Two of my housemates (Mel and Liz) and I decided to go for a Road Trip this Sunday. Unusually, we actually went in a car – Mel’s and my road trips have usually been by bus or train, with the added adventure of not knowing timetables or that we’ll ever see home again. To lend this frisson of danger, we entrusted our route to a coin. Several, in fact – heads for left; tails for right. Our first destination turned out to be the back of Iceland in Kidlington (which did reveal a fabric shop, about which Liz was quite excited). Though interesting, it couldn’t be called a fun filled outing for all the family, and so we took once more to the highways and byways of Oxfordshire.
And, somehow, half by the coin and half by picking roads at random, we ended up… well, next to a sewage works. But we decided to park and go for a walk, and spotted a sign saying ‘Jane’s Teas, Sunday, 12.00-5.30’. Who could resist? Certainly not us. We meandered on down a muddy pathway, past some cows and a tree-house, over a river, and eventually found…
Jane’s Teas! Unbeknown to us, we were in Kirtlington (never heard of it, but it does have its own Wikipedia page.) In amongst its 872 residents is Jane Fanner, who lives on a narrow boat, and runs a tea garden on Sundays. I think I’ve been waiting all my life to find this wonderful, wonderful place. It’s the sort of place I thought only existed in my mind. Not only were the tea and homemade cake delicious…
…the venue are a series of old-fashioned tables and chairs (and swing-seat) along the side of the river – all the crockery is vintage (we did break a cup, but Jane was very nice about it), there are silver teapots, bunting, and poems in trees, and ornamental birdcages, and….
…a piano, a gramophone, decorative milk pails, rocking horses, model railway, chandeliers, chickens… everything thrown together in the most delightful way imaginable. I felt that I’d stepped back into the 1930s, and never wanted to leave. These photos don’t even do justice to what a special place it is.
If you’re ever in striking distance of Oxfordshire on a Sunday, do try and find Jane’s Teas. She’s in the middle of nowhere (unless you happen to pass on a canal boat) and it seems that her success is all due to word-of-mouth – which is exactly the way you would expect it to be. I can’t imagine anybody going and not telling everyone who wonderful it is.
In an attempt to drag this post somewhere in the sphere of books, I will say that it reminded me of Mary Essex’s Tea Is So Intoxicating. Anybody come across this author? I read the book a fair few years ago, immediately after Moby Dick. Perhaps that is why I remember it so fondly – I will return to it and find out if it *is* as charming as I thought it back then. All about someone setting up a tea shop in a little village, hence the association… and a wonderful title, too. The only Mary Essex novel I have is called The Amorous Bicycle (not yet read) so she obviously had quite a talent for titles!
[credit: three of these photos were taken by Mel – thanks Mel!]