Secrets of a shopping mall
There's more to Oxford's Westgate than retail therapy! If you're heading down this month, you'll find plenty of unexpected fun stuff to do. Here are our top picks.
My parents kindly took my children out to Oxford for the day last week so I could work. At lunchtime I received a Whatsapp video from my dad of my two having the time of their life water zorbing. “Where are you? ” I messaged back. “Westgate, believe it or not”, came the reply. They’d stumbled across the pool and giant inflatable balls in the civic space outside of John Lewis. Things have certainly changed at shopping centres since my mother would drag me around C&A and Etam in the summer holidays.
Turns out there’s plenty more fun – for kids and adults – at the Oxford mega mall this month if you think outside the box (well, outside & Other Stories in my case). Here are my picks.
Get a midlife crisis piercing
I’ve currently got six peppering my ears, the last of which was only acquired a few months ago. A walking cliché? Yep, but I don’t care. And I might be tempted to have another at the brand new walk-in Piercing Parlour at Accessorize Westgate, piercings free with the purchase of selected earrings. I’ll just brazen it out when faced with a queue of sniggering teenage girls.
Mooch around the roof terrace
Have you come across Lots Holloway yet? The upcoming London singer-songwriter has serious Adele vibes going on (she’s certainly got some pipes on her). She’s performing a series of free gigs on Westgate’s roof terrace on 16, 17, 30 and 31 Aug. More culture? There’s a display of art by late Taiwanese artist Li Mei-Shu, curated by Dragon Discoveries, an Oxford-based Eastern art educational group. Catch it this weekend (10 and 11 Aug) before it finishes. And if that’s all too much effort, you can simply lounge on the deckchairs and watch the world go by. I won’t tell anyone if you have a snooze.
Become a trail blazer
Until 18 Aug, your little Dr Dolittles can pick up an animal trail map from the Guest Experience Pod and roam through the centre finding various furry friends. Once complete, they’ll get a prize – and you’ll hopefully buy enough time to browse the new season ankle boots in Russell & Bromley. For more adult tastes, there’s an interactive archaeological trail, showcasing artefacts discovered during the excavation of the site. It also details historical hotspots around the city centre, such as the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Castle Quarter. Who said shopping wasn’t educational?!
Tuck into a posh picnic
Soggy sandwiches? Not if you nab a Sticks’n’Sushi picnic from their chic rooftop restaurant. I’d recommend heading down to Christchurch Meadow to lounge on the grass and eat it. While we’re talking Sticks’n’Sushi, keep an eye out for their kids’ sushi making classes – you’ll have junior whipping up oodles of sashimi in no time. Hey, it’s an important life skill! The next one is in October so make a note.
Words: Kerry Potter