Village hopping in Oxfordshire

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Since meeting a friend from Oxfordshire at the start of university last year, I’ve imagined her to live somewhere similar to the village that Cameron Diaz escaped to in ‘The Holiday’. Picture cute cobbled cottages, hanging baskets of flowers, and snow-covered fields. When I visited this summer my expectations didn’t disappoint me (minus the snow bit).

For someone who has only ever lived by the sea or in a city, countryside isn’t exactly what I’m used to, and arriving at a lane of houses aptly called ‘The Lane’ indicated how rural a setting I was in.

So, in this new countryside setting, we jumped into the car for a day of what I’m now calling ‘village hopping’. (Really, who needs a yacht and some Mediterranean islands, when you have a friend with a car and an array of cute villages and hamlets to look around? Oh, and google maps, unless you’re feeling fearless enough to navigate country roads that are verging on identical yourself).

The nearest village was Deddington, a place that just has a homely feel. Although I was visiting with someone local to the area, I got the impression that the chances of you popping to the local deli without bumping into at least five people that you know are very slim. The central square of the village is surrounded by numerous traditional pubs, and The Crown and Tuns (New Street) is especially worth a visit. More commonly known as ‘the pie pub’, its menu consists of just pies, but its great variety will not disappoint!

The next place that we visited was Woodstock. Woodstock is home to Blenheim palace, the only non-royal country house to be given the title of a palace. And it’s not surprising to see why, its monumental structure and scenic grounds really are impressive, even on a cloudy and drizzly Sunday morning. Woodstock itself is ideal for browsing gift shops and gourmet food stores, before deciding on one of the town’s many bakeries and coffee shops to satisfy your daily sugar cravings. We went to The Blenheim Buttery (7 Market Place), where the chocolate orange sponge was a clear winner (basically a Jaffa cake as an actual cake).

The last stop of the day was Kirtlington. The main purpose of this stop was to see Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden (Mill Lane, Bicester), which can only be described as a hidden gem (hidden being the key word). Located alongside the Oxford canals, afternoon teas are made in a little wooden kitchen and looked delicious (although we didn’t actually try them as we’d only just eaten cake). The tea gardens are only accessible by foot (approximately 15 minutes from Kirtlington), or narrow boat, but the quirky, flamboyant setting is well worth the walk. So grab your wellies, or something other than sandals (safe to say I didn’t pick the most appropriate footwear for the occasion), and treat yourself to some homemade scones should you be in the area.

Note: The tea garden is usually only open every other weekend, so check opening times here: Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden

So, while I may not have found a younger version of Jude Law for myself during my visit, I did find a lot of nice cake – which is a pretty good consolation if you ask me!

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