Whether you prefer to sip your champagne and spin out sophistries, show off your mad skills in the slowest and most cumbersome method of nautical transportation ever devised, or simply sit and marinate in Pimm’s, there are few things in life better than punting. For a good time always bring: food and drink (to inspire and fuel all of the above); an umbrella (hardly needs explaining); and a camera (to record your friends’ spectacular failures and shame them on social media). NB: some of your mates will harp on about how you simply must punt from the Oxford end – the Oxford end is the shallower curved bit, whereas the Cambridge end is the raised wooden platform. Don’t be one of those people, as it may suck the fun out of the outing; punting from the Cambridge end makes you more likely to fall in, which is far more entertaining.
Eclectic but fascinating, this gallery-cum-museum is teeming with ancient Greek and Oriental treasures, as well as an assortment of funkier modern art. Nonetheless, the space feels very coherent - a bit like a miniature British Museum. The main displays are freely accessible, and temporary exhibitions tend to cost around a tenner but are really worth checking out. Recent artists exhibited have included William Blake, Francis Bacon, and Henry Moore. (And if you like your modern art, the museum regularly organises exciting exhibitions, such as Andy Warhol's work, from February 2016.)
If you don’t fancy the gentle rocking and spiralling trajectory of a poorly piloted punt, maybe keep your toes dry (like the landlubber you are) and take a walk through Christ Church Meadows. Lush and green, lit up by cows, punts and pedalos, and enlivened by a stream of brightly bestashed rowers making their way to and from the college boathouses on the river Isis, there are few more peaceful places in the city.
The Natural History Museum is more or less like the one in London, but smaller and with a heavier emphasis on science. The real gem here is the Pitt Rivers, one of the most astonishing galleries of anthropological material in the world. The museum comprises a single room filled with glass cases, each dedicated to a theme of human endeavour (e.g. ‘music’, ‘war’, etc. – although some are more specific). The sheer amount of stuff is extraordinary, and you really feel simultaneously immersed in all kinds of diverse cultures from human history. Likewise, the quality of some of the pieces is really unbelievable, like one Chinese artefact, a sphere of ivory intricately fashioned into ten concentric rings in some elaborate symbol for the universe.
A fun film lair to sneak off to if you tire of the George Street Odeon’s stream of blockbusters. Although the cinema does not exclusively show arty and foreign films, but they are lavishly on offer. Tickets are cheap, and the venue is nice and chilled-out.
--- Sam, New College