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Festive, Foodie Banbury

by nycdeb on December 6th, 2014 · No Comments ·

While I was just back to NYC for a visit, it was a bit too early for a tour of the annual 5th Avenue Christmas windows.  That’s OK, I did the NYC Christmas windows from a distance last year and I can do it again this year, thanks this time to Time Out New York who have done a lovely round up of these annual holiday spectaculars. But it IS holiday time once more and I’m at home in Banbury and Banbury is all dolled up for the festivities. True, we don’t have anything like the windows at Barneys in NYC. But we have windows. Behold!

banbury_xmaswindow2

And not to be left out of the holiday fun, our new local Mexican eatery has Christmas burritos on offer. How can you say no to that? Can you get a Christmas burrito in NYC? I’ve never seen one.

xmas_burrito

In any case, it’s holiday time and a whole SLEW of new places have opened up in Banbury – some to keep everyone’s energy levels up for the last push to Christmas like Little Amsterdam (pictured below) and some to make finding gifts for even the hard to buy for, like Pink Pig, a recently reopened record shop- yes, RECORDS! The round vinyl things we use to have to slip in and out of cases. More on all these soon. Right now, I’ve got some gift wrap to organize. And maybe a pancake in the near future.

little_xmas2

Other places I’ll be checking out or checking in with over the next few weeks (especially that almost two weeks I’ve got off work at the end of the month). Some new, some established favs:

  • Books & Ink – because I can’t NOT stop in this store every time I am in town.
  • Naomi’s Cafe Bar - a cafe, art space, reading nook and performance venue all in one.
  • The Whistling Kettle – my favourite kind of coffee shop, a local one and one that tweets things like, “Writing a book? Our cafe has a cosy corner for creative customers.” How could I not love that?
  • Fresh Air Junkie – an outdoor store just opened relatively recently on Parsons Street, because a girl can never have too much fleece this time of year.
  • Buzzy’s Emporium – ’cause I saw an old tin advertising sign that REALLY spoke to me.
  • Abraxas Cookshop – because this baking thing is apparently not JUST a phase and I might as well do it right if I’m going to do it.

There are tons of other places too – many independents, well-stocked representatives of chains and – that’s even BEFORE we mention the whole mall thing.

Yes, I miss New York City this time of year – but I’ve got all new holiday habits and ‘go to’ spots here now.  And these days – with new places to try all the time – I’ll have more choices than ever.

→ No CommentsTags: Banbury · holidays

Banbury’s Foodie Landscape

by nycdeb on November 16th, 2014 · No Comments ·

I’ve mentioned previously (quite a while back and I apologize for the delay) that one of the things we most love doing here in TransAtlantic Towers (as I always did back in NYC), is a bit of culinary exploring.

We discovered the delights of Daylesford Farm, I’ve talked about some of our favourite eateries and food shops in the area in Boppin’ Around Banbury, and mentioned some of the historical places to grab a bit in Bits and Bobs About Banbury.

But a new fabulous foodie find – Bakergirl – has brought me back to you once more.

breakfast_bakergirl

Looks yummy, right? Well, hop on over the my food blog – Fabulous Foodie and share the delights of a morning bun (think super light and delicious cinnamon roll but not), fantastic coffee and a space that would make a New York Real Estate agent weep for the commissions that might have been.

bakergirl_interior

Bakergirl Bakery in Banbury  is my first review of the growing and increasingly impressive foodie scene in Banbury.

 

→ No CommentsTags: Banbury · Life in the UK

Bits and Bobs About Banbury

by nycdeb on June 22nd, 2014 · 2 Comments ·

Get Out & Explore,” Apartment Therapy said as part of their Guide to the Perfect Summer. As one of their prompts, they asked “What is Your City’s History?”

Well, there I had a dilemma of sorts. I could have done NYC (where I lived for decades) or Houston (where I grew up) or Banbury (where I live now). Upon reflection, I decided that New York City’s history had been done many times over and by far better folks than I. Houston’s history probably has too but as I recall its origins lie somewhere between a swamp and a land swindle, which while it SOUNDS good isn’t exactly edifying.

So – Banbury. And of the three, it is by far the oldest so I have lots of information I can play with. Being an American who a) travels extensively and b) lives in the UK, I am frequently in the position of being in places older than my entire home country. It entertains me as I “bop around Banbury.” Possibly I find these things more interesting than the locales as a result. After all, they live with it all the time.

Did I say old? You bet. I present the facts as I find them:

  • Founded : Iron Age. In 2002, the remains of a British Iron Age settlement were found – including buildings dating back to 200 BC
  • First settlers: If we mean a proper settlement – what we might consider approaching village or town status and not just a scattering of Iron Age circular dwellings – then the Saxons. 500 AD or so. The spelling as changed quite a few times since then (it was ‘Banesberie’ in Domesday) but the town’s name originates with the Saxons –  ”Banna,” a 6th century Saxon chieftain  and “burgh” which means settlement.
  • Oldest Building: Well, apparently huge areas of town were wiped out in a fire in 1628 so only a handful would qualify I suppose. The Old Auctioneer pub (1570) describes itself as “the third oldest building in Banbury, having survived the great fire of 1628.” Guess I’ll have to find out about the other two.
  • Oldest Building, Take Two: Take your pick, really. Ye Olde Reinedeer Inn says they are the oldest pub In Banbury and that parts of the building (largely post English Civil War) date back as far as the medieval period. The Globe Room at the Reindeer is a panelled room which is of “historical significance” from an English Civil War perspective. Cromwell used as a base of sorts while laying siege to Banbury Castle (the last of several on the spot of the same name) and several Royalist trials were held there. When the original paneling was removed in 1912 (for shipment to a museum – it was later returned), a double barrel pistol was found behind it and it had an inscription that read, “Presented to Dick Turpin at the White Bear Inn, Drury Land Feb 7, 1735″

reindeer_inn

Globe Room at Reindeer Inn

  • Oldest Building, Take Three and Four: St. John’s Priory School in Priory Road is reputed to be all that is left of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, founded early in the 13th century so that’s one contender for oldest building in Banbury. And if the markings on the Wine Shop are to be trusted (it says 1537), that’s another.

