My favourite places
Renowned floral stylist, local gal and friend of Muddy, Willow Crossley, knows some stylish local spots that she thinks you'll love. Ready to take notes?
The north Oxon-based florist and interiors stylist (and mother of three boys) has got a great eye for beautiful things – and that also extends to cool places to hang out. Wherefore are thou, Willow?
Worton Organic Garden, nr Cassington
This could be my favourite place on earth. The tiny farm shop has freshly baked croissants and the world’s best coffee but the best bit is the flowers. The lady there is Dutch and she grows fabulous tulips, 20 times bigger than supermarket ones and with wonderful stripes and crinkly petals. Freshly cut flowers are the ultimate cheering-up mechanism.
Station Mill Antiques, Chipping Norton
I furnished our pub and house with goodies from this massive two-floor warehouse. There’s a complete mix of furniture, interiors bits and jewellery, with more accessible price points than your average antique shop. My favourite buys from here are my Victorian glass etched jugs – I love their delicacy and their history.
Jeanie Scott Skin, Asthall Leigh, nr Witney
My friend is an amazing facialist who works from a shed in the bottom of her garden. She does bespoke facials using Dermalogica products and whizzy machines. They’re very calming and therapeutic – and she’ll make you be quiet and stop chatting so you can benefit from lying down in her cocoon.
Eden Café, Witney
This is run by some lovely people from New Zealand who do a really good avocado toast and oatmilk matcha latte. It really stands out as Witney is low on decent cafés. I like to go here after the morning school run with friends… well, I’ve had time to do it about twice in reality but the thought is there!
Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair, nr Haywards Heath, West Sussex
I used to be a personal shopper, sourcing gifts for clients or buying their new wardrobes, so I’m pretty good at nabbing a bargain! I’m obsessed with markets and go very early in the morning to this one. I’m strangely drawn to old Edwardian nightdresses – I wore them as summer dresses when we lived in the south of France for a period. And I buy loads of grain sacks and cutlery from here.
The Bull Inn, Charlbury
OK, OK, this is our pub but it is genuinely one of my favourite places. My husband manages it but I’m not allowed behind the bar – I haven’t got the necessary skills. And when I try to help clear tables, I drop things. However I was in charge of decorating and I’ve made it cosy with lots of stripy sofas and fresh flowers. There’s a big garden and when it’s warmer, it’s great to go after school with friends and make use of the outdoor pizza oven, which is a converted horse box.
Home Barn, Marlow
This massive barn is filled with antique treasures and new pieces. If I’m whizzing by on the motorway, I always make time to pop in and we borrowed props from here for shoots for my book. I particularly like the lovely old art, especially the retro educational and botanical posters. I love an old bell jar too.
The grounds of Blenheim Palace
We’re lucky enough to live near one of the back entrances so we love a family stroll down those huge sweeping road and maybe a picnic under the majestic oak trees and copper beeches. It’s a long way from the palace so there’s never many people around. My three boys are much more enthusiastic about these walks now we have our retriever/poodle mix puppy, Poppy.
Straw Kitchen, Whichford Pottery, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire
It’s hard to find decent garden pots but this Cotswold pottery does gorgeous, scalloped ceramic ones. And they have a heavenly café that’s just reopened for Spring. I go here for lunch with girlfriends. The quinoa, the soup, the bruschetta, the cakes – it’s all delicious.
Mollie’s Diner, nr Faringdon
This is like something out of American movies, with its leather banquettes, milkshakes and drive-thru…. where you can pick up a rotisserie chicken, believe it or not. It’s quite a random thing to find in the middle of the Oxon countryside but I’m a huge fan. It’s very close to my boys’ school so I spend a lot of time here, having meetings or working on my laptop, and I know the menu very well. I resist the burgers and go for a supergreen salad or an egg and avocado brioche roll.
Willow’s new book, The Wild Journal, is out now – and part of Muddy’s mad March books giveaway