Tag Archives: Oxford

Congratulations, Colin Cook!

ColinCook Complete with regalia, Colin Cook, an Osney Councillor, was elected Lord Mayor of Oxford on the 15th of June, according to local flysheet the Jericho and Osney Rose.

However, according to the Oxford Mail, he was elected Mayor on the 15th of May.

Anyway, Colin and Lady Mayoress Helen Cook will “preside over Oxford ceremonies” in his full regalia.

We’d like to invite them to the downing/painting of the Rusty Pole on Mill Street, still sadly unpainted despite the best efforts of Nicola Westwood MP as was, and if you’d like to join her and him in their full regalia, feel free to drop them an email here  !

We’re looking forwards to it, not backwards!  The picture in the Rose is not the most flattering of Colin, so we put together another picture. If you want more about Oxford, head over to Volesoft!

Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 22.01.12


Network Rail shunts into Oxford communities

Yesterday we were very, very privileged to attend a very, very poorly publicised consultation at the Oxford Town Hall about the proposed plan to “regenerate” West Oxford by building a new station.

Estimated date? The building work is scheduled to start in a couple of years.

It was poorly publicised because, unlike Network Rail, we don’t get any letters through our doors from the Council telling us about this sort of thing.  It’s up to the local communities to use their antennae to figure out what’s going on. It’s also, here in Blighty, when many people are away on their holidays. Shock.

Not only was the consultation poorly publicised, when we arrived at the Town Hall there were no notices to tell any interested parties where the two events were being held.  One was downstairs and one was upstairs – in the jurors’ room, ironically.

There were two contingents there – one from an aggrieved set of people from Cripley Road and Abbey Road – and a smaller contingent from Mill Street.  As far as we could tell, there was little representation of the people from Becket Street – as far as we can tell, they’re the people that will be most affected by the redevelopment of the railway station.

The meeting was chaired by one Fiona Piercy – you can find her profile on Linkedin, here.

The Cripley/Abbey road mob marched to the Town Hall with placards, headed by Julian Levey, apparently the representative of the two streets. The people that live there are, it seems to me, justifiably aggrieved by the proposed plan that will fell a fine set of lime trees and use Cripley and Abbey Roads as a set down spot when and if the new station comes to pass.  We predict the station will come to pass, and a carrot will be thrown by the council and Network Rail to satisfy the Cripley/Abbey residents.

Mr Levey, who appeared to have assumed the role of chairing the residents of Mill Street and the Cripley/Abbey road mob, got quite hot under the collar because no-one was there from Network Rail, an organisation described by other local residents as a  “monster”. Mind you, nobody was there from Christ Church either. Nor the bus companies, which will be terribly affected by these proposals.

Basically, the plan is to destroy the car park on the eastern side of Mill Street, and replace it with a load of blocks including a hotel, a big underground car park, some shopping stuff and some student accommodation.  The plan is to shut down Gloucester Green bus station and shunt local and longer range buses in a dedicated area opposite the poor under represented people that live on Becket Street.

The City Council has some weird idea that in West Oxford we need more student accommodation.  For example, there is a plan to turn the old Power Station into luxury apartments for would be students that are doing MBAs at the Said Business School – famous throughout the world for its Margaret Thatcher wing.

Ms Piercy seemed to not have a clue what was happening there.

One Mill Street resident pointed out that the communities of Cripley/Abbey and Old Osney island – that is to say, Mill Street – were divided by the equivalent of the Norse Ginnungagap.  In plain terms, that gap is the already congested Botley Road.

Still, let’s look on the bright side. The Tunnel of Love under the existing railway bridge  will be replaced by a deeper tunnel allowing traffic to proceed in an easterly direction towards damned Frideswide Square.  Neither fish nor fowl, motorists nor pedestrians can figure out the right of way. But hey, that’s communities for you, and visitors to the railway station.

And, talking about bridges, the footbridge from the west side of the railway to the east side is going to be revamped, although there appears to be some doubt whether it will enter the underground car park or not. It might even have a ramp so the druggies at the cemetery can bike it back to wherever they come from.

The “consultation” lasts from the 30th of June to the 25th of August.  The document, badly proofread and referring to the Batley Road (sic) “is a major opportunity in the station area and will need to contribute to and enhance the station and its immediate surroundings”.

