View from my Castle Window, Oxford

{Written from my study above High Street in Univ, Oxford, UK}

There is no doubt that I am finally living out my lifelong goal of being a princess. While most girls, whether they admit it or not, all go through this phase and outgrow it by age ten, I confess that at nineteen I’ve never stopped believing that I wholly merit the invisible crown on my head. Like most colleges in Oxford, Univ is a formidable 13th century castle originally designed to protect its young monks-in-training from “Town vs. Gown” riots over tavern bills, rent, and women…for vows not to marry said nothing about celibacy, and Oxford minds were fast to find this loophole.

Our Head Porter maintains his tradition of barring the castle gates at night, seeing as even the southern gentlemen of our crowd have returned with black eyes and bruises. While the fortification of the castle does protect us from the townspeople, I attribute the majority of the bravado spats to the close quarters we’ve kept for the past weeks. A month is long enough for feelings to blossom, hearts to break, and vengeance to be sought especially when you add in a strong dosage of Univ brewed cider with a chaser of sleep-deprivation.

But no one, not even Mia Thermopolis, thought to tell me just how difficult it is to physically navigate a castle. Returning to my box of a room is a true sobriety test. Uneven stairways send me up and down narrow corridors, zigzagging through the chilly bridge that connects the two towers till I crouch past a hobbit hole – yes; there really is a tiny green circular door – before hurrying over the creaky floors past the haunted apartments praying that no demon is behind. No castle is complete without its spiral stairwells, and it is at the top of said circuitous journey that you will find the narrow wing that constitutes Sam, Neha, and my humble abode these days. Their fabulous company, the constant boiling kettle of tea, and my bedroom’s impressive view of University Church and Radcliffe Square make the whole trek through the labyrinth worth it.

I shift between a love-hate relationship of having my room overlook the stunning but noisy High Street since all pub-goers and Ahmed food truck seekers stumble just below my window.

Watching over High St. from my Room
Watching over High St. from my Room

From my little spot in the universe I get to revel in the power of knowing exactly who left with whom and returned with whom – beware, I know way too much – and thus armed I get to enjoy holding court during tea break the next morning with my sorority sisters in the common room. Like any savvy courtier in the castles of bygone queens, they always just happen to know all the slanderous details of late night happenings in the narrow streets and secret passages that lead back into the towers.

The very layout of Oxford’s medieval castles and twisted cobblestone alleyways caters to the further fanning of drama around our unique campus. I can’t help but sometimes think that in studying classical European literature and history, we’ve all unknowingly stepped right into their mindset of honor and scandal as we follow their ghostly footsteps, navigating the spiral stairwells to our bedchambers.

It’s getting late at night now, and my eyelids are getting heavy. The Porter has long barred the Univ Castle gates and I think it’s time for me to draw the soundproof window and red curtains. Until next time, HRH Nikita.

Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

3 thoughts

  1. Your blog transports me to the medieval period complete with castle, the imaginary crown, and royal scandals! Put the kettle on, I’m coming over to hear more…….your stories are most interesting!

    Liked by 2 people

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