The best cafe ever
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I’ve recommended Jane’s Teas in Kirtlington (nr Bicester) in the past, but I forgot to tell you about my visit a few months back, which was WOWSA.
Let me tell you straight from the off that it’s the most magical, surreal, eccentric English tea you’re ever going to have. The cafe is set down a long pot-holed track road, which I drove down because I was short of time, but probably won’t again, as parking is very difficult, and there’s quite obviously a very lovely walk through woods and an old quarry to get to the cafe which would add to the experience. I reckon the walk down might take 30-45 mins with kids so nothing horrific. This is what Jane says:
We encourage you to either find your way here on foot, park at the top of the lane where the tarmac is and walk either down Mill Lane or even lovelier, through the paths in the wooden quarry. All you have to do is keep the canal to your right as you’re walking towards us and you’ll get there. Our postcode is OX5 3HW
When you get to the cafe entrance, you head down this path until you get to the river.
You can just make out the lovely touches like vintage tea cups hung up on trellises with ribbon, flowers everywhere, and quirky touches like paper butterflies attached to trees. Already we were enchanted and the kids ran off in front.
We reached the cafe itself and met Jane, who is like your favourite dotty great aunt, all friendly and fussy and a bit eccentric but obviously in possession of a brilliant vision and creativity for what she wants her cafe to represent. It’s retro, with a sort of dreamlike innocence, and perhaps even a bit hippy with poems Jane likes attached to trees. Its position on the river is superb.
We sat in the seats below, right on the river with the most enormous cakes (delicious – all cooked on the day) but as we went to explore it was obvious that this place is much bigger than we thought, with tiers of seating, created so cleverly that you still feel you’re in your own little space – with vintage caravans for indoor seating, a dovecote with the birds just hanging out in their own bucolic home, fresh flowers on the tables, bunting and sculptures and wind chimes everywhere.
Jane has famously had an organic smallholding on this stretch for years, and sources virtually everything from her own farm. The cakes are much more interesting than the usual ones you get in shops – as well as the staples (Victoria sponge, coffee and walnut) there’s load of gluten free versions, and unusual ingredients such a lavender. And the food really is superb.
In one of the caravans is an original typewriter from, I guess, the Forties, and an old gramophone that has to be wound up. Jane came and showed it to us, and put on Oh Mio Babbino Caro which just soared in the little space. The whole afternoon was so surreal and fabulous, the kids are dying to go back there.
This is the place to come on a warm day if you want to do something different and impressive with family or friends, an experience they just won’t get elsewhere. Ultimately of course it’s just a coffee shop, but I was open-mouthed for much of the time, just thinking how incredible it was. Visit yourself and see what I mean. Please note it’s only open every other weekend from 12pm – the next available date it’s open is the weekend of 6-7 Sept. It can get very busy for obvious reasons, so an afternoon tea might be a better idea if you want to miss the rush. But whatever you do, make sure you go. In my opinion, it’s unmissable.