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The Muddy Awards drinks!

The best local businesses came, saw and partied at the Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant last week. Wanna see the mischief that ensued?

Big change this year for the Muddy Awards winners shindig – rather than inviting everyone around to my gaff (scraping off the Weetabix mush from the floor and hiding the mounds of washing finally got the better of me), we upgraded to the super-stylish Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant, with its gorgeous views of Oxford’s spires. The awards are such a big deal these days (half a million people on the site in May – bonkers!) so we decided to think big when it came to our venue for 2019.

And it meant I had more time for preening, buffing and polishing myself up for the big night. Hotshot local make-up artist Harriet Thorpe tuned up the Muddy visage and mane beautifully.

The awards are the hardest but most rewarding time of the year for me – the time when new exciting businesses emerge into the spotlight, everyone pats the backs of hard-working local indies, and I remember why I started Muddy Stilettos in the first place. I love meeting interesting people, finding out what they do, and telling others about them.

Speaking of which, this year’s fizz was supplied by the brilliantly knowledgeable Hugh from Banbury-based wine merchants, Slurp. Hugh chose a delicious Crémant for us – it’s far cooler than Prosecco, and if you know anyone in France they will probably already know that the locals drink it instead of champers because it tastes just as lovely and is a quarter of the price. Did we like it? Well, we nailed the lot in about an hour so, er, yes we did.

Muddy’s Katie and Sascha manning the Crémant station. Tough gig

Once we’d drunk all the Crémant, we moved on to lemon and cucumber gin, supplied by Best Local Producer winner, Foxdenton Gin from Buckingham. Summer in a glass, basically. Chin chin!

The dainty’n’delicious canapés and cute stiletto biscuits were whipped up by the very talented Laura Bluff. They were almost too pretty to eat but we ploughed on through. I know, what troopers.

Muddy winners are a well-shod bunch

Fabulous Best Hair Salon winners Zaneta (left) and Sophie, who are as talented at drinking fizz as they are at doing hair (ie VERY).

A winning smile from The Marlow Bookshop’s owner

Selfie awareness from the New Theatre Oxford gang, Best Theatre/Arts Venue winners

Rare footage of Best Fitness Instructor Martin King eating a biscuit. Naughty Martin – drop and give us 50 as punishment

The Muddy crew out in the wild. It’s not mandatory to wear animal print in our office but…. actually, it is. ROOOOAR!

Not forgetting corking stills photography from the very talented Ellie Walpole (pics abundant above) and videography from the equally talented Emma aka Oojamaflick – check out her video of the night here. Thank you, ladies of the lenses!

Much fun was had by all, new connections forged and successes toasted… toasted quite extensively by some people. The morning after, Muddy HQ was powered solely by coffee and doughnuts (and soundtracked by gentle weeping).

But there would be no party with no awards, and no awards with no readers to vote for their most loved indie businesses, so it’s a big heartfelt THANK YOU from me to you for taking the time to give your local favourites a pat on the back and showing your support for the Muddies. See you in 2020 but until then, give a virtual round of applause to (and then go visit) …



ART GALLERY: The Jam Factory (Oxford)

BAR: Tap Social (Oxford)

BEAUTY SALON: Niche (Woodstock)

BOOKSHOP: The Marlow Bookshop (Marlow)

BOUTIQUE STAY: Artist Residence (Witney)

CAFÉ: Norsk. (Haddenham)

CHILDREN’S BUSINESS: Little Cotton Tents (Stanford in the Vale)

DAY SPA: Cowshed Spa (Great Tew)

DESTINATION PUB: The White Hart at Fyfield (Abingdon)

FAMILY ATTRACTION: Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford)

FARM SHOP/DELI: Kiwi and Pomme (Buckingham)


FLORIST: Joanne Caldwell (Marlow)

GIFT SHOP: Feather & Nest (Wallingford)

HAIR SALON: Zaneta Lichnova (Oxford)

INTERIORS STORE: The Apple Orchard (West Wycombe)

JEWELLERY STORE: Anthony Paul (Henley)

LOCAL PRODUCER (FOOD/DRINK): Foxdenton Gin (Buckingham)

NEWCOMER: The George Inn (Barford St Michael)

PHOTOGRAPHER: Megan Guard (Thame)

RESTAURANT: Lata Lata (High Wycombe)

THEATRE/ARTS VENUE: New Theatre (Oxford)


YOGA/PILATES INSTRUCTOR: Felicity Wood (Bicester)

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