My Favourite Places: Louise Rice
Life long local, Louise Rice, lets us in on a few of her most loved haunts when she's not running Dukes Bar in Princes Risborough.
This is one of my favourite features on Muddy, mostly because I’m so nosey about where everyone hangs out in their spare time! If you’ve spent any time in or around Princes Risborough in mid Bucks, you will have walked past Dukes Wine Bar – an family enterprise, started a few years back, with owner Louise Rice the super-glam owner, running it with daughter Charlotte and son Jack. Here’s what Louise gets up to when she escapes from pouring the vino.
Owning a bar is great fun but involves long hours and always being on form, so to set me up for each day I walk to work. Not the easy route though, I take on Whiteleaf Hill, famous in the area! It’s really steep in parts so I feel I’m getting a decent workout, plus the views across the Vale of Aylesbury are great. I used to run a lot but let it slide over the last few years – now though I’m starting off gently with my morning walks and hope to build up to run the Blenheim Triathlon next year. When I get to Dukes, I practise the piano in the bar for half an hour before my daughter Charlotte arrives to open up. I’ve only been learning for a year but I find it so relaxing. At the end of the day I don’t often walk home as I’m tired but with our recent good weather, I’ve gone back up Whiteleaf to catch the sunset. It really is beautiful with the red kites swirling over your head and the English countryside spread out before you. When I was a child growing up in Berkhamsted, I was really into horses and would spend most of my free time looking after them and riding on the Ashridge Estate, another place I love spending time.
Spending so much time at Dukes means that when I go out, bars aren’t really my first choice. But I did have my first cocktail in years at the swanky Victors on the roof of the Westgate Centre the other day. I think everyone around here is really pleased to have that on our doorstep and now the train runs to Oxford, it’s really easy to get there. We’re well sorted for shops in Aylesbury and High Wycombe but the Westgate is all new with that fantastic roof terrace of bars and restaurants overlooking the city. The decor in Victors is really cool too with tons of fake but very realistic flowers. It’s a top spot to relax with a drink. On special occasions, we have been to The Crazy Bear in Beaconsfield, it’s quite an over-the-top place but I like that about it. I’m more of a wine than cocktails fan so sometimes hop on the train to Marylebone to meet friends at Vinoteca. Monday’s my day off and Vinoteca has some great offers on a really good bottle of wine on a Monday. The steak and chips are great too.
Growing up with horses, I do love watching them race. I’m no expert on which horse will win but I enjoy going to the paddock, taking a look and then generally taking a punt on the name that appeals. The most I’ve won has only been about £200. These days you often get concerts at the races on weekends – I recently seen Take That, Freddie Mercury and Springsteen tributes.
Princes Risborough High Street, Bucks
It may be stating the obvious but I really like Risborough, a pretty market town surrounded by hills. There’s several charity shops in the town, which is where I go for a browse to buy most of my clothes – I’m a big fan of vintage. I figure even if you only wear something a couple of times, it doesn’t matter if you’ve only spent a few quid. That said, I’m rarely out of my Dukes’ uniform! If I need to get a present or card for someone, Kado has some lovely stuff.
I’m a fan of musicals and sometimes go to the West End but as the Wycombe Swan often gets London shows, I’ll often stay closer to home. We’ve got a girls’ night organised there in October and my friend has booked a ballet, the all-male Swan Lake. That’ll be a first for me. It’s an unusual introduction to the genre but I’m game!
Dukes Wine Bar, 19 Duke Street, Princes Risborough, Bucks, HP27 0AT