My Oxford: Barry Grinham
Barry Grinham’s Prime Energy Fitness boasts a list of clients that would make even Gunnar Peterson jealous.
They include Formula 1 Grand Prix owner Eddie Jordan, champion jockey Richard Dunwoody, chefs Raymond Blanc and James Martin as well as Ryder Cup captain Darren Clark, Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine and Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson (to name but a few). An avid charity fundraiser, Barry lives in Kirtlington.
Hi Barry, can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Oxford?
I moved to Oxford in 1980 from East London to teach at the local comprehensive, Gosford Hill, in Kidlington. I'd been studying in Kent at a specialist physical education college prior to being offered this job. I reckon I had the luckiest break of my life because I was clearly the least experienced among the other interviewees and had actually only read about Oxford in my sociology A-level manual. Funnily enough, I've now lived here longer than I lived in London but still do retain a strong affection for my East End roots.
What are your favourite haunts around the city?
I love visiting Blenheim Palace, especially its grounds, as well as University Parks. These are such special places and I love observing the seasonal changes of flora and fauna. In fact, whenever friends come to visit, they always comment on how lucky I am to live here (of course it's a lot different to where I grew up in London's Docklands). But I also love a good country pub and a pint of real ale, especially in the winter with a roaring log fire and a good Sunday lunch. Londoners travel for miles to find the kind of pubs we have right on our doorsteps and sometimes I wonder if we don't all rather take this for granted.
What to you are the most iconic aspects of Oxford?
I love – and always have – our classic 'dreaming spires'. They are so special and remind me all the time of the history this city is steeped in.
Where do you like to eat and drink?
If it's a very special occasion then there's really only one place and that's Le Manoir with Monsieur Raymond Blanc in attendance. It really is a very special venue and I love the fact that they leave nothing to chance. It doesn't matter whether you're super-rich or just treating yourselves to a very special occasion, they make everyone feel like a million dollars. Away from here, you'll find me at The Bell, Hampton Boyle. I've always been a fan of its host, George Daley, as he operates fantastic foodie venues.
What about Oxford has inspired or helped you in your chosen field?
The people here and the environment all conspired to make me decide to set up my own business some 20 years ago and I'm delighted to say it's still going strong today. I started operating fitness classes about a year after I arrived in Kidlington and some of my earliest clients are still with me!
What’s the worst or least attractive thing about Oxford?
I can't stand some of the architecture that's built in this city, and especially so in the colleges where they don't seem to make any effort to integrate the old with the new. If you take a good look around this city, there are a number of obvious white elephants that stand out like sore thumbs. I also get very annoyed by the number of cyclists who ride out at night without any attempt to make themselves appear more visible (they don't even put any lights on their bikes).
Do you have an area, street or village in Oxfordshire that is special to you?
The village where I now live, Kirtlington, is very special. It's in a great location and boasts a vibrant community. The local primary school which my daughter attends is first class and we also have a superb village shop which produces a curry every Friday night that always sells out. There are two good hostelries and a village hall which always has plenty going on, hosting various local societies, quiz nights, fetes and of course two weekly fitness classes that are very popular.