The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Bucks & Oxon Edition

Category: Days out

(Mr) Muddy goes ape…

11 May 2015

Have you ever looked up at one of those tree-top climbing forest adventures and thought, yeah, I’d love to put down my cappuccino and muffin and spend an afternoon hoiked in a harness in the trees? Possibly not, but actually, having fobbed off Go Ape duties to Mr Muddy the other week, I really regretted not having a go myself. No, I mean it! It looked like a lot of fun.

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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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Ready for your triple salchow? The best ice rinks

24 Nov 2014

Ready to don your ice skates, mittens and bobble hat and venture out for some ice-skating? Here we go then! The best rinks in Bucks, Oxon and beyond for your delectation.

Millets Farm Centre, Frilford, near Abingdon, Sat 29 Nov – Sun 4 Jan

One of the more established rinks in Oxfordshire, Millett’s Garden Centre is open 7 days a week, with a bigger outdoor rink this year, a viewing area so your children can watch you fall on your rear, and a heated ice rink cafe so for a conciliatory mulled wine afterwards.

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Muddy visits… Chastleton House (Nat. Trust)

21 Oct 2014


I visited Chastleton House when I was staying at Bruern Cottages in the Cotswolds a few months back (yes, the 5 star cottage holiday thats up for grabs on Muddy, have you entered yet?!!). Chastleton House is only a few miles from Chipping Norton so very much on the Oxfordshire side of the Cotswolds, very accessible for a day’s visit, and it’s really worth a gander if you someone who likes National Trust-style days out – not least because from the beginning of November your chances to visit substantially reduce as it’s only open two out of five weekends in Nov and two out of four weekends in Dec.

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New hotel crush: Stoke Park (Bucks)

20 Oct 2014

It’s not often I’m left short of words, but even my Muddy mouth was silenced by Stoke Park on the weekend. Because let me tell you, it’s flippin’ amazing. A red five star hotel (that means it’s five stars but with extra twinkles) with one of the best spas in the country, and a three rosette restaurant. Even better, it’s close with a leafy home in Stoke Poges only 10 minutes from Beaconsfield, 30 minutes from Oxford and an hour or so from West/North Oxon.

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Ai Wei Wei at Blenheim Palace

10 Oct 2014

Oooh you’re going to love this exhibition! Chinese artist and activist Ai Wei Wei, has created an incredibly fun, subversive and cheeky exhibition that touches on colonialism, national identity, breaking with tradition, commercialism and I’m sure a whole lot more that has sailed right over the Muddy head. Currently unable to leave Beijing after falling foul of the Chinese authorities, Ai Wei Wei has created the whole thing from across the other side of the world, and it’s quite the spectacle.

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Gorgeous weekend break in Cotswolds

27 Sep 2014

Last week my daughter thought she’d gone to heaven when we waved goodbye to Mr Muddy and crew and drove off with barely suppressed grins for a girly weekend together in the Cotswolds.

If you have three kids like me, the one thing that’s hard to find, aside from your sanity (alas, that’s lonnnnggggg gone), is time to devote to one child at a time. So that was a massive pleasure in itself, loads of girly stuff like morning baths, X-factor in pyjamas, tea-drinking/ cake-stuffing.

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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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A country walk bang in central Oxford

3 Sep 2014

I did this lovely little walk and pub combo last week and put it on the radio – which, ahem, I’m sure you all listen to at 7am on a Saturday morning. But, just on the miniscule off-chance that you prefer a lie-in, I’ll tell you about it here, because in a couple of months it will probably get too boggy to give it a go.

The best thing about this walk is that it starts in central Oxford, and yet it’s properly country – I can’t think of anywhere else that has this kind of 300 acre grazing land bang in the city, it’s incredible.

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Summer Funtime at the River & Rowing Museum

1 Aug 2014

Ah, doesn’t it look peaceful?

This was the lovely neat, quiet room in Henley’s River & Rowing Museum before any children got into it. Let me say straight away that this Summer Funtime with Mr Toad exhibition is not quiet. Car horns beep, there’s a musical station to the front of the picture above with tambourine, triangle and a whole load of other percussion instruments that I don’t know the name to.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Bucks & Oxon Edition