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The Muddy Guide

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China Night, Live Friday at the Ashmolean, Oxford, Fri 26 April

chinese dragon

It is testament to my hopeless planning that I chose to host my first dinner party in six months on the same night as this amazing event. China Night, the second of the Live Friday event which opens the doors of the Ashmolean from 7-10.30pm for interractive funsies, coincides with the Xu Bing landscape exhibition currently showing at the museum. Have a go at karaoke in the Vaulted Cafe, play Mah jong or Chinese chess, listen to Sweet n Sour swing’s oriental take on Big Band music, dance to a Chinese influenced DJ set, watch some Lion dancing, or just nibble dim sum in the Dining Room. In other words, go and pretend you’re in London for the night. *Heaven!*

7-10.30pm. Admission to the Museum is free; some activities at LiveFriday events will be ticketed. For a full schedule, click here.

Lunchtime concerts, St Mary’s Church, Aylesbury,Thursdays 1-31 May.

May Lunchtime Concerts at St Mary's Church Aylesbury - Aylesbury Concert

You’re in town. You’re in a rush. You’re ladened with bags. You’re feet hurt.  Well here’s just the thing. Head to St Mary’s Church in the old part of town, pay £3 and let talented musicians take you somewhere peaceful for 45 minutes before your day crowds back in. Click here for a list of performers.

Adderbury Day of Dance, Adderbury, Nr Banbury, Sat 27 April 11-7pm

Grown men wearing knee bells. Oh no, the Morris Dancers are back.

‘Surely this is a festival or street dance?’ I hear you cry. Um. No. We are in the golden-stoned village of Adderbury. Hark the birds, and the gentle bells ringing from the church. Morris Dancing is the art form promoted here, and apparently it’s a lovely day, with stalls on the village green and thousands pouring in to watch grown men wearing ribbons and bells on their socks prancing around each other. For that alone surely it’s worth the trip.

The Look of Love, general release, Friday 26 April

steve coogan, look of love 2

And now we enter Namedrop Corner. For so it was, years back in Soho House (#1), I encountered Mr Coogan (#2) via a mutual friend. He seemed really miserable (oh come on, I’m not that bad company) but I always like his films, and no-one can deny his genius with Partridge (see the feature film trailer here). So I’m excited about The Look of Love, the biopic of  Soho sex king Paul Raymond, directed by my great friend Michael Winterbottom (#3 – that one’s just a joke lol!). It’s handlebar moustaches, shagpile overcoats and Soho sleaze at every turn. You might not like what you see, but I doubt you’ll be bored.

May Day Celebrations, Magdalen Bridge, Oxford, 1 May 

The most famous May Day celebrations in Oxfordshire start at 6am on 1 May with the choristers of Magdalen College choir singing  -do you care?oh alright –  Hymnus Eucharisticus from the Great Tower. Hymnus Eucharisticus was composed in the 17th century by a Fellow of Magdalen and has been sung every year from the Great Tower on May Morning. FACT! This year Magdalen Bridge will be open to pedestrians and closed to traffic from 4.30am until 9am to enable everyone to enjoy the singing in comfort and safety. The whole of Oxford appears to be open for breakfast so choose your preferred start to the day here 

Dorchester on Thames Festival, Dorchester-on-Thames, until 12 May

This well-supported festival started in 2005, and is imaginatively programmed, with over 40 events to suit all tastes and ages held around the beautiful and historic Dorchester Abbey. Hear Terry Waite speak, cook with one of Heston Blumenthal’s head chefs, or draw a Beano comic strip. There’s a food fair, where you can see Jamie’s Italian chefs do live cooking demos or watch Paul Bellchamber (otherwise known as The Late Chef) of Wallingford Food Festival go through their paces.

There’s also plenty on to keep the children entertained – the amazing Bright Sparks Science tent, African Hand Drumming workshops and Toddle Dance. Tel: 0844 8700 887.

 The Chiltern Arts Fest Live 2013, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Chalfont St Giles, 1-2 June

laura boswell hunters moonI confess I’ve never been to the Chiltern Open Air Museum (please don’t write in and complain, I’ll go next week I promise). I do love the sound of this arts fest though, which comes in association with Bucks Open Studios. It sounds like it’s actually running through the centre of Chalfont St Giles too, with potters, painters, printers (Laura Boswell, above)  jewellers, furniture makers etc at work in the historic buildings on the village green. As usual at these events, there are kid-friendly activities aplenty, so it sounds like a winner.

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