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The cool stuff to do nationally this week

Feel like exploring somewhere new? Muddy tenticles cover the South of England and who better to know the cool stuff that’s hard to unearth than our brilliant regional Muddy editors (all national journalists in their own right) who are constantly scouring their counties for the best arts and cultural highlights? Whether you’re day tripping or planning for longer, here are some of the treats in store for you.


An Evening With Opera’s Young Stars, Cliveden House Taplow, Sun 12 Mar

Who needs a dramatic set design when you’ve got Cliveden House? It has to be the perfect setting for an classy evening of opera. It’s all very Pride & Prejudice as you gather for an intimate performance by the young international stars form the Jette Parker programme of Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House. Plus you get treated to Champagne and a three-course dinner. Dress code is black tie too. Tickets £140 per person.

Swan Lake, Theatre Royal Windsor, Mon 13 – Sat 18 Mar

As you know, Muddy readers, I love ballet. It’s all that style, grace, tulle and the inappropriate gawping at athletic men in tights. Hmm. Anyway, one of the most famous love stories on the planet, Swan Lake, is being performed by the Vienna Festival Ballet at the Lavish costumes, stunning scenery, international stars and the glorious music from Tchaikovsky. It’s not to be missed. Tickets £15-£31.


Forgotten Tales, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 11 – Sun 12 March

The fantastic Pantaloons, who I’ve seen several times over recent years and highly rate, are up at Waddesdon Manor on Sunday at 2.30pm in the Power House for some inventive storytelling for families. No two shows are the same and there’s a box of silly costumes and audience participation to create a new story every time. For kids 5-16.  The Biscuiteers: Waddesdon Manor in Gingerbread house display is still up at the moment (until next Sunday 19th) too – quite the result since it’s been up since November, so that’s worth seeing before it crumbles too.

Waddesdon Manor, nr. Aylesbury, Bucks,

The Play That Goes Wrong, MK Theatre, Mon 13 – Sat 18 March

There seem to be a lot of bleak movies out there at the mo (Elle, Manchester by the Sea…) so a show that’s apparently had half the West End crying with laugher sounds like a brilliant anecdote. I’ve seen nothing but rave reviews for this hilarious spoof of the ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s’  disaster-prone attempts to put on a 1920s murder mystery. And, you guessed it,  everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes,


The Tamburlaine Hotel, Station Road, CB1 2FB, Cambridge

The Tumberlain Hotel, Cambridge Garden Room

Thinking of shimmying into Cambridge this weekend then why not trot on down to the brand new and spankingly cool hotel –  The Tamburlaine.  Located in the fast-developing area of the city centre dubbed the ‘railway station quarter’ the hotel hosts a brasserie-style restaurant, cocktail bar, glass-walled wine room, terraces, ornate garden room and a retro-chic deli/cafe.  Check out the cocktails this weekend and have a nose around – I’m just luuurving this jungle themed garden room.

Wimpole After Dark, Wimpole Hall, Sat 11 Mar

Wimpole Hall

See Wimpole in a new light at this after dark event with live music and a choice of tours of the house, gardens and parkland, all taking place alongside the annual Night Run. Not into the running lark (meh, me neither) take it easy and enjoy the jazz and blues music from The Accidentalists on the Old Rectory Restaurant Terrace. Fancy a walk, why not wander through the gardens to hear storyteller Polly Howat telling a spooky Fenland tale The Green Mist in the Gardeners’ Cottage (wouldn’t suggest this for kids under 12).  A night walk in the parkland with NT forester Simon Damant with a fire and marshmallow might be more of an adventure, or if you would prefer indoors take a a tour of the impressive Hall.

Wimpole Hall, Arrington SG8 0BW,

More insider tips on what’s happening this week in Cambs



Mid-Century Vintage Fair, Bedruthan Hotel, Sat 11 – Sun12 March

One for all you design lovers! Don’t miss this awesome vintage fair in a spectacular Cornish setting. The Bedruthan Mid-Century & Vintage Fair is back for its fifth year, with 50 stalls split across three levels of the hotel by the beach at Mawgan Porth. Expect an eclectic mix of mid-century homewares, furniture, antiques, collectables, handmade and vintage-inspired treasures, fashion and beauty with top dealers from across the UK. There will also be a pop-up vintage tearoom for when you need a little break from browsing.

