The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Bucks & Oxon Edition

Category: Park/Woodland

See this: Christmas at Blenheim

27 Nov 2016

I think it’s fair to say that when Blenheim Palace decides to do something, it does it with bells, whistles, fanfares and a whole lot of style.  This is the first year that the estate has created an illuminated walkway, picking up on a trend that’s been happening for some time at the likes of Waddesdon Manor and Westonbirt Arboretum, and they’ve done a fantastic job of it.

Your intrepid correspondent (me, in case you’re wondering) was one of the first to walk the hour-long path that takes guests down the back of the palace, over to the boating lake, up through the Capability Brown-designed grounds and finally to the lakeside lodge where Father Christmas is hamming it up until 2 Jan, and even though I did it solo, it was massively enjoyable. 

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The Top 6 Bluebell Woods

28 Apr 2016

Uh-oh, I have a feeling this list will be highly contentious… We’re so lucky to have the most incredible number of bluebell woods in Oxon and Bucks, so I’ve drawn up this list really as a prompt as the blubells don’t last long and the May Bank Holiday is nearly here – a great opportunity to go and enjoy the view. If you think there is a horrific omission, a crime against nature no less, let me know and I’ll put it on the list!

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Let’s PARTY!!! Cornwall Manor opens for guests

18 Apr 2016

Whoo-hoo! I’m so excited to tell you about this because I know Cornwell Manor – I had a sneaky peaky around it last year (friend of a friend stuff) – and I’m not kidding, it’s one of the loveliest manor houses in the Cotswolds. It’s a total stonker.

Cornwell Manor is close to Chipping Norton in stunning rolling countryside, a 2000 acre estate with a Jacobean manor house (updated with a Georgian facade in the 18th century), a petite Norman church, lakes, wood, streams and gardens designed by Clough Williams-Ellis who created the brilliant Italianate gardens at Portmeirion in North Wales.

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Watlington: small but perfectly formed

3 Feb 2015

I haven’t had a Muddy day out in one town for a while – the last one was Chipping Norton last summer – but they’re good fun to do and always surprising too, because what you see from the car window on the main road never tells the story.

That’s definitely the case for Watlington, the south of Oxford that’s I’ve always used as a ‘through road’ to Benson, Streatley and Goring, the tight road pushing drivers through the old market square, with little opportunity to pull off and park up.

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A drop of art

17 Sep 2014

I was up at Waddesdon Manor a few weeks ago and totally forgot to tell you about this fantastic installation in the garden aviary (above). It’s been there for a while, and is called Bit.fall, by German artist Julius Popp, just the latest in a long line of brilliant interactive collaborations between the Rothschild estate and modern artists.

Tis no secret that I’m a massive fan of culture clashes, whether it’s English National Ballet dancing with Flawless, or Jarvis Cocker performing Prokoviev’s Peter and the Wolf with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

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TRY THIS: Blenheim Horse Trials, Woodstock

13 Sep 2014

Let it be said right from the off that I’m not particularly horsey – in fact the one time I did ‘ride’ a horse it refused point blank to move – but I went to Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials on Thursday anyway, to see if it would appeal past the zealots to equine luddites like me.

The event is fairly young, now in its 14th year, but it attracts big name international competitors, and the attendance of Princess Anne, and I figured the backdrop of Blenheim Palace and the grounds would be pretty hard to beat.

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DAY OUT: Claydon House (mid Bucks)

8 Sep 2014


There’s no shortage of gorgeous estates out in Bucks & Oxon, but I have to admit I’m rather fond of Claydon House in mid Bucks.

It doesn’t have the big adventure playground of Waddesdon and Cliveden, and no-one can accuse the cafe of being trendy unless you find orange pine sexy. But the house is really interesting, particularly to any kids who are learning about Florence Nightingale, as this was her home for much of her life, and the gardens are open, relaxed, and very pretty.

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Gardener’s paradise

6 Sep 2014

It feels a bit strange writing about a trip outdoors on a day as miserable as this, but the weather is supposed to perk up over the next few days, so my optimism may yet prevail.

I visited Rousham Gardens over the summer with my mum (below, demonstrating the biggest tree trunk I’ve ever seen), and it a really fab trip out.

You’ll find Rousham just to the North West of Bicester, literally a ten minute drive away from Bicester Village (the centre of the universe *sigh*).

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Woburn Safari Park

13 Apr 2014


As you can see from the above picture, it’s quite something when you see a wolf the size of a donkey heading straight for you.

Or a monkey land on your car.

Or a tiger prowling metres from your tender body.


I haven’t been to a drive-through safari park for years, rather embarrassing given that Woburn Safari Park is only about 50 minutes from where I live.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Bucks & Oxon Edition