Cv Publications' series of relocation guides to English counties was launched with my survey of Oxfordshire. It was a journey of discovery. Rather than just passing from point A to B, my excursions followed an ad hoc schedule of diverse routes. I found myself turning down obscure side lanes leading to little villages hidden in a marvelous landscape of deep countryside. Documenting over 100 centers, the county gradually revealed itself as largely unspoiled by the industrial sprawl. Oxford itself is of course very lively and cosmopolitan, but communications and facilities are as good in the many market towns. I was really interested to note the range of properties both old and new and the particular character of an area. I hope that my guide provides details and insights that will assist your own enquiries for a new location.
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It is hard to understand who might benefit from this book. At the very least, it is seriously in need of an edit. The information given is too sparse for anyone thinking of relocation and mostly omits places of interest that might appeal to the tourist. Essentially divided into main regions - Oxfordshire East, West, Central etc. - towns and villages are then listed, mostly but not always, alphabetically, but confusingly will curve back to an earlier entry, Didcot Railway Centre, for example, appears several entries after Didcot. The quality of the notes on any given place varies enormously, occasionally indicating a very vague price range of properties, though this is infrequent, sometimes detailing the shops by name, bus route numbers (but not destinations or frequencies), availability of facilities: a boy scout troup, a football club, health club, horse riding lessons, schools in the area - but not with any consistency, and rarely is there an indication of overall size (although one place, not mentioned by name, is said to be simply two houses and a church). This information can also give a strangely distorted view of a town, also. Bicester is listed as having some shops but fails to include Bicester Village, a retail area famous throughout the world which attracts huge numbers of, especially, Chinese and Japanese tourists to England each year and Wheatley is said to have 'a nursery '. It does: the internationally acclaimed Waterperry Gardens. And whilst several villages are mentioned as overlooking the Vale of the White Horse, Uffington, the White Horse village proper, never even mentions the name.
Oxford itself is mostly omitted other than as a place where parking is almost impossible and housing simply cannot be purchased, recommending instead the outlying districts ofFset and Headington, this latter erroneously suggested as somewhere in a low price range. How long go was.this guide written? It is correct, however, in naming Summertown as the most desirable and caught after address - but not for it's cosmopolitan appeal, as suggested.
The whole is a confused collection of intriguing place names, frequently offering little that might be helpful to prospective buyers of tourists, but advertising some places on an entirely ad hoc basis. One hostelry, the Swan Inn, is given three mentions within a very brief period of time, though whether it is the same place each time is unclear.
The narration, though clear and with only one recording glitch detected, is delivered in a cheerful "the train now arriving at platform x" mode. Hard for there to be much else, given the text. But sadly, place names are mispronounced, Blenheim being called Bl-eye-n h-eye-m, instead of Blen h'm, Kingston Bagpuise becomes Kingston Bagpees, not Bag pews, Eynsham, more properly pronounced Enn-sham, is delivered as Eye-n-sham and the deceptive Beauchamps is spoken as it appears (Bow champs) not the correct rendering of Beach-ham. There are others and all should have been checked before the book was issued. My personal favourite line in the book was the exclamation of surprise (apparently) that one small town "does have a primary school."
Attempting to re-find any brief entry about a specific place would be difficult, given the confused entry system and, if this inadequate guide is to be of any use at all, it is better viewed as a written document rather than an audiobook. At best, Oxfordshire provides a glimpse at Oxfordshire as a whole, pictured as a mostly rural and farming area with some shops and a few other resources.
Until recently, I had lived in Oxfordshire for many decades and my husband was born there. I received a complimentary copy of Oxfordshire:a County Guide, from the rights holder at my request, via FAFY. My thanks. Obviously it is difficult to produce a succinct guide of this magnitude which will please everyone. But at least those facts given should be checked for accuracy, balance and overall impression given.