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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.

The Black Boy, Headington

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.

The Narnia gateway to the kids playground at Bury Knowle Park

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?

0 comments on “A morning in … Headington (Oxford)”

  • Headington News (@HeadingtonNews) April 18, 2012

    Headington isn’t North Oxford: it’s to the North-East of Oxford (big difference)

  • sharon April 24, 2012

    hi I was told there was a good chocolate shop in headington – just wondered if that’s true. Did you not mention it because it wasn’t worth mentioning or because you didn’t see it. I think it is called coconoir?

    • Muddy Stilettos April 24, 2012

      Hi Sharon, I haven’t been to it but I’ve heard it’s good, yes. You’re right, it is called Coco Noir ( and it’s just on the main road on the same side as Bury Knowle Park about 100m down (the Old High Street separates them). I didn’t mention it because I didn’t get around to going and I like to try everything myself generally before I recommend but thanks for reminding me! In the meantime, why not go and tell me what you think? I’d appreciate your input. Best wishes, Hero

  • Duvet days May 8, 2012

    This looks like such a lovely town and I think I can squeeze some tummy food and drink in of I am forced so defo heading this way on day day trip. Turns out it is less than an hour from me – who knew??

    • Muddy Stilettos May 8, 2012

      Where are you coming from? It’s definitely worth a few hours if you’re local-ish. If you’re coming from an hour away,you’d better take in Oxford too for your culture blast! Have a great trip. Let me know what you think. H

  • Sara June 8, 2012

    Another wet half term day with the kids saved by a MS suggestion, thank you! As well as the the fab Discovery Centre area (free) we paid up for special exhibition “dino day” and kids couldn’t get enough of it! Lots of colouring, modelling, and crafty stuff which I had to pull them away from after 3 hours! With excitement if bus there and back, a perfect day! I will definitely return for more exhibitions here to survive the summer hols!

    • Sara June 8, 2012

      Failed to say this was all at Oxford Science Live, St Clemens!

      • Muddy Stilettos June 8, 2012

        It’s great isn’t it? You’ve just reminded me to go back myself! x


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