It’s been a wonderful but hard year. Hubby and I have been busy busy busy, and last month, whilst in the throes of celebrating my big birthday (I know its hard to believe , looking at me that I’m 50), I had a bit of a mishap with a vat of bolognaise sauce and have since spent 4 weeks back and forth to minor injuries unit at our local hospital in Llandrindod Wells for the burns to be dressed. They’re nearly better… What a wonderful team of nurses they have…
Add to that the ‘end of season’ cold/flu bug, and Hubby and I were just about ready to drop. We needed a break.
I booked two days in Oxford. It’s one of those places we pass all the time, to and from our family in London and Essex and back home to Mid Wales, but we have never stopped there, always skirting around the bypass.
I found Abodes B&B on booking.com and, OMG, if there was ever a lovelier, more comfortable and more homely, warm welcome (other than at our own B&B #blowourowntrumpet 😉 ), I can’t image (although there is also one in Harlech… I’ll write about that another day). When I booked I was full of the worst cold, still boob bandaged and , still had guests in the B&B. I did try to contact the B&B to postpone but , like us, its family run and out of season, she’d gone away for the weekend and , like here, she was in a pocket of the UK that still has limited internet/phone access (hard to believe in 2017/2018 that we still have these problems). Anyway. having messaged the B&B asking to change the dates and being unable to contact them I was a little worried that they would not be expecting us so when we arrived and met Lliwen Williams we were so delighted. The B&B is basically her home, with a couple of rooms open to guests and all the comforts and trappings of visiting your fave family member or friends for a couple of nights. The double en-suite we had was warm and cosy, well equipped (beyond expectation) and, whilst it said ‘continental breakfast only’ the array and quality of food and flexibility over breakfast timings was exceptional. Just what I needed with feeling so rough.
It was also great to tap into Lliwen’s local knowledge. We found a great pub for in an idyllic location for our first night evening meal, thanks to her; and we used the local bus instead of park and ride saving us both time and money getting into and out of Oxford
Lliwen and her daughter, Seren (Welsh for ‘star’) were so lovely, we left feeling like we had new friends. I cannot rate Abodes B&B highly enough. The corporate looking website doesn’t begin to represent the unique, warm welcome you will receive.
Oxford itself is magical, historical, romantic, stunning. There is a brand new indoor shopping complex called Westgate, filled with all the big High Street names if that’s what floats your boat. We didn’t go there. We wanted to discover the real Oxford. We walked through the whole of the old city; round the ancient castle, and old prison complex; along the river and canal; through the college grounds and park; taking in the gorgeous sandstone historic architecture; enjoying the riverside tranquility and wildlife; relaxing in some of the quaint historic free-houses and buying gifts from gorgeous boutique shops selling handmade crafts and gifts.
I’d recommend this little shop which lived up to the sign outside with buckets full of quirky, unique gifts, many of which were sourced from UK-based artisans, and with the most lovely shop manager, Salleanne, who told us the stories behind some of the makers. We came out with a bag of booty, which I can’t show you because some of it might be for you…
I can also recommend The Chequers, a Nicholson pub squeezed into a back alley of old Oxford and brimming with character, great ales and comfy sofas. Again, the corporate website does not represent its unique warmth and friendliness. We sat in there for ages. Hubby tried a few real ales, they do third pints so you can have tasters , but once he’d found Saltaires Triple Chocoholic Ale, he was smitten. the young barman, Dave, guided me through the gin menu, I settled on Nicholsons, which apparently is distilled by the great-grandson of the original Nicholsons who founded the original brewery chain/freehold pubs back in 1837 (who says drinking isn’t educational). He also helped me work out how to use my new phone (I couldn’t work out where and how to send and receive texts!!! #nocomment )