Mary Evans Young visits a welcoming bookshop and cafe in Chipping Norton

After a fortnight of rich food, and a not unpleasant but probably too boozy series of celebrations, followed by the hunt for bargains in the sales (will I ever learn?), come mid-January I'm ready to get back on an even keel.

What better place to start on a bitterly cold Friday afternoon in Oxfordshire’s highest town than in Jaffé & Neale. Essentially it’s a bookshop in the heart of Chipping Norton, but the tables and chairs outside and the illustrated windows are a hint that there’s more to it. Inside two posters tell me: EAT, SLEEP, READ, and CULTIVATE A COMMUNITY, SHOP LOCALLY.

The place is warm, welcoming and brightly lit and I cosy up amongst a visual cocoon of colourful and cleverly displayed books, many of which are old friends.

Mary Berry, Jamie Oliver, Hilary Mantel, Richard Dawkins. Pride of place for Jeremy Clarkson – one of Chippy’s locally based authors the shop likes to showcase. It turns out the front windows were illustrated by another local, children's author, Sue Heap. In addition, there’s a small range of ‘quality’ gifts and cards.

There are no sandwiches or toasties or set afternoon teas here but there are: “Delicious home made cakes, lovingly baked in the AGA from locally sourced organic produce” – which I’m informed are made by professional caterer Ceci Magee in Chadlington.

After choosing from the array of domed cake stands we sat at a table in a nook by the front window. Resisting the warming comfort of a hot chocolate, we opted for a pot of tea and were given Penguin literary mugs illustrated with quotes from George Bernard Shaw and Agatha Christie.

I settled on clementine cake and my partner, went for tiffin. As usual, we picked and mixed and the verdict: both toothsome. The cake was moist and fruity with a slightly loose texture. Polenta? No. Ground almonds. The tiffin was firm and chocolaty with plenty of digestive biscuit for crunch. The staff seem pleased to be there, as do customers – from senior citizens to young mothers with children – whether tapping away on their laptops (free Wi-Fi), browsing the shelves or tucking into cake.

This place is a gem. Polly Jaffé, and Patrick Neale have positioned their business in the heart of the community and are cannily reminding us that teatime can be most enjoyable with a good book.

Cakes: £1.30-£2.95.
Pot of tea £2.95

Jaffé & Neale, 1 Middle Row, Chipping Norton. 01608 641033