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My favourite places: designer Lorna Syson

Where does seriously stylish interiors guru Lorna Syson get her inspiration? These local hangouts, of course! Here's a peek inside Lorna's own little black book...

Lorna Syson

It’s no surprise that Watlington-based print designer and interiors hotshot Lorna Syson knows the best rural spots in Bucks and Oxon – after all, her prints are inspired by the countryside (you might have spotted her gorgeous wallpapers and textiles in John Lewis and in our recent Gotta Have It). If she’s not tramping round a field, camera in hand, here’s where you’re likely to find her…

Ewelme Village, Oxfordshire

Ewelme
Image credit: Ian Worsley

This is my dream village – I wish I could live here! It’s so idyllic, with a small chalk stream and watercress beds running though the village. I love walking around the village and the green spaces around here, and there are plenty of dog walks in the nearby woods.

So Sustainable, Watlington

So Sustainable, Watlington

This is my favourite shop for getting the essentials. I’ve been trying hard to live my life with less plastic, so I head to Steph’s shop each week to fill up on organic rice, pasta, oats and local sustainable cosmetics. As well as my product design business, I’m also an interior designer for Decorbuddi and I helped Steph with her shop design as my first project in Oxfordshire.

Sandy Lane Farm Shop, Thame

Sandy Lane Farm Shop, Thame

I’ve been trying really hard to buy local and, where possible, organic, which can be a challenge as the call of the easy supermarket is always there, but I find with a little planning it’s possible. I found Sandy Lane Farm Shop during lockdown and I’m really pleased I did!

Dukes Wine Bar, Princes Risborough

Dukes

I love good wine, and I’m at a point in my life where I’d rather abstain than drink something rubbish, so I gravitate to places like Dukes. They really know their stuff, and can tell you the stories behind where each wine has come from. They also match their wines with tapas-style plates, so you get to feel like you’re trying a little bit of the whole menu!

Rumsey’s Chocolaterie, Thame

Rumsey's Chocolaterie, Thame

I always head to Rumsey’s in Thame when I get chance. I LOVE this place – the decor makes me feel like I’ve stepped back in time, and the customer service is always fantastic. I recommend the honeycomb ice cream which they also turn into the best milkshakes!

Aston Pottery, Aston

Aston Pottery garden

I love the gardens at Aston Pottery; they’re full of big swathes of colour along the walkways and many of the flowers you’ll find reflected in the designs of their pottery. If you get a chance, stop by the cafe – they do a delicious lemon drizzle cake.

Chenies Manor House and Gardens, Chenies

Chenies Manor House and Gardens, Chenies

Chenies is a lovely Tudor mansion house that’s usually open to visitors but unfortunately with Covid, it’s just the gardens which are open at the moment. They have garden events such as the Dahlia festival, which is one of my favourites, and a really nice tea room that’s well worth a visit.

Fallow and Fields, Nuneham Courtenay

Fallow and Fields, Nuneham Courtenay

A new deli and wine bar in Nuneham Courtenay, which has only been open for a couple of months. We had a leisurely afternoon here recently drinking Pouilly-Fumé wine and spending time with friends. The deli was amazing (lots of local food, wine and gin to sample) and the two chefs behind Fallow and Fields talk you through everything you try. We popped in for 30 minutes and ended up spending almost three hours there!

The Dandelion Hideaway, Nuneaton

The Dandelion Hideaway, Nuneaton

My absolute favourite place to stay. We had our honeymoon here in 2014 and went back for our five-year anniversary in 2019; I would go back every year if we could! It’s such a magical place full of so many happy memories. I thoroughly recommend staying in Bluebells, which has a wood-fired hot tub and is totally off-grid. It’s also a working goat farm with chickens and ponies and John will do you a special farm tour if you’re lucky.

Duck on the Pond, South Newington

Duck on the Pond, South Newington

This is a great pub. We often head here because it’s the halfway point between where we live and our parents, which is a great excuse to meet up for a Sunday roast. They even do a good selection of vegan options for my brother-in-law, which can sometimes be difficult to find.

The Nelson, Brightwell Baldwin

This is one of our local pubs – I feel pretty lucky to have somewhere so nice within walking distance. The food is fabulous, and during lockdown they also starting selling fresh vegetables and homewares. It’s dog-friendly and they have a really cute little pub dog!

Horniman Museum, Forest Hill

Horniman Museum, Forest Hill

This was one of my favourite places to visit when we lived down in London and I really miss going. It has a gorgeous garden with fantastic views over south east London, and is packed with interesting natural history specimens collected over the past 150 years. It’s famous for its overstuffed walrus – the story goes that the walrus was sent to a Victorian taxidermist who had never seen a walrus, so they had no idea it was meant to have loose rolls of skin. It’s enormous!

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