Day tripper: Wallingford (and beyond)
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Wallingford is one of those South Oxfordshire towns that needs a sunny day to really set off its charms, most of which are centred around its pretty church and riverside setting.
On colder, damper autumn and winter days, I’m not sure it’s a destination in itself, though there are several shops worth stopping for if you’re passing through and other cool little villages nearby that are worthy of a detour.
Among which are…
A gorgeous gift shop that feels like it should be in W1 somewhere. It’s rammed full of Cath Kidston, Dr Hauschka, Bob + Blossom, Sophie Conran and loads more. There’s a second shop in Wantage and a groovy online shop too, offering free delivery for orders over £30 – yay! Definitely worth checking out.
There are bigger antiques markets around but I love a mooch in an arcade and this one is on two floors, just around the corner from Bloomer’s sandwich bar (coffee of choice for mums and buggies everywhere). There’s a really lovely glassware trader in the market, just as you enter on the right. I could have bought loads of stuff in there – I so nearly took these glasses (above) home with me.
What do I know about bikes? Less than I know about cars, brewing techniques and how to work the TV remote. But I’m reliably informed that this bike shop rocks. Get yourself a flatty nearby and see if my insider tip is right.
This shop moved last year to a more prominent position in town and suddenly its window displays are like ‘Ta-da!’. Doesn’t it look gorgeous? It’s one of the most exuberant displays I’ve seen for a flower shop. It makes me happy just looking at it.
The Corn Exchange
I accept you’re unlikely to catch a movie in the morning or afternoon, but I can’t leave it out in a post about Wallingford. This lovely old building houses a gorgeous little cinema staffed by chirpy volunteers. I had a really fab experience here 18 months back – read my review here – and for the right film I’d be willing to travel the 40 minutes to come back to it again.
Ten minutes down the road from Wallingford, just skipping into Berkshire, is the hot shot cafe of Pierreponts, with its canopy and seating stretching out over the main street’s pavement. There are no river views here, but sights aplenty in the cafe, with tremendous cakes on display and a palpable sense of foodie heaven. Have brunch here and take a walk down to Goring Lock and beyond (below) if the day allows.
Your other cafe option is a few minutes down the road at The Boat in neighbouring Streatley. I wrote about it a few weeks ago here, having stumbled across it by accident after having lunch next door. I can’t vouch for the food but the view is worth it alone. Picture postcard stuff.
PS Anywhere you think’s brilliant that I’ve missed off my list? Let me know in the comment section and I’ll do my best to put it right!