Category Archives: Banbury

Traveling While Hungry

One of the first things I do when planning a trip is to explore to culinary offerings where ever I am going. Food and travel are my two favourite ‘past times’ and I combine them whenever possible.

Lately, I have another way to combine them. These days, I am quite often found – on a Monday morning – down at the Puritans Radio studio talking with Peter Evan Jones about food on the ‘Jones on Food and Travel’ program.  On a recent Monday, my topic was food worth traveling for. CNN Travel made some bizarre choices – including ketchup (not a food, in my opinion, much less a food worth traveling for), buttered popcorn (another head scratcher) and potato chips (honestly?) which is what prompted this segment.

What food is so good that you would tackle traffic, airport lines and baggage restrictions to reach it? And yes, my better half – I mentioned the tapas from Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria in Barcelona. 🙂 When do we leave?

If you’re a fan of food and/or travel, the show is on every Monday from 10-12 (UK time) and I will be posting links to past programs  for those who prefer to catch it later on. This week’s whole show can be heard at

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Vintage Lover’s Guide to Banbury

alice_chess_blogIf you are one of the many people who love vintage décor, collectibles, clothes, and accessories – then Banbury and its surrounding villages are the place for you!

The Vintage Lover’s Guide to Banbury, the Banbury blog post that was on this page has now moved to its new home on The Banburian, a site devoted to exploring Banbury and the surrounding areas. Other posts about shopping in Banbury on The Banburian include:

Book Mad in Banbury

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Banbury PhoneBox Library – a Little Free Library of sorts which started out unofficially and ended up being done up properly and making the news.

I’ve been book mad a long time, long before I moved to Banbury. When we were house hunting, one of my criteria (and I didn’t have many) was that where ever we ended up, it have a bookstore.

After all, I was moving from Manhattan – land of The Strand (and especially their Central Park Stalls), Housing Works Bookstore, McNally Jackson, – not to mention Mysterious Bookshop, the late lamented Murder Ink and the even more lamented Endicott. I couldn’t go cold turkey.

We ended up in Banbury for a number of really excellent reasons – and while it was not the deciding factor, I am happy to report than Banbury is awash in places for me to feed my book habit.

Read more about what I found, including books swaps, arket stalls, used book stores and charity shops full of titles to feed my habit … Book Mad in Banbury

 

Spring Shopping in Banbury

There are many signs of Spring in Banbury. The sun shines more often, daffodils are swaying in the breeze, a few bees start buzzing around. It all brought me out to shop and browse.

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The plant and garden stall at the Banbury Market was a veritable riot of colour

It was Market Day so I made a point, as I always do of browsing among the stalls – then had some lunch, did a bit more browsing and a spot of shopping.  This is great for the local economy and a bit hard on my wallet. But only a bit since I have to say – Banbury’s independent shops did right by me this week. From the handbags, to the repair, to the pins – bargains all around. Wanna know what else I saw and what I ended up hauling home? Check out Spring Shopping in more detail over on the Banburian.

Museum News from the Banbury Area

It’s all happening at museums in the Banbury area lately (and as a museum-lover, this pleases me).

To find out more, head over to The Banburian and see all the Museum news for the Banbury area.

Banbury: Who’s Riding to Which Cross?

Tell someone you live in Banbury & they’ll start reciting:

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.

Considering how well-known that little ditty is you’d think we’d know a lot about its origins but we don’t. We don’t know

  • which cross they are talking about
  • who the woman riding to that cross
  • how many versions of the rhyme there are
  • when the rhyme first showed up
  • what they meant by cock-horse
  • how the frog fits in

The answers to these mysteries (or at least my best guess in some cases), is to be found in Who’s Riding to What Cross over on The Banburian.

The Fine Lady's bell-adorned toes. Photo by dungeekin.

The Fine Lady’s bell-adorned toes. But who is the lady? —  Photo by dungeekin.

 

BOO! Haunted Banbury

It’s Halloween and while I know you’re probably madly rushing around putting finishing touches on costumes or exerting massive self-control to keep from eating all that candy you’ve purchased, let’s take a minute for a ghost story – or two! Ghost are always fun and Banbury has two that I know of.

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As if having hidden staircases and priest holes weren’t enough, Whatley Hall has a GHOST! Yes, the ghost of Father Bernard. Though having a ghost pop out at you is no doubt a shock, Father Bernard is not supposed to be especially scary. He is said to hum, chuckle and smile as he moves briskly about the place, usually on the stairs or in the garden.

