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Westgate Oxford Roof Terrace: A nice place to chill

Westgate Oxford Roof Terrace: A nice place to chill

 

The Westgate Oxford shopping centre was extensively redeveloped and extended between 2016 and 2017. It was reopened on 24 October 2017 featuring new facilities including an attractive roof terraces with several restaurants.

 

The choice of food and drinks is big enough to serve something for everyone. Attractive happy hour offers mean it doesn’t have to cost the world.

 

An attractive layout with lots of greenery invites to relax. Pretty views of Oxford’s city skyline make Westgate Oxford an attractive location for a break from any sightseeing or shopping tour, as the rooftop terrace offers plenty to look at.

 

Westgate Oxford Rooftop: Far reaching views over Oxford

Westgate Oxford Rooftop: Far reaching views over Oxford

 

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You can’t complain Oxford is not green enough with this vast open space in the heart of the city:

 

Christ Church Meadow is used as a sporting ground, livestock grazing land and general recreation and popular picnic area. It is enclosed by the river Thames (called “The Isis” whilst flowing through the city), the river Cherwell, and Christ Church.

 

We accessed the meadows from St. Aldate’s through the War Memorial Garden:

Christ Church War Memorial Garden

Christ Church War Memorial Garden

 

Passing by monumental Christ Church College:

Christ Church College

Christ Church College

 

We walked onto the northwest via Broad Walk enjoying spectacular views of Christ Church and Merton colleges and the Magdalen Tower:

View across the Christ Church Meadow sports field

View across the Christ Church Meadow sports field

 

Turning right into Christ Church Meadow Walk brings us to Jubilee Bridge:

The Jubilee Bridge links Christ Church Meadow on the west bank with Christ Church recreation ground on the east

The Jubilee Bridge links Christ Church Meadow on the west bank with Christ Church recreation ground on the east

 

Atop Jubilee Bridge we got a good impression of the various boating activities:

Plenty of boating activities are on offer in Oxford

Plenty of boating activities are on offer in Oxford

 

The path by the river Cherwell is sturdy and easy to walk on, even with a children’s pushchair:

Going for a stroll along Christ Church Meadow Walk is a bliss, with sunny spots alternating with cooling shade from the trees

Going for a stroll along Christ Church Meadow Walk is a bliss, with sunny spots alternating with cooling shade from the trees

 

From here the view across to Christ Church shows how far the meadow stretches:

Wonderful views across Christ Church Meadow

Wonderful views across Christ Church Meadow

 

Then a more sunny stretch alongside the river Isis awaits:

Lovely walk along the river Isis

Lovely walk along the river Isis

 

Cute Geese and their chicks are greeting us:

 

Cutting back to Christ Church, we meet the cattle on the meadow up close – English longhorn cows:

 

Be aware though, these cows know how to use their long horns:

 

A great way to take in the beautiful sights around Oxford while enjoying an easy and relaxing stroll around the spectacular Christ Church landscape.

 

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Oxford Port Meadow offers beautiful views over grazing land, flooded swamps, the river Thames and English countryside.

 

It is a favourite area for walking, with lots of sightseeing and entertainment along the way:

 

Historic Oxford boundary stones:

1886: R. Buckell - Mayor, F. Twining - Sheriff

1886: R. Buckell – Mayor, F. Twining – Sheriff

 

People paddle past on SUBs:

 

A narrowboat is chugging along:

 

Ancient monument ruins:

The ruins of Godstow Abbey

The ruins of Godstow Abbey

 

18th century river locks:

Godstow Lock

Godstow Lock

 

Old riverside pubs:

The Perch Inn

The Perch Inn

 

Sailing on the river Thames:

Sailing boats on the river Thames

Sailing boats on the river Thames

 

Picnic river cruise:

 

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Letting nature do as nature intended: Oxford Port Meadow is an untouched piece of green that invites animals as humans alike to enjoy the freedom of roaming by guess and by golly.

 

The beautiful views over Oxford Port Meadow.

The beautiful views over Oxford Port Meadow.

 

Oxford Port Meadow is a typical English flood-meadow reserved for giving space to the Thames for overflowing. History has it that it is the Freemen’s collective right to graze their animals free of charge, recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and exercised ever since. Also residents living alongside Port Meadow can keep a cow and a horse on the meadow for free.

 

It’s a beautiful spot to interact with free spirited animals who can do as they wish:

 

Swallows fly:

 

Geese are chilling:

 

A calf says hello:

 

The horses come to visit:

 

Oxford Port Meadow invites to a serenic stroll along the river Thames and is a wonderful option to explore England’s countryside.

 

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The Oxfordshire Museum

The Oxfordshire Museum

 

Taking a stroll around Woodstock we discovered The Oxfordshire Museum.

 

With only a short time to spare I couldn’t resist to check it out: Like all national museums in England, it is free, so there’s nothing to lose.

