Sunday, July 22, 2012

Making friends as a 'grownup'

Alex Williams wrote an article for last Sunday's New York Times about how hard it can be making new friends in you thirties and forties and judging from the amount of comments it's received, it has really struck a chord. 

Read the story here, if you'd like, and weigh in: Have you, too, found it hard to make new friends as an adult? What about during you time here in Oxford? Do you ever find it awkward to "ask someone out"?

If you're new in town or still struggling to get out and mingle, the Oxford University Newcomers' Club might be a great place to start. You'll also find an extensive list of organised activities, clubs and classes on the Oxford Daily Info website.
(Illustration by Roman Muradov for the New York Times).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Frank Cooper's Vintage 'Oxford' Marmalade

'Behind every great man is a great woman' and Frank Cooper was no exception. His wife, Sarah Jane Cooper, made the first batch of Cooper's marmalade in her High Street kitchen in 1874. She was the first in Oxford to bottle and market her homemade marmalade commercially and 'Cooper's Marmalade' debuted in the family owned grocery store (on High Street) with great success. 

A favourite amongst Oxford University's dons and undergrads, Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade became an essential part of college breakfasts and demand followed Oxford men far and wide - Even the Queen is said to enjoy Frank Cooper's at breakfast! (The company holds a Royal Warrant).

Fancy Facts 
1 Did you know that a  jar of Frank Cooper's marmalade went all the way to Antarctica with Captain Robert Falcon Scott? It was found, many years later, buried in the ice! 2 A jar of Frank Cooper's marmalade can be seen down the rabbit hole in the original 'Illustrated Alice in Wonderland.' 3 The Jam Factory, on Park End Street, (Frank Cooper's original marmalade factory) is now home to an uber-cool restaurant, gallery and bar. 4 There's an 'Oxfordshire Blue Plaque' at 83 High Street, commemorating Sarah Cooper's achievements. 

Frank Cooper's Marmalade is now owned by Premier Foods and continues to be sold to this day.

I'd LOVE to hear from anyone who's tried it. Personally, Vegemite's my favourite. 
What's your favourite spread?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oxford Guide: Child friendly cafes

No matter how strong the craving, walking into an unfamiliar cafe with a baby or toddler in tow can often spell disaster. Whether it's a mum who needs to breast feed, a toddler in need of a high chair or a teeny tiny squawker, the thought of it all can sometimes seem so hard that you'd rather stay at home. However, once you've discovered a few places with all the right ingredients, I hope you'll feel differently. Here are a few of my favorites:

 Maison Blanc (St Giles). One sniff in Raymond Blanc's authentic French Boulangerie and Pâtisserie and you'll be hooked. Go on, treat yourself, you know you desrve it! (Tip: avoid visiting during the early morning rush. Service is slow at the best of times and a disaster for tetchy tots.)

Summertown Wine Cafe (Summertown). This is SO much more than a wine bar. Venture inside during daylight hours and you will be very pleasantly surprised! Bonus: You'll find the SWC nestled amongst some of my favorite stores in Oxford. (Designer fashion + vintage interiors + art gallery + wine bar = heaven). Tip: JoJo Maman Bébé & M&S on Banbury Rd also provide excellent baby changing facilities.  

Queens Bakery on Windmill Rd (Headington), is cheap as chips and has stacks of cute cakes made especially for kids. My friend Kate, (who's a mother of three), assures me that she can push her side by side buggy through the door with ease and never worries about taking up too much space. The interior is a little dated, but when you can get a decent coffee, three little treats for your munchkins and change from 5 quid, who cares?!

Modern Art Oxford (City Centre). The Missing Bean and Zappi's are my favorites for coffee, but Modern Art Oxford ain't bad. Accessed via St Ebbe's Street, MAO offers a fantastic family friendly cafe, complete with free Wi-Fi, daily newspapers, highchairs and baby changing facilities. Admission to the gallery is free and there are even free art activities every Saturday between 1-3pm. (Tip: The basement is great for nursing mums). 

The Barefoot Books - Storyteller's Cafe (Summertown). Three words: Coolest place ever!  
(Tip: Check out Barefoot Books website for a calendar of daily events). 

