By Colin Dobson

In a life spent mostly on the road, it is important to get out of the taxi and walk around.

Not least for physical exercise, but also because it enables me to see things which I would never otherwise have seen.

Getting out and walking offers a much more enhanced perspective to very familiar streets. For 10 years, I have worked in and around Abingdon and Wantage.

On my way to and from work, I have spent a lot of time sat in traffic on Saint Clement’s Street, said by the county and city councils to be Oxford’s most polluted street.

Instead of driving though on Monday night, there was an opportunity to park up and to walk around the tightly-packed, terraced streets, delivering invitations for the parish church’s upcoming open days during the Oxford Open Doors weekend.

Billed as a celebration of Oxford, its places and people, Open Doors is a weekend of events and openings of venues, many of which are routinely closed to the public.

Oxford is a remarkable place in many respects and much of its most life-enhancing architecture and even sacred spaces are closed, for most of the year.

The renowned architectural authority Pevsner doesn’t have all that much to say about our building, whereas he devotes more than twice as much space in his Buildings of England guide to another more recently built local church, which worships in a much higher up the candle style.

We are not the most decorated church in Oxford, nor even the most architecturally remarkable. We are not that old; nothing functioning in our church is older than 200 years – although we do have on the floor, in our narthex, what is said to be the oldest bell in the city, cast in the 13th century.

But we are none other than the house of God and we are open not just for Oxford Open Doors, but faithfully worshipping every Sunday and serving the local community throughout the week, across a whole range of parish facilities.

Walking, rather than driving, offers a wholly different and more detailed perspective to very familiar streets.

Monday night’s short walk around the parish saw two attempted dog bites, some properly artistic guerrilla crochet, two gentlemen coming to their doors in an intoxicated state and a fellow engaging me in conversation as to whether I believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus – I do.

And on the parapet of a small wall outside an unremarkable block of 1960s flats in Saint Clement’s Street is an inscription: ‘WE WALKED EVERYWHERE WE DISCOVERED PLACES’, with no other explanation as to why it is there, nor whom it commemorates.

Or, as GK Chesterton once put it, “There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world til we come back to the same place…”