The good and not so good of visiting Oxford

Once more I’m sitting on the bus using wifi, this time en route to Heathrow airport. It’s been a wonderful vacation in Oxford. I’ve loved virtually every minute of it.


Anyone who has lived in another country or part of the country will tell you that every place has its good points and its bad. Nowhere is perfect and such perfection as can be found is often more a function of relationships and place than it is simply of place.

Our stay in Oxford was greatly enriched by staying with our friends Justin and Jill Hardin. Oxford is an incredibly beautiful and historic city. That beauty and history is brought into finer relief by sharing it with friends for whom it is now home.

WIth that in mind here are my thoughts about what’s great and not so great about Oxford.

The great:

  • St. Philip’s Bookshop.
  • A bookshop devoted to theology and church history. Brilliant!

  • Pimms.
  • The beer in England is hit or miss, but Pimms never disappoints.

  • Lots and lots of fun, free things to do.
  • University parks, the Ashmolean Museum, etc.

  • Relatively easy transportation system.
  • It’s easy to get to the city centre, further out is a little more challenging.

  • Lots of coffee shops.
  • Nero’s seem to own Oxford, but there’s also some Starbucks stores as well.

  • Really good organic food.
  • Strong evangelical churches.
  • I saw at least two very strong evangelical parishes in Oxford, a university not known for hospitality to evangelicals. Wycliffe Hall also maintains a vibrant, academically-strong witness in the university.

    The not so good:

  • Difficult to find toilets.
  • This is an English thing, but best to plan your day around guaranteed access to the loo.

  • Crowded High Street.
  • As bad as an American mall, but with higher prices. Oxford seems to be more dedicated to tourism than Cambridge, which is smaller and more remote.

  • Too much Anglo-Catholicism.
  • Oxford was a centre for the revival of Anglo-Catholicism, and still seems to favor high church Anglicanism.

  • Prices.
  • It’s the high tourist season at the moment, and prices are sort of steep. It helps to consider the setting–after all a pint of lager at home isn’t quite so pleasing.

    Favorite things:

  • Punting the Cherwell (actually being punted!)
  • Ben’s Cookies and Moo’s milkshakes (try the Snickers shake) in the Covered Market
  • Tea in the garden of St. Mary the Virgin
  • Picnic in Christ Church meadow
  • Choral evensong at Christ Church Cathedral
  • In lieu of a comments section, I accept and encourage letters to the editor. If you would like to write a letter to the editor, you can do so here.

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