Need some garden inspo or just wanting to throw yourself into Spring? Now’s the perfect time to head out to a few of the more under-the-radar gardens near us. Our pick is Rousham Gardens, which lets in neither dogs nor children under 15 — and so is utterly peaceful — and was named by Monty Don (AKA the God of gardening) the “very best of English gardens”. Commissioned in the early 18th century, it remains almost as its designer William Kent (1685-1748) left it, and is a sight to behold even on a cold spring day. There’s no café on-site, though you’re welcome to have a picnic, but we recommend heading to the nearby Yurt restaurant at Nicholsons for chic, elevated food.
Another great pick is Worton Organic Gardens, a seven-acre market garden just northwest of Oxford that was a 2021 Muddy Award Finalist for best farmshop, as well as being a cracking day out (just don’t tell too many peeps okay? It’s our little secret). Eat in the rustic greenhouse that’s toasty warm and be treated to a weekly changing seasonal menu, much of it gathered from the land around you. It’s like that hip west London eatery, Petersham Nurseries, but cooler, dare I say! In the farm shop pick up countless veg and fruit and meat (we love the homebred chorizo) as well as homemade kimchi, flowers, and foodie gifts like chocolate and preserves. The place is a testament to the taste and quality that results from sustainable planting and small-scale animal husbandry.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Got a poem in you? Release the inner Yeats with this poetry workshop at the Ashmoleon on 5 March. Penny Boxall – who collaborated with artist Naoko Matsubara on the book In Praise of Hands will lead a series of exercises and discussions to encourage wannabe poets to write verse responding to objects displayed in the Ashmolean. If your creative juices are more of a botanical nature, how about learning how to collect specimens and draw them in this fabulous workshop at St Hugh’s College, Oxford with Elodie Freymann, also 5 Mar. If you’ve got the kids in tow, how about blowing their minds at one of the monthly Saturday Science Clubs at very swish The Yang Science Centre at Abingdon School. They are designed for ages 5-9 and there’s a different theme each month. They’re organised by Science Oxford, which also has a Family Day at its Oxford Centre with loads of hands-on activities and a chance to let off steam in the woodland area.
STRETCH & CHALLENGE
Before you dismiss a 7am start to Sunday morning, hear me out… this is utter bliss – a 90 minute yoga practice while watching the sun rise over water followed by brunch and a CBD enriched cocktail… talk about chilled out. Snap up tickets now for this vinyasa yoga and meditation workshop at The Swan at Streatley for a seriously mellow Sunday. If you’re after more sweat and less omms, how about trying Peak Fitness in Thame – an outdoor gym with an epic range of fitness classes from HIIT to Muscle Factory to Fight Club and our favourite, Superwoman. The classes are outdoors but with a covered roof and artificial grass floor so you get fresh air, but without the mud and rain. Or perhaps you want to put that Dryrobe to its intended purpose and jump on the outdoor swimming bandwagon? Take baby steps with the heated Wycombe Rye Lido in Wycombe – open from 6.30am every morning.
Why let the tourists have all the fun — did you know there’s a slew of self-guided treasure hunts you can take round our ‘hood? Using your smartphone, Cluecation provides quizzes and tasks along a walking route of hidden gems, letting you explore familiar locations in a new, engaging way. The clincher? At £9.99 for one smartphone (which can be used by six people) it’s pretty much a bargain. Try it out at Blenheim Palace or Oxford. The Cotswolds version is a bit pricier at £29.99, but has enough content and spans enough places (including Burford and Woodstock) to fill a week. Another option for Oxford is the Treasure Hunt Oxford guided tour, £9.99 per person, designed for adults and curious kids over eight years old. Even if you live in the city, it’s full of little details you’ve probably never considered before (yup – permission to get off that phone and explore!).
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