This summer I have been determined to venture back to my childhood heaven of Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden. It has been years and years since my last visit, yet the magical setting has remained a vivid image in my memory.
The ‘Enchanted’ factor, aside from obviously alluding to the magically surreal atmosphere of the place, begins with the elusive nature of Jane’s opening times. Indeed, if there was no such thing as the internet providing such information, this garden would be like a treasure one might happen upon while wandering around Oxfordshire’s Cherwell Valley, but then never find again for looking. Jane opens her little Tea Garden every first and third weekend in the month, making it somewhat of a challenge to turn up at the right time.
But what a wondrous treat when you are successful! Located on the banks of the canal, this little gem began simply as a pretty narrow boat, selling home-baked cakes out of its window to walkers, cyclists and boatmen alike. Since then, Jane has created a manifestation of fairy tale dreams. Reached only by a dusty track or by water, you enter through an arch of branches and fairy lights, leading the way down to the water’s edge. Think Alice in Wonderland, with teacups and flowers and bird cages hanging amongst the canopy of trees. Seating ranges from armchairs to wrought-iron, garden furniture to sofas complete with floral duvets. Once comfortable, it is time to make your order at the outdoor, decorative kitchen… and what a range of delights to choose from! We failed to sensibly settle for a pot of tea and scone between the three of us, opting for an extra slice of delectable gooseberry Victoria sponge cake aswell! The scones were warm, the cream fluffy and the cake light as a feather… unctuous!
We revelled in the deliciousness and beauty while surrounded by romantic white doves and the strangely wonderful sound of traditional piano playing. (The wooden piano sits in the shrubbery as natural as anything… even more wonderland-like!) Shame gave way to my desire to photograph EVERYTHING. The light was that beautiful glowing, golden brightness of the end of summer and shooting the tea garden was so rewarding, yet impossible to fully capture the immense magic of the place.
Despite the enlargement and increasing popularity of this quaint retreat, Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden has lost none of the fascination it held for me at ten years old. I retain my dream to have my wedding breakfast here, and if any of you have as much of a childish love for anything unique and almost fictitious as I do, you absolutely must must visit!