By Richard Lofthouse

Tips for Visiting Oxford This Autumn

Getting about

The Indian summer continues. If you are coming to Oxford, or the eighth alumni weekend from 19 September, and arrive by train, I recommend that you pause on the left at Hythe Bridge, where Hythe Bridge Street crosses the Oxford Canal as you walk towards the city.

A brand new Water Taxi service has just begun. You could very well plan to take it on the hour to its destination and turning point, Aristotle Lane. Get out and walk east and then south to reminisce your way through Jericho in a slightly circuitous route back to the Mathematical Institute building where you sign on for the alumni weekend.

The service is the brainchild of skipper Alan Joyce, a local resident and entrepreneur, and Sir Christopher Ball, formerly Warden of Keble. Alan explains that in theory you could virtually (but not completely) circumnavigate the whole city by waterway on his twelve-person launch (pictured below).

The idea is to increase the service to other parts of the city if it takes off: along the Cherwell as far north as the Vicky Arms public house, and perhaps further up into the reaches of north Oxford along the canal, which eventually hits Wolvercote before completely leaving the city and heading 70 odd miles into the Midlands.

Tips for Visiting Oxford This Autumn

Eating out

Next, some practical dining information that I am merely duplicating from www.bittenoxford.co.uk, which describes itself as ‘Your Ultimate Oxford Restaurant Guide’. Bitten recommends the following as Oxford's top ten favourite places to eat in Oxford:

  1. Sojo (Chinese)
  2. St Giles’ Café
  3. Oxford's Grill
  4. Oli's Thai
  5. Magdalen Arms
  6. Brasserie Blanc
  7. Al-Shami (Lebanese)
  8. Door 74
  9. Atomic Burgers
  10. Pierre Victoire

You can look these up yourselves by smart phone or whatever device falls to hand; most are easy walking distance from the centre.

Tips for Visiting Oxford This Autumn

Ordering in

Finally, I bumped into local entrepreneur Christopher Benton, pictured above with his new cargo trike, capable of carrying a quarter ton of cakes or bricks or packages! I thought I'd mention this in case you see him from one of the rickshaws that will ferry alums around the city for the alumni weekend.

There's a lot of discussion about ‘last-mile delivery’, because being stuck in Oxford’s terrible traffic causes the bulk of CO2 emissions, right in the city where they are least appreciated. Chris wants to end that with a fleet of delivery trikes that will deliver virtually anything within the city ring road.

The relevance here is that like Alan and Sir Christopher's water taxi idea, which utilises a beautifully quiet electric launch, there is a broader sense in which the city is beginning to be reconstructed around low-carbon principles. This theme, by the way, connects with several sessions over the alumni weekend including Dr Jamie Lorimer's talk on Saturday at 10am, about environmentalism without nature!

All images by Richard Lofthouse.