My Oxford: Cate Martin
M&S, Marks and Sparks, Dine In For 2 and the crib of great British underwear (at least as far as men are concerned), Cate Martin is manager of the retail legend Marks & Spencer’s store on Queen Street. Here, she talks to Jeremy Smith about her rapport with the city.
Hi Cate, can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Oxford?
It started at a very young age. A day’s outing and a special treat all would take place in Oxford, as well as meeting cousins who were studying at Christchurch. Of course, now I’m delighted to be working in Oxford every day – the city is vibrant, full of life and a complete pleasure to commute to.
What are your favourite haunts around the city?
I love Carfax tower and the idea that from the top of it, dependent on weather of course, Oxford continually looks different. Plus, its chimes are a great reminder of time, especially when I am in my office. Th e other haunt that is close to my heart is Oxford Playhouse. As a child I used to go every year to the pantomime, and now I go as regularly as I can. It brings back wonderful memories every time I visit.
What to you are the most iconic aspects of Oxford?
This has to be Christchurch. All round the world, Oxford University is known and Christchurch is one of its most beautiful colleges. A must-see whenever visiting Oxford.
Where do you like to eat and drink?
Whenever I stay over in Oxford, I really enjoy trying new restaurants and bars. My favourites so far are Cote Brassiere, the rooftop restaurant at the Ashmolean and Th e Wine Café. Plus, and I’m not name-dropping here, you can’t beat a sausage sandwich for breakfast from our M&S Cafe.
What about Oxford has inspired or helped you in your chosen field?
I took on my current role as I wanted to be part of the retail explosion that will happen in the city centre come October with the re-opening of Westgate. It will make Oxford a destination shopping experience and transform the city as a whole, with lots of new and exciting retailers.
What’s the worst or least attractive thing about Oxford?
I do find it hard to comprehend that people are sleeping rough outside the Said Business School where our future industrial leaders are being educated. Do you have an area, street or village in Oxfordshire that is special to you? I was lucky enough to live in Henley-on-Thames as a child and teenager. Rowing was and still is my passion, so the Henley Royal Regatta is very special to me. Th ere is nowhere any more stunning or English than HRR on a beautiful day.
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