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The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Bucks & Oxon Edition

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Wouldn't you though?

Cuuuuuuuute! My kids are well out of this stage, but if you have little chubby dribbling monsters (or your kids have them) they'll love this wooden 'Mod' scooter.

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Eat here: The Crown pub, Bray

22 Jul 2016
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Another day, another brilliant place to eat in Bray. Only two to go after The Crown (*dabs mouth with napkin*)  – Heston’s The Fat Duck and the Roux brothers’ triple Michelin-starred The Waterside Inn, for when I discover a spare £400 in my purse. In, like, 2034.

But back to The Crown, one of three Heston offerings in the small, picturesque village of Bray, Berkshire along with the aforementioned The Fat Duck and The Hinds Head.

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CACI Eye Revive – aim, fire, blast those wrinkles!

22 Jul 2016
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Any local beauty business that manages to grow to four salons has something seriously good going for it. In addition to its two Herts salons, Lavender & Stone (great name btw) has premises in Bourne End and Beaconsfield. I have form at the Bourne end salon, having had a fantastic hot lava shell massage there back in May last year, so in the interests of yin and yang, the harmonious centring of my body and, er, the risign panic about the wrinkles now appearing on my wrinkles around my eyes, I have balanced things out   by trying the Beaconsfield salon.

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The toughest Property Flirt yet – can you guess the price?

22 Jul 2016
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Property Flirt is one of the most popular features on Muddy – because you’re all nosy like me! – so I’m all for keeping it interesting by giving you new challenges. This house is a tricky one to guess on price, I think it might have the better of you (wah, ha, haaaaaa). Not a palatial pile from the outside, but with huge facilities and potential. You up for nose around?

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Muddy Best Schools Guide #8.2 Carrdus School, Banbury

19 Jul 2016
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Time for an update for Carrdus School, visited by moi in March 2015. Here are the updated facts and figures to help you make the right decisions for next schools.

CARRDUS SCHOOL, NEAR BANBURY

What? Where? Carrdus School sits in the countryside just above Banbury, a relatively young school at 60ish years old that runs from Overthorpe Hall, a handsome Victorian lodge that feels more like the home it was than a school it is – particularly as there is no uniform for the children.

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Secret Messages sale is (quietly) on!

18 Jul 2016
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You have to admire a shop that makes the switch before anyone else. Secret Messages Interiors in Buckingham was an elegant gunmetal grey for a while. then everyone else cottoned on and it wasn’t fun any more. So now they’re a fetching pistachio green instead.

I like pottering around North Buckinghamshire, where the pace of life is slower, the shops are quirky (I’m guessing the proximity to Milton Keynes helps this creativity along) and people appreciate a good thing coming along when they see it.

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Divine! Peach & lentil salad with warm pork tenderloin

18 Jul 2016
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You are going to love this cook book. I can say that with confidence as usually every time I buy one I look at the pictures, try one or two recipes, give up and default to Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater.

Not this time. Around the World in Salads: 120 Ways to Love your Leaves by Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi is a beautifully shot book, jammed with really beautiful salad recipes that you’ll be mighty glad you put in front of guests over the summer.

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WATCH THIS: The best Olympics ad EVER

18 Jul 2016
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With Wimbledon and Euros out the way and bad news all the way on TV at the mo, I’m starting to itch for the feelgood of the Olympics, all those tales of sacrifice, the sobs on the podium, that wonderful feeling of being British and proud of it, that feeling from London if we can replicate it  of ‘oh-my-god-we’re-actually-winning!’

There will no doubt be gazillions of Olympics ads coming through in the next few weeks but you will absolutely, definitely, categorically want to see this one, made to advertise the UK Paralympians but massively uplifting and challenging to anyone whose perceptions of disabled people in general are stuck in the Seventies.

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Stay here: Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire

18 Jul 2016
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Fancy something a bit different on the blogaroo today? No problem, may I offer you a stay in the Cotswolds castle where Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn spent 10 days of their honeymoon? Yes, seriously!

This gorgeous piece of stoneware is Thornbury Castle, a Tudor beauty built between 1512 – 1521 whose history includes the beheading of its owner Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham on charges of treason.

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Found: *awesome* London girly lunch spot

15 Jul 2016
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Whoo-hoo! Very super-duper-pooper excited to write about my new find because you’re going to love it. I went up to old Larn-din town last week to meet my lovely regional Muddy editors for lunch, but it’s pretty tough finding a venue to suit when one editor is coming from Norfolk, another from Sussex, and another again from Cornwall!

In the end I used my noddle and remembered that The Quince Tree (RIP Stonor, hello Henley!) also has a London cafe/restaurant in the beautiful Clifton Nurseries, in the lovely leafiness of Maida Vale.

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Go on, try something different!

14 Jul 2016
Tom Cruise, 12 years old and in charge of a fighter plane.

Storms, War and Shipwrecks Day, Ashmolean, Sat 16 July

A lovely activity day based around The Ashmolean’s new summer exhibition Storms, War and Shipwrecks (see my review here). It’s a free event, where kids can handle objects, and play games and in the galleries, meet real divers and learn about the oldest submerged town in the world which *cough* of course we all know is Pavlopetri off the coast of Greece.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Bucks & Oxon Edition