Oxford is more than an academic hot house – though as author Ben le Vay admits, its shady college cloisters certainly hide more than a few eccentrics. Eschewing trite clichés of ‘dreaming spires’ and ‘honeyed stone’ Bradt’s new Eccentric Oxford gives the lowdown on making out in a punt, ‘be careful where you put your pole…’,designates the sites where Bill ‘Slick Willy’ Clinton didn’t inhale, Jeffrey Archer was, or wasn’t, ‘at Oxford’, the four minute mile barrier was broken, and a melancholic Morse enjoyed a quiet pint.
Eccentric Oxford romps through the city’s oddities, which like the town, its population, and architecture, are both ancient and modern. Oxford’s literary connections are impossible to obscure, from Hardy and his Wessex novels, via CS Lewis’s conversion to Christianity – on a motorcycle ride from the city, to the last piece of middle England’s earth occupied by JRR Tolkein – in a cemetery in north Oxford. Great writers aside, from an initial calendar events that is odd in anybody’s book, to its analysis of converging ley lines of cosmic forces, seemingly lined up along Magdalen Road, Eccentric Oxford is an amusing and informative companion for any visitor. Including walks, shops and practical travel tips to circumvent an eccentric traffic system, Eccentric Oxford blows away preconceptions of a city that’s much more than one half of the boat race.
Benedict le Vay is a features editor on a leading British newspaper. He spends his spare time researching zany facts about the British and their way of life. He is also the author of Bradt’s Eccentric London and Eccentric Britain.
Title: Eccentric Oxford
Author: Benedict le Vay
Publisher: Bradt Travel Guides
Publication: 10th November 2011
ISBN: 978 1 84162 426 6