Banburyshire (source:Wiki) has more to offer than £4 roast dinners. Just down the A4260 is one of the many golden stone villages that make the Oxon/Northants/Warwicks borders a competitor for the Cotswolds.
Deddington has the usual minor tourist attractions; a ruined castle, one sided football pitch, snowdrops, antique centre and gun shop. “The quietest place reading the Daily Mail” as Housman might have said.
I could eulogise about the church and market place, but frankly the reason to come is to fathom out what’s going on at Northcote House, a slightly scary looking building in Chapel Square. The Chinese takeaway menu pinned to the board, like Luthers theses to the church door in Wittenberg, is both thrilling and unnerving.
Streets called Hopcraft Lane, the Stile and Goose Green were still, apart from the endless barking of dogs. I saw no-one under 50.
Less excitement in the Unicorn, but then it’s a Charles Wells house. Ferocious fire, and a decent half of Eagle in a cosy corner of a pleasant dining pub.
Deddington has a special place in my heart; the Crown & Tuns was one of the 25 pubs in each of the first 25 Good Beer Guides.
QUIZ TIME – What’s misleading about Deddingtons football team ?
Back in Banbury, a town staunchly resisting the onset of craft, even with so many Greene King houses. Every year brings a lone new Beer Guide entry, a doomed attempt to get a decent price at the Travelodge, and a real effort to find something to enthuse about.
It’s getting there. Rather like Hitchin, independent business has been slow to arrive,but there were a decent number of newish lunch stops, including a very decent Mexican at Lucha Burrito. Their Spoons is a bit livelier than the one in Hitchin though.
The famed frontage of the Olde Reine Deer contrasts sharply with the other ’70s frontages along Parsons Street, which suits me fine.
Plenty of proper pubs in the centre, and good to see the smartened up Three Pigeons finally get in the Guide. If it’s still in the GBG when Simon gets there in 2027, he may have something to say about the seating, lack of beer mats and a clientele fussing about “butter spoons“, but I’m staying charitable and will tell you the staff are charming and the Purity smooth and chewy (as if I know what that means). NBSS 3.
House building in Banbury shows no let-up, and the leisure developments around the Cherwell are attractive enough to keep the town centre busy.
It’s a measure of how North Oxon CAMRA put quality first that the Three Pigeons can get in the Beer Guide with a line-up of Purity and Doom Bar in what is effectively a restaurant, but I applaud them for their approach.