 

To be honest, I was intrigued by the giant dinosaur sporting the poster advertising for the museum at the entrance. I went in on a mission to find it.

 

So I rushed through the galleries, taking in a brief impression and ended up seeing everything on offer in only 10 minutes.

 

It’s worth it. The museum features collections of the market town of Woodstock and its industries, local historic finds, treasures, building means, art, archaeology, skeletons, costumes, the lifestyle of Victorian times, the woodlands and wildlife relating to the county of Oxfordshire.

 

And yes, it has got a dinosaur gallery. But nowhere did I manage to find the dinosaur from the poster.

 

At the front desk I was advised to check out the dinosaur garden. And to my great surprise it was indeed there: The dinosaur.

 

And that was it! Some dinosaur footprints and this one dinosaur.

 

The one dinosaur in the dinosaur garden.

The one dinosaur in the dinosaur garden.

 

Besides the poster overpromising the one attraction that is only it, the museum is a lovely little informative place to spend 10 minutes in.

 

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Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire

 

The ticket price for Blenheim Palace is: Adult £27.00. The park alone is: Adult £16.00.

 

But if you’re a local you know a shortcut to get in for free.

An unsuspicious gate that doesn’t even open straight forwardly is one of the hidden accesses that lead to the park premises.

 

Many locals find their way to the weekend picnic this way with no interest in the glamour of the palace.

Lovely views await that should be open to the public or at least the locals anyway.

 

I think that’s why it’s not forbidden per se.

Any path that leads close to the palace shows warning signs about having to pay entrance. You can ignore it at the risk of being found out.

 

In the meantime you can enjoy a wonderful stroll in lush green landscapes with Harry Potter ancient trees, quacking and hissing geese, lovely ponds and pools with big fish.

 

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Christ Church in Oxford

Christ Church in Oxford

 

Visiting family in Oxford we thought about what touristy sightseeing activity we could do despite having a great time together.

Researching various options I found an event I thought could be a special experience:

 

The Choral Evensong at Christ Church, Oxford

 

After a lovely family dinner, which we enjoyed so much that we ran a little late, it got a bit tight getting there in time.

We managed to find parking close by the pedestrian zone, but still had to rush to the cathedral.

 

A small inconspicuous side entrance was guarded by a smartly traditionally dressed commissionaire, who didn’t look like he’d be letting in any tourists.

I asked how to get to the evening mass and he replied in a very heavy and posh British accent to go straight on.

 

We crossed the lovely inner courtyard flanked all around by beautiful sandstone buildings forming a square of tranquillity in the heart of Oxford.

Again I would have never found the way to the actual cathedral, the entrance was very humble for the glory that awaited inside.

 

But we had no time to appreciate it, as we were ushered to a free short pew near by: What a coincidence there were exactly 3 seats next to each other available in the middle row. Otherwise the church was full!

Everything was totally unfamiliar to us, as we’re protestant. We were just glad we made it. Even though it looked like we got seats on the back bench.

 

To our very surprise however it turned out we had landed the best spots:

When the choir entered, they sat right next to us! And even better: The lector was right to our other side where one of the pulpits was situated.

 

Right away the choir started with a lengthy performance of 3 psalms. It was intense.

The choir was halved in two, who sat opposing each other divided by the long corridor that lead to the altar.

In regular intervals they took turns between each other in the sing song of the biblical texts.
In addition some parts were recited by only tenor and bass, while others were held by only the soprano.
It was magnificent.

 

At the same time it felt natural and human, the celebratory rituals of the Catholic Church were not stiff and forced, but executed with sincere devotion.

In the end some of the choir members were still young boys who hardly managed to glimpse over the bench, yet they sang so beautifully it brought tears to my eyes.

It was the quieter more humble parts that touched me to the core, alternated by the crescendo of a strong and powerful vibrancy that lifted my spirits.

The text was sung clearly and even though it’s hardcore Catholic Church doctrine there was solace in the reassurance of the words upraised with such passion.

 

The setting, the wonderful high arched architecture with colourful church windows, was not only great for acoustics but also for a meditative look inside oneself.

Especially as the priest situated in the middle of the church told pensive stories.

First a story of Abraham’s son Joseph who tells how great and merciful god is and that we must forgive each other.

The second story was of a farmer with two sons, who got property split between them. One squanders all, but realises he has sinned and returns. The father rejoices and celebrates, which angers the older son, who always worked hard in the field. His father explains: The other son was dead, now he’s back with the living. He was lost, now he has been found.

I’m not a religious person, but it’s almost impossible not to get touched with spirituality in such celebration of god.

 

For me this was truly a highlight of Oxford. Freely open to the public, this is simply a splendid experience.

 

It was of course not possible to record any of this amazing performance, so here a little impression about the choir:

 

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