Ask a Local this week takes us to beautiful Oxford, England where we meet local Jessica Buck.
Jessica is a self confessed Disney geek & keen traveller with a passion for exploring new places and meeting new people. She has lived just outside of Oxford since she was born and loves it so much she has never left, even for university she chose to stay there. By day she may be an estate agent, but by night she is an aspiring travel blogger too, who spends alot of time exploring her hometown.
Describe your hometown of Oxford in your own words.
Oxford, often referred to as The City of Dreaming Spires, is one of the most famous cities in the world, well known for its beautiful architectural buildings but perhaps best known for its university which is made up of various colleges dating back to the 13th century. It was also the home of Lewis Carroll, famed for writing the hugely recognisable Alice in Wonderland fairytale. The Ashmolean & Pitt Rivers Museum’s are up there with the best in the country, adding to the attractions of this must-visit city. I was born in the highly reputable John Radcliffe Hospital, and am so proud to call Oxford my home city!
What’s the best thing about living there?
The little side streets filled with cafes, bars, restaurants and shops that are bustling during the daytime and that come alive when darkness hits. There are many iconic landmarks including the Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library and St Marys Church that are hidden from view of the high street so make sure you don’t miss out on these! Also, the beautiful and historic city centre has been home to many famous film and TV sets, most widely recognisable in the blockbuster Harry Potter films and the ever popular Inspector Morse series.
What your favourite time of year in Oxford for you? Why?
I love winter in Oxford, particularly because of the white frost that lights up all the trees lining the streets, but also because the Christmas Markets that take over Oxford Castle at this time of year are truly incredible. You can buy anything from homemade Christmas decorations to hot roasted chestnuts; the markets are the best thing for getting you into the festive spirit!
Is there one place visitors shouldn’t miss seeing?
The Covered Market, which is an absolute hidden gem right in the heart of the city. Don’t miss out on this- with stalls selling everything from fresh fish and home-baked cakes to beautiful handmade clothing, there really is something for everyone. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the high street by exploring this hidden cave of wonders!
What’s your favourite local dish?
Oxford blue cheese is probably the best known produce that is local to the city. First produced by The Oxford Cheese Company in 1994, the Oxford Blue was initially sold in local shops, in the colleges and in the covered market. The reputation soon spread and demand from stores in London and surrounding areas meant that production had to be increased massively. Unlike Stilton, this cheese isn’t as strong smelling and goes well with anything- a perfect lunch box supplement!
Do you have a favourite local place to eat/drink you would share with visitors?
One? I need to give more than that! For drinks I love the Thirst Bar on Park End Street which serve the most amazing cocktails! I tend to go there for my nights out, as they play all my favourite music and it’s such a cool place to hang out with friends. The Turf Tavern is also incredible, one of the best pubs in Oxford, and certainly one of the most well known. A 13th century ale house, the pub attracts thousands of visitors each year and for good reason. The atmosphere is brilliant, most noticeably it’s a hit with the uni students, offering a brilliant drinking experience as well as serving traditional pub food. Restaurant wise you can’t go wrong with Jamie’s Italian on George Street which is just a few doors down from the New Theatre (a great place to go for an afternoon or evening of entertainment!) I also love Bella Italia and Ask on the same street, both of which serve excellent Italian food at good prices. For something a little bit different, head down to Jericho for a wander around the small intimate boutique eateries and find somewhere unique to spend the evening.
How about a favourite local coffee/tea shop?
Valerie’s Patisserie located on the high street is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat whilst your exploring the city. Serving lots of delicious cakes and puddings, along with freshly made soup and sandwiches, there really is something for everyone!
What three local words every visitor should know?
Well given we speak English over here I’m gonna go all out and say “The Radcliffe Camera.” Yes those are my three little words because this iconic building situated in the heart of Oxford should definitely NOT to be missed. After building began in the 1700s, the camera was inherited by Dr John Radcliffe (the royal physician) and was home to a stunning library housing around 600,000 books. Today it is used in connection with the beautiful Bodleian Library but is sadly not open to the public so must be marvelled at from the outside only.
Why should someone visit your city?
If you want to be immersed in history, culture and beauty then a visit to Oxford definitely needs to be on your bucket list! With so much to see and do you could easily spend up to a week here; whiling away the hours getting lost in the side streets, taking long walks along the river, or exploring all the well known attractions and discovering all the hip bars, restaurants and clubs of a night time. Oxford really does offer something for everyone of all ages and you will never be short of something to do!
What advice would you give someone visiting your city?
Plan your days as much as you can, the Oxford sightseeing buses are a great way to get round the city and to see all the famous landmarks. I’d also suggest booking excursions to surrounding attractions in Oxfordshire, such as the wonderful Blenheim Palace (the birthplace of Winston Churchill) and a visit to the pretty Cotswold town of Burford is also a must. In terms of accommodation, city centre hotels tend to be quite expensive but if you want to be in the middle of everything and don’t want to get taxis then it’s a good way of exploring the city on foot. Otherwise there are plenty of good hotels and B&B’s in the surrounding areas with good access links to Oxford.
I’ve spent only one day in Oxford, I think it’s time to revisit! How about you?
Jessica’s given some great insight into her hometown. She has her very own travel blog, Journeys with Jessica, which gives her latest adventures throughout the year including “The day I became a tourist in my home city” where you can read more on her happily exploring Oxford.
Until my next Ask a Local…Happy Travels!