Oxford, Change Here For Rabbits, Chimney Cakes, and Traveling Cats

Wednesday is a good day in Oxford as the outdoor market is on at Gloucester Green. It has evolved out of the old cattle market further out at Oxpens but the sheep, pigs, and hens of my youth are long gone and it’s more of a food, bric a brac, and general tat market but always produces some interesting sights, sounds, and smells.


In between meeting a few old work friends I had a wander around the stalls  and noticed how international the flavour is these days. I could have feasted on Japanese Gyoza dumplings or Hungarian Chimney Cakes and there are still plenty of old school traders with their cries and banter. Back in Cornmarket Street the entertainers were serving up a range of diversions from the ever popular cycling white rabbit churning out bubbles to a pretty good rock guitarist doing a cracking version of Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues For You. I also met a traveling gentleman with his bundle of possessions and his white and ginger traveling cat Mr Pinky. This guy gets around the country and showed me an album of photos of Mr Pinky at various stops – there was a nice one taken in The Mall with the Queen playing a distant supporting role to the Michael Palin of the feline world.


I was good and kept off the beer until the evenings, otherwise I wouldn’t have got any of my ongoing paper chase done. Wednesday I popped down to the Rose and Crown in North Parade to see landlord and owner Andrew Hall, a good friend from the ice hockey days. Mine host was in good form and the beer and memories flowed. Thursday evening I met some former work friends at The Evenlode in Eynsham, a posh food place, we weren’t eating, the food prices were quite high but the drinks were amazingly low and they had a couple of decent ales. Friday was my last night and brought the richest harvest of strolling players. Starting at the Far From The Madding Crowd, the side alley pub was invaded by Morris dancers complete with face make up and woodland outfits – they looked like they might even have a badger or two hidden about their persons.  This group of around 15 dancers were the Armaleggan Border mob, lured out by the previous days arrival of spring or the vernal equinox as it’s called. Sadly there wasn’t room for them to do their full routine but they downed a few pints before moving on to their next pub stop.

It was a difficult night weather wise to parade the streets, some pubs were doing Sport Relief fund raisers, and then there are always the weekend nutters milling around, bouncers were on the doors and shouting up a beer was a long process at the main bars. I adjourned to Headington, as the bus passed Bonn Square the morris dancers were performing in the teaming rain to a small crowd of half interested tourists. The Britannia Inn in London Road was re-opening after a weeks intense makeover and as they were boasting 8 cask ales I had to give it a go. The slightly intimidating attitude of town was missing, instead it was a warm bright pub with some great ales, the food menu looked good too, I will test that on another visit. At some stage a free round was bought for most of the people in the main bar, I never did find out who the benefactor was but it was a nice bonus.


Saturday morning arrived too quickly, my train to Birmingham airport wasn’t as full as I feared, Reading away to the Blues but either their fans went up early or not at all. Fairwell Oxford, hello Tenerife, back just in time for a CD Tenerife Sunday game.