A morning in … Headington (Oxford)
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I’ve become a big fan of Old Headington (to the North East of Oxford) and if you like a good coffee, a decent park and winding back streets, you’ll probably like it too.
I came across it originally because of The Black Boy gastropub (below). Jay Rayner of The Observer thought it was ‘irresistible’ and know what he means – delicious food at very reasonable prices. Plus my children (even the mad toddler) have done the super-relaxed kids cooking classes there on a Sunday. So slowly I’ve become aquainted with the area.
Here’s the first thing so to say. Whether you have kids or not, you’ll just LOVE the cafe deli I’ve found around the corner from The Black Boy. It’s called Jacobs & Field and it’s just perfect for a lazy brunch, browse and read of the papers.
It bills itself as a grocer-deli-bistro so there are plenty of bits to buy (it does a nice line in own-range condiments) but the cafe side of the business grown with demand and so there are sofas, cute nooks and crannies and a roadside terrace. The feeling is artisan and foody and cool – you could transplant it straight into Notting Hill or Islington and it would fight its corner. Yet there’s no pretentiousness to the place. When I walked in, the guy behind the counter made a point of saying hello which pretty much set the tone.
So Scenario 1: No kids. Park at Waitrose on the Old High Street. Go for a lovely breakfast or brunch at Jacobs & Field next door, then wander through the adjacent Bury Knowle Park for a spot of tennis or mini golf (oh God, I love mini golf!) and around into the backstreets for an hour or two. Catch the bus from the high street, or drive down into Oxford from here (10 minutes) and potter around for the afternoon. Smasher.
Scenario 2: Kids. Take your motley collection of children for a cookery lesson at The Black Boy for an hour (search for my review for details), then walk over to the park so they can let off steam. For you this is a no-brainer as there’s a brand new brilliantly-designed whopper of a playground with massive sandpit, zip wires, pirate ship, climbing rocks and more besides. There’s also a beautiful house in the grounds which is now the Headington Library. If you live in Oxfordshire I guess you can access that library which gives your morning another element.
If you’re still up for more fun, hop in the car and drive down to St Clements (around 10 minutes away) where you’ll find Science Oxford Live – a brilliant safe space for children of all ages, where they can draw, poke, shake and bounce around, trying hands-on experiments and learning about science. The best parking is just beyond Science Live on the same side of the road, just before you get to St Clements roundabout.
That takes you onto the outskirts of central Oxford, with its dodgy parking and one way traffic. At this point you’re probably due a lie down. We’ll save the city centre for another day, shall we?