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The Muddy Guide

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Amersham shopping weekend – 30 Nov-1 Dec

Bravo Old Amersham for blowing a wet raspberry at e-retailers and showing some festive fighting spirit. Spear-headed by CocoMarie boutique’s Jennifer Garrity,  a brilliant 29 of the town’s independent shops are taking part in a national Independent High St campaign, an initiative to support small businesses who increasingly lose out to the Amazons and Tescos of this world. Anyone who reads Muddy Stilettos will know that I have a serious shopping habit in Amersham and the independent shops here really are worth the visit.

If more of an incentive is necessary to separate you from the computer, go on an indie ‘crawl’ around all the shops taking part – maps are provided in all participating stores – and get stamped in each (no purchase required) and you’ll also be entered into a draw to win over£1000 hamper goods from the likes of Su Chases, Whippet Grey and Indulge Lingerie.

For more info, contact Jen Garrity at or 01494 434116.

Chinnor Christmas Railway trip, with Santa. Weekends from 1 Dec.

Loving the idea of this steamtrain trip from Chinnor to Thame Junction for little kids. Santa will be on every train handing out presents to the children traveling on the train (infants under 1 year not included I’m afraid – who cares, they’ll never know!). Trains are operating on each weekend on the lead up to Christmas, and cost a fairly steep £11 for adults and £10 for children. Travel before 9 December and you’ll get an extra £2 off so if you’re overrun with bratlets like me it’s a discount worth having.

Train times: 10.15, 11.30, 1.00, 2.15 and 3.30. Santa Booking Line 01844 354117 or book tickets here.

BBC Flog it! At the Oxford Union

I used to be derided for my daytime Doctors TV habit but even I couldn’t stick the jocular schmaltz of Flog it! Still, it could be fun if you have something precious hidden in your cupboards, cellar or loft that can be turned into cash by housewive’s mother’s favourite Paul Martin. Visit the experts with your antiques or collectibles at beautiful Oxford Union between 9.30am-4pm and don’t forget to have your ‘How much? Well I never!’ face at the ready.

The Oxford Union, St Michael’s Street, Oxford OX1 3DU, from 9.30am to 4.00pm. 0117 974 7839.
Tate Lab, Tate Modern, South Bank. 1 December

A great way to get your shuffling teen to engage in something stimulating (that’s, um, legal). Curated by and aimed at 15-25 year olds, Tate Collective’s creative lab is a monthly chance for young people to experiment, create and innovate through art and ideas. On 1 Dec, artist Lynn Loo is on hand to help kids make 16mm film loops. Meanwhile you can exhaust your little ones in the new Under 5 play area before dragging them to A Bigger Picture, an artistic conversation between the likes of Jackson Pollock and David Hockney. Just ignore their tears, it’s essential viewing for any toddler with half an eye on place at the Ruskin.

Tate Lab, 11am-4pm

Handmakers Market, Old Fire Station, Oxford, 2 December

I’m very fond of the Old Fire Station in Oxford. They always seem to have interesting artists, performers and sellers here, and here they go again with the second of two events from Handmakers Market. Expect over 30 stalls from a wide variety of local makers, gift wrap available if you can’t be arsed to do it at 11pm on Christmas Eve (surely not just me?!), music to keep you on your toes and a whole lot of festive spirit.

10am-5pm. More info
9 to 5 The Musical, New Theatre, Oxford, 3-8 December

Holy crap, can it really be happening? Though a little snobby part of me dies inside when I think about this new musical, my nicer side thinks it’s going to be totally OTT rollocking fun. Bonnie Langford, Jackie Clunes and Ben Richards star but which one of plays Dolly Parton’s breasts is anyone’s guess. Book tickets £15-42. The show moves to Birmingham 17 Dec – 5 Jan and Milton Keynes 4-9 March.



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