Happy Christmas, everyone – and put next year’s market dates in your new diaries now!

village hall snowy

Now that we’ve recovered from the Christmas market, we’ve been thinking about next year. Our experience over the last couple of years has been that while the Christmas and spring markets have been very popular, the summer and autumn markets have seen fewer people coming along to them.

We’re not sure why this should be, but we’ve decided that next year we’d try holding three rather than four markets, on the following dates:

18 April, 8 August and 5 December

We’ve set the spring market a little later than usual, and set the next one in August, halfway between the dates of our previous summer and autumn markets.

So put the dates in your diary now. We look forward to seeing you in April!

‘More Christmassy than Christmas!’

That’s a quote from one of the visitors who came to the market on Saturday. It was a fantastic day, and the hall was buzzing and festive the whole time. We had more stalls than ever, and the variety of lovely things on offer combined with the great food served up with a smile at the Coffee Shop made this market the best we’ve ever had.

So many people told us that what was happening here was really special – ‘A proper villagey event, with a real sense of community spirit’ – and they wished they had something like it where they lived. We met a lovely young couple who’d come all the way from Nottingham, deciding to have the perfect Christmas shopping weekend by combining a visit to The Pantry on Saturday with a trip to Bicester Village on Sunday. They’d spotted our event notice and this blog on the internet and decided we sounded worth investigating. They seemed delighted with what they found, had bought several presents and said how lovely and friendly all the people were. We were thrilled that our fame had spread so far!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who helped put on this fantastic event. Goodness knows what we’ll have to do next year to surpass this year’s Christmas market. An ice rink …? (No, Pantry People, it’s a joke!)

Anyway, I’ll let you into a little behind-the-scenes secret. Shortly before opening time, Maggie and Karen arrived to discover the grill on the oven had stopped working. No tears, no tantrums, no panic (well, only a little panic) – they just set to, found some frying pans and coolly coped with the unprecedented numbers of customers and the barrage of orders coming at them from all directions. Knowing how competent and capable both of them are, I wasn’t surprised – but I was full of admiration for how they responded to what could have been a disaster. And I don’t suppose anyone suspected a thing. Well done, the Coffee Shop team!

And well done to everyone else who helped make it such a lovely festive event!

Very local

Just a reminder that three people from Piddington will be selling their wares at the market tomorrow, so do pop by and say hello.

Lynda Galloway has been a great supporter of various village events and initiatives over the years, so do come and support her own brand new venture – Event and Party Essentials. Lynda has lots of ideas to make your special event even more special, and can make or supply a large variety of printed items to make your event unique. On her stall you’ll find some great Christmas gifts and stocking fillers, plus ideas to make your party go with a bang (or a bong – ask at the stall!).

Alex White will be offering Christmas gifts and gorgeous home accessories. If you’re looking for a unique gift, or something stylish for your home without the designer price tag come and pay her a visit.

Liz Tagert will be offering household goods, including kitchen wares, ceramic storage jars and lanterns.

Some of the stylish home accessories you'll find on Alex's stall
Some of the stylish home accessories you’ll find on Alex’s stall

Cheers, my (rein)deers!


To help you decide which beers to buy at The Pantry tomorrow, why not download the tasting notes for all the beers you’ll find at the Beer Stall.

Try before you buy, and make up your own bespoke gift packs. As usual, the Beer Stall will be in the marquee next to Sandy, from Waddesdon Deli, who’ll also be offering tasters of her delicious cheeses and meats and more. So come along and see what’s on offer. It’ll keep you going until you bite into your bacon or mushroom bap!

Here are the notes for the beers from three local breweries:

Oxfordshire Ales, Marsh Gibbon – Tasting Notes

Vale Brewery, Brill – Tasting Notes

XT Brewery, Long Crendon – Tasting Notes


Jennie Bosher (Witch-Crafts) – handmade Christmas decorations and more

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Here are some photos of the lovely handmade Christmas wreaths and decorations you can find on Jennie Bosher‘s stall. Jennie will also be selling knitted cushions and toys.

Jennie Bosher

A browse around the General Store

General store collage

When we started the market, we were all completely new to stocking and running a stall selling locally made high-quality foods and toiletries, and to be honest we had no idea of what would be popular and what wouldn’t. We wanted to offer as wide a range as possible of items that were a little bit special, but that were also affordable. We’ve offered a variety of products in the General Store over the last couple of years, but there are some ranges that people now ask for specifically, and which disappear very quickly!

Of course, the artisan breads from the Cornfield Bakery are always extremely popular, as are the tasty savoury products from Just Biscuits and the appealing little waxed cheeses from Little Shop of Cheese. But what is a hunk of cheese without a good tangy chutney or pickle?

Jim and Jules are a small family business making top-notch jellies, chutneys and pickles from locally sourced produce, and we find that once people have sampled their wares, they come back for more. Last year, they made a special Christmas chutney for us, using Piddington apples (provided by Karen and Derek – thank you!), which was hugely popular.

Cherwell-20131205-00540 (2)

This year, we’ll again be selling the little gift sets ‘A Piddington Pair’ – a jar of Piddington Christmas Chutney paired with a jar of Rosemary’s Hedgerow Jam in a ready labelled gift bag. Honestly, you couldn’t get a more local and unique gift for a foodie friend! As well as our own special chutney, you’ll find some other delicious-sounding items made by Jim and Jules (unless someone else has snapped them up first):

  • Jim and Jules Onion & Chilli Gubbins
  • Apple & Chilli Jelly
  • Pops’ Perfect Piccalilli
  • Beetroot & Orange
  • Hearty Ale Chutney – made with beer from Tring Brewery
  • Jingleberry Jelly – a very special edition made with Hedgerow fruits after a family forage along the canals
  • Cranberry & Red Onion
  • Quince & Apple Jelly – made with Quince from Jim and Jules’s village
  • Green Tomato Chutney – made with Tomatoes from Jim and Jules’s greenhouse


Another much loved range is Jacobs Field Lavender. These toiletries are made from extracted oils produced from lavender grown in Jacobs Field in Islip, Oxfordshire. The venture is an inspiring example of ‘land share’, bringing together like-minded people who own land with those who would like to share and cultivate it for a greater good. Profits are given to local charities; local schoolchildren come to learn about growing veg, and there are beehives producing honey. The products themselves are gorgeous. You’ll find all your favourites – Hand Cream, Hand Wash, Linen Water, Moisture Lotion, Pillow Spray – but you’ll also be among the first to try their brand-new products – Body Butter, Body Latte and Essential Oil. We’ll be selling Jacobs Field Lavender products in beautifully presented ready labelled gift bags, to make your life a bit simpler. If you buy two or more products, the gift bag is free.

There are lots more interesting products on the General Store. Why not make up your own hamper from the tempting array of goods on offer? Ask for a basket at the stall.