But not the sort of pub crawl with which we were introduced to our fellow freshers at Uni, wherein we were tied by the leg to another two people and sent on our way to extreme drunkenness and groping. No, this was a whole lot more sober than that. Well, I am getting on a bit these days.
Oxford has a lot of pubs. A lot. It also has a lot of people who enjoy its many pubs, but I’ll cop to being quite picky. Standing in a noisy, crowded bar, vainly trying to shout conversation at your companion is the epitome of a grim night out as far as I’m concerned. Still, at the outset I hadn’t quite realised that my colleague was equally demanding, or how difficult it can be to find a pub that affords somewhere to sit, a low enough level of decibels for conversation; and, as time gets on, decent food too. And for once, it wasn’t just me being high maintenance.
Pubs that didn’t make the cut:
- The Eagle & Child – too busy
- Lamb & Flag – probably too busy but also too far away on the other side of St Giles
- The Turf – this took some finding, and eventually we had to ask directions of a couple of helpful undergraduates. Inevitably, we had walked past it about 10 minutes earlier, so had to retrace our steps. And then it was too busy (but mentally bookmarked for summer).
- The Mitre – never been in it but it always looks grim
- The Chequers – grim
- The Living Room – alright, I suppose. So not good enough.
- The Duke’s Cut – half too busy, half reserved
- The Jam Factory – packed
- The Honeypot – completely, alarmingly empty
By this point we had pretty much run out of options that didn’t involve travel. And so, finally, it was off to The Perch at Binsey, a bit of a gamble because it required a cab ride and if it hadn’t worked out, we’d have been stuck. Fortunately, The Perch was perfect: good wine, good food and an impossibly French bartender/owner who could not have been more accommodating. Sometimes, being a stroppy bitch uncompromising really works out. There was one final treat in store too, because the taxi booked to take us back to civilisation didn’t turn up. I wouldn’t have chosen to walk, but looking up unsteadily into a blue velvet sky that was pinpricked with starlight reminded me that sometimes you should let chance choose for you.