One resident commented off the record that Oxford is already congested by cars and buses and thought that the idea of creating yet another place for cars to park is a very retrograde idea harking back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

We can only conclude from this “consultation” that whatever Oxford City Council planners might or might not be, they’ve never heard of “joined up” thinking.

For example, interested locals are invited to go to www.oxford.gov.uk/oxfordstationspd.   There’s nothing like an “indicative masterplan”, is there?  Especially one that “will contribute to a vibrant new quarter”.  Yeah, there’s nothing like that at all.  Plus there is something of the Baroque about Oxford City Council’s website – that is to say, it’s not very easy to use. 

There’s a report and pictures in the Oxford Mail, here.

“But for our trusty brother-in-law, and the abbot,
With all the rest of that consorted crew,
Destruction straight will dog them at the heels. –
Good uncle, help to order several powers
To Oxford, or where’er these traitors are;
They shall not live within this world, I swear,
But I will have them, if I once know where.
Uncle, farewell:- and cousin too, adieu:
Your mother well hath pray’d and prove you true.” Bolingbroke, Henry II, by Wm. Shakespeare.


The Lamb & Flag

This is a super pub on St Giles’, Oxford.  The beer is good and well kept, and also pretty inexpensive too.

Don’t expect to pay with your credit card because the pub only takes cash.  It’s been there  for 500 years but you don’t have to be 500 years old to enjoy it.  Recommended as a nice pub and a great place to meet others.

If you want to smoke, you’ll have to go outside to the Lamb & Flag Passage, which is also a delightful place to wander. 

Haymans being re-furbed

IN BRIEF The excellent Haymans fisheries in Osney Mead will be closed during Oxford for a refurb.  But the equally excellent restaurant upstairs will open for business on the 8th of August 2017.

You can find more information at the Haymans web site. μ

Sojo Restaurant Oxford: review

Right next to the Backpackers’ Hotel in Hythe Bridge Street – a street with many Asian restaurants and only a short walk from Oxford Railway Station, Sojo offers something a little different to your usual Chinese restaurant.

sojo_spaceThree of us went there to try out what Sojo has to offer.  It’s one of three restaurants in Oxford owned by a Hong Kong family.

Before talking about the food itself,  let me say we found the service to be exceptionally good with attentive and helpful staff ready to explain the very extensive menu.

First of all, the menu at Sojo is very extensive and  serves Cantonese, Szechuan and from Shanghai. It also offers a Mongolian grill. There’s a large choice of starters too. And it caters to vegetarian tastes too.  The menus on the Sojo website only provides a selection of the food available.

sojo_barWe ordered Tsing Tao beers to drink, and went for the tempura, the very spicy beef strips, a portion of white “jasmine” rice and soft chicken noodles with some added chillies. All three of us agreed the food was tasty, well presented and the portions were generous.

The restaurant seemed very ready to tailor your dish the way you want it.

The portions were very generous and the prices reasonable. Eating for three with five Tsing Taos came to #52 – and the bill includes a discretionary 10 percent service charge, which is shared among the staff, we were assured.

While the restaurant is small, the décor is rather attractive and you don’t get the feeling of being hemmed in  – there’s plenty of room there.  There’s some really fab old Shanghai posters adorning the wall.  This restaurant does get busy on Fridays and Saturdays, so it is worth making a reservation if you’re going in the evening.

It’s always a principle of ours when reviewing a restaurant to also check out the toilets too – and these were clean and well kept.

Sojo Restaurant
6/9 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford OX1 2EW
Phone: 01865 202888
Email: info@sojooxford.co.uk
Web Site: www.sojooxford.co.uk

Our Rating: 4 out of 5

Driving into Oxford: Don’t do it!

There is something very important you need to know about Oxford if you are making the trip using an automobile – Oxford hates cars.

This is despite the fact William Morris, a weird little guy who later became Lord Nuffield, established his multi-gazillionaire empire here in what All About Oxford sometimes playfully calls The City of Screaming Squires.

Why, even the now famous Mini is still made within the so-called city limits.

Here is a bit of practical advice for you motorists coming to our city. Unless you have a working GPS , don’t bother coming into the centre of town. There are five Park & Ride areas on the ring road – details can be found here

The Randolph Hotel ***** Our score ***

Randolph HotelI must declare an interest here. I’ve stayed in the Randolph and I was far from impressed by the hotel. I haven’t been in there for a few years but one particular feature of the place really did my brain in: the Morse Bar. In general, avoid any bar in Oxford with pics of Morse or his sidekick, Lewis.