Lost Stories of Heligan Supper, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Sat Mar 11

The second in a series of long table feasts, catered by Ben Quinn’s Woodfired Canteen at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. This one is all about celebrating magnolia season – the beginning of the Cornish spring – and guests will be treated to a menu inspired by these colourful Cornish blooms, using produce from the gardens and surrounding farms. Stories will be shared and there will be a creative choice of drinks, which also incorporate local Heligan produce. Book tickets

More insider tips on what to do this week in Cornwall


uzy Bennett: Artisans of Dartmoor, Riverside Gallery, Bovey Tracey, Fri 3 March – Mon 3 April

Suzy Bennett

You may have noticed that 2017 is shaping up to be the year of championing British designers. You may not have noticed that Dartmoor has one of the most talented artisan communities in the country.  In this new exhibition travel photographer Suzy Bennett goes behind the workshop walls to produce an intimate and atmospheric collection of photographs of some of the Moor’s finest artists, makers and producers.   Makes you super proud to be in Devon.

Riverside Gallery, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Riverside Mill, Bovey Tracey,

Transition Town Totnes Film Festival, Fri 10th – Sun 12th March

Totnes and the Dartington Trust have a history rooted in the independent arts and film.  This weekend the  Transition Town Totnes Film Festival is back for a third year with a carefully selected bill of films, performances and workshops taking place in Totnes.  All of the sessions share the same theme, being solution-based and setting out to inspire the audience.  It’s a hugely varied line-up and well worth the watch.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Devon


Amelie’s 10th birthday party, Berkhamsted, Sat 11 March

Amelie is a very special shop on Berkhamsted’s High Street that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. I popped in yesterday and found out that, on Saturday, the first 25 people through the door will be presented with extra special goody bags – the word ‘luxury’ was used – so you’d better be quick. The 26th person and everyone after that will be given an Amelie tote bag. Champagne will be poured for you to slurp or sip gently while you check out the SS17 delights. 9.30am-5.30pm

Sparkles and cream tea, Harriet Kelsall Jewellery, Sun 12 March

An event designed to go along to as a mother and daughter team, Harriet Kelsall invites you to bring along your family jewellery to show to one of the experts. Advice will be given about simple alterations or a re-design of something that might have sentimental value to create something more suitable for your style and more contemporary too. Prosecco on the house, and there is also a cafe where you can enjoy a cream tea. 10.30am – 3.30pm. Halls Green, Weston, SG4 7DP


More insider tips on what to do this week in Herts


Bristol Film Festival, Thu 9-12 March

After its successful launch last year, the Bristol Film Festival returns to the city on Thursday kicking off with a screening of Master And Commander on, wait for it, the SS Great Britain! And if you want don’t want to test your sea legs, but still want to get legless, also on Thursday is a screening of Sideways, the 2004 comedy that follows two middle-aged men’s misadventures through Santa Barbara Wine County, at Bristol wine merchant Avery, where you kick off the evening with a glass of cava and move on to do a whole lot more wine tasting (with cheese to line your stomach) while you watch the film. Brings back memories of drinking along to Withnail And I! There are loads of other great films being shown in imaginative locations, from a Kubrick double bill (Dr Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange) in a cave fashioned as an eerie Cold War-style bunker to a candlelit screening of the 1923 classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Bristol Cathedral with live organ accompaniment. 

Abigail’s Party, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Mon 13 – Sat 18 March

Mike Leigh’s classic comedy is 40 this year and is doing an anniversary tour of the country before it hits the West End, cheering up the provinces with some belly laughs. The drinks party from hell will bring back memories if you’re a 1970s kid like me (swirly wallpaper, mustard yellow upholstery, shag-pile carpets), making you cringe and giggle in equal measure, as Abigail, played by Amanda Abbington (Mary in Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s ex) plies her guests with alcohol, fags and Demis Roussos.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Glos


The Grapes of Wrath, Nuffield Southampton Theatre, 6-25 Mar, tickets on sale now.

Books punctuate my life: Jane Eyre and Cider With Rosie as a country teen; Kerouac’s On the Road as a feckless student in Florence; then bumping along East Africa’s dust rivers to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath — but here was another time, another place when people were not on the road by choice. They were Okies, Elvis amongst them, refugees from the American dust bowl. At the height of the Great Depression, one family begins an epic journey driven as much by fear as by hope. Route 66 to California, the Promised Land. In search of work. A new life. The Grapes of Wrath is a towering testimony to the integrity, strength and perseverance of the human spirit.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Hampshire


Mr Darcy Loses The Plot at Theatre Royal Margate, Wed 8 March

Jane Austen sits writing, her quill scurrying across the parchment. She is dreaming up Darcy, a proud, lip curling, handsome creation in *very* tight pants. But then a door squeaks, a visitor approaches and Jane hastily hides her work. Now left to his own devices, Darcy embroiders his own storyline whilst his creator stitches her quilt. When Jane returns she finds the plot has moved on and Darcy is dancing to a different tune.

