Ancient And Modern Co-Exist In Oxford

Wasn’t like this in my day, all this was fields when I was a lad etc, etc, I’m trying not to turn into an old moaning git so I am keeping an open mind for my visit to Oxford. Yesterday I paid a visit to the old Oxford prison, these days converted into a trendy shopping and eating area, I have been before since the big conversion about 6 years ago and to be fair it does look pretty good.

I missed out on the Food & Wine Festival by a few days and a look at the brochure showed me what treats had eluded me – there was live music from Mr Whippy and The Conettes, but by the time I got there they had melted away. I did spot an interesting sculptured multi coloured rhino hiding in the undergrowth, apparently it is part of “an ambitious project to create a trail of these rhinos around Oxford” I don’t know how the city has survived so long without these beasts. Close to the beast and built into one of the old prison wings (on a quiet day you can hear the ghostly cries of prisoners in the showers) is the O3 Art Gallery which featured a display of Cornish landscapes and some very over priced bright snazzy wall hung paintings.

Popping out through a back entrance I found myself down by the old mill stream and the site of the old Morrells Brewery, sadly all that remains is the ornate sign over the yards gateway, the inner workings of the source of the fuel of my youth has gone. Posh apartments now look out onto the stream and its tributeries near the wonderfully named Quaking Bridge where ducks dodge floating rubbish and the odd drowning tramp. I was impressed though with the wrought iron work on the side of the car park, very cool with its bird motif. The old Brewery Gate pub is boarded up but a recent sign says under offer, maybe a ray of hope although it’s more likely to become a trendy food and drink outlet with no real ale.

Progress they call it, but let’s not be too cynical as one of my favourite pubs, Far From The Madding Crowd is itself a revamped unit in the side of a large department store and serves great real ale. As luck would have it their Autumn Ale festival is on this week, a good excuse to stop off in the evenings and sample some fine like Thames Tickler and Dark Side Of The Moose. Cheers