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The Joy of Summer at Thyme Cookery School

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by


Jun 15, 2020
6 minutes to read

Cotswolds-based Thyme is a local food hub of epic proportions, comprising a pub, cookery school, spa, restaurant, farm, orchard and more. Here head chef Charlie Hibbert gives us an update on how the team have spent their summer so far

Thyme is beautiful in the summertime, whether sitting on the sunny terrace outside the Ox Barn or strolling through the grounds. Unfortunately, at the time of writing our rip-roaring dining rooms have been scuttled by COVID-19, as has everyone’s. So instead of cooking for our guests, we are spending more time at home, making food for family.

After the long doldrums of January and February, March brings the first tantalising green things of early spring, but it’s not until late May that the kitchen garden begins showing signs of growth and life. White elderflower blooms in the hedgerows, and we eat the first radishes with butter and salt.

Head chef Charlie Hibbert
Head chef Charlie Hibbert

Thyme comprises bedrooms, spa, vegetable gardens, farm, orchard, cookery school, shop, The Swan - our pub - and the Ox Barn restaurant, all located within the Cotswolds village of Southrop. Thyme feels like its own village within a village. My mother, Caryn Hibbert, started Thyme in 2008 with the restoration of the Tithe Barn - which is now our cookery school. Over the last ten years, the rest of the business has grown from there.

We, as a family, love food. Our days together revolve around mealtimes. We pick, prepare and eat together - outside as much as possible. At this time of year, the evenings are long and light, the days warm and pleasant. We lay our table with Caryn’s tablecloths and napkins, adorned with her illustrations - ‘patterns of nature’.

June brings a flurry of greenery: the first courgettes, peas, and broad beans in the kitchen garden, and watercress and wild mint in the River Leach, a tributary of the Thames which winds through the property. A push towards re-wilding here has brought wildflowers and wildlife back, and in June orchids bloom in the meadows and otters (although seldom seen) patrol the waterway.

Come July; the garden will be busting to go wild, proudly bolting and showing its worth. Everything is growing faster than you can pick. This month brings fruit too, blackcurrants and gooseberries, raspberri

Thyme's cookery school
Thyme’s cookery school

es and strawberries to serve atop meringues or turn into jam. Every year, this glut feeds our restaurant menus spectacularly.

We fill our table with simple, unfussy food. Toasts, grilled with olive oil and topped with crushed peas and Parmesan or tomatoes and burrata make for a delicious lunch. Dinner might consist of a whole grilled fish with sauce vierge; braised beans with courgette and mint; a salad of big, headed lettuces dressed with an anchovy, lemon and oregano vinaigrette.

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