Monday, December 12, 2011

Locally brewed beer

I realise I've almost come full circle by suggesting another 'Oxford brew' for my 9th 'Oxford' inspired gift idea, but I've just discovered that Oxford is home to three local-ish breweries. The Old Bog Brewery, The Compass Brewery and The Shotover Brewing Company. 

Particularly fitting with my Christmas theme is The Compass Brewery's 'Winter 6 Pack,' which contains two bottles of each of the following beers: Tannenbaum (Christmas beer), Baltic Night Stout and The King's Shipment IPA. However, The Compass Brewery's 'Isis Pale Ale' is about as 'Oxford' as it gets. 

The 'Isis,' (a shortening of it's Latin name Tamesis) is used to refer to the River 'Thames' and is synonymous with university rowing and the annual clash between Oxford and Cambridge.
The Compass Brewery Winter 6 Pack £16.00

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Oxford Fresher's 'Arrival Survival Guide'

Arrival Survival -  £2.99  

If you thought packing and saying goodbye to your loved ones was the hard part, I'm sorry to tell you that arrival can be the most challenging part of your adventure. 

Your first weeks and months in Oxford are bound to be crazy no matter how well you've prepared. Jet lag alone is enough to challenge the best of us, so if your first thought is, "What am I doing here?" Don't panic, I've got some great tips to help you settle in.

The 'Arrival Survival' chapter contains everything you need to hit 
the ground running, from where to buy your first day essentials, to registering with the NHS (National Health Service). Check out the contents pages of our FREE sample chapter for a full list of what's included.

Add to Cart

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Cath Kidston Messenger Bag

On Friday night, Oxford celebrated the start of Christmas with its annual Christmas Light Night event and with only 17 more sleeps before the big day, I thought it was high time we had an 'Oxford' inspired gift idea for the ladies. 

Bag £65.00 ‘City of Oxford’ Iron-on patch £1.95

This Cath Kidston messenger bag can be worn across the body and makes a perfect companion for Oxford cyclists. It comes complete with leather trims, tartan lining and quirky travel inspired patches. There’s even room on the back to add a few of your own. You’ll be spoilt for choice in Oxford, but I found these iron-on patches at the Oxford Tourist Information Office.

Cath Kidston 6 Broad Street, Oxford.
Oxford Tourist Information Centre 15-16 Broad Street, Oxford.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Emma Watson returns to Oxford

If you've been out and about in town lately and seen someone who looked just like Emma Watson, chances are it was probably her. Despite a net worth of nearly £24 million, she is having no trouble blending in with her fellow students and looks very happy to be back in Oxford. 

Emma Watson is currently studying at Oxford University Photo:

Not only were many of the scenes from the Harry Potter films which made her so famous filmed in Oxford, she also attended school here as a child. Although born in Paris, Emma moved to Oxford at the age of 6 and attended Dragon School, which believe it or not, is an actual co-ed boarding/ day school in Oxford - Cool name isn't it? She also spent time at the Headington School before being cast as Hermione at just nine years of age.

Emma recently returned to Oxford to study English at Worcester College, on an exchange year from Brown University in the States. It seems a Hogwarts education just wasn't enough!

Want a feathered quill just like Harry Potter's?

My 7th 'Oxford' inspired gift idea is for all the Harry Potter fans out there and you'll certainly enjoy the visit to Turl Street to find it. Turl Street is a cobbled shopping strip in the heart of Oxford, which dates back to 1363 and funnily enough, is not unlike Diagon Alley. Here you'll find the Lincoln, Exeter and Jesus Colleges and a myriad of specialty stores lining the street, but your first port of call is the Scriptum Fine Stationary Store. 

Scriptum Fine Stationary 3 Turl Street, Oxford.

I'm sure many of you remember the scene from Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone where Snape misunderstands Harry's furious note taking during Potions class..."It seems some of you have come to class with powers so formidable that you feel confident enough to not pay attention." I did feel sorry for poor little Harry, but what better way to inspire such wizardly diligence than with one of Scriptum's fine feathered quill's?

Christ Church College St. Aldates, Oxford.
(See link for opening times - The dining hall is closed to visitors at lunchtime during term time) 

Potter fans eager to follow in Harry's footsteps will also enjoy a visit to Christ Church College. Did you know that its Great Tudor Hall was the inspiration for Hogwarts’ dining hall?  I say 'inspiration' because the dining hall used in the Harry Potter films was actually an exact replica, created in a North London studio especially for filming - That said, apart from the floating candles it's very hard to tell the difference. To reach the hall, one must climb the College's grand staircase which featured in Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone. This is where the first years meet Professor McGonagall for the first time, who explains the sorting ceremony they are about to undergo.  

As you climb the staircase and enter the hall, it's not hard to get swept up in the magic of it all, but if the experience leaves you longing for more, you can join one of the official Harry Potter guided walking tours. Tickets and information available at:

The Oxford Information Centre 15-16 Broad Street, Oxford. Ph: 01865 252200.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Light up your wheels with Spoke Lit!

I found these Spoke Lites whilst doing a little research for the 'cycle safety' chapter in the 'Fresher's Guide' and thought they were just terrific. Ever since I've been itching to share them, but have held off until now so that I could include them as my 6th 'Oxford' inspired gift idea. What true Oxford cyclist wouldn't want to find a set of these Spoke Lites at the bottom of their Christmas stocking? 

Spoke Lites are not only super cool, their bright LED lights glow or flash whilst you're riding and ensure you are visible to other traffic. Whilst flashing, Spoke Lites trace dashed arcs of light behind you as you ride, or the glow mode keeps the wheels consistently illuminated -  Just like a light saber for your bike! Star Wars fan or not, you're sure to feel invincible when riding with Spoke Lites.

Available in orange, green, red, blue and disco! Here
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