TRAVEL: Two nights in beguiling, historic Oxford

Radcliffe Camera  the main reading room of the Bodleian Library, Oxford
Radcliffe Camera the main reading room of the Bodleian Library, Oxford
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This week Jim Wilson tells us about the beauty of Oxford’s dreaming spires and why he recommends people should visit this beautiful university city to see its splendour.

Two nights. So much to do, so little time. There’s the sightseeing of course. Wandering around the 38 colleges that make up Oxford University – the oldest in the English-speaking world – and each one takes you back into history, some right back to the 12th Century.

A leisurely tour of the local landmarks, including Christ Church College, with its Alice in Wonderland and Hogwarts connections, the Radcliffe Camera (in this case camera just means room) and the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ at Hertford College.

Stroll down the riverside path, past the university boat houses, some big some small, some old some new, with a few rowers out on the water.

Then there’s the shopping. The big names are there but there’s also a host of interesting independent boutique shops.

Oh, and we wanted to fit in a dip in the hotel pool to try and work off a bit of those big hotel breakfasts.

Trying to fit all that in was like planning a military campaign.

Then there’s the things we didn’t plan, like sheltering from a shower in a splendid tea room, and chancing on a printing open day in the Bodleian Library.

And wandering into two college sports grounds, next to each other, each with a splendid cricket pavilion, and then walking for a long time trying to find a way out...

But walking is the thing to do here.

There is one thing, and possibly only one thing, wrong with Oxford. It’s no place for a car.

All that history, all that architecture comes at a price – a tangle of narrow roads largely unsuited for the modern (soon to be obsolete) internal combustion engine.

It’s built for wandering. So we left the car at home.

The train was an option because of the location of our hotel. The Holiday Inn Oxford is next door – and I mean next door – to one of Oxford’s two big park and rides, Pear Tree.

Ten minutes by bus to the city centre, £4.80 for two returns, with modern buses running every 10 minutes or so right up to 11.30pm. Convenient, easy and relaxing.

And you can have a drink or two, should you wish.