Amidst the Rooftops, Oxford

{From the terrace of Turl Street Café, Oxford, UK}

There’s something magical about sitting amidst the rooftops above Turl Street Kitchen. I’ve chronicled many castle happenings from the terrace of this café, which I found whilst strolling down a long alleyway filled with old quills, strong cappuccino shots, and actual leather Oxfords. Quaint is the best word to describe my surroundings: I could really be in any part of Europe I’d like to imagine myself in.

From my perch up on the terrace, all I see are rooftops. Flowers overflow from wooden planters and ivy crawls along the walls, peeking over my shoulder as I write. Well-dressed couples of all ages have come and gone from the four intimate coffee tables surrounding me (not many know of this nook in the roofs) discussing everything from friends getting married tomorrow in Dubai, to summer homes in Geneva, to the Greek Crisis knotting up finances. The slight summer breeze carries snippets through the brick rooftops to be decoded by anyone in the narrow passages far below.

I think all humans are drawn to great heights; there’s some sort of fascination that compels us tiny mortals to climb to the top dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral or squeeze past claustrophobia to soar above the falcons at Cardiff Castle. We claim it’s for the view, but I suspect the real reason we sneak up to rooftops is to fulfill a desire to stand above the mess of the world and reign supreme…until the next girl wants a selfie with the view and pushes you aside. Many in our contingent at SMU-in-Oxford rendered ourselves demigods for the duration of drinks at the rooftop Varsity Club, clinking flaming glasses and popping a bottle of Bottega Gold against the expanse of all of Oxford’s towers and spires.

There’s a transformative quality to losing oneself amidst the rooftops; for a moment I’ve got wings and could leap off into a new adventure, leaving my groundling skin far behind. As my imagination flies to new sunsets from my elevated coffee table, I seek loftier ideals; I’m liberated to stretch my mind to broader horizons. Around me the people’s conversations float to new worlds racing from archaeology at Angkor Wat, to a bee sting in Croatia, to a Norwegian exporter of feta cheese. They too soar on wings, for their mind’s eye sees every place but the small wooden chairs upon which they and I are seated amidst the rooftops of Turl Street.

The wind’s getting chillier now and I’m forced to descend back to reality, back to my iPhone beeping a reminder for the Battleproms Concert at Highclere. With my notepad and pens back in my cozy tote-bag, I’m now ready to make my way back through the alleyways, past the twists and turns, and up through the maze that I must navigate to find my room in the Castle of Univ. For more directions to my speck in the universe at Oxford, read “View from my Castle Window.”

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!

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