If you follow me on Instagram or follow my Project 365 posts you will know that my son are always off out on an adventure whenever he’s not at school. Whether that be at the weekends or during the school holidays. We like getting outside and exploring, but I do find the driving tiring and finding somewhere to park can be stressful at the best of times. Last week we defied the weather and spent time enjoying a family day out with Stagecoach Oxfordshire.
My son and I love visiting Oxford, our nearest city, but driving there is something I wouldn’t even entertain. We’ve often made use of the Stagecoach Oxfordshire S5 service from Bicester to Oxford city centre, but have normally picked it up from our Park and Ride Car Park which offers free parking.
It was time to spend time enjoying a family day out with Stagecoach Oxfordshire, this time leaving the car at home, and making use of the bus stops closer to home. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before and we’ll certainly be using this option in the future.
We have a couple of bus stop options within a five-minute walk from home, one with a shelter, one without. With rain clouds threatening we opted for the sheltered bus stop and my son was soon striding out on his latest adventure.
Once we’d reached our stop it was time for a bit of traffic spotting as we waited for the bus. We’d opted for the S5 service which stops at various points within Bicester, Kidlington and Summertown before heading into Oxford itself.
We chatted to other people as we waited for the bus and before long we could see it approaching.
We’ve always been really impressed with these buses, they offer free WiFi, contactless payment if you haven’t got a season ticket and comfortable leather seats. We weren’t lucky enough to grab the ‘golden’ front row seats on the upper deck on our way into Oxford, but my son was very happy to get his front row seat on the way home.
In the past we’ve also used the S5 service to connect to the 700 service which runs on a loop to the various hospitals in Oxford. My nephew was in hospital and parking there is horrendous at the best of times, so catching the bus made it more of an adventure for my son, and less stressful for me. It’s a very good service and lots of people use it for clinic appointments too.
But this time around it was all about enjoying a family day out with Stagecoach Oxfordshire and we had lots of fun things planned in the city centre. The S5 drops off right in the centre of the city, and my son and I headed off for our first visit to the Oxford Botanic Gardens admiring the beautiful university buildings as we went.
The Oxford Botanic Gardens are set on the outskirts of central Oxford, right next to Magdalen Bridge and the river Cherwell. Children go free and it’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for ages.
The rain decided that it would make an appearance or two throughout our visit, but the greenhouses helped us to dodge the worst of the weather.
The weather wasn’t going to dampen our spirits and we still enjoyed watching the gardeners at work. We’ll be returning again to see the gardens come to life and in full bloom. We definitely shouldn’t have left it so long for our first visit.
Our stomachs were telling us it was time for some lunch. Oxford has so many good places but as it was my son’s choice of where we should eat on this day out, we were always going to end up eating pizza!
We walked across the city to the Oxford Castle Quarter and decided on Prezzo. We both enjoy their menu but haven’t tried their Oxford branch before. As I wasn’t driving at all, I could even enjoy a Peroni with my meal, which was most welcome on a rather wet day.
I had a few ideas for more ways we could spend the afternoon enjoying a family day out with Stagecoach Oxfordshire and we headed into the nearly Westgate shopping centre. I’d heard they were running a Gromit spotting trail and knew my son would love trying to find them. A bit of fun and something different.
No visit to Oxford for us is complete without a visit to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, when Gramps’s insects are on display. My son has to check that they are all still present and correct. But on our way there I came up with another idea to make our family day out a little different. I spotted that you can climb the tower of St Michael at the North Gate Church for a small charge. I’d been assured that the climb was child friendly, which is was, and we headed up the steps to look down at the city below us.
We traced our route out to the museum and headed back to ground level to continue our walk. My son knows the museum well and it’s a family favourite as it’s so child friendly.
He made a beeline upstairs to check on the family bugs before enjoying everything else the museum has to offer for an hour or two.
There are a couple of stops for the S5 within a few minutes walk of the museum, but the rain was getting heavier so we headed to the one we knew had a shelter, just in the nick of time. The bus stop has bus arrival information on a live stream so we could see how long we’d got to wait for our bus. The S5 runs every 15 minutes during the day, but as we needed the service which went beyond Bicester town centre the driver on our outbound journey had told us we’d need to catch the return service leaving Oxford on the hour or half hour. We had a short wait, but we were under cover and my son loved watching the other buses come and go along the row of stops.
Before too long we were heading home, in the ‘best seats’ according to my son, as the heavens well and truly opened. We were glad to be in the warmth and dry of the bus. Thankfully by the time we reached our stop the rain had stopped, and we had a five-minute walk before we reached home.
No stress, no worries about parking and actually plenty of time to just talk to each other on the journeys, rather than me having to concentrate on driving. The whole experience got the thumbs up from my son.
For more information on Stagecoach Oxfordshire and the routes they cover, pop over to their website.
disclosure: I am being compensated for this post and we were given free travel, lunch and tickets to the Oxford Botanic Gardens in exchange for this post. My views still remain my own honest thoughts.