Muddy visits… Chipping Norton
Hmmm, you’ve reached an older feature - let’s get you up to date! Read our latest Days out features here.
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.
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.
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…
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
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!
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.
All Dressed Up, 8 Middle Row, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5NH. alldressedup.uk.com
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.
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.
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.
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!
Wild at Heart, 21 High Street, Chipping Norton, OX7 5DA. wildatheartgifts.co.uk
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.
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
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.
… 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?
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.
Other places worth noting:
Twist Interiors – Elegant 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!