stjohns2

old_wine_shop

So my conclusion is that Banbury is full of Very Olde Things that predate New York and Houston by ages. It even had a castle – the not so imaginatively named Banbury Castle. Which survived (in one form or another) in place until Cromwell laid siege to it. Castle Quay shopping center now stands on on that spot.

Just an insight into life at TransAtlantic Towers – when I saw that Castle Quay sits on the site of Banbury Castle, I turned to Dungeekin and remarked that if I were Cromwell besieging said castle, I’m not sure putting my base for that a few doors down at the Reindeer Inn would be strategically sound. “Shouldn’t it be,” I suggested, “SLIGHTLY at a distance?” This led to a discussion of historical battle tactics – as it does. At least, it does here.

And yes, Banbury is the same Banbury from the English nursery rhyme “Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a Fyne lady ride on a white horse.
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.

And that – as they say, is that. I shall definitely have to stop in again at some of these spots next time I venture into the town centre. These are just a few of the buildings that have caught my eye on piqued my interest but now I know a bit more about them, I may need to dig a bit deeper into some of the others pictured below.

sweetshoppe

coal_coke

cargo

abraxas


Sources:

  • History of Banbury on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Banbury
  • Banbury-Cross Website http://www.banbury-cross.co.uk/banhistory.htm
  • http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63789
  • http://www.localhistories.org/banbury.html
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/oxford/features/2004/09/secret_oxford_01.shtml
  • http://www.banbury.gov.uk/Banbury-Town-Council/history__and__traditions-5569.aspx
  • http://www.banburymarketplace.co.uk/the-old-town/
  • http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/england/oxfordshire/banbury/map
  • http://www.hooky.co.uk/content/our-pubs/reindeer-inn-banbury.ashx
  • http://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1912/07/18/100543292.html
  • http://www.ye-olde-reinedeer-inn-banbury.co.uk/pages/the-globe-room.php

→ 2 CommentsTags: Banbury · Life in the UK

Echoes of Gotham

by nycdeb on June 21st, 2014 · No Comments ·

Lots happening, lots happening and that is – in part – why there has been a delay since my last post. More details to come on all that but in the meantime, I went to Scotland on a road trip and look what I found!

newyork_villagesign_blog

Hilarious! Not in Scotland (we hadn’t gotten there at that point in the trip) but on the way up via Scarborough. Also on the way up, I found a bookstore that had me homesick for The Strand (though I admit, this one had a lovely cafe as well and the space was spectacular. It’s called Barter Books in Alnwick  and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

barterbookblog
I’ll be posting some more details on the roadtrip soon but I just HAD to share these two finds.

→ No CommentsTags: And beyond · books · Life in the UK

Virtual Sightseeing: Museums on Pinterest

by nycdeb on January 29th, 2014 · No Comments ·

Perhaps you’ve noticed – there’s WEATHER happening. Lots of it. Quite a lot of it is the kind that can mess up flight schedules and none of it the kind of weather you really want to go out into. This means some considerable down time indoors at home. Which is great. For a while. But if you’re like me, cabin fever can start setting in after a few days and the weather doesn’t seem to care. The (insert either rain | snow | polar vortex ) continues. But never fear, I’ve got another great round up of links designed to help you make a virtual visit to the Big Apple.

This time around it’s museums. I know we’ve touched on museums before (see below) but that was some time ago and since then, quite of few of the greatest Gotham museums have made excellent use of Pinterest and that’s what I’ve got for you today. You can really explore so much – all without putting on 10 layers of clothes and risking frozen / soggy limbs.

But it’s not only New York City Museums making a splash on Pinterest. No, museums all over the world and specializing in an incredible number of fields have got boards worth browsing. Check out some of the ones I’ve listed below – or hop on over to Pinterest and peruse the search results for “museums”

  • Don’t we all feel better that we live in a world that HAS a Button Art Museum?
  • San Diego Air and Space Museum – which frankly I’d never heard of. This might be because I grew up in Houston and all we heard about was the Johnson Space Center (which was fab).
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – just one of the many museums that make up the Smithsonian as a whole
  • J. Paul Getty Museum – which I confess I visited one and found less than thrilling. The Pinterest boards however are really compelling. Maybe it’s just because I’m not being blinded by white stone everytime I turn around. Or – maybe it’s because the collection is organized better on this platform than in person. Just my personal opinion. Your mileage may vary. Lots of people love the Getty.
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • Cars are not necessarily my thing (what I don’t know about engines, horsepower, torque etc could fill VOLUMES) but I know what I like and it’s usually based on comfort and style – the latter on magnificent display on the Pinterest boards of the Mercedes-Benz Museum
  • I could (and probably should) do an entire round up of the media channels for the Smithsonian Museum as a whole. The breadth and scale of it is amazing – 19 separate museums, some with multiple locations. This main Smithsonian Pinterest account highlights specific events, collections and exhibits across the Institute. One of my favorite specific ones is the Pinterest boards from the Archives of American Art section.

 


 

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→ No CommentsTags: (web)site seeing · museums · sight seeing