Monday, 18 July 2016

An Afternoon in Oxford

On Thursday, Charlie, Chloe and I headed into Oxford for a little birthday celebration for Chloe.

We started off with afternoon tea (/high tea) at The Grand Cafe, which has one of the prettiest interiors I've ever seen (it's also rather beautiful from the outside). The food was delicious, with egg and cress, and salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, plain and raisin scones, with jam and cream, and some little chocolate bites. The tea was also 10/10. It's quite a small cafe, despite the illusion created by the stunning grandeur mirrors, but it's definitely somewhere I'd recommend going if you can get a table.

Following afternoon tea, we did a little sight-seeing, as it's always nice to look around a city you're very familiar with; I think I sometimes forget just how beautiful this place is. We went across to the Radcliffe Camera and the Bridge of Sighs, two of Oxford's best known landmarks.

Then we headed off the do a little shopping, and a couple of hours later hopped on the bus home to attend our favourite pub quiz with some other friends.

Where are your favourite places to go in your city? And what are the best things to get up to there?

Until next time.

Contacts/social media:
Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Outdoor Cinema: St Hugh's College

Last week Ruth and I heard about some outdoor cinema screenings that are happening in Oxford across the summer, and jumped at the opportunity to go to one.

On Saturday night we headed to St Hugh's College to watch Dirty Dancing. I'd never actually seen the film before and it was a pretty darn great way to watch it for the first time.

The doors opened at 7.30, but the film didn't actually start until about 9.30, so we were hanging around for a long time, but wanted to make sure we got good seats (ya know). We booked single beanbags, which came with a blanket to keep you warm as it got later.

In the wait for the film there was food and drink on offer, which we, of course, went straight for. I got sweet potato fries and they were probably the best I've ever had.

One of the trees in the garden was lit up with coloured lights, which added a nice little touch to the evening, especially as it darkened and the film started.

The audience was pretty fun, with lots of cheering and whistling at Patrick Swayze, and there was a nice mix of ages, with the evening being very accessible to a wide range of people.

Overall it was a really wonderful evening and definitely something I'd be keen to attend again.

There are several more screenings to commence in Oxford over the summer, at both Pitt Rivers and Oxford Castle, as well as at various other locations across England. So if you have the time to go and catch a film in your area, I would recommend checking out Cult Screens to see the dates of upcoming screenings.

Until next time.

Contacts/social media:
Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour

Friday, 8 July 2016

Sounds like Summer

Today's post is a selection of songs I'm loving at the moment, and will be sure to keep listening to throughout the summer. Are any of these on your summer soundtrack?

6. Oceans Between Us - The Icarus Account

12. Walking In The Wind - One Direction

17. Waste The Night - 5 Seconds of Summer

25. We Are The Fire - Lawson

Until next time.

Contacts/social media:
Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Blackass - A. Igoni Barrett

Today I'm doing a little book review, of A. Igoni Barrett's first novel, Blackass. This book is on my reading list for the module Last Year's Novel, which I'm taking next year, and although I was reading it for uni (having to read books can sometimes put me off from the start), I really liked it.

The text is set in Nigeria, where it's author is from, and revolves around the life of Furo, whose life is turned upside down when he, a black man, wakes up white. White apart from his butt, thus, the novel's title.

What I found most interesting is the change in mentality based on the way people treated him. He gains more respect as a white man, and is handed pretty much everything he wants, and yet he loses some of his kindness and his humility, he essentially gives into the greed of white consumerism. At the beginning of the text, it's easy to feel sympathy for Furo, and by the end, you feel like he really doesn't deserve all that he is offered. And more than anything this seems to be a comment on racial politics and the unfairness of it, which I don't think could be any more obvious.

The satirical style of the novel drew me straight in and really brought out all the ignorance and iniquity. I really like the cliffhanger ending and all the ambiguity the text leaves off with, it's how I personally prefer a book to end, but I understand that this may be something that bothers others as you don't get a 'proper' ending.

I would 100% recommend this book, it's a gripping satirical text, commenting on issues surrounding racial politics and identity, comprised in a bold and compelling style.

