I honestly don’t get too fussed about Valentine’s Day. Commercialised days (like Mother’s and Father’s days – ugh) generally get on my wick; while I don’t exactly celebrate these occasions I do think they can be good opportunities to spend time with your loved ones. So, in that spirit, my boyfriend and I set off for a day of mooching around Oxford.
We arrived pretty famished, so headed straight to The Grand Cafe, where we’d planned to go for breakfast and cream tea. Standing on the site of England’s first coffee house, the building was adorable on the outside and a welcoming brand of opulent twee inside. We ordered a vegetarian breakfast, scrambled eggs on rye toast, and a cream coffee to share after. I’m no food photographer, so you’ll have to use your imagination but let me tell you, it wasn’t half bad.
As the drizzle threatened to up its game, we took shelter inside the Covered Market, a winding network of tiled hallways lined with cafes, milkshake bars, florists and bric-a-brac stores. Coming out the other end, we continued moseying around the town, stopping off for a pint at The Grapes pub.
Wandering through the streets, I definitely picked up a feeling of slight excitement, emanating from the university buildings punctuating the town. Students appeared now and again in brilliantly odd manifestations – as pirates, as Avatars, as Tetris. Vicariously, I mused on the sense of belonging, and being a part of something historic, important and prestigious.
Ready for another snack, we headed to the Queen’s Lane Coffee House. Standing directly opposite The Grand Cafe, it claims to be the oldest coffee house in Europe. Such wild declarations of grandeur! We ate feta cheese paninis and baklava, washed down (respectively) with a Baileys latte and a glass of Merlot.
Towards the end of the day, we happened upon a makeshift space down a side street, hosting an art exhibition. Naturally, we popped in. A basket weaving class was in full swing, stray straw lying underfoot. Further inside, stalls sold handmade goods; I bought a pug-themed notebook and a Modern Art Oxford tote, both of which will come in very handy for the writing course I’m embarking on very soon.
With that, we headed back to the station and began the short journey back to London. If a capitalist-sponsored celebration of love is good for anything, it’s for fun little day trips and couple’s getaways that leave you with new memories, inspirations and adventures.