Cinderella performed by the Vienna Festival Ballet, Folkestone, Thurs 9 March

Vienna Festival Ballet is coming to the Leas Cliff Halls, Folkestone – a unique venue with views across the English Channel. This is an easy-on-the-eye, exciting and fast paced performance of this much-loved rags-to-riches fairy tale.

More insider tips on the best things to do in Kent


What the Butler Saw, The Curve Theatre, 18 March, until 18 March, 

50 years since the death of celebrated Leicester playwright Joe Orton, Artistic Director Nikolai Foster brings What the Butler Saw to the stage in a Made At Curve production of Orton’s final play. Watch what happens as Dr Prentice (Rufus Hound) a psychiatric doctor in a private clinic, attempts to interview – and seduce – would-be secretary Geraldine. Expect lots of laughs in this riotous comedy.

The Curve, Rutland Street, Leicester, LE1 1SB

British Science Week activity day, Abbey Pumping Station, 11am – 3pm Saturday 11 March

Grab the midgets and head to Abbey Pumping Station for a day full of activities to celebrate this year’s British Science Week theme. Everyone can try their hand at making an imitation land yacht and watch as their creations move in the wind. £2.50 for activities. For more details, call 0116 299 5111.

Abbey Pumping Station Corporation Road, Leicester, LE4 5PX

More insider tips on what to do this week in Leics


The Dipple & Conway Hair and Make-up Show, Norwich Fashion Week – Fri 10 Mar:

Image: Lock and Corson

Kicking off a weekend of events dedicated to Norwich Fashion Week, this lively show celebrates the creative collaboration between stylists, designers and make-up artists. This year the event has been given a theatrical vibe, covering top-to-toe fashion looks, from dramatic hair styles and gorgeous glasses through to glamourous body art. Doors open: 7.30pm, Show: 8pm.

Kings Lynn Literary Festival, Kings Lynn – Fri 10-Sun 12 Mar

This popular annual event takes places over two weekends with this, the first, dedicated to fiction (if you’re into peotry, look out for dates in September). Tony Ellis and co-founder, the late George MacBeth, present some of the best  contemporary writers of chapter and verse in a friendly and informal setting. Listen to writers of international repute – this year welcomes Louis de Bernieres, John Lucas, Rachel Hore and Carol Birch – read before buying their books which, of course, can be signed.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Norfolk


National Trusts opening

I gently weep over winter when many of my favourite National Trust houses batten down the hatches, but sping has sprung and quietly there are several goodies opening including two of my favourites – the beautiful Chastleton House near Chipping Norton (pictured) now open Weds – Sunday and the wonderful Greys Court in Henley with its lovely grounds. Hughenden Manor, the former home of Disraeli near Wycobe is open too, and Waddesdon Manor’s house opening is just weeks away now – 22nd March and counting down.

Art exhibition by novelist Mark Haddon, The Jam Factory, Oxford, until 17 April

I’m always fascinated (and wildly jealous) by creative types who seem to be able to turn their hand to anything, and Mark Haddon, the Oxford-based author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, is clearly one of them as he’s holding his own art exhibition in Oxford at the mo. The exhibition promises reveal portraits of artists, academics, family members and friends if you want to check it out and actually The Jam Factory is worth a visit in it own right –  one of the original and best indie café/art spaces in Oxford, there are multiple gallery spaces and some highly addictive cakes on offer.


Fashion Showcase at Vintage Retreat, Saturday 11 to 17 March

I just don’t know what to look at first

Vintage Retreats welcomes us to come and see a fabulous selection of fashion from the 1940’s – 1990’s. On Saturday 11 March the launch party will take place in their Deco Room. There will be a bar open till 6pm (Wahoo!)  where you can grab a Hotdog and a Beer/Soft drink for only £4.00 (veggie option also available) and DJ’s playing the best of 5 decades of music. Get that special unique outfit and then why not have look around the shop with over 100 traders to browse through. What a marvellous way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  You betcha.  Entrance is free and opening times vary; Mon -Friday 10am -5pm,  10am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm.

