Tag Archives: Oxfordshire

Lunch at The Wild Rabbit, Kingham

Britain suffered the coldest August bank holiday on record this year.

To many, a perfect excuse to ball up under a warm throw and indulge in a Netflix marathon…

But not I!

I couldn’t bear the thought of a squandering a day off doing nothing. So I threw on my slicker and hit the Cotswolds country roads!

Cotswolds Landscape Sheep

Cotwolds Cottage

Cotswolds Rainy Landscape

We had lunch in my most favorite village, Kingham, at the Daylesford pub venture “The Wild Rabbit.”

Wild Rabbit Pub Front

Wild Rabbit Rear

Wild Rabbit Pub Fireplace

Wild Rabbit Dining Room

Wild Rabbit Table Bread

Wild Rabbit Bloody Mary

Wild Rabbit Bloody Mary Sip

Once I had my bloody mary in hand, I was all smiles.

Though someone was less than impressed to have been dragged out in this weather…

Wild Rabbit Date

Not much choice on the menu, but everything we ordered was delightful.

Bruschetta; smashed broad beans, whipped goat's curd, ham

Bruschetta; smashed broad beans, whipped goat’s curd, ham

Lentil salad with gorgonzola and red onion

Lentil salad with gorgonzola and red onion

Wild Rabbit Lentil Salad

Wild Rabbit Chips Staub

After lunch, I literally had to tug my squire by the sleeve to accompany me on a little walk around the village. He hates wet weather. But I think England is romantic in the rain.

Wild Rabbit Pub Porch

Wild Rabbit Pub Porch Point

Kingham town

Scampering under the drizzle, we made our way to the village church and had a contemplative moment inside.

Kingham Church Path

Kingham Church Gatre

Kingham Church

Kingham Church Side

During the Middle Ages, the Cotswolds enjoyed a booming wool trade and the area became very prosperous. As a result, there are many handsome churches dotted around the countryside built of this yellow Jurassic limestone. I can’t get over how dignified and sumptuous it looks!

Kingham Church Doors

Kingham Church Coat

We hid out in the dusty old church, escaping the rain for a while.

When it reduced to a sprinkle, we dashed back to the car, and whizzed home to snuggle up with a hot cup of tea.

Broughton Castle

British people have a saying, “An Englishman’s home is his castle.” The phrase is taken to mean that everyone has the right to do as they please within their own home, and no one can enter a dwelling without invitation. On a weekend trip up to the Cotswolds, we stopped in to see one of the finest private moated manor houses in the country, Broughton Castle.

Located outside of Banbury and made of magnificent golden honey limestone, the core of the house dates from 1306. It has been home to the Fiennes family since the 1400s, and has appeared on-screen in films such as Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Jane Eyre (2011).

The owners open the house and grounds to the public on select days of the year, and we seized the invitation to have a poke around.

Broughton Castle Entrance

The Gatehouse

The Gatehouse

Broughton Castle Outside

Broughton Castle Landscape

Broughton Castle Shells Window

Broughton Castle Viscount Falkland Portrait

I have to admit it’s a bit weird roaming around a complete stranger’s home – no matter how magnificent. However, the interior is so perfectly cared for and preserved, it feels rather like a museum. As I became more and more lost in the details and grandeur of each room, I began to forget the sense that I was somehow intruding.

Armor on display in The Great Hall

Armor on display in The Great Hall

Broughton Castle Great Parlour Wallpaper BUST

Ornate Plaster Ceiling in The Great Parlour

Ornate Plaster Ceiling in The Great Parlour

Broughton Castle Bedroom Dragon

Broughton Castle Portraits

Breezing through the drafty stone corridors, and up the creaky wooden staircase to the long carpeted gallery filled with art and antiques, we amusedly nosed around the historic chamber rooms.

Broughton Castle Bedroom Wallpaper Chair

I freaked for this gorgeous wallpaper in the King’s Chambers, hand-painted in China with impressive detail in the 1800s.

Broughton Castle Bedroom Wallpaper

We were even permitted to climb out on the roof and look down over the luscious green landscaping and gardens.

Broughton Castle Roof

Broughton Castle Roof Panama

Broughton Castle Roof Shot

Broughton Castle Garden

The last room to see was the Oak Room, an opulently panelled drawing-room with an oak interior porch put up by William, the 1st Viscount.

Broughton Castle Sitting Room Doorway

Broughton Castle Sitting room fireplace

Broughton Castle Sitting Room Books

Broughton Castle Sitting Room Door

The Oak Room led out into a perfectly coiffed garden with neatly manicured box hedges and a smattering of pastel pink roses.

Broughton Castle Outside Garden

Broughton Castle Outside Garden Looking

Broughton Castle Outside Garden Arch

Broughton Castle Outside Garden Bench House

Broughton Castle Outside Garden Bench

Broughton Castle Outside House

Broughton Castle Outside Walking

Broughton Castle Outside Side View

Broughton Castle Outside Side Walking

We weren’t the only ones roaming the grounds on this beautiful day!

