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Nostalgia Trip

Since we were both planning on going to our tutor’s Birthday Lunch on the Saturday, my closest friend from college and I decided that it would be a good idea if we made the most of the opportunity and met up for dinner on the Friday night. We both had recent birthdays of our own to celebrate, and hadn’t seen each other for over a year so had lots of news and gossip to catch up on.

I left the arrangements to Katie – she’s always been super-organised and I knew she’d leave nothing to chance. She booked us dinner at Browns Brasserie, which seemed virtually untouched since we were undergraduates. Back then, as an impoverished student over thirty years ago, it was largely out of my price range, and somewhere to aspire to as a special treat. Now, with the benefit of being older and with an income, I can see it as a very pleasant and reasonably priced brasserie. I had pâté followed by chicken schnitzel, with fries and a side salad, and it was very tasty.

Hotels in Oxford are notoriously expensive, and the more reasonable B&Bs tend to be quite a long walk from the centre of the city. So staying overnight in a college seemed like an excellent idea. However, the guest rooms at our own college are not particularly comfy, are right next to the industrial-sized washing machines which rumble most of the night, and (like the vast majority of rooms in the main college building) have shared facilities. As I recall, you have to wander down to the basement in your dressing gown, clutching your wash bag, to find the showers. We decided that we’re too old for that, so Katie did a search online and booked us into the guest rooms in Keble College, a very short stagger from Browns Brasserie.

Keble College

I don’t know Keble College at all well – as I recall, I only went there once and that was to a Ball just after my Finals. However, once you get past the unmistakable and rather ugly High-Victorian architecture, it was very impressive. The rooms had clearly been recently refurbished, and were remarkably comfortable with en-suite facilities. Yes, the shower was absolutely tiny, but at least one didn’t have to go down to the basement and then queue for it! There was an abundance of plug sockets, a large pin-board, built-in bookshelves, good WiFi, and even a fridge hidden in the wardrobe. I remember in my first year at college, there wasn’t a fridge anywhere on my staircase, and I used to have to keep my half-pint carton of milk on the windowsill. Fine in winter, not so good in summer….. Today’s students clearly have a much more luxurious time than we did!

Breafast in Hall was included in the room-rate, but seemed only to be taken up by those staying on the B&B deal – the two of us, and two clergymen (one wearing so much purple and a huge pectoral cross that I think he must have been a bishop). No undergraduates seemed keen to get up for 08:15 on a Saturday morning for a full cooked breakfast, which seemed a shame as it was very good. However, thinking back, I hardly ever had breakfast in Hall, preferring a bowl of cereal in my room. And if I’d had the luxury of a fridge in my room, I think I’d have breakfasted in Hall even less!