Better than socks! 13 Father’s Day experiences
Can't bear to buy the man in your life yet another aftershave? Pick up one of these days out in Bucks & Oxon instead - you'll get mega brownie points (and hopefully an invite...)
Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea at Hartwell House
Who says men don’t love finger sandwiches and scones? I’ve never met one who wouldn’t happily scoff down petit fours, so a trip to Aylesbury’s Hartwell House for their Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea should go down a treat. Expect all the classic sandwiches, savouries including duck liver brioche doughnuts (!) and caramelised onion, sage and apricot sausage rolls, and both fruit and cheese scones. Pre-booking essential, stretchy waistband advised.
£39 per person
Make your own gin at The Henley Distillery
Sure, you could buy a G&T-inclined dad a new bottle, but where’s the fun in that? Slip him a gift card from The Henley Distillery and he could make his very own blend for Father’s Day instead. Their gin-making experience includes a distillery tour, a professional gin tasting (plus several cocktails, naturally), and his own blended 70cl bottle to bring home. Of course, you’ll have to taste test the fruit of his labours.
Try kayaking at Willen Lake
If you’ve ever harboured thoughts of throwing the men in your life into the nearest body of water, then here’s your chance – all in the name of love, of course. Willen Lake in Milton Keynes is home to all kinds of watersports, but if your guy wants to try something new, book him a 90-minute lesson with a kayaking tutor. Best of all, it’s suitable for kids over 8 too, so you can dump the whole family in the lake (literally) and then swan off for an ice-cream.
£27.50 per person
Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace
Earn major kudos from your music-loving dad by snagging him tickets to Blenheim’s Palace’s four-day music festival, Nocturne Live – which coincidentally falls over Father’s Day weekend. Taking place from Weds 15 to Sun 18 June, the line-up includes Simply Red, David Gray, UB40, James Morrison and The Brand New Heavies, so grab a ticket ASAP and pretend you had it planned for months
Sparkling wine tasting at Daws Hill Vineyard
Fathers who are fans of fizz should definitely have Daws Hill in Radnage on their radar – not only do they sell some truly excellent English sparkling wine, they offer regular tours and tastings, too. If you’re free on Father’s Day, hotfoot it to the vineyard to take part in their Sparkling Wines of the World Blind Tasting in association with Berks Fizz to see if you can tell your cava from your crémant. (If you’re feeling really generous, you can let him have all the fun and offer to be designated driver.)
Exploring the Chilterns with Chiltern Trike Tours
One for petrol-heads. Hop on the back of Bumblebee, a custom-built boom trike, for two hours of riding through the glorious Chiltern hills with an experienced tour guide. This Aylesbury-based tour company have more options than you can shake an Ordnance Survey map at, including trips to breweries and distilleries, tours of Midsomer Murders filming locations and windmill spotting trips.
Cookery day at The Raymond Blanc Cookery School
Sourcing the perfect gift for foodies is easy-peasy-Sicilian-lemon-squeezy when you’ve got Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons on your doorstep. Lunch bookings might be full up until September, but the Oxford hotel is also home to Raymond Blanc’s famous Cookery School – so why not have him make his own? Classes this month include Treasures of the Sea, Summer Dinner Party, Garden to Plate and (the most dad-y of all) BBQ.
From £195 per person
Cream tea on a train with Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway
If your men get all flustered by the sight of pistons and valve gears, then hopping on a steam train seems a no-brainer. Head to Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway on Father’s Day proper and all dads travel for a reduced ticket price – plus, you can pre-order cream tea boxes when you reserve seats. Scones and stream trains sounds like a winning combo in our book.
Tour and tasting at Hook Norton Brewery
Ah, beer, the old faithful. Instead of scrambling for an ale he hasn’t tried yet, treat your resident zythophile to a tour of Banbury’s excellent five-storey Hook Norton Brewery, finishing up with a tutored tasting in the cellar bar. To make a day of it, follow up with a slap-up lunch at Muddy favourite The Sun Inn, just down the road.
£20 per person
Foraging and wild cooking with Secret Adventures
Outdoorsy types will be falling over their pac-a-macs with glee when you present them with a day of foraging for food in remote Oxfordshire woodland and cooking it over a campfire. Secret Adventures also does incredible outdoor supper clubs if the dad in question is more eater than hunter-gatherer.
Clay taster class with Keeeps
Not a clay *tasting* class, but a taster class, this introduction to pottery at the glorious Keeeps in Marlow is the perfect gift for any dad who fancies their hand at the wheel. After three hours of learning the ropes, the Keeeps team will fire his handiwork and it’ll be ready to collect 4-6 weeks later – talk about a gift that keeeps (sorry) giving.
Tickets to Henley Festival
Couldn’t bag Glasto tickets this year? Henley Festival is always a major crowd-pleaser ’round these parts, and this summer’s event is bigger than ever as the festival celebrates its 40th birthday. Book him tickets to see Craig David, The Script, Boney M, Katherine Jenkins and Pete Tong, then enjoy reminding him what an excellent gift-giver you are all the way up until July.
Escape Hunt at Westgate Oxford
Lock him up and throw away the key with Escape Hunt’s themed escape rooms, which range from finding a way out of Wonderland with Alice to running from Cybermen with Doctor Who. While you might be tempted to lock the door and do a runner for cocktails at Victor’s next door, this is a great one to get the whole family involved in.
From £25 per person