My Favourite Places: Guy Browning, writer and director
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Guy Browning is a writer, broadcaster and the director of ‘Tortoise in Love’, the surprise hit film made by (almost) the entire village of Kingston Bagpuize in 2012. Here are his top local hangouts.
My father once attempted to write a novel featuring a detective called Hampton Poyle so the village has always been on my mental radar. The pub now is a really fantastic place to eat with great service and a menu which is virtually impossible to choose from. The manager once volunteered to show me the cosy bedrooms upstairs which was slightly embarrassing as I was having a business lunch with a lady I’d met there for the first time. But they are lovely rooms!
Abingdon Guild Hall
Abingdon is having a bit of a renaissance at the moment and the centre piece is the beautiful Guild Hall in the square. There’s a great view from the top from where I can see pretty much all the places I grew up from Boars Hill to Kingston Bagpuize. There’s also got one of the best museum to cafe ratios in the country in that the museum is actually smaller than the cafe which I know everyone appreciates – they’re both worth a visit too.
Jenny’s Restaurant Market Square Bicester
My annual pilgrimage to see my accountant in Bicester is exciting enough but what adds even greater piquancy to the whole trip is that I can have a sneaky lunch at Jenny’s. This used to be a Wimpy, the sort I spend a lot of time in as a youth ordering Brown Derby’s and playing with the sugar sachets. Not surprisingly most Wimpys closed but this was reborn as Jenny’s. They still have a menu of everything my children will eat and they do the best egg and chips in the south of England.
13 Market Square; Bicester; OX26 6AD. 01869 604605
Port Meadow, Oxford
In my youth I used to run round this a lot. I love the way you have the river and the canal and railway and yet Port Meadow is still a medieval piece of common land being grazed by various cows horses and sheep. It’s also right next to one of the most expensive places to buy a house in Britain, North Oxford. There are all sorts of great pubs nearby, including the Morse-infested Trout. My favourite though is the White Hart at Whytham where I used to be a barman way back in the days of mead drinking and bear baiting.
White Horse Hill, Uffington
I once accidentally wrote a novel called The Lost Pond. It’s a kind of airborne Watership Down and it features a group of ducks living in the Vale of the White Horse. You can see the whole vale from the top of White Horse hill and it would be my favourite place for feeling the wind in my hair if I had any which sadly I don’t. You can follow the Ridgeway in either direction from there so it’s a great place for starting and finishing epic Sunday ‘punishment walks’ as my children call them.