With the end of term approaching, this column is also drawing to a close! Once Trinity comes around I will no longer be rusticated and thus I must say farewell to my ‘diaries’. In this penultimate entry, I wanted to reflect on some of my favourite places to be in Oxford during my year off. 

In my first column, I mentioned wanting to find ‘safe spaces’ in Oxford that I didn’t associate with high levels of stress and anxiety. When I moved back here in August, I thought the chances of this happening at all would be highly unlikely, but I proved myself completely wrong. It was actually quite hard to narrow down the places I find most cosy in this city – there are just so many! However I have picked my top 5 that I want to celebrate for their warmth, comfort, and overall impeccable vibes. 

Peloton Espresso 

Obviously I have to start with my favourite coffee shop! Over the past six months I have visited far too many cafes in order to confirm the best place to study or chat or just chill. However, the first one I went to when I moved, Peloton, has never been beaten. Firstly, the lighting has outdone itself: the toasted yellow light bulbs hover over each corner so no table is left uncosy. On top of that, they have the best cheese toasties! £3.60 for a DIVINE toastie is a competitive price, and they are filled properly which I am very appreciative of. Their filter coffee is always being updated and I have been educated by their super friendly staff on different processing methods! In summary, if I want somewhere where I know I am always welcome or just a place to calm my thoughts, then I am heading to Peloton!  

Turl Street

This is more of a generalised spot, and just one of many of Oxford’s beautiful side streets. I grew connected to this street after spending more time at Jesus College and also through making it part of my walk to work. My favourite time to wander down Turl is on a weekday after a morning shift, when the street is much more quiet than usual, and almost feels as if it’s been hidden. I will spend too much time in Scriptum shuffling my way around all the notebooks I can’t afford but can certainly dream about. I think my lifetime will be spent debating whether to purchase the midnight blue journal with the Rad Cam illustrated on the cover. I should get that. No, I shouldn’t. I should. No, okay next week…


Covered market in general is a lovely place, but I am actually obsessed with wearing rude socks and so Soctopus is close to my heart. Soctopus is in my opinion one of the cheekiest shops in Oxford, with an abundance of unhinged items to wear on your feet. Now, I am truly in my phase of the ankle sock, and am exclusively devoted to wearing pairs with no less then eight colours. What I love about Soctopus is its celebration of the non-serious, of how a pair of socks can unprofessionalise just about any outfit. My favourite thing to do recently is attend evening events in a trench coat and black dress, with the phrase ‘losing my shit’ peaking above my chelsea boots. 

Oxford SU 

The SU building is a curious one, not quite as fancy as I’d imagined it to be. I don’t spend a lot of time here, but have visited a few times for meetings and Oxide radio. The first thing that struck me was the brightly coloured bean bags and bunting on the ground floor. It really reminded me of my classrooms in primary school. On top of that, there’s big whiteboards everywhere and the carpet has a blue tinge, which is even more like my old primary school. For some reason the SU has made me feel very nostalgic for childhood. I want to start a scrapbook or make a fairy from pipe cleaners. I have to say I haven’t gone up any stairs in the SU, so maybe it’s more formal the higher you go. But I am living for how the SU reminds me of being five again. 

University Parks

The parks are a constant. It always feels a little odd, however, to write about nature. I am conscious of how language can trap the natural world, making it a prisoner to extended metaphors or long vowel sounds. Thus, I will try and be as concise as possible in my reasoning for University Parks. 

To gaze in gratitude at a tree is an act of freedom from myself: a mode of transportation to some place safe.


I would love to hear people’s recommendations for any places they feel particularly ‘at home’ in Oxford, there are so many hidden gems! Feel free to message via insta 🙂 (_alicebrooker)