Broughton Castle Cows

Broughton Castle Cow

An udderly amoo-sing day in the country!

Thank you to the owners of this remarkable property for letting us have a captivating peek inside.

Pheasant Shoot

Over the weekend, I was thrilled to be invited on my first ever pheasant shoot at a farm in rural Oxfordshire. It was a dismal rainy morning, but we pulled on layers of wooly socks and our wellies and trudged out into the fields.

2 1 3 4

This is British pheasant shooting explained simply: Beaters go through the woods with sticks making noises to scare out the pheasants. The guns line up on their pegs in front of the woods, ready to shoot down any birds that fly out at a decent height. If the birds fly too low, they can’t be safely shot. And if they fly too high or far away, they are safe from the shotgun’s spray.

shoot shoot2 shoot1 shoot4 shoot3

The first few drives were good despite the relentless drizzle; the boys shot a few plump pheasants. The dogs raced through the muddy fields to retrieve all of the downed birds.

bird bird2 dog1 dog shot2 shot3

After an initial three drives in different locations around the farm, we paused for “elevenses” in the barn.  Elevenses is the British term for a snack between breakfast and lunch. In this case, we warmed ourselves over thermoses of leek and potato soup, sausage rolls, and sips of fragrant sloe gin.

Our fingers and toes warmed, we kitted back up and prepared to head out again for the final drives of the afternoon.

gear 11 12 cows

These cows thought we were downright crazy to want to go out in such lousy weather!

cow1But I think they were glad when they could have their barn back to themselves!

The rest of the drives for the afternoon flew by – and by lunchtime the weather had improved.

z shot shot4  10A successful shoot! We all went home with a couple of fresh birds each – ready to be roasted for Sunday lunch!

Cotswolds Comforts

Spring has been categorically lousy this year, but with high hopes for summer just a few days away it was time for a visit to my favorite Cotswolds nursery to stock up on flora and fauna to beautify my terrace.

wyatts2

But first thing’s first – a piping hot cup of java from my dear Jaffé & Neale bookshop and cafe in Chipping Norton (or Chippy, as us locals call it). I could browse the shelves in here endlessly! There is always a recommended title or two that beg to be added to my reading list – and I make a point to follow their monthly bookclub picks.

coffee

Stopped to pick up some breakfast supplies at Hampers Food & Wine Co in Woodstock. The deli is to die for. If you ever fancy a picnic in Oxfordshire, they make gourmet hampers for collection. Just order online and pick up when you hit town!

Woodstock

Woodstock

Cool vintage Morris Minor - love the wicker hamper on the back!

Cool vintage Morris Minor – love the wicker hamper on the back!

hampers

My country breakfast staples

My country breakfast staples

Fresh bread from Wyatt's farm shop

Fresh bread from Wyatt’s farm shop

Wyatt’s Plant Centre & Farm Shop in Chippy is your one-stop shop for all your gardening needs – and you can tick a few things off your grocery list while you’re at it. Every time I go here, I’m like a kid in a farm shop – I had to grab a doughy ball of this freshly baked bread to whisk back to London with me.

And now for flower hour!

And now for flower hour!

Discerning eye for inspiration

Discerning eye for inspiration

Honing my hanging basket arrangement skills

Miss Greenthumb (I hope!)

After carefully honing my hanging basket arrangement skills, I’m well on my way toward domestic goddess status! Just need to remember to water them occasionally, right?

Country Lunch

This weekend took me for a little jaunt to the country – and lunch in the most charming Oxfordshire restaurant, The Mole Inn. Located down a leafy country lane in the rolling hills of Toot Baldon, the inn has stunning English gardens and a cosy dining room with wood-beam rafters overhead.

mole

The Mole Inn prides itself for its sustainably sourced meats and produce. Fish is caught off the English coast and delivered daily. The cheeseboard is entirely British – supplied from a local cheese specialist in the Cotswolds.

Idyllic Oxfordshire landscape

Bucolic Oxfordshire landscape

mole2

mole1

Pan-fried sea trout | new potatoes, samphire, asparagus and carrots in a lime butter sauce

Pan-fried sea trout | new potatoes, samphire, asparagus and carrots in a lime butter sauce

mole4

The meal was so filling we had to take the cheeseboard to go and finish it that evening in the garden. I am a card-carrying member of the UK cheese fan club – the British make delish cheese. Over time, I have become quite the fromage buff – my favorites are Wigmore and Stinking Bishop.

Oxford Blue | Montgomery Cheddar | Somerset Brie | Oxford Isis | Wigmore

Oxford Blue | Montgomery Cheddar | Oxford Isis | Somerset Brie | Wigmore

woodstk3

As sun sets in the country, I am one happy and sated bumpkin!