The portion of St. Giles starting from THIS intersection and extending all the way to the crossing with Beaumont street is my least favorite walking path in Oxford (for now, probably). This will be a rant-y post about paths, but here’s everything that’s wrong with it:
1. VERY commonly visited places: Debenhams (two entrances), Sainsburys, Tesco, Odeon, a night club, a currently closed cafe, and a tiny feeder lane with it’s own amenities that connects with Gloucester Street,
2. THREE bus stops (stops C1 – C3 that attract very long queues that frequently morph into groups of people carrying multiple bags,
3. Cashpoints by Sainsburys and Tesco, which result in queues that intersect the bus-queues and pay no attention to people trying to use the path, as a path,
4. Registered salespeople of the Big Issue, and the lovely gentlemen with their GIANT DOGS who are usually at either end of the Tesco. The dogs are lovely and one can have great conversations with the gentlemen as well, while being aware that you are standing still in a three-square-foot area that also contains bits of queue, people exiting Tesco with shopping bags, people entering Tesco, and people flowing in both directions between Cornmarket and St. Giles,
5. Mysterious drips of liquid from awnings or pipes, even when it hasn’t rained in days and there are no air conditioning exhausts in sight,
6. Suspect stone slabs that will try to trip you up or twist your ankles. These, according to law of Cobbles and Slabs Constructed for Amusement, keep shifting, and will occasionally harbor water under them to splash your good trousers when you step on a corner. These slabs can also be found on St. Giles, specially at the corner of Beaumont Street,
7. Smell of people + alcohol + smoke + strong perfumes from the club. Note, this can only be observed at night, often accompanied by fabulously dressed people in fascinatingly gravity-defying footwear,
8. The physical dangers of accidentally getting struck by shopping bags, corners of luggage bags, baby buggies and being STABBED IN THE EYES BY UMBRELLAS,
9. Tourist groups moving slo o o o o o o o o o o o wly. And with the amazing ability of slowing down or stopping, especially when you are in a hurry and didn’t remember to take an alternative route,
I have saved the WORST for last. I have started considering the walkability of Oxford’s streets based primarily on this factor:
10. People walking upstream smoking cigarettes. People in the UK smoke A GREAT DEAL. The restriction from smoking indoors has just moved the enterprise to store and restaurant fronts, and while walking on the foot paths. The general belief seems to be that people around you and behind you are rather fond of second-hand cigarette smoke being blown into their faces. I cannot stress how much I despise this. On paths like this, there is nothing you can do to escape the smoke either, besides attempting to hold your breath while fighting to keep moving. Stop smoking while walking. Stop smoking ideally, but if you insist, please remember that you are endangering the lives of many, MANY people around you, because you don’t care/don’t realize that smoke travels.
This is the longest image-post yet! Feel rather sorry for having a negative path post, but it had to be done. I’m so sorry St. Giles, you have many other nice portions and I will do them justice.