, who was taking a break for a little sunbathe in one of the bowls. Obviously that was what it was made for, right?
We cut through Little Clarendon Street onto Wellington Square and wandered along St Johns street with its beautiful Georgian houses. I had a peek into the window of my old seminar rooms at the Italian faculty.
I loved these little bunches of brightness popping out of the gloom! We also discovered that William Turner (of Oxford) used to live on St John's street.
And just off St John's street is one of the prettiest (if not, the prettiest) streets in Oxford - Beaumont Buildings - a row of petite red brick cottages, all immaculately kept with flowers and bikes out front and brightly coloured doors.
There's just something about red brick and peeling paintwork, don't you think? (just me?)
Oh and ivy of course.
We stopped at Gloucester Green flea market for a spot of rummaging. So much better than when we lived there! I picked up a vintage wool cardy for £5 which I have worn constantly since.
we strolled through the centre and into the covered market which is always on the list when we're in town.
I love this flower shop in the market. It always has seasonal, British blooms and bulbs. And it's where my friends and I would always go to buy our carnations before exams.
Then out of the market onto the High Street and down past St Mary the Virgin Church with its magnolia just coming into bloom.
And up Catte street past the excellent
, and into Radcliffe Square.
Place of books and bicycles and trees in bloom and soft yellow stone. And lots and lots of memories, some good, some bad, all wrapped up in that short and fleeting period that seemed to last forever at the time but now feels like a brief moment.
And just to top off the nostalgia-overload, we stopped in at our old college to have a nosy and see what had changed.
We were out of term time, so everything was very quiet and calm.
We went and had a look at my old room window (the little open one) and wondered who was living there now. I hope they're looking after that little stuffy attic room with sloping floors and uncomfortable single bed!
After all that reminiscing we were hungry again so we headed to the
for afternoon tea and a doze next to the fire before heading back to real life. We declared R's birthday well and truly celebrated.