Muddy visits… Chipping Norton

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Chipping Norton town centre

Ah, Chippy! I had a lovely weekend here a few weeks ago with Mr Muddy. I think Chipping Norton gets a bit overlooked in the clamber to get over to Burford, Stow and all those other classic Cotswold villages and towns, but actually, to my mind, it felt a bit more buzzy, a bit more of a real town than just a tourist magnet.

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We stayed 2 miles outside Chippy in a lovely village called Churchill, which has a fabulous replica church spire to Oxford’s Magdalen College Spire (above) next to a gorgeous green with views out to the countryside, a very good gastropub (by all accounts – I popped my  head in and it looked quite funky) and a just lovely boutique B&B called The Corner House. Not a doily in sight, our room could have been any high end hotel, and the three bedrooms are all separate from the main house too which I liked.

The Corner House

The Corner House

The bedroom

The bedroom

The bathroom

The bathroom

Breakfasts are communal over a large farmhouse table so you either like that or you don’t – that’s the B&B thing! Generally we’re quite antisocial before the first two coffees of the day, but we met a lovely couple from San Fransisco and nattered our way through cooked breakfast. It was an absolute steal at £125 for the night.
There’s loads of walking, cycling straight out the door but we headed into Chipping Norton for the day. It’s a bit like Thame I’d say – no big chains, but increasing numbers of indie shops, it feels like a town that’s lived in. You can just wander of course – you can spend a pleasant couple of hours just meandering around – but in case you want some steering…

MASH

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A funky gift shop with the clever and unusual idea of catering largely to men, so there are leather messenger bags, slightly kitsch stag head cheese knives (which I bought), good value candles, cufflinks etc plus the usual scarves, baskets and trinkets for women. There is talk of expansion – can’t wait.

9 High Street Chipping Norton Oxfordshire OX7 5AD. mashlifestyle.co.uk

All Dressed Up

I saw the most amazing Orla Kiely dress in this shop (below) that I would have bought in a flash, had I not been, um, slightly too round. It’s probably gone now but you can try!

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As you’d expect around Chippy there’s a lot of money, so there’s plenty of high end designer labels. Great accessories, a large selection of more dressy stuff, and some modern jewellery which was too pretty to resist.

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All Dressed Up, 8 Middle Row, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5NH. alldressedup.uk.com

Tickitty Boo

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A few doors down is TickittyBoo, also down the lovely Middle Row (above) a relatively new kids shop that did very well in the Muddy Awards this year.

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It’s small, like a lot of children’s shops, but has some really lovely  products, including ‘Tickittyboo’ designs from the award-winning owner. Some funky labels and really good price points. You can check them out online.

Jaffe & Neale

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Featured previously in Muddy and just a fabulous asset for the town. Outdoor seating so you can watch the world go by as you have your coffee, and a lovely indie bookshop inside.

1 Middle Row, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5NH.

Wild at Heart

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Every town should have one of these shops. Pretty, sensibly priced gifts – mainly silver jewellery and semi-precious stones and much of it under £25, but also lots of scarves, literally dozens of cufflinks (above) and some outrageously good value stripy beach bags. There’s another Wild at Heart in Moreton-in-Marsh so they obviously know what they’re doing.

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To further fuel my bag habit and wind Mr Muddy up, I walked out with the beach tote for £22 and I’m planning a return for this Muddy-coloured computer bag. Can’t resist!

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Wild at Heart, 21 High Street, Chipping Norton, OX7 5DA. wildatheartgifts.co.uk

Wine Bear

We had a fantastic, slightly surreal lunch in here, as it’s actually an indie wine shop (a very good one) with the capacity to feed when people pre-book. So people are browsing the wine, coming in and out of the shop, and generally milling as you eat. But I really enjoyed it.

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The food was incredible value – a platter of locally smoked trout, watercress, artisan breads, duck, etc for less than a fine bottle of wine. All knocked down with what started off as a glass but ended as the whole bottle. Oops.

Richard, the owner, below, is passionate about indie wine shops (not even necessarily just his) and prices competitively – his was the least expensive Greywacke Malborough Sauvignon Blanc and we bought a couple of bottles (now £14ish online in Wine Bear, £20 in Majestic, and not even available in most supermarkets). Worth thinking about that next time you’re perusing the Waitrose aisles.

WineBear, 2 West St, Chipping Norton, Ox7 5AA. www.winebear.com

Wild Thyme

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Oh helloooooooo! Had a fantastic meal here. Wild Thyme is Chippy’s long-standing top restaurant and now surprise how. It’s small, family-run by a husband (chef) and wife (front of house) team, feels intimate and no fuss, with I’d guess less than 40 covers and a pretty courtyard out the back. It’s the kind of place you’d come for a romantic dinner, or a special occasion meal, or with girlfriends for a really good lunch.

I had double baked goats cheese souffle, beetroot, hazlenuts, and red onion marmalade (£8.50) for starters which was incredible.

The souffle - a culinery triumph (though not a photographic one, I realise it looks like icecream!)

The souffle – a culinery triumph (though not a photographic one, I realise it looks like icecream!)

… Then sauté fillet of Cornish turbot, pan roasted baby squid, crushed new potatoes, braised fennel, broad beans, home dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil (£20.00), below. Looks amazing no?

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You can see why I had no room for dessert, though they did bring out home made honeycomb (think posh Crunchie) which pretty much made my night.

Prices are above average, but then so is the food. There are rooms too, though obviously I was snuggled up in The Corner House for the night.

10 New Street, Chipping Norton, OX7 5LJ. wildthymerestaurant.co.uk

Other places worth noting:

Twist InteriorsElegant interior designers with a modern twist, just behind the high street.

Chippy Lido – lovely outdoor pool in the centre of town .

Station Mill Antiques – more than 80 antique dealers in 11,000 square feet of floor space split over two levels and open 7 days a week.

Chipping Norton Town Hall and Church – both gorgeous and worth a look

Car parks: lots of them and FREE!

www.experiencechippingnorton.com

www.chippingnortontown.info

 

 

6 comments on “Muddy visits… Chipping Norton”

  • Brenda Morris July 30, 2014

    What a pity you did not have time for our excellent museum opposite the Town Hall on the High Street!

    Reply
    • muddystiletto July 30, 2014

      I’m so sorry, I ran out of time! Almost impossible to see everything in a day, but I’ll come another time to drop by I promise x

      Reply
  • Hilary Dix July 30, 2014

    You didn’t go to the two eating places that BUZZ 24/7. Bitter and Twisted and Whistlers. Wild Thyme is shut or empty most of the time and expensive all of the time.

    Reply
    • muddystiletto August 1, 2014

      Hi Hilary, thanks for getting in touch. I did go into Bitter & Twisted (I think – the one with the roof top terrace?) but not BUZZ 24/7 – where is that? Wild Thyme is expensive, I agree, compared to a regular gastropu,b but I thought it was excellent food which is why I featured it. Hero x

      Reply
  • Greg Thorley July 31, 2014

    Great review, so refreshing to find someone prepared to take time to see beyond the obvious heavy traffic that rumbles through the town all day. Thank you for highlighting what’s good about our special home. There’s still so much more to see, St Mary’s Church off Worcester Rd, and the Rollright Stones. May be next time?

    Reply
    • muddystiletto July 31, 2014

      Thanks Greg, glad you liked the review. Hard to get through everything in one day (with a reluctant husband in tow!) but it gives me the excuse to return which is great! Hero x

      Reply

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