Off to Oxford uk

Dec 6th, 2010, 02:17 AM
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Off to Oxford uk

I'm off to oxford uk...a 'mature' lady...and wonder if anyone here can give me tips about travelling to interesting olde worlde towns nearby,I'm going in May 2011 for about 18 days...
moonrise is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 03:49 AM
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Hi moonrise,
I'm certainly no expert on the Costolds, having only been there for a couple of days last month but here's an excerpt from my London thread:

"Upper and Lower Slaughter -- very picturesque but you know me; I need a High Street. We did spend quite a while in the church in Lower Slaughter.

Stow-on-the-Wold -- we really only did the town square here because this is where we stopped for lunch. We ate at Stow Lodge Hotel and then walked around the square stopping in a few galleries and shops. I would have liked to see more of the town but if we wanted to see anywhere else, we had to get going because it gets dark so early now.

Bourton-on-the-Water -- I think this was my favourite of all the towns we visited. We had a long walk on the canal, and stopped into a couple of shops including the Cotswolds Perfumery. (We didn't make our own perfume though. You need a day and a lot of $ for that.)

After that, we went to our inn and checked in. We were staying at The King's Head in Bledington and liked it very much. The only problem we had was the wind blowing the outside flaps of the bathroom fan and making a noise but it wasn't much of a problem with the bathroom door shut tight and they said they're working on fixing it. We were also woken up by a rooster the next morning but, hey, it's the country, right? I think the King's Head is quite expensive but because our friends had stayed there before we got a good rate.

We had dinner there that night and it was very good. The breakfasts were included in the price of the meal and they were excellent, with nice choices.

The towns we visited on Thursday were:

Winchcombe -- we all liked this town. We had a very long walk here and a long visit in the church. They were having a Rememberance Day display and we got into a good conversation with a gentleman who showed us some of the war-time photographs, told us much of this history of the town and a great deal about the church. We would liked to have gone to Sudeley Castle but it was closed. It didn't say whether it was closed for the season or just for that day.

Tewkesbury -- We all felt that this was the least charming of the towns but that it had two outstanding points - the church and the very charming teashop named (I think) Bertie's where we stopped for a cream tea. The church was huge and so interesting and we spent a very long time in there. It's worth going to this town just for that. We walked along the Avon a bit but it was not an especially pretty place to do that, and then back on the High Street which, except for some leaning half-timbered buildings, was more of a standard small-town street with your Boots and local Tescoes.

That night we took janisj's suggestion and had dinner at the Kingham Plough which was just a mile from our inn. I'll start by saying that the food itself was very good (although I felt our inn's food was equally good) but I did feel the menu was a bit pretentious. My steak was tasty and well-cooked but honestly, it really didn't seem to make a difference that it was steeped in warm water (or something) for 56 minutes. And adventurous eaters that we all are, none of us was interested in brown bread icecream over prune terrine. Still, if you're interested in that sort of cuisine, this is a good place to go.

Yesterday we drove back to Heathrow via a different route so we could see a bit more of the country and one of the towns we drove through was Bruton which looked very charming. We didn't stop, though, and we got back to London mid-day, checked them into their hotel, and went for a walk.

Thanks, all, for your advice about the Cotswalds. If you're planning to go for a first visit, stop at one of the tourist offices and pick up a copy of the Cotswolds Visitors Guide for a pound. It was very helpful in describing the towns and it had a good map."

Moonrise, I hope you'll have a car and also stop at a tourist office and pick up a copy of the Cotswold Visitors Guide mentioned above (or maybe you can order it prior to your trip). It does a very good job of describing the towns and it gives a good clear map.
goddesstogo is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 04:46 AM
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Thank you so much for all this information!All so helpful.
Yes I mean to go to the tourist office in Oxford and pick up info but wanted to hear what the fodorites have to say too.
Unfortunately I won't have a car but hope to use local buses and maybe half day coach trips if they have them.
Many thanks!
moonrise is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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First, do realise that towns round here are just normal. Call them "Olde Worlde" at your peril.

Second, as far as I'm aware there really isn't a market in Oxford for half day coach trips, so there aren't any. There are relatively expensive bespoke tours the tourist office will tell you about, or a mixture of foot, buses, boats and trains if you insist on not driving - though since most 80 yo's round here happily drive RH drive cars to France and Italy a couple of times a year, I can't see your problem.

Salters Steamers do scheduled boats from late May to Abingdon, which combines lots of pretty, normal-age (ie 300+ yo), buildings with practically no tourists.

There are direct trains to Worcester (hideous in parts, but lots of nice buildings too and with an interesting Roman history), Hereford (almost ditto), though nowhere else on that line probably meets your brief (Kingham for example, though obviously not for people who regard bread and butter as adventurous, is the second nicest small town in the world to live in, but devoid of any visitor interest except for the thoroughly unpretentious boozer that sells it). You've been to Winchester, if I remember rightly, but there are fastish train connections to Salisbury and Bath. Oh, and Stratford.

Heyford, though of limited interest itself, is a nice base for walks, on a lovely canal and handy for Rousham - a terrific bit of 18th century garden planning. Islip (birthplace of Edward the Confessor) ditto: both on local rail links

Moreton in Marsh, again of limited interest itself, is the railhead for the bus connections to the Cotswold towns described at

Buses from Oxford to Gloucester (as Worcester, but with fewer ugly bits), Cheltenham, Burford (all at, Woodstock, Abingdon.

