The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Bucks & Oxon Edition

Category: Kid-friendly

Ai Wei Wei at Blenheim Palace

10 Oct 2014

Oooh you’re going to love this exhibition! Chinese artist and activist Ai Wei Wei, has created an incredibly fun, subversive and cheeky exhibition that touches on colonialism, national identity, breaking with tradition, commercialism and I’m sure a whole lot more that has sailed right over the Muddy head. Currently unable to leave Beijing after falling foul of the Chinese authorities, Ai Wei Wei has created the whole thing from across the other side of the world, and it’s quite the spectacle.

Read more

Gorgeous weekend break in Cotswolds

27 Sep 2014

Last week my daughter thought she’d gone to heaven when we waved goodbye to Mr Muddy and crew and drove off with barely suppressed grins for a girly weekend together in the Cotswolds.

If you have three kids like me, the one thing that’s hard to find, aside from your sanity (alas, that’s lonnnnggggg gone), is time to devote to one child at a time. So that was a massive pleasure in itself, loads of girly stuff like morning baths, X-factor in pyjamas, tea-drinking/ cake-stuffing.

Read more

A country walk bang in central Oxford

3 Sep 2014

I did this lovely little walk and pub combo last week and put it on the radio – which, ahem, I’m sure you all listen to at 7am on a Saturday morning. But, just on the miniscule off-chance that you prefer a lie-in, I’ll tell you about it here, because in a couple of months it will probably get too boggy to give it a go.

The best thing about this walk is that it starts in central Oxford, and yet it’s properly country – I can’t think of anywhere else that has this kind of 300 acre grazing land bang in the city, it’s incredible.

Read more

Summer Funtime at the River & Rowing Museum

1 Aug 2014

Ah, doesn’t it look peaceful?

This was the lovely neat, quiet room in Henley’s River & Rowing Museum before any children got into it. Let me say straight away that this Summer Funtime with Mr Toad exhibition is not quiet. Car horns beep, there’s a musical station to the front of the picture above with tambourine, triangle and a whole load of other percussion instruments that I don’t know the name to.

Read more

Kids play at Longridge

29 Jul 2014

Why didn’t I do this before? Last week I sent my son on a Activity Day to Longridge, 5 minutes from the centre of Marlow, and he had the time of his life. So did I – I got rid of him from 8.45am to 5.30pm which is some kind of heaven now that he is entering the wonderful tweenie stage of being lippy but yet still incredibly needy (grrrr).

Read more

Boating in Henley

28 Jul 2014

I have a bit of a Muddy crush on Henley at the moment, having been there several times over the last month for various bits and bobs. It’s just so damned pretty, and seems to have the knack for drawing a crowd – I’m thinking the Henley Festival, the Royal Regatta, Maison Artisan deli fairs, River & Rowing Museum for kids, the upcoming Henley Literature Festival etc.

Read more

Words and Wickets in Wormsley!

16 Jul 2014

An an early nudge about Word and Wickets, a brilliant if slightly bonkers concept of a festival combining literature and cricket that is coming up next weekend (24-26 July) . It’s at Wormsley Park, a stunning 2,500-acre estate and 18th century country house at Stokenchurch in the Chilterns, and is the former home of the philanthropist Sir Paul Getty, and now home to Mark Getty and his family. So you’re unlikely to wander through the gates at any other time!

Read more

Muddy walks: the Marsworth canal

14 Jul 2014

I’ve had a very odd experience with this post, in that I thought I’d written it months ago. Anyhow, turns out I hadn’t *sigh*. But looky here, it’s a lovely walk along the canal from Marsworth (just over into Herts) that I was put onto by my friend Ellie, who took her kids one day and had just the best time.

To give you some bearings, Marsworth is close to Tring, in a lovely leafy part of Herts, just on the Bucks/Herts borders.

Read more

Henley Regatta ahoy!

4 Jul 2014

Yesterday I spent the day in a Merchant Ivory film. Oh no, hang on, I was at the Henley Regatta, being visually assaulted by men young and old (and quite a few positively ancient)  in stripy blazers and straw boaters. I’d never been to the Henley Regatta before and it was quite an induction into ‘Englishness’ in both its best and worst forms.

The good bits: The view is quite stupendously lovely, looking towards Henley’s 11th century church with its English flag, the arch of the bridge to your left, up river with the rowers straining manfully, sweat glistening from their taut arms, lycra tightly wrapped around their… oh sorry, that’s a different sort of film.

Read more

Fancy a punt?

11 Jun 2014


It’s funny how you get out of the habit of trying fun things as you get older. I’ve lived near Oxford for nearly 10 years and it’s taken me that long to go punting with my kids, which is just plain embarrassing.

This is one of the reasons I love writing Muddy Stilettos, because it kind of forces me to get off my cascading backside and try different stuff, and hopefully make it easy for you to do the same.

Read more
The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Bucks & Oxon Edition