Community: On The Street Where I Live
In 2009 I moved back to Oxford from Brighton, with hopes of finding some of the indie culture I had left behind in on the south coast. We moved into a flat on Magdalen Road as the Magdalen Arms of old, and the Eagle were calling last orders for the final time.
Cowley Road definitely had its stalwart indie scene, but Magdalen Road was just on the eve of fizzing into life. The Eagle was reincarnated as the ever popular Rusty Bicycle and The Magdalen Arms underwent a massive face lift into the famed gastro pub it is today. These two anchors at the Iffley end of the road kick started the new wave of exciting indie life on the street that has led to a happier, closer community as a result.
Fast forward 7 years, the street and surrounding area are brimming with exciting new businesses that really knit the community together, making it a colourful and vibrant neighbourhood.
As the corner stone of Magdalen Road, The Magdalen Arms not only offers great food in a convivial atmosphere, it also holds monthly Flea Markets selling an eclectic mix of bric a brac, vintage, retro and auction room finds from an awesome selection of traders and dealers. Flo Fowler, the owner at the Magdalen, and Sarah Horner of Sarah’s Home Comforts, carefully curate the market every month inspired by their combined love and talent for finding vintage and up-cycled treasures. It’s a bright, friendly and colourful market lined with cheerful bunting nestled around the pub. It’s a great way to while away a Saturday as you can grab a coffee in the pub, linger over lunch or take home some freshly baked Magdalen Arms focaccia. The next market is on the 2nd July and you can find out more details about what they have in store over on the Facebook event page here.
The new kid on the block is The Missing Bean Roastery at 1 Newtec Place, which is a great hub for locals on Saturday mornings, and popular with commuters on the way to work during the week. You can take home freshly roasted beans as well as enjoying a single origin coffee in a super friendly atmosphere; plus Vari, the Roastery manager, is on hand to help you find your favourite coffee style based on your preferred flavours, what could be better from a business with community at it’s heart. The Roastery also holds regular cupping nights so you can get to know more about the roasting process and discover your most loved coffee beans.
Vicky & Ori, the couple behind The Missing Bean, have also been a great support for my business Kinship of Oxford, with a mini Kinship Pop Up Shop on display at the Roastery throughout the week from Tuesday to Saturday. Collaborations like this really offer something unique to the community and show how spaces can be used in a creative and engaging way, strengthening the indie community along the way.
On the 29th June we are having a joint party to celebrate the new look Roastery and the launch of a new brand from me, A Rosie Life! Come and join us for some fizz, or even an espresso martini or two, from 6-9 pm and check out the Roastery and A Rosie Life – the evolution of Kinship and a lifestyle store where everything’s Rosie! Find more details about the event here.
The area around Magdalen Road has also evolved from rough and ready to a family friendly neighbourhood helped in part with the revamped Pegasus Theatre offering lots of workshops, classes and performances to engage families with young children as well as teenagers and students. The Magic Café also offers a great meeting point for Mums with young families to connect, as does the newly opened Silvie on Iffley Road.
Silvie was set up in April and offers delicious homemade cakes and bakes (I can highly recommend the cinnamon buns!) plus a great breakfast and lunch menu including dishes like bacon butter, boiled eggs and soldiers, and courgette polpettes with salad. The café is situated on the ground floor of Browns guest house which has been tastefully redecorated with eclectic vintage pieces, matching the look and feel of the café below. The garden space is also delightful and makes a perfect oasis too, you might even meet Rosie the cat!
As well as a big emphasis on homemade dishes, the pubs and cafes in the area carefully source their produce, many buying from local farms and producers, the provenance of produce is becoming increasingly important for many residents. This is particularly prevalent in the Magdalen Road community with many families and young professionals supporting thriving young business Wild Honey which stocks a wide range of organic groceries, as well as the Cultivate Veg Van which visits the Rusty Bicycle every Thursday selling locally grown fruit and vegetables.
A post about Magdalen Road wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the brilliant Oli’s Thai, which has become not only a local, but a national treasure in it’s short lifetime. They have received many accolades for their delicious and fresh approach to Thai cooking, make sure you book in advance as this boutique restaurant is super popular!
As more and more of us strive to achieve a greater balance in life with time for work and play, the need to connect with the community around us becomes increasingly important as the key to a happier and contented life. The indies in this area really strive to engender this and facilitate the bond between individuals in the community. The Chester, just off Iffley Road, burst into life at the end of 2014 as a great community pub tastefully decorated and serving great food including Hamzah’s famous steak platter! Their ethos being that it’s more than a pub, a hub.
This philosophy is the key to all of these thriving businesses, whether they offer you a hub to meet friends, greet you with a smile and remember your usual, or help you to celebrate the big, and little, things in life. So come and join in the community spirit; help us to celebrate exciting new ventures at The Missing Bean Roastery on Wednesday 29th June or discover vintage finds with friends at the Magdalen Market on 2nd July.
Whether you have an indie business or just live in Oxford, lean into your community and build on those relationships, the support and connections you get in return are the stepping stones to greater happiness and fulfillment.
You can also join the indie Oxford community by popping along to the next Oxford Instameet, which is open to all.
See you there!