Until next time.

Contacts/social media:
Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour

Friday, 1 July 2016

A Guide to Summer in Oxfordshire

As summer is upon us, or near enough, I thought I'd write up a guide of things to do in my home county of Oxfordshire during the season. I've spent every summer of my life here, so I figured it would be nice to compile a list of places I would recommend or suggest going if you fancy a trip to the area.

Day Trips

Cotswold Wildlife Park
- Museums - Ashmolean, Museum of Natural HistoryPitt Rivers
Oxford Castle
University of Oxford
Didcot Railway Centre

If planning a day trip to the county, here are a few places you might want to consider visiting. Whether you're planning on staying in the city centre and would like to see across the city from the top of the tower at Oxford Castle and spend the rest of the day ducking in and out of the colleges, or you'd prefer to stay out of the main city and go somewhere a little more off the beaten track, Oxfordshire has a lot to offer. Cotswold Wildlife Park is a little west of Oxford, in Burford, offering a lovely day for all ages. Or perhaps you'd be interested in visiting Henley and taking a stroll down the Thames. There are great places for a day out in all areas of the county.

Stately Homes and Gardens

Blenheim Palace
Grey's Court
Rousham House
Broughton Castle

If you're interested in the history of certain areas of Oxfordshire, I would highly recommend visiting one of the stately homes, as they offer a lot of character, with buildings from various ages. Blenheim Palace is undoubtedly the most famous in the county, and would probably have to be my favourite; over the summer they put on several extra events, including jousting. I also really loved Grey's Court, in the Chiltern Hills. You could happily get lost in the beautiful gardens, and if you're lucky you'll make it in time to see the beautiful wisteria.


Oxford Ghost Trail
City Bus Tour
- Picnic in the park - Cutteslowe Park, University Parks, Christ Church MeadowSouth Park

When the weather's nice, there's nowhere I'd rather be than outside, and there are quite a few activities and places to go around here. Punting is something Oxford, like Cambridge, is famous for, and something I've not yet had the trust to do with my friends, but I'll hopefully be going soon. The Ghost Trail is a great way to delve into the history of Oxford, and something I found really fun and interesting, weaving in and out of all the alleyways. And there's nothing I love more than a walk in the park, especially with the added bonus of a picnic.


- Afternoon Tea - Browns, The Grand Cafe, The Randolph, Blenheim PalaceThe Manor at Weston-on-the-Green
- Pub lunch
- Ice Cream Farm - The Milk Shed (Weston-on-the-Green)

Food wise, I would always recommend going for afternoon tea; Oxford just feels like the ideal place for it. Browns is great, with the loveliest decor and good value for the food you get, or if you're celebrating an occasion, maybe The Randolph would be a nice gesture (my mum loved it). One of my favourite things to do in the summer is go to the ice cream farm, The Milk Shed (previously called Godwin's). You can eat indoors or go outside and take a wander through the fields.


Bicester Village
Oxford Covered Market
- Farmers' Markets

If you're a keep shopper then not only does Oxford have a good high street, but additionally a designer outlet in the form of Bicester Village. Personally I don't spend much time there, but if you're into shopping, you'd probably like it there. Or, basically in opposition, if you'd rather head to a market, then there are a number of market towns across the county that hold regular, usually weekly, farmers' markets. If you can't pin down the exact date the one closest to you is, there's also the Covered Market in Oxford, that's open all week.


- Cornbury (July)
- Wilderness (August)
- Reading (August, in neighbouring Berkshire, just south of Oxfordshire)

Something I'll be doing for the first time this summer is attending a festival. I'm actually going to Reading, which is just across the south border into Berkshire, but two festivals taking places within Oxfordshire this summer. Cornbury Music Festival is taking place very soon, from the 8th-10th July, and Wilderness Festival is happening 4th-7th August. I've heard great things about both, and would definitely like to attend in the future.

I hope I've given you a little inspiration for any trips you may be planning this summer. Are you going to Oxfordshire soon, and is there anywhere else you'd recommend going?

Until next time.

Contacts/social media:
Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour