The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Bucks & Oxon Edition

Category: Design/Architecture

Fit for a queen

18 Jul 2016

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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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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1 Oct 2013

The massive success of the London Design Festival, now established as the best in the world (*raspberry* to New York!), has shown yet again how brilliant Brits are at style, function and form – and also how obsessed we’ve become with it as a nation.

Whilst interiors trends don’t vacillate as wildly as fashion’s seasonal rules, it’s still fun to know the latest hot looks. Hey, don’t look at me, I haven’t a clue!

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Day tripper: Four go to Warwick Castle

18 Aug 2013

Ooh yes indeedy, I love castles and am always on the look out for a new one to visit. So when I found out (via the Muddy Guide in fact!) that Warwick Castle had a special Lego event on this month it sounded like heaven. My Lego-nut children would need no persuasion to leave the ipad in peace for a day, and I’d have a good nose around the state rooms.

We arrived at 10.30am – frankly some kind of early morning miracle in my book – but already the closest car park was full and we had a 20 minute walk to the castle.

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Reasons to go to Waddesdon Manor in August

5 Aug 2013

It being my closest National Trust property, I’m often up at Waddesdon and popped up again yesterday with the little Muddys and their cousin.

This post is largely photos, because the Manor was looking so gorgeous I thought it might inspire you to go up yourself if you haven’t already tried it this summer.


Yesterday happened to coincide with a Rover car show – not quite Ferrari I grant you, but it was gratifyingly quirky and British, with all the owners perched on canvas chairs on the grass and all these Sixties cars in strange colours with their bonnets up.

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Children’s Tour of Waddesdon Manor

10 Apr 2013

I had a brilliant time this morning at Waddesdon taking my 4 & 5 year olds on the Children’s Tour of the Manor. I totally recommend it.

It’s only 45 minutes long so even small children can cope with it, and a lot of thought has obviously gone into how to best captivate little people. The guides asked lots of questions – what’s this on the wall, can you see the bugs in the room, how long does it take to clean this chandelier etc – and focused on the fun bits like the elephant (above) that moves its trunk, eyes, tail etc when it’s wound up and portraits of children.

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How to throw a brilliant dinner party

27 Mar 2013

Ever wondered how you could add a little excitement to your dinner parties?

It’s too easy to do the same thing every time. I’m the worst offender for this. I start out with big ideas, and then through the week they shrivel along with my energy levels, cooking ability and bank balance.

But I’m not one to be beaten, so I’ve roped in some high level advice.

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FOUND: Culture and Countryside in central Oxford

25 Oct 2012

I touched on this a few posts back, but there’s a lovely half-day to be had in central Oxford, either on your own, with kids or extended family that effortlessly includes a bit of culture, a lovely walk, and some lunch to finish it off.

Start at the Christchurch Picture Gallery, around the back of Christchurch College and opposite Oriel College.

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X-Factor Furniture

23 Oct 2012

Had a great afternoon yesterday at Out of the Dark, a High Wycombe-based charity that helps young people learn a trade, find some self-respect and recycle some damn good furniture while they’re at it.

They sell lots of their stuff at the trendy London design fairs as much of their stuff is mid-century, but they also exhibit locally. You can also buy straight from their warehouse just minutes outside the centre of Wycombe (though you’ll be driving up and down Oakridge Road for 10 minutes trying to find it – tip: from the A40, turn right onto Oakridge and it’s on the right at the bottom.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Bucks & Oxon Edition