There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Friday, 14 November 2014

Oxford Christmas Shopping

"Christmas waves a magic wand over the world, 
and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful"
    ~Norman Vincent Peale

Next week the Christmas lights will be 
coming on over Oxford and the 
'dreaming spires' will take on an even dreamier 
glow, as sparkling bicycles fly high overhead.


On most days during the year I try to get my shopping done early in the day.  It seems as though locusts move through Marks and Spencer early in the day and if I leave it too long, by the time I get there the shelves can be bare, sausages sold out and not a berry to be found. But by late November and in December I leave my daily shop for later in the day, just so I can shop with the Christmas lights overhead.

Lights shine over St. Aldate's St, with
Tom Tower in the background.
One of the things I like best about shopping in Oxford, other than I don't have to even get in a car and I can walk everywhere, is that I never have to set foot in a shopping mall like we have back home. Instead of fluorescent lights, mall music, and recycled air, in Oxford there are street lamps, twinkling Christmas lights, flying bicycles, fresh air, and dreaming spires set against the dusky sky.

Oxford's High Street and it's magical flying bicycles.

The other thing I like is that I don't have to set foot in a chain store if I don't want to. Even though Oxford has all the usual High Street suspects, there are more shops to choose from than M&S, Primark, Next, W.H.Smith's, and Top Shop--you just have to know where to find them. These are just a few:

The Bodleian Library Shop can be found in the corner of the Bodleian Old Schools Quad, with books, cards, and beautiful Oxford gifts.

Christmas tree in the centre of the Old Schools Quad

Open on weekends only during December, the Oxford Botanic Garden Shop sells gardening books and tools, guides to the medicinal plants found in the botanic garden, postcards, toiletries, gifts, and children's books.  Admission is also free during the winter months.

If you're going to visit Christ Church College and Cathedral during your Oxford trip, also visit the Cathedral shop in the Chapter House.  You'll find Christ Church Cathedral Choir CDs, books, gifts, as well as Harry Potter & Alice in Wonderland gifts.

Lincoln College against the beautiful
backdrop of the late afternoon sky.

The Ashmolean Museum Shop is filled with beautiful fine art posters and cards, special clothing, jewellery, gifts, and books.

And then there's my favourite, the Blackwell Bookshop An iconic fixture on Broad Street, Backwell's opened it's doors in 1879, selling books in one twelve by twelve foot room.  It now stretches up and back into a rabbit warren of rooms, with books ranging from textbooks to rare and antique books.  I'll be spending a lot of time in there, especially in the wonderful children's section.  It's easy to get lost in time and space within the magic of Blackwell's and it will be pure pleasure to search for books to give and some to keep.  Blackwell's has always been a haven for, "those who come in from the noisy, cobbled street to find quiet and invitation, not so much spoken as conveyed by the friendly spirit of the bookseller, to scrutinize and and handle the books on the shelves without any obligation to buy."  

Blackwell's also has a wonderful poster and art shop on the corner of Broad Street and Turl Street. The Blackwell music shop has been moved into it's main store on Broad Street, and has the best selection of Christmas CDs from all the Oxford colleges.

Hear Oxford's ghostly
past as night falls
and shadows lengthen.
Be sure to stop by the blue gates of Trinity College too, and join one of Stuart's walking tours which run every day at 12pm and 2pm, and his special late afternoon Ghost Tour at 4pm.  You can also buy tickets online here, or Stuart offers gift vouchers for Christmas gift giving; email him at

Broad Street

1 comment:

  1. A world away from our madding crowd. Love this!