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Canalside café in Thrupp is dream job for former Oxford Tube coach driver
FORMER Oxford Tube bus driver Marianne Stevens only had one ambition... to run a quaint tea shop in the heart of England.
Now she is living the dream and even has the endorsement of the bible of great national traditions – This England magazine.
Her tea room in Thrupp, near Kidlington, has been bestowed with a Finest Tea Rooms Award by the publication.
The canalside Annie’s Tea Room – which has seven other part-time staff – was nominated by Garsington customer Christine Ravenscroft.
She praised the “lashings of clotted cream” and home-made food like breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, soups and cakes.
The visitor said: “It is the perfect spot for dog walking, cycling, canoeing the River Cherwell or exploring the countryside.”
A host of tea shops are honoured by the quarterly magazine, aimed at “all who love our green and pleasant land”.
The mum-of-four said she was thrilled with the accolade, which comes after two years running the shop for owner Douglas Reeve.
She said: “It's a dream job. It 's something I have always wanted to do.”
Long journeys driving express coaches between Oxford and London along the M40 from 2008 to 2010 gave her plenty of time to think about her ideal job.
Mrs Stevens, who got her PCV coach drivers’ licence in 2001, said of the driving job: “I enjoyed it hugely. It was great fun. All the customers were lovely. It's not as bad as it sounds.
“It's close but running a tea room is better. It's a long-held ambition of mine.”
She said of the magazine: “We're very pleased a random person we don’t know has taken the effort to mention us.”
She said of her venue: “It is absolutely beautiful, tranquil, you can’t go wrong.”
The mum-of-four, 49, lives on a canal barge, cruises in summer and docks by the café in winter.
Speaking from Eynsham, she said: “It is one of those jobs where you get up in the morning and you think how lucky you are.
“I live on the canal so I wanted to do something canal-based. The opportunity came up and I just couldn’t turn it down.
“I get to make cakes all day, which is my favourite thing.”
Mr Reeve said: “It is fantastic and a true reflection of all the hard work she puts in.”
A cream tea is £5.40 while afternoon tea – a selection of sandwiches, cakes, scones and jam with tea or coffee – is £7.50.
MRS Stevens’s idea of a perfect afternoon tea would be salmon and cucumber and egg and cress sandwiches, followed by scones with clotted cream and jam.
A miniature Victorian sponge cake would go down nicely with Twinings’ Earl Grey tea with the “magical reality” of an Angela Carter novel, she said.
Mrs Stevens added: “It would be completely relaxing yet indulgent.”
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