G&D's Ice Cream Cafe (Cowley). I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! As far as babies and toddlers are concerned, this place is the bomb. There's loads of room for buggies, a del- icious selection of bagels and brownies, and baby changing facilities for mums AND dads. Order a coffee if you must, but can you really resist G&D's famous 'Oxford Blue'? (Tip: If you need a highchair, just ask - they're hidden behind the counter). 

The Jam Factory (City Centre). Paddington Bear would have loved this place, but Frank Cooper’s famous Marmalade Factory is no more. Today it is home to a spacious, uber-cool restaurant, gallery, cafe and bar. As you can see from the photo, it is VERY family friendly. Bonus: All the cakes are home-baked by the owner's mum! (mmmmm)

Ashmolean Dining Room (City Centre). Sound formal? Don't worry, it's a piece of cake. Speaking of which, next time you and your little one/s are visiting the Ashmolean, plan your trip around after- noon tea, served daily (except Mondays) between 3-6pm on the roof top terrace. (Tip: The lift is tiny, so it's a bit tricky with buggies, but my friend Zoe assures me it is perfectly doable!)

There's also another cafe in the basement. It's busier and noisier than The Dining Room, but as I am sure you are aware, this is not necessarily a bad thing! Bonus: Kiddy meals, high chairs and baby changing facilities are available at both cafes and entry to the museum is free. 

That's all for now my poppets. Where do you and your little ones love to hang out? Come on, spill, who makes the best babychino in town?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

When Alice Pleasance Liddell, moved to Oxford in 1856, at just four years of age, I'm sure she had no idea of the adventure's that lay ahead of her. As the fourth born child of Henry Liddell, the newly appointed Dean (Head) of Christ Church, Alice was never short of company. Together with his wife Lorina, Dean Liddell provided Alice with a total of nine siblings, but it was the two sisters nearest to her in age, Lorina and Edith, with whom she was closest.

Alice Pleasance Liddell, Summer 1858. Charles Dodgson. Photograph: National Portrait Gallery

With the Christ Church Deanery as their new home, the girls undoubtedly had much to explore and were often found playing in the Deanery garden. On one such occasion they stumbled upon a man taking photographs of the Cathedral who introduced himself as Charles Dodgson,(otherwise known as Lewis Carroll). Alice's father shared an interest in this new art form, so it was not long before Dodgson was invited to take the first of the many photographs of his growing family, and of Alice in particular.  

From left to right: Edith, Lorina & Alice Liddell, circa 1859. Charles Dodgson. 

During the long process of sitting to have their photographs taken, Dodgson often told the children stories to keep them entertained. However, Alice's real 'Adventures in Wonderland' began on the 4th of July, 1862, as she rowed merrily along the Isis with her sisters Edith (age 8) and Lorina (age 13)

Accompanied by their friends Mr Dodgson and Rev. Duckworth, 10-year-old Alice asked Dodgson to entertain her and her sisters with a story. As Rev. Duckworth rowed the boat, Dodgson happily obliged, regaling the girls with stories of a girl named Alice as they made their way from Folly Bridge to Godstow. (The Oxford River Cruises 'Mad Hatter's Tea Party' follows this very same route today).

Alice and the Dodo, by Sir John Tenniel, 1865. Image: The Victorian Web

Although these stories were not unlike those that Dodgson had spun for the sisters before, 
this was the first occasion that Alice had begged him to write it down for her. 

Those of you who know the story well, may now even be able to guess who inspired a few of the charters in Chapter 2, “The Pool of Tears.” Any ideas who Duck, Lory, Eaglet and the Dodo might be? None other than Rev. Robinson Duckworth, Lorina Liddell, Edith Liddell and Charles Dodgson himself of course! 

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Where has the summer gone?

This is the worst summer ever! No really, it's a fact. According to a report I read this morning, 
last month was the wettest June since records began! Can it get any more depressing?

Funnily enough, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Sky Umbrella, designed by Tibor Kalman for the New York Museum of Modern Art's Design Store. In celebration, MoMA is reaching out to reintroduce the umbrella to a new generation of fans and they've certainly found one in me! 

Top: Havainas in: Green, Blue Sky, Citrus Yellow. Bottom: Hunter Original's in: Spring Green, Turquoise & Citrus
In desperation to brighten up my dreary mood, I've even considered trading in my flip flops (thongs) for a pair of these brightly coloured wellies (gumboots). It's hard to ignore the similarities in Hunter's 'summer' colour palette, but does anyone really buy them at this time of year?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...