In which I visit Oxfordshire and find it most agreeable..

Last week I took some time off work to go visit Bicester (pronounced “bister” and not “bi-cest-er” as I originally thought, because I’m an idiot) and it was the very first time I used Airbnb, the website that connects hosts with those looking for lodging.

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Need a place to stay in and around Bicester? Then let me recommend to you Bicester Heritage.

There have been plenty of horror stories with Airbnb in the media, but almost everybody I’ve personally spoken to has always had something positive to say about it.  I decided that I’d start off with staying somewhere that looked professional rather than somebody’s own home.  I chose to stay at the Bicester Heritage Crew Rooms.  Specifically, I stayed at the Bowen-Buscarlet room – the largest of the rooms available.

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My home away from home for two nights. The Bowen-Buscarlet crew room at Bicester Heritage

Bicester Heritage is well positioned.  It’s a former RAF base which is now home to the restoration, storage, and enjoyment of classic vintage cars, motorcycles, and aircraft.

As I don’t drive yet (my first lesson starts next week!), I had to take a taxi from Bicester Town train station (cost is £6 without tip).  Ten minutes later I was there, and making my way through the security barrier, I was greeted warmly and taken to the room which is situated behind the Pump House.  The Pump House recently played host to the film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.  The building was used in the sequences in which Turing is building his Enigma code-busting computer.

Building 82 (The Pump House) at Bicester Heritage, as seen in The Imitation Game.
Building 82 (The Pump House) at Bicester Heritage, as seen in The Imitation Game.

Bicester Heritage very much reminds me of where I work – Dunsfold Aerodrome.  Both offer excellent filming potential, although Dunsfold doesn’t offer any form of accommodation.  Speaking of which, I was hugely amused by the books from Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond within the bedroom and living areas.  Reminded me of a certain TV show that is filming next door to where I work (albeit with a change of staff).

The Oxfordshire countryside is absolutely beautiful.  I went up to Woodstock, home of Blenheim Palace to walk through the park (since the main house and gardens are shut until mid-February).  Absolutely stunning.  I’ve bought an annual pass in the hope of returning later this year.

The town of Woodstock. Great village, with plenty of little shops and great places to eat and drink. Also: churches.
The town of Woodstock. Great village, with plenty of little shops and great places to eat and drink. Also: churches.

It was a beautiful day, albeit rather cold.

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The park itself is an ideal location for dog walkers and for long walks. Capability Brown sure knew how to landscape, and this is reflected in the beauty surrounding the palace.

Overall it was a wonderful two days, and I expect to be returning to Bicester a fair bit over the coming weeks and months.  Being able to drive will certainly help (~1 hour by road versus ~2 hours by train).

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Bicester Town train station. Takes about 50 minutes to get into central London (Marleybone Station).

If I’m to drive, I’d better knuckle down and make sure I commit the following material to my brain:

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