I won’t be mean spirited; today is a great day for Oxford.

You might think I’d be a bit miffed my own cure for Covid (a gallon of Doom Bar, crispy shredded beef, 2 aspirin) was pipped to the post by the Oxford Uni/AstralWeeks effort, but not a bit of it, and I’m delighted to finally get a chance to bring out the Flaming Lips track written 21 years ago for this occasion;

Apart from clever people, why else should you go to Oxford rather than, say, Cambridge ?. Or Carluke or Cleethorpes come to that.

In 2016 I compared the merits of the two University cities;

  1. Urban walks* – 8/10 each.  Easier to get lost in Cambridge, though I never have found the Turf Tavern.
  2. Architecture – 9/10 each. Oxford has the Sheldonian, Cambridge the Abbey Stadium.
  3. Gardens – 7/10 each. Cambridge has the better Botanic, Oxford the better parks.
  4. The big museum – Oxford 9/10 for the Ashmolean, Cambridge 2/10 for Fitzwilliam, which is just old stuff.
  5. Cheap hotels – Oxford 1/10 – the worst B&B on TripAdvisor and no budget hotels, Cambridge 8/10 is stuffed with the blighters now.
  6. Speed of walkers – 0/10 for each, seen faster snails,go to Brescia to see how to walk.
  7. Football grounds – Oxford 1/10, Cambridge 8/10 (bacon rolls aren’t what they were)
  8. Musical heritage – Oxford 1/10 (Radiohead), Cambridge 9/10 (Mammoth Penguins)
  9. Cheap eats – cheap ?!  Marco Pierre White v Jamie Oliver really.
  10. Pubs – Oxford 3/10, Cambridge 9/10 – see above

You do the math, as they say in Oxford.

Pub Curmudgeon “did the math” in 2018 on the Old Codgers trip and got spectacular value from split ticketing.

That trip rather opened my eyes to the quality of boring brown bitter on offer in Oxford, contrasting sharply with the pale hoppy stuff on offer in The Other Place.

Here’s a few suggestions if you find yourself there on a day trip from London.

First things first. Go to the covered market and stock up on vegetables.


Then do the tourist bits, if you must. The Ashmolean rather puts our Fitzwilliam to shame, though it’s harder to knock priceless vases off the shelf in Oxford.


Six or seven pubs will do you.

They must include the multi-roomed King’s Arms (top) even if the GBG doesn’t.

A symphony in brown. See if you can spot your favourite PubMan below.


In the Lamb & Flag I had a tremendous Palmers IPA, and saw the famous ghost;


And in the Turf we followed Bill Clinton by scoring our 6X an NBSS 3.5.

Half the fun of the Turf is finding it while drunk.

You might think the courtyard Chequers a bit twee…


..but the Pedigree was drinking well. As you can tell from Paul’s expression.


Over in student land later that year the Fir Tree was a joy for fans of giant pashminas and former Marillion front men.


The banter was worthy of NBSS 4.75, the beer a point less.

It’s a  no-brainer.  They’re both in the most excellent position

Trevor Horn is absolutely brilliant”

and the clincher, from a lady painting her baubles,

I hate Fish

Talking of fish…

The Butchers is one of the cluster of decent Fullers pubs in town, and the closest to the shark that fell from the sky during an Oxford v Reading clash in 1983.


Great ESB, alarmingly smart people.

For light relief, visit the decent Sam Smiths pub and pretend you’re in Sheffield.

Just one thing. Be careful of the locals.

23 thoughts on “WELL DONE OXFORD

    1. That was a wonderful day out, despite all being well-known pubs bar a newish Hook Norton one. Mrs RM came along and got pished. Stafford Paul brought Bass badges. Mudgie split tickets. Tim helped me find the Clinton memorial.


      1. That top photo of the Kings Arms reminds me that it was open mid morning thirty years ago and the Burton Bridge was drinking well there in March 1990. I can’t remember if Kate and Mary from Norwich who were with me were drinking tea or coffee. And the Kings Arms was well worth including on our “wonderful day out” in February 2018.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Argh! My Caps Lock and Tab button are too close together!

      Anyway, to continue:

      “Pub Curmudgeon “did the math” in 2018 on the Old Codgers trip and got spectacular value from split ticketing.”

      He’s really an accountant in real life, yes? 🙂

      “First things first. Go to the covered market and stock up on vegetables.”

      But no cauliflowers. You’ll give poor Si a fright.

      “Six or seven pubs will do you.”

      I’m your man!

      “See if you can spot your favourite PubMan below.”

      It’s either the one with long hair and glasses in the middle of the photo, or the one with the Jimmy Buffet shirt at the bar.

      “and saw the famous ghost;”

      If that had been your 5th pub, I’d blame that on you. 😉

      “Half the fun of the Turf is finding it while drunk.”

      Finding anything while drunk is half the fun!

      “You might think the courtyard Chequers a bit twee…”

      *cough* Frou-frou.

      “the Fir Tree was a joy for fans of giant pashminas”

      Um, no comment.

      “Talking of fish…”


      “Great ESB, alarmingly smart people.”

      Don’t they go hand in hand?

      “Just one thing. Be careful of the locals.”

      Blimey! Which one? 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

  1. When visiting Oxford, NEVER go in summer. The city centre is rammed with tourist coaches and hordes of tourists are roaming the streets. Interestingly, very few of the tourists are to be seen in any of the pubs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. According to their WhatPub entry the Three Goats’ Heads opened in 1987. As a student in Oxford from 1988-1991 and often using the adjacent rear gate for the Oxford Union I can’t believe I spent my entire time at Oxford not knowing there was a pub there (though admittedly most drinking was in the college bar – the same college that now runs the Lamb & Flag and puts pub profits towards bursaries I believe). I will put it top of the “to visit” list next time I can arrange a visit to our Oxford office that requires an overnight stay. WhatPub also says Banks’s bought the Victoria in Oxford in 1995, but it was already a Banks’s pub when I was there and worth the walk (especially when they were doing a recruitment evening with free nibbles).

    Liked by 1 person

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