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Bank holiday weekend: Chill out in the Cotswolds

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Hi everyone,

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the second bank holiday of the month, May is spoiling us and the weather has certainly been living up to all of our expectations. I was actually meant to be going away for the weekend but after a change of plan I found myself staying at home instead. Luckily, I live in such a beautiful part of the country and I’m never stuck for something to do, especially when the sun is shining!

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On Sunday I headed to the nearby town of Burford for a spot of afternoon tea with the family. Known as The Gateway to the Cotswolds, Burford is the perfect place to go for a day out although it does get very busy with all the tourists, particularly in the summer months. Visit one of the many local pubs, shop in the little boutique stores or take a scenic walk along the river windrush for a relaxing day out in this pretty Cotswolds town.

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We always visit the famous Huffkins tea rooms for cake or a light lunch and have never been disappointed. Typical delicacies on the menu include scones with jam and cream, chocolate brownies and vanilla slices as well as savoury bites such as pasties, pies, sandwiches and main meals. The food is quite pricey but you do pay more in Burford and its so yummy so its totally worth it!

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After lunch we strolled down the high street and popped into the beautiful St John the Baptist Church at the bottom of the hill. Dating back to the 12th century, the Church is full of history and definitely shouldn’t be missed. In 1649 the infamous Oliver Cromwell imprisoned 340 Levellers inside the Church and ruled that three of the men should be shot whilst the remaining prisoners watched the execution from the Church roof. Many of the Levellers carved their names into the walls whilst waiting to be freed, and to this day the words that were inscribed can still be seen on the brickwork.

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On Monday we drove to Blenheim Palace in Woodstock for the first annual food festival that was being held in the grounds. With tens of stalls selling foods from all over the world, cookery demonstrations, kids face painting and even champagne bars, there was something for everyone on offer. We bought a selection of homemade fudge, cookies, muffins and breads and that was before we’d even decided what we were having for lunch!

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After a stroll round Blenheim’s grounds to work up our appetites we settled on a Spanish treat of paella and tapas for our festival lunches. There were no tables to sit on, only hay bales which made a right mess but it did add to the festival vibe! You could however bring your own blankets and chairs if you wanted to set up for the day.

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The food festival was great, not overly priced at all and with so much going on you could easily spend a whole day there with the family. Free entry if you’re a Blenheim season ticket holder, or £22 per adult for a day ticket to the palace and grounds but don’t forget to convert your ticket to a 12 month pass for no extra cost- excellent value for money as we’ve used ours six times this year already!

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My blog turns one tomorrow and I’m very excited so I’ve got a brand new post and a special announcement for you all.. watch this space!

Love Jess x

Day Out: Cheltenham Spa

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Hi everyone,

Last week me and my best friend had an afternoon off work and were at a loss as to what to do so we headed to the nearby town of Cheltenham Spa for a lovely afternoon of shopping and lunching! Cheltenham is around an hour’s drive from Oxford and London and is a pretty Cotswolds town full of high street and designer shops, bars, cafes and restaurants so there really is something on offer for everyone! Upon arrival we headed to cafe for some lunch before hitting the shops. HMV, New Look, River Island and more are at the top of the high street and you can then work your way down towards the likes of Topshop, Boots, Monsoon and Accessorize before ending up at the large flagship Primark store.

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Regents Arcade and are two of the indoor shopping centres which arent to be missed as they are home to a number of independent boutique shops as well as large well known chains such as Debenhams and TK Maxx. Don’t forget to be inside Regents Arcade on the hour to watch the famous bubble clock chime! This brought back many childhood memories for me and my friend as we’ve been going there since we were little!

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Down on The Promenade is where you’ll find the designer and higher end stores such as Jack Wills, FCUK and LK Bennett. The Prom is situated on a long street leading back up to the town centre and is really beautiful especially in the summer sunshine! I’d recommend heading to Cheltenham Spa for an alternative day out to the busier cities of Oxford and London- you’ll thoroughly enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle but there will be plenty of things to keep you and the whole family entertained!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this post – I’ve got a special birthday announcement coming soon as my blog turns one in a couple of weeks time!

Love Jess x

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Blenheim Palace: A brilliant family day out!

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Hi everyone,

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the lovely sunshine we have been having lately! Last Saturday I went on a family day out to the beautiful Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire (the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill!) and had such a fantastic time. We had bought annual passes for my mum for her Mothers Day present so we took the opportunity to use them and spent the whole day at the palace and gardens.

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The arrival to the Palace is truly spectacular, it’s such a beautiful building and looks so impressive from the outside. The interior is equally as stunning and, as this was my first time going in to the Palace since a primary school trip, I couldn’t wait to start exploring properly! We were taken into the Palace bedrooms where Winston Churchill resided and learnt a lot about the history of the rooms. We then joined The Untold Story which outlined the heritage of the Churchill family and took us back in time to the 1700s. The tour was a walk round event but each room had interactive features including touch screen monitors, audio speakers and screen projectors. Lasting for around 30 minutes, the tour was really informative and I’d recommend attending to ensure you make the most out of your visit to the Palace.

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After a short stop for lunch at the on site Cafe we then headed to the Pleasure Gardens to enjoy the afternoon sun. The Pleasure Gardens are a 5-10 minute walk from the Palace or a short train ride away if you prefer to use this method of transport- bear in mind that it will set you back 50p per adult! The Gardens is home to the exotic butterfly house, model village, family maze and children’s play area. You could bring a picnic and easily spend a couple of hours here exploring, and there is a nice restaurant/cafe on site. The maze was brilliant, and yes I did get lost as it was much more difficult than I thought!

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We bought Annual Passes for Blenheim so we can come back as many times as we want and therefore we didn’t experience all that there is on offer. For our next visit we will be taking the dog and going on a long walk around the grounds, so I’ll be sure to write another blog post on this! Blenheim really is a beautiful place and is fun for all the family. As a tip I would definitely recommend getting an Annual Pass as it’s the same price as a 1 day ticket! Don’t forget to head over to the kiosk next door to the Palace Cafe to get your pass. For an extra £5 you can also upgrade to a prestigious card which will get you 15% off all purchases in the cafe and gift shop – definitely worth it!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Blenheim write up- have you ever been/ever wanted to go? Make sure you do – you won’t regret it! If you have any questions at all please just ask 🙂

Love Jess x