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Cool new happenings in Bucks and Oxon

Extra, extra! We've got the gossip on where to see celebs (hello Hot Priest!) in Bucks and Oxon this week, new bars opening in Wallingford, and a dreamy afternoon tea that's about to drop.

CELEB SPOTTING

Blimey, the halls of Blenheim Palace are about to be thick with celebrities! Er, photos of them, that is. In collaboration with Zuleika Gallery, this star-studded exhibition on at Blenheim Palace’s new Stables Café shows a series of limited-edition portraits of 24 celebs and notable figures, all wearing masks. It will be available to see from 20 Sept until December, and features people like Dawn French, Grayson and Philippa Perry, Philippa Pullman, and… ooh, hello, hunky Andrew Scott! Prints are available to buy, and all profits will help deliver a school-based programme of art as therapy to young people aged 7-18 in Oxfordshire and London.

Or, if you’re wandering in between Princes Risborough and Wendover this Saturday (18th), you just might bump into a former Prime Minister or two… Every single living former PM has been invited to Chequer’s Court, the Prime Minister’s historic country house near Coombe Hill, for a dinner celebrating the 100th anniversary of it being gifted to the nation. (Sadly for us nosy parkers, the house is closed to the public. Wonder what ugly decor (and skeletons in closets) they’re hiding…)

Then, celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi (who’s been, let’s be real, the heavy-lifter of every dinner party thrown in the past five years) is coming to the Oxford Playhouse on Sunday 19 Sept with his show A Life in Flavour. Celebrating the publication of new book Shelf Love, a bible of store-cupboard cooking, he’ll be discussing the tastes, ingredients, and flavours that excite him, and how he’s created a career from cooking. The real question is, will there be refreshments…?

NEW BOOZY HAPPENINGS

It’s good news for the people of Wallingford this month! First up, beloved boozy institution The Keep is going back to its roots as a bar, after having converted into an off-licence during the first Covid:19 lockdown. The aim is to reopen with a whole new team in early October, but keep an eye on the insta for up-to-date info.

If you can’t wait until then, don’t miss the opening of a new Wallingford branch of Grape Minds, that independent wine specialist already beloved in Oxford’s Summertown. The shop sells over 400 types of hand-picked wines from around the world, and offers frequent events. Upcoming sessions in the new branch include an Introductory Tasting on 22 Sept, and an ‘Off the Beaten Track’ exploration of underrated wines on 29 Sept. Sounds like a perfect excuse to get merry to us.

POISE THOSE PINKIES

Elsewhere, in London, we can’t resist the sound of the special RHS Chelsea Flower Show themed afternoon tea on offer at London’s oldest hotel, Brown’s, from 17 Sept to 1 Oct. The menu has been designed in collaboration with England’s oldest (they’re really whacking out the epithets) perfumer, Floris, to feature a unique celebration of floral flavours, in honour of Chelsea. Expect delicate edible floral fancies and syrupy infused cakes alongside the traditional afternoon tea scones and savouries — oh, and a take-home gift of luxury Orange Blossom hand soaps. Finally, someone’s treating us right.

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