Lily Tessa




Archer Leo

Oxford and what it means to me

Correct me if I'm wrong but I feel like everybody has that one place aside from where they live that means so much to them and for me that place is Oxford.

God I can't tell you how much I love that place.

It's where my dad grew up as a boy and where my Grandma lived. It's where we spent most of our Summers as children, back when summers were actually summers, and often Christmas' too. 

Oxford, specifially Summertown in Oxford, is serene and it's beautiful. Every corner of it is littered with memories. The cycle track leading to the pub in the woods. The river with the rope swing and the over grown field full of crickets. The old church at the end of my grandma's street and the row of nic nac shops beyond it. 
I always had this dream when I was younger that Oxford would be where I would move to and bring up my own family. In amongst the cycling and the canoeing, the quaint old book shops and bakeries and the cobbled streets of the town centre how could we be anything but happy there?

Obviously that hasn't happened. Although it's certainly not somewhere I'd rule out moving to for retirement. Or when the kids go off to uni. It's still there in my fantasies - even 15 years on. 
Now that my grandma has passed and our last link to Oxford has gone I find myself more determined than ever that we take the kids there over summer. Each and every summer.

I wish more than anything I could rewind time and experience those days again. Borrowing the neighbours bikes and cycling from 8 in the morning till tea time. Playing hide and seek for hours and coming home through the back door to the sight and smell of my grandma baking welsh cakes. It saddens me that my babies won't get that same experience but I want Oxford to be a part of their lives, even if it can't be in the same way. I want it to mean something for them in the way it does for me and my brothers. I can't wait to show them around, point places out and tell them the stories of what we got up to in those exact spots as kids and  then when they're old enough let them experience it all for themselves.

I'm heading to Oxford at the end of this week with my family for my grandma's funeral. It will be the first time I've been back in years and I'm scared. Not just because I'm leaving the kids for the first time & not just because I'm doing a reading at my grandmas funeral. (Yes me, the worlds worst public speaker, although that is weighing heavily on my mind.) I'm scared most of all because I have this fear that Oxford just wont be the same. That I'll get back there and realise this whole time I've been seeing it through rose tinted glasses for all those years. It's been so long and I can't help but wonder..what if without my grandma there, the magic has gone? Or what if my favourite old shops and cycling spots are no more, replaced with busy supermarkets and a multi story car park. I really really hope not but I guess we'll see.   

I suppose if it has all changed, I'll still always have my memories. 

And oh what memories they are.

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