- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By Features Team
By Rebekah Diamond and Rosie Wilson. Illustration by Vincent Chan.
The Angel & Greyhound Meadow
While Christ Church meadows are all well and good, you may be hankering after a more exotic walk. Exotic is perhaps rather strong, but the Angel & Greyhound meadow definitely has a more interesting name. If you’ve ever walked over Magdalen Bridge and wistfully noted that what lies beneath is the preserve of Magdalen students, then here’s some good news: it’s open to all and sundry. In order to tramp across the low-lying land, walk a few yards up St Clement’s and turn left at Boulter Street, then wave smugly at those up on the bridge.
Play the Clown
January and February can be bleak. Christmas is an increasingly distant memory and the first signs of spring are, sadly, all too far away. But don’t despair. Become a clown instead! ‘Nose to Nose’, who promise to help you discover the ‘clown within’, are holding three weekend workshops in Oxford. ‘The courage to be’ course raises all participants up to the dizzy heights of ‘clown level one’. With a price tag of £135 per weekend session, the company certainly seems to have a sense of humour. See www.nosetonose.info for more pleasingly vague details.
The Missing Bean Cafe, 14 Turl Street
This is Oxford’s only independent coffee house. It’s well worth a look for its tasty variety of homemade cakes and to have the opportunity to sample some of the best coffee in Oxford. The cafe serves its own particular type of coffee, a hand-roasted blend made from the Brazilian yellow bourbon bean. Ready ground coffee and various coffee accessories are on sale in the cafe. The Missing Bean provides, quite simply, a delightful place to go for a break, with a book, a friend, or both, whilst knowing you are supporting an independent business as well as enjoying yummy quality coffee and a slice of cake.
The Wychwood Warriors Historical Re-enactment Society
This is the kind of madcap university experience you will be proud to tell your grandchildren about, especially if you don’t think you’re quite ready to share your memory of temporary Skittles vodka-induced blindness with them. The members of this society concentrate on re-enacting the lives of the Vikings and Anglo Saxons, and put on regular eight-course feasts where meat and mead is served in abundance. The society also organises a weekly battle practice where members are taught how to wield spears and swords correctly. Kit-making sessions are held regularly and cloaks are made out of animal skins from the Covered Market. Wassail!
Battle practice 1.30pm every Sunday, University Parks
Don’t forget that New Year’s resolution of starting sport again just yet. Traditional Irish dancing is one of the most effective and enjoyable ways of combining exercise with skill and concentration. Social Irish dancing is based around the ceilli, a type of group dance involving various reels, jigs and hornpipes. Dance is acknowledged to be one of the best worry- busters, lowering stress hormones and reducing the risk of depression, so there’s no excuse not to put on your dancing shoes and twirl to the rhythm of a reel.
Beginners’ classes are 7-8pm every Wednesday in the Prestwich Room of St John’s College. £1 per class.
Japanese Ghosts and Demons
Perusing an art exhibition is a delightfully cheap way to spend a rainy afternoon. However, it’s always a pain when you’re met with knowing nods upon enthusing about what you’ve seen. So why not bore your friends with your newfound knowledge of Japanese ghosts and demons? If they say they already know all about it, they’re lying. An exhibition of Uklyo-e prints is on at the Ashmolean until the 27th February. The gallery’s collection of 19th century woodblock prints includes dancing skeletons and winged goblins, offering macabre chill to your weekend.
At Catweazle Club, each week is different. Catweazle is an open mic evening where performers sign up on the night, and the audience sit on bean bags, like a fantastical story time. You could hear anything from a performance poet espousing the joys of Marmite to a guitarist gently singing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’. With a bar selling banana bread-flavoured beer and sequinned cushions strewn on the floor, Catweazle Club is an ethereal and mystical space where you can appreciate purely listening and relaxing. Leave feeling purged, refreshed and inspired, and walk back down Cowley Road near-evangelical at the beauty of creativity.
Thursday 8pm, East Oxford Community Centre, Cowley Road. £4/ performers FREE.
If you’ve caught the generosity bug after all the goodwill and present-giving, keep up the good work and consider joining Jacari. The Oxford-based home teaching scheme partners students with children who do not speak English as their first language. All that is required of you is an hour of your time per week, but there’s much more on offer if you want it. Recent trips have included an excursion to see the latest Harry Potter film, and there are many socials to swap teaching tips. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the mailing list.
Venture up Cowley Road for a less generic shopping experience. Reign, tucked away on the right en route to Tesco, is a very reasonably priced vintage shop that brings you retro clothes without the dust. Their stock is fast-moving and always seems to be in keeping with current trends. Best of all, you won’t bump into anyone else in identical garb.
The Trout pub
If you haven’t been to The Trout pub in Wolvercote yet then make 2011 the year you visit. It’s a picturesque old pub serving the standard fish and chips type fare, but you don’t come here for just the food, oh no. To reach the Trout, walk upstream along the river in Port Meadow. You will pass small house boats and various cows along the way. Do this walk in wellies, as the path is often muddy. Just before reaching the pub you’ll come to the ruins of an old nunnery, which is a gorgeous place to explore. The pub has a garden frequented by tame peacocks, and sitting outside looking over Port Meadow and its grazing cows you’ll find it hard to believe you’re less than an hour’s walk from Cowley.