Oxford town centre is lovely; let’s clear that up straight away, and no doubt it’ll be a post for a future date. However, this is a brief visit to Headington on the Eastern outskirts of Oxford. It’s really just a small shopping street: a particularly ugly Somerfield, a few caffs, estate agents and papershops. However, it’s worth exploring a little bit around: Old Headington is a really beautiful example of a village that’s been swallowed up but has retained it’s character and style, while the huge expanse of South Park (not that one – I know you’ve got Primus stuck in your head now) is just up the road.
What Headington lacks in amenities, however, it certainly makes up for in charity shops, where it punches well above it’s weight. Charity shopping is, at times, an exercise in demographics, and it’s really noticeable in a town so overwhelmingly, well, studenty. Oxford made its name on its university, and the “high-end” nature of its students. Today, that translates into a large number of fairly wealthy, foppish types. As university years progress and halls look increasingly obnoxious, Oxford students seem to spread out over the town’s beautifully-terraced streets, and Headington, with its frequent bus service and proximity to the considerably-trendier Cowley Road, must be high on many students’ lists.
Henceforth, shops are filled with no-longer-desired DVDs, well-thumbed paperbacks of classic and controversial literature, many and varied stripy clothes, and all sorts of quirky ‘misc.’ The highlights of our visit included Waking Ned on DVD (this is one of those films I’ve been waiting for ages to find) and an Albert Einstein action figure. Correct, an Albert Einstein action figure. A large heap of paperbacks invariably came with these.
With six or seven shops in very close vicinity, this is a concentrated, action-packed charity shopping experience. A particular mention to the ‘indie’ of the Headington scene: the Sobell House Hospice shop, with it’s dark thoroughfares and well-laden corners: we found an almost complete set of the Guardian’s Lyricists series. On departing, we had second thoughts about the soapstone chess set in the window, only to see the door closed to us – a lesson to the hesitant.
Find: Headington at Google Maps
Transport: Loads of buses into and out of the centre, including the Park and Ride
Consume with: coffee and a sticky bun from La Croissanterie Patisserie, Old High Street.
Visit: the infamous shark house, at 2 New High Street
Overall Rating: four ‘Frampton Comes Alive’s