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The ghost at Ye Olde Reindeer Inn is a Cavalier (which fits in nicely with the history of the place). The ghost is reported to appear, complete with plumed hat and lace ruffles, both on the upper floors and in the Globe Room. No word on whether he is as jolly as Father Bernard.

I’ve put together a few more details on these buildings and their spectral residents over on The Banburian’s Haunted Banbury post. If you’re interested in what else I found out about Banbury’s history – of a less spectral nature – you should check out my piece on Local History Is Awesome called “Banbury’s History of Prudes, Drunkards and Murderers.” It’s not all mayhem though – it also touches up a bit of culinary history of Banbury cakes and cheese.

Banbury’s Independent (Shop) Spirit

The weather was too nice to stay inside today so I went out along the canal into town – took some pics, made some purchases along the way and shared it all over on The Banburian.

One of the things we like best about Banbury is that while it is well-supplied with the usual big name chains, there are also a great many independent shops – and offering a wide range of goods. What this means is that yes, I can go and pick up my contacts at Boots, or check out the sales at Debenhams but I can also treat myself (and others) to “won’t see everywhere else” handbags, toys, gifts and books, etc. I love Banbury’s Independent Shop Spirit.

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Spring has Sprung in Banbury!

According to Tennyson, ‘In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love’ – and that’s as may be but come Spring, this girl’s fancy turns to long walks, farmer’s markets, the garden and cheese.  At TransAtlantic Towers, we can tell that Spring has sprung because we have been replanting beds in the garden. Behold!

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Between that, the fruit trees – we now have five! – and the “herb potting” marathon we have planned for next weekend, I feel very seasonal. Spring planting in NYC was more a case of sweeping the balcony off, cleaning the chairs and moving the jade plants back outside. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it was a lovely spot, as you can see below, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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I do miss having jade plants but we just do not have the right window for them here for wintering.

Another thing I miss about NYC in Spring – the ‘long walks’ season along the river. And when I say long, I mean long. It was not unknown for me to go from 72nd & 1st over to 110 & West End then turn down along the River to the Village all in one go. Still, plenty of walks around here – more rural than urban, of course but no complaints there.  I have a lovely canal to walk along here in Banbury.

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In theory, I could follow the canal and walk from here in Banbury to Oxford though I think that’s a bit far even for me. I’ll break it into sections, thanks very much and tackle it that way. Luckily, walking is a bit thing around here and the local council even produces a set of scenic walk brochure/maps for some of the more popular ones. So does the Walking in Oxfordshire website. All downloadable and free!

Spring is also when I once more became a frequenter of those staples of the Manhattan street scene – I love  the ‘one of a kind’ or ‘not often seen’ items you get at the outdoor markets. One of my favorite regular days out when in NYC is the Union Square market – the best place to get apples in all of Manhattan – or (if I can’t be bothered to go that far) the St. Stephen’s Market up on 82nd.

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Luckily, Banbury comes up trumps for me there as well.  The canal walk will wait until we’ve had a few more days of good weather so the footpath can dry out a bit more but the weekly markets are only a short, dry stroll away.

Banbury has two markets – the Banbury charter market on Thursdays and Saturdays then the farmer’s market on the first Friday of every month. Both markets take place in – wait for it – the Market Place. There’s also an additional antiques market that runs along side the charter market on the 2nd Thursday of each month.  I’d also seen news that an artisan cheesemonger would have a stall for the first time. I love living in a place where the word cheese monger in in common usage. And so as this past Thursday was a 2nd Thursday and the weather was fine, I figured it was worth a wander in.

And I was right! I mean look at that fruit and veg!

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I also scored the most amazing pair of cheeses from Curds & Whey, the cheesemongers. Well, they were amazing and so are these cheese: a black truffle cheese and an extremely mature gouda. That black truffle cheese is going to be made into an extra special risotto tonight.

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Rather than rush immediately home with my score, I also decided to check out the antiques market and see what the percentage of antique to junktique they had. And by saying so – I am in NO WAY dismissing junktique items as worthy. Some of my favorite things are such things. “Junktique’ – by my definition – is that which is old, vintage-y and/or perhaps something someone else would have just tossed. Not garbage by any means – just not ACTUALLY antiques. And I have to say, I saw quite a lot of things I might have picked up if I wasn’t walking home with two ENORMOUS wedges of cheese and a tiger bread baguette (and let me give a two thumbs up to Isla Jane Bakery for that AMAZING bread) .

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There will more on the delights of Spring in Banbury to come but that will have to wait – for I have some cheese to indulge in.

Festive, Foodie Banbury

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.