The bar is, as you’d expect from a place like this, not the cheapest place on the block, but what’s really irritating is that the place is dotted with pictures of John Thaw, who played the egregious Wagner loving detective in the long running TV series. Nothing against John Thaw – a fab actor and veteran, for example, of The Sweeney – but y’now.

The Randolph, in my opinion, peddles a “vision” of Oxford which is bogus. Yes, it isn’t too far from the railway station and even closer to Gloucester Green bus station. When I stayed there, it was in a tiny room way up in the building. The service was indifferent and its so-called renowned “Morse Bar” deserves to be consigned to the trash can of old repeated TV stories. For some reason, neither Morse nor Lewis were ever filmed in Blackberry Leys or Barton.

Expect to pay £200+ for a double room for two adults, and expect to pay £15 for a breakfast, although if you scuttle out of the hotel, skipping the breakfast, you can go to the St Giles café, just a little way away, and get a wonderful breakfast for half the price. If you’ve got a car, expect to pay £30 a night to have it parked on site.

On the bright side, it’s just opposite the wonderful Ashmolean Museum and just up from where English kings Richard I and John I were born. If you’ve got the money, well like Las Vegas maybe you should go there once. But I will never stay there again — Mike Magee

Visiting Oxford by coach from London

Two coach services run from central London to Oxford – they are called the Oxford Tube and the X90. Both offer free wi-fi. Both also have toilets on board. Journey time from London to Oxford is around 100 minutes. There is also a service to Oxford from Gatwick and London Heathrow airports, the Airline, a night and day service, details of which you can find here. Like the two other coach services, this bus offers free wi-fi and has a toilet onboard.

Note that if you buy a return ticket on the Oxford Tube you can’t travel back on the X90, and vice versa.

Both services start from Victoria but take different routes along the way.

Oxford Tube
Oxford TubeThis  double decker bus runs 24 hours a day. There are various ticket options, including discounts for students (you have to show your student card) and for people aged over 60.

undergroundThe Oxford Tube bus starts at Victoria Station and stops at Marble Arch,  Shepherd’s Bush, Notting Hill, Hillingdon, the very weird Lewknor Turn and then along the M40 and the A40 to Oxford.  The Shepherd’s Bush Oxford Tube bus stop is actually nearer to Holland Park tube station. You can find a London Tube map here.

There are several stops in Oxford: Thornhill Park & Ride;  Gladstone Road; HeadingtonOxford Brookes University;  St Clement’sHigh StreetSt Aldate’s and the final stop, Gloucester Green. It’s always wise to check the Oxford Tube web site because sometimes stops along the way from Victoria to Hillingdon are suspended.

If it’s a fine day and there’s room on the top deck, grab a seat there. You’re very likely to see several Red Kites flying over the escarpment as you head down the hill to Oxford.

The X90, run by the Oxford Bus Company, does not run 24 hours a day. You can view the timetable at its website, here. Unlike the Oxford Tube, it does not stop at the frankly weird Lewknor Turn, and once you reach Hillingdon, on the outskirts of London, it does not stop again until it reaches Baker Street.  That shaves quite some time off the journey, because the X90 avoids Shepherd’s Bush and Notting Hill Gate.

Oxford Stops
If you’re visiting Oxford for the day, the best stops to get off are on the High Street or St Aldate’s. The latter is close to Christ Church College.

Visiting Oxford by train

There are fast trains from Paddington Station in London to Oxford that run every half hour or so during the day, stopping at Slough and Reading. You can use this Network Rail journey planner to find the times. The trip takes about an hour.  When you get off the train and leave the station you’ll be faced with the somewhat gruesome facade of the Saïd Business School. This is part of the University of Oxford but unless you’re into being an entrepreneur or getting an MBA, this place is of little interest.

It is only a short walk – 10 minutes or so – from the railway station to the heart of Oxford. Unless you’re disabled or weighed down with heavy luggage, you don’t need to take one of the many buses that stop outside the station.

Walk across the pedestrian crossing at the station – there’s a big statue of an ox over there, turn right and when you reach the corner of the Saïd Business School, turn left.

Following this route will take you to a good starting point to explore Oxford further.

All about Oxford

This blog is intended to be a useful guide for visitors to the city of Oxford, exploring the highways, the byways, the walks and handy tips that will make your stay that much more pleasant and informative.