My Favourite Places
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Paul Bellchambers, otherwise known as The Late Chef, is a chef, caterer and broadcaster who lives in Moulsford, Oxfordshire. He is the creative force behind the Wallingford Food Festival, which returns for its third year on 18-19 May.
The Thames from Moulsford to Goring
We live 200 yards from the River Thames and just love this stretch of water – I took this picture a few days ago. From where we are, looking south eastwards, it’s probably one of the best views along the Thames, great for hanging out and relaxing. Pick your chair, sit down and have a glass of wine or two and watch the boats go by. Often we take the dog for a walk over to Goring, and have a pint in one of the local pubs.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton
Everyone knows Le Manoir, but it’s one of my favourite places for a couple of reasons. Firstly because I went for work experience there in 2005 and it really helped me in terms of thinking how to approach my food catering business. But also, after working for chef Gary Jones and meeting Raymond Blanc, it gave me a wonderful insight into how somewhere with such high aspirations and standards operates. It was really inspirational because they care so much about what they do there. Some restaurants will try to get 2 sittings out of a night, but you go to Le Manoir and nothing is too much trouble, and you can stay as long as you like. It’s a pretty special place.
Borough Market, London
I first came across Borough Market 10 years ago, when I’d go up to London to stay with friends. We’d always go to this amazing market and they’d set me a cooking challenge – they’d go off and pick ingredients (often unusual or exotic to try and throw me) and I’d have to cook with them. On the whole I’d like to think the meals were successful, but I have to admit, a couple of times I didn’t know what they’d presented to me and had to do a bit of sneaky research.
The Bell Inn at Aldworth
The walking route from Moulsford takes you through the Well Barn estate through fields and onto parts of the Ridgeway. You cut across a couple more fields and you end up in Aldworth and its lovely pub The Bell Inn. It’s a traditional country pub with lots of beers on cask, and some very good hearty food. We tend to walk out here on boxing day, take the dogs and have a pint and some lunch. It’s well used and loved by hikers, bikers and cyclists in the area.
The Headington shark
I’d heard about the Headington shark of course, but had never actually seen it until last year when I catered the Shark’s 26th birthday. It’s a fabulous thing to behold, and knowing the story direct from Bill Heine it sounds like the Shark was a triumph of madness over bureaucracy – there should be more of that as far as I’m concerned! Every time I go past it makes me smile.
The view from Lardon Chase
I absolutely love this view from Lardon Chase. It looks over the Goring Gap, with Goring sitting in the valley of the river Thames with the bridge over the weir and the lock and the river flowing through. You see George Michael’s house too, or you might see him driving his pink Rolls Royce! Lardon Chase is National Trust land and there are some beautiful walks in the woods.