Mental Health Walk Michaelmas: Covered Market, Westgate, the Streets

Originally, I was going to go to the Ashmolean this week with my friend. Instead, I got that feeling you get when you’re absolutely bleh (still do!) and decided to instead take a little walk around before seeing my friends for dinner. Saturday scaries, am I right? So off I went, getting a nice little drink as a treat and walking around town to try to relax. The intention was an errand walk with my boyfriend; I wanted something pumpkin flavored, then a little walk in a charity shop, to Tesco and Westgate Sainsbury’s for groceries, and then back to my kitchen, hopefully calmer. Obviously, that did not end up happening. 

The journey began when I decided that I wanted something not from Pret or the other cafes, but instead something from the Covered Market. The flower shop was closed, but all the cafes were open; we stopped by Colombia Roasters to grab a hot cocoa with marshmallows ($4.) The hot cocoa was dark and mellow, but not too bitter or sweet. The foam and marshmallows on the top combined with the cold weather kept me from burning my tongue as we walked out past the tourists. There was not much talking happening with the tourist groups looking for dinner, forcing us to walk single file. The Covered Market is not normally this bad, though it is often crowded; expect some money to be spent and crowds to be crowded, though the stuff is worth the crowd. 

After we got out onto the High Street, the crowds eased up a bit and we could actually chat. The high street is normally a decent place for conversation, but the constant stares at my puffer made me self-conscious that someone could always just know who I was at any given time as I passed. If I was in a crying mood that day, I’d probably have been more panicked that my breakdown would be on Oxfess. Thankfully, with the tourists, nobody I knew was walking at the time, so on we went past Carfax’s religious chanters to Queen Street. I do treat them as background noise, but recognize that others may not have the same ability to ignore them; when they approach me, I always just push past them but still feel a bit uncomfy. It’s much easier to hide the sounds of sobs when all you can hear is overlapping yelling about what God wants from each of us. 

I nipped into the British Heart Foundation shop right before it closed, doing a quick peruse through the racks. I have found some great finds here in the past, but today was not my day; after about fifteen minutes searching through both men’s and women’s sections (and homeware, for a small pan in the kitchen) to no avail, off we went past the buskers back to the Westgate plaza. 

Those of you that have read my columns in last year Hilary know I am a big busking fan. The violin lady was there, playing Canon in D, plus some new person playing the synth…. It was a nice backdrop while walking into Westgate, but I still was not in the mood to get groceries. So instead, I decided to do more window shopping: having finished my cocoa, it was time to see what sales were going on. Uniqlo brought no luck, but at Miniso we got some things for the kitchen and a $1 storage basket! Then into the Westgate Blackwell’s; a little less interesting than the Norrington Room in the High Street location, but still with a good selection. The entire time I am getting a bit better and having much chit chat about the state of affairs in my life, without the crowds and with zero chance of running into anyone I know. It was a great experience.

As I ran off to my dinner in the upstairs rooftop area, I realized that though I still had no food in the fridge, I still had a nice and successful and mostly relaxing walk without running into anyone I knew, and ended up getting some admin done at the same time. Nice to know you can still hide in plain sight, even in Oxford!

Covered Market: Cryability: 2,  Seclusion: 2, Fun: 8, Helpfulness: 7, Quickness: 8

High Street: Cryability: 1,  Seclusion: 1, Fun: 4, Helpfulness: 4, Quickness: 9

Queen Street Cryability: 5,  Seclusion: 1, Fun: 5, Helpfulness: 7, Quickness: 9

Charity Shop  Cryability: 9,  Seclusion: 3, Fun: 8, Helpfulness: 6, Quickness: 8

Westgate Cryability: 7,  Seclusion: 3, Fun: 5, Helpfulness: 7, Quickness: 8