Visiting Oxford and Reading

I hopped on a westbound train yesterday and rode out to Oxford for my traditional visit. I got a shock when I found that Far From the Madding Crowd, the CAMRA Pub of the Year a few years ago and one of my favorites, was gone, replaced by a Tesco food mart! Too bad. 

 

The Turf Tavern in a quiet moment

 
I visited the White Horse, King’s Arms, and Turf Tavern and enjoyed several half-pints of different English ales in each. The White Horse is an interesting place: built in 1551, it’s one of only two pubs in Oxford left “untouched” and has no TVs, no jukebox, and no game machines. When they renovated the kitchen after a fire in 1980, a witch’s broom was discovered concealed in a wall. For fear of superstition no one would touch the broom, so they simply left it there and boarded it up again, where it remains to this day. 

After a further hour of amiable wandering around Oxford, taking in the wonderful old architecture and envisioning episodes of the Inspector Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour TV series, it was back on the train to Reading.

 

Unique menu board at the Vaults & Gardens Cafe in Oxford

 
I lived in Reading in 2008 and always get a nostalgic kick out of visiting. I met up with Mike Mather, my colleague when I opened my firm’s first office there, and we talked UK politics and rubgy (the Rugby World Cup competition is currently in progress in London). Mike is always a font of entertaining and exuberant ideas.

  
Then I went to my firm’s new offices, which are very nice, in nearby Green Park. After a brief tour, Steve, Glyn, and Tim took me out to The Swan Inn, a very traditional English pub, for a pint. I enjoyed several pints of Timothy Taylor’s “Landlord”, four-time CAMRA Beer of the Year, and it was delicious! We had a great evening and I thank them for being so entertaining and giving up a few evening hours for me. 

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