Two weeks ago, on a Friday night, El Hombre and I found ourselves having dinner at the oldest pub in Oxford, The Bear Inn, or just The Bear, celebrating his birthday.
Small and cozy. Not specially dark. Nice vibe. Friendly staff and a wide collection of ties!
We were both starving so we devoured an egg burger and some fish and chips. Amazing. I have to say I’m very picky when it comes to battered fish. This one was just perfect: not too oily, not too dry. And crunchy! Totally unexpected.
The beer, my beer, was Oxford Prospect pale ale from The Shotover Brewing Co. Just the perfect bitter- sweet taste after great food.
Not only pleased with food and drinks, the night stepped up a level by sharing table with three different groups of people while we stayed. When one comes across random people, sharing the experience seems like a necessity.
Group nº 1
Family of 4. Old parents, 50-60? Different nationalities. ?Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese mum. English dad. Old, quite old to have a 7 and 14 years old kids. And the conversation, the most awkward thing. The parents didn’t even seem to understand each other. The kids, quite and polite, asking the most bizarre questions. Did I mention it felt awkward? Very awkward. Specially when they are sat next to you. Anyway… off they went.
Group nº 2
Two guys. French and Russian. Oxford University Alumni, maybe just for one year. I burst out laughing when the French guy, the chattiest one, states something like this “I met him here (about the friend that was about to join them). He doesn’t drink alcohol, he hates it, but he still is a cool guy.” That was enough to start a conversation with this peculiar and slightly egocentric human being that entertained us for a while. And when the teetotal mate turned up, off they went.
Group nº 3
Guy nº 1 speaking a weirdly slow Spanish. El Hombre very glad about it. Me wondering whether he is actually Spanish or not. Guy nº 2 speaking a Spanish with an accent. Could he be South American? Instruments in hand. A guitar and a… bandurria. Hola??? “Excuse me. Are you guys a Tuna visiting the UK?” “No, we are members of the Oxford University Tuna, the only one in the whole UK. Can we seat here?”
WOOOW!! For those who don’t know what a Tuna is, here we go, straight from Wikipedia:
“A tuna is a group of university students in traditional university dress who play traditional instruments and sing serenades. The tradition originated in Spain and Portugal in the 13th century as a means of students to earn money or food. Nowadays students don’t belong to a “tuna” for money nor food, but seeking to keep a tradition alive, for fun, to travel a lot and to meet new people from other universities. A member of a tuna is a “tunante”, but is usually known simply as a “tuno”.”
And they actually got two free ciders and a couple more later… In exchange of the lovely songs they played for us. They engaged with most of the people around.
There’s also a tradition with Tunas and girls. You can hire them to sing for you on your birthday, but all the girls need to get colourful ribbons that the tunos will later pin on their cloaks. They express affection to these elegant and romantic gentlemen.
Lovely night at The Bear. Definitely going back for more fun in Oxford!