All of which said, the best way to see most of the nicer places round here is on foot, and Oxford has just about the best all-green footpaths from the city centre to surrounding towns and villages anywhere in England. The easiest way to see further afield on foot is by getting the two Cotswold Line walks books: From the Thames to the Wye and From the Wye to the Thames (, or from the manned stations). Again: when most local 80 yos aren't driving to Spain or doing volunteer work in Tanzania, they're out on these footpaths.

Surely the point about having the time to potter round here isn't seeing Great Mustsees: it's going somewhere no-one would bother with normally and seeing unvisited minor pleasures. Coombe church, for example (by train to Charlbury or Hanborough, then foot) or Iffley church (just walk along the river)
flanneruk is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 07:28 AM
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I just did a short and pleasant "hike" (more like a 1hr+ walk) when in Oxford: along Port Meadow and the Thames, to the Trout Inn (gastro pub) in Wolvercote.

I was a bit lazy (or had too many pints), and instead of walking back to Oxford, I took the bus from Wolvercote back into town.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 07:41 PM
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First, do realise that towns round here are just normal. Call them "Olde Worlde" at your peril>

rather IME call them 'quaint' - but they ain't is what flimflanneruk is trying to say!

Quaint they ain't!
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 12:43 AM
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I'm sorry if i upset anyone by my description. I certainly didn't mean to. I visited England in May/June this year and fell madly in love with it... that is why I want to return again in May 2011.Everyone was so friendly and helpful and I enjoyed everywhere we went.Most of that trip was a tour so this time i wanted to station myself in one central place and take day trips if i felt like it...and take my time. i thought oxford would be a great city to explore at leisure with a lot to experience.
As I've never had a car license I have to rely on public transport (another reason why i did the tour).Touring is fine in small burst but travelling and seeing what and when you like is much better, i feel.
Again please accept my apologise if i upset you.It is the last thing I would want to do.
moonrise is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 01:58 PM
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Brits are quaint to Yanks but ordinary towns tend to be really dreary, proper towns that is - not gussied up Cotswold villages that are not nearly the real typical drab British towns.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 02:07 PM
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"Quaint", oh dear, I think that nauseous feeling is coming on.
Hooameye is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 08:51 AM
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Quaint it ain't!
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 09:11 AM
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I have been to Oxford and done day trips by bus or train to Abingdon, Stratford, Warwick, Leamington Spa, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Woodstock, Blenheim and several Cotswolds towns that previous posters have mentioned. You could also take the train to Hereford (about 2 hours) and switch trains to go to Ludlow - a charming town that has some great restaurants, a pretty castle and a lovely walk along the river. From Hereford train station, you could also take a bus to Hay-on-Wye if you like second hand bookstore and to see the Golden Valley.
The walks along the Thames are great and I've done the city walking tours and visits to Christ Church Cathedral. Don't miss sung Even Song.
mes2525 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 10:38 AM
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Cuddeston is quaint and near Oxford, I stayed there at the 'Bat and Bowl' an olde worlde pub with lovely grub. A little further afield is Henley - in - Arden a quaint olde worlde towne. There are lots of quaint olde worlde villages in Northamptonshire, which is not very far from Oxford.
stevelyon is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Indeed I even find Oggsford quaint! Really! And thus the bone of contention between Brits who think the American use of the word quaint has become hackneyed and Americans' use to describe a place they thought looked dreamy. Brits seem to think of quaint as being old - like in olde world - but even a modern town IMO can be quaint - thus Oggsford being quaint - a thoroughly modern town in most ways but with the stone-built college complexes making it so so quaint. But quaint it ain't in many ways - visually in some parts it is - in American parlance.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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Sounds like a great trip!

There's plenty to see in Oxford itself.

Such as the Eagle and Child Pub where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis and others of the "Inklings" used to meet.

And don't forget to visit the different colleges of Oxford!
easytraveler is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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"Brits seem to think of quaint as being old "

No we don't, we equate it with a shortbread tin lid picture of places in that it's artifical & saccharine sweet and totally disconnected with reality
alanRow is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 01:19 PM
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Thank you everyone for such thoughtful replies. Much to see and do!
My plan has changed slightly...I'm now thinking of going to Oxford for 10 days then catching the train to Windsor via Slough, I've read, and staying there for 8 days.
(By the way, some seem to think I'm American.I'm an Australian...don't think it matters where I'm from but it might be interesting for you to know...)
Any clues re Windsor would be great too.
Thanks for all your help.
moonrise is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 01:42 PM
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No we don't, we equate it with a shortbread tin lid picture of places in that it's artifical & saccharine sweet and totally disconnected with reality>

and thereby proving my theory that the word 'quaint' means a whole different thing to Brits than Yanks. So why cannot Brits get that thru the quaint (British parlance) thick heads?
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 12:48 AM
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"and thereby proving my theory that the word 'quaint' means a whole different thing to Brits than Yanks. So why cannot Brits get that thru the quaint (British parlance) thick heads?"

Our comments are obviously too subtle for you, what we're trying to get across is that generally "quaint" is only used a p*ss-take, often directed at our colonial friends. So if blending in with locals is important (which it seems to be with a lot of Americans), don't use it.
Hooameye is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 04:51 AM
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'Quaint' does possibly seem to have changed its meaning everywhere since E.F. Benson's day - his character 'Quaint Irene' seems to be so-called for being artistic and eccentric, and/or possibly slightly mad. Anyone know any other interesting examples from literature ?
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 06:57 AM
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Hi Moonrise, we enjoyed a week in Burford, but as with much of the Cotswolds it seemed less well served by public transport than other areas.

Lots to see in Oxford for your time there, but a trip to Bath could be very nice; I've gotten there by train easily; a walkable town, interesting architecture and places to see.
annw is offline  

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