Vintage Retreat, Lower Harding street Northamptonshire NN1 2JL

Shrek: The Musical, Royal and Derngate, Wednesday, 14-25 March

Oh, now we cannot miss. The original movie hit our screens in 2001 – can you believe.  I guess that keeps the vintage theme going. Following a record-breaking UK and Ireland Tour, the smash hit blockbuster is back – and larger than life! Based on the story and characters from the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, this hilarious and spectacular production turns the world of fairytales upside down in an all-singing, all-dancing, must-see musical comedy. Join Shrek, our unlikely hero, and his loyal steed Donkey as they set off on a quest to rescue the beautiful (if slightly temperamental) Princess Fiona from her tower, guarded by a fire-breathing, love-sick dragon. Add the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad, a gang of fairytale misfits, and a biscuit with attitude and you’ve got an irresistible mix of adventure, laughter and romance, guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. There are various showtimes across the run, varying by day 1pm, 2.30pm, 5pm and 7.30pm. Tickets £16 – £49.50. Royal and Derngate,19-21 Guildhall Rd, NN1 1DP

More insider tips on what to do this week in Northants


MA & Other Postgraduates Exhibition, Atkinson Gallery, Street, until Sat 18 March

I slipped in an extra listing…this is number 9 and your chance to spot tomorrow’s stars of the art world. This annual exhibition gathers together the very best in the field of fine art from the top MA and other post-grad courses across the UK. Paintings, sculpture, print, photography, textiles and multi-media, including this work by Caitlin Robinson, ‘Self portrait as a Redhead’.

Antiques and Collectors Fair, Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Fri 10-Sun 12 March

Over 600 stands selling all manner of interesting stuff, from fine antiques down to restoration projects at Bath and West Showground. Go early to nab the best bargains from under the noses of the London dealers. The show opens at 12 noon on Friday, 9am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday. Cash only at the gate and a cash line inside if you run out of dosh.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Somerset


Richard Alston Dance Company – G Live, Guildford – Wed 8 Mar

The brilliant Richard Alston is in Guildford with a mixed programme. In Tangent, associate choreographer Martin Lawrance explores the vivid accents and attack of Tango. Chacony, Alston’s newest dance, is inspired by the powerful Chaconne of Henry Purcell; and Nomadic mixes Asian-influenced traditional Romany singing with the toughness of an urban beat. To explore the interaction between gypsy music and urban sound, Alston has collaborated with the hip hop and contemporary choreographer Ajani Johnson-Goffe.

G Live, London Road, Guildford, GU1 2AA. Tel: 01483 369350.

Omid Djalili: Schmuck For a Night – New Victoria Theatre, Woking – Sun 12 Mar


Another week, another comedian. This time it’s award-winning comedian and actor Omid Djalili, who’s known for his intelligent and provocative shows. His stand-up is energetic and captivating, and always entertaining – and his shows frequently sell out so grab tickets if you can. Show starts at 8pm, tickets cost £28.15.

New Victoria Theatre, The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, GU21 6GQ, Tel: 0844 871 7645.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Surrey


Gangsta Granny, The Capitol, Horsham, Thurs 16 – Sun 19 March 

If you still haven’t organised tickets yet, fear not, there are still some left. This is a colourful production of the well-loved David Walliams tale of a seemingly boring, cabbage farting granny with a secret jewel thieving past. My nephews were transfixed when we saw it together last year. See what we thought here.

Turner and the Age of British Watercolour, Petworth House, until  Sun 12 Mar 


This major new exhibition features 36 watercolours by Turner and his contemporaries on loan from the Higgins art gallery in Bedford. It’s a rare chance to see this important collection alongside many of Petworth’s oil paintings and sculptures from the same period. Entry is £12 and it’s open 10.30am to 2.00pm.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Sussex


One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, Birmingham Rep Theatre, Fri March 10-April 15

Written and directed by actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, One Love is a new musical bringing Bob Marley’s story and music catalogue to the stage for the first time including – No Woman No Cry, Exodus, Jamming and many more. It took 10 years to get off the ground and focuses on the period from the reggae singer’s courageous appearance at the Smile Jamaica concert in 1976, two days after the failed attempt on his life, to his time living in London afterwards, and his return home for the 1978 One Love peace concert.

White, Warwick Arts Centre, Sat March 11 & Sun March 12 

White is a playful, highly visual new show for very young children and is a perfect first time theatre experience. A 40-minute show for 2-4 year-olds from award-winning Scottish children’s theatre company, Catherine Wheels.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Warwickshire

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