My favourite places: Natasha Lane from Manor Oxford
Property guru and city girl Natasha Lane is always on the hunt for the best spots in Bucks and Oxon - let's see what she's discovered...
When it comes to the truffling out the best hidden gems in an area, who better to turn to than a property expert? We hit up Natasha Lane of brand new boutique estate agent and property developer Manor Oxford for her favourite local finds, as well as haunts from her former Fitzrovia stomping ground because, well, we’re nosy like that.
The Muddy Duck Farm Shop, Hethe, nr Bicester
This is usually a cute pub with spot-on food, but since lockdown they’ve turned into a farm shop selling local produce, with an outdoor pizza oven for takeaways. We’ve gone every Sunday since lockdown started! I really like being able to support more local shops during this time, and I’m not the only one apparently – loads of locals come here.
Mash, Chipping Norton
A cute, quirky lifestyle shop on the high street that I always pop into. We dress our own properties and often help clients to decorate theirs, so I’ve picked up quite a few unique items here. Once we had a Hollywood actor (who shall remain nameless!) staying in one of our short lets in Primrose Hill while they were filming, and they fell in love in a vintage camera that I’d bought from Mash, and so I told them to take it when they left! So there’s a piece of Chipping Norton somewhere in California right now.
1855 Wine Bar, Oxford
This wine bar is tucked away next to Malmaison and the Castle. The inside is super cozy (perfect for red wine and cheese in the winter) and the outdoor terrace is where I’ve spent many a sunny afternoon relaxing with a white wine. It’s ideal for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city centre as many don’t know it’s there.
La Table d’Alix at The Haseley Plough, Great Haseley
This place is owned by a lovely French couple, and all of their food is amazing. We first discovered it after a friend’s baby’s christening in Amersham; we needed somewhere to carry on celebrating, and stumbled upon it. I love that they serve Ruinart Blanc De Blanc champagne – it’s my favourite and quite hard to find in your standard local!
Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock
We’re currently working with some builders on property in Woodstock, which means I escape to their office whenever I can as I love the area. One of the builders actually recommended Dantzig to me as I was after some artwork to dress a property – it often totally makes a space – and since then I’ve picked up a few pieces. I actually have three that I’m desperate to hang! It’s a great local find for modern and contemporary artwork.
The Stokenchurch Gap, Bucks/Oxon border
This is a bit of a strange one! It’s not a place as such, but more a favourite view. As we were moving the business from London to Oxford, I spent a lot of time driving to and fro on motorways, but as soon as I saw the road opening up and got that view of the rolling Chiltern Hills, I would just breathe a sigh of relief. It gives me a feeling of freedom and a real sense of leaving the city behind. Still to this day my husband always says, ‘Here’s your favourite place!’ as we drive through it.
The Wild Rabbit, Kingham
Funnily enough our sanitaryware supplier in London, Barber Wilsons, recommended this to me – I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of it! Now when I’m heading to Chipping Norton I often pop in. Kingham itself is so quintessentially British, and The Wild Rabbit really embodies that. It’s just a bit more chic than your standard gastropub!
I have a huge love for Summertown – it was one of the first places I moved to when we left the city. It gives me Primrose Hill and French vibes simultaneously! We have a project here that’ll hopefully be finished by the end of the year, but it’s given me plenty of time to explore. I often end up in Gail’s Bakery after site visits – there’s nothing like a black coffee and their honey and almond sourdough to get the creative juices flowing.
Mercato Metropolitano, Mayfair and Elephant & Castle
This market has everything; street food, live music, a nice outdoor space to relax, a laidback atmosphere with people milling around. It was actually where I went on my first date with my now-husband, and he proposed there on our anniversary, so it’s definitely a favourite of ours! It’s just a nice place to escape to in the city, and a good alternative to Borough Market.
Pyscle, throughout London
When our office was based in Fitzrovia, I would be in the Mortimer Street branch of Psycle every day as it was a 2-minute walk away. I’ve always been into sports and was a national swimmer, so I’d visit Psycle every morning at 6.30am for their spin classes before heading into the office. I dread to think how much money I spent there! I loved the juice bar, the instructors, the pumping music – it just set me up for the day. Obviously with lockdown, I’ve ended up buying a Peloton bike to get me through!