Oxford is one of the UK’s most popular tourist cities after London for a reason. It is seriously beautiful there and I wanted to share some of my photographs with you.
During the half term holidays I was desperate to make the most of my time off and I scoured Groupon and Wowcher for a cheap weekend away deal which wouldn’t be too far from home. I found a great deal on Wowcher which was a hotel, dinner and spa break deal for two nights just outside of Oxford. I have been to Oxford before but it was many years ago so I thought this was a great opportunity to explore the famous University city again and combine it with a quiet, relaxing weekend away from London.
A word about the hotel – the Bignall Park Hotel. A perfectly lovely and comfortable hotel in an excellent location for exploring both Oxford and Bicester Village. We weren’t expecting anything amazing as these deals never are but it was great for what we wanted. The food was really good quality too.
When in a city as beautiful as Oxford it is only right to spend several hours wandering around looking at the beautiful architecture and taking pretty pictures of it. We took the decision to be frugal and not take a bus or person tour but everything is so central it is easy to get round and see all the colleges and university buildings on your own. I love how they are all nestled throughout the city and the students have the total run of the place! The whole city centre has got a really cool, studenty vibe which I really liked.
Other things worth doing while you are there? Well, I’d recommend the covered market in the city centre for food, coffee or a bit of Christmas shopping. It’s full of unique shops and crafty stalls selling beautiful gifts. Of course, the city is full of ‘University Memorabilia’ shops, which ones are legit I’m not sure but you can get some really nice hoodies and mugs with ‘University of Oxford’ emblazoned on the front. My main tips regarding planning a trip to Oxford would be; do not drive! We were planning to but were advised by our hotel to use the local park and ride. It’s super convenient, costs a few pounds and removes infinite stress of trying to finding a parking space and then paying £5per hour to stay there.
It really is a stunning city full of culture and history, and is an important city which defines the UK’s image in a big way. If you haven’t been I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
Have you been to Oxford?
This weekend we went to visit a friend in the cute seaside town on Hastings. It wasn’t really a weekend away, just a day trip but we had such a lovely time I thought I would write a post about what we did.
Hastings is very beautiful and full of old buildings and English seaside charm. We braced the August wind (it was freezing) and spent the afternoon down by the seafront, exploring the pier and admiring the brave surfers! The sea front has all the usual; arcades, stalls selling ice teams and souvenirs, children’s rides as of course fish and chip shops. However, it’s one of the prettiest and cleanest British seasides I’ve ever seen! And I’ve been to quite a few.
I was particularly taken with George Street, an old street full of vintage cafes, shabby chic boutiques and cute arty places, it’s definitely somewhere I would like to explore some more.
We weren’t really feeling like fish and chips (trying to eat clean!) so we stopped at hipster pub The Crown for some lunch. I was soooo impressed with their gourmet pub food and had probably the best bruschetta I’ve ever had, here or abroad! They also stock local beers and drinks and use local ingredients which I like.
A proper old, English pub – just how I like them.
Hastings is definitely worth a visit and it would have been even better had it been a sunny day. It’s a lovely seaside town which has enough going on but doesn’t seem to have been fully ‘discovered’ and overrun by city people seeking the beach on their weekends, like Brighton and Bournemouth have. The beach is shingle but that’s never stopped us Brits! Still good on a hot day for sunbathing, arcades, icecream and even a dip in the Atlantic (for the brave only)!!
For Paul’s birthday I wanted to spend the day in London seeing all the ‘sights’ because although we live here, we haven’t really done the touristy things! I thought about taking an open top bus tour but it’s quite pricey and since I had already spent a fair amount on his present (dinner at the Shard – read it here) I decided to DIY this part of the day!
So, with a quintessentially English M&S picnic in our basket we set off on our own ‘walking tour’ of the sights of Royal London.
We had a lovely day for it and saw Buckingham Palace, the Mall and St James Park. I love the royals and was so blown away by the patriotism of it all. It was close to the Queens 90th birthday when we went so we were lucky to see some of the Beef-eaters all dressed up.
The walk was 3 1/2 hours and I had planned to walk through St James Park, Green Park and Hyde Park. We stopped at the serpentine in Hyde Park to eat our lovely picnic and watched the boaters go round and round. I couldn’t believe it when the Red Arrows flew over for her maj – how very British while we were eating our chocolate covered strawberries!
We spent the afternoon relaxing in the parks and went to look at the Royal Albert Hall. We couldn’t believe it but we actually saw Prince George on his way back to the palace! He was leaning out the window of a vintage black car, waving at everyone! So cute! Unfortunately he went by too quickly to get a picture.
By the time 5 o clock came around it was time to get changed and head off for our evening at the Shard, but we had a lovely day exploring our city and seeing the sights that make it so famous all over the world.
Paul and I enjoy making the most of our weekends. We both have busy lives, juggling degrees, jobs (several in my case), social lives and all the rest, but we try and keep all this confined to the week as much as possible so we can really soend some proper time together at the weekend. And hopefully get away somewhere. Paul’s parents live in the New Forest which is a beautiful part of the world, so we are lucky enough to have a seaside place to visit easily and see family at the same time.
I’m not going to lie, the drive is not fun. But equally the train journey costs and absolute fortune so it is much more economical to drive. WARNING: if you are behind the wheel – the horses roam free down there. And I mean actually free. No owners, they rule the road, and if they want to stand in the middle of a dual carriage way you just have to let them carry on. 10 mph is pretty much your limit. For a Londoner, it’s a shock! However, totally worth it.
During our most recent visit spring was definitely in the air and on the Sunday morning the sun was shining so we decided to have a go at a popular local activity in Mudeford: crabbing!
Basically, you put some fish in a bag, put the bag on a line, dangle it in the water for a few minutes and they pull it up and it’s usually got a few crabs clinging onto it! You can collect them in a bucket and then (of course) release them when you’ve finished.
It’s actually really good fun and I loved it! I would advise against trying to pick one up as I did though as they do in fact have claws and are not afraid to use them!!!
At any rate I would defiantly recommend taking a trip down to that part of the world whether you are keen on crustaceans or not. It’s a lovely way to spend a sunny British weekend and the scenery is pretty spectacular. And you will definately see a horse or two.
Visit the New Forest.