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