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WHAT’S ON: The Muddy Guide (Thurs 15 – Weds 21 Sept)

The weather has turned, but meh, who cares? There’s plenty to be doing in Oxon, Bucks and beyond this week. Out you go, and make sure you call if you’re going to be late back home.

Dirty Dancing, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Mon 19 – Sat 24 Sept


Watermelons at the ready, Baby in the corner and a whole lot of merangay hip action coming your way. The musical version of the 80s movie that fuelled my fantasies of men in sweaty vest tops for years comes to the Waterside next week. I saw a production two years back in Oxford and it was sooooo much fun and it stays deliciously close to the film version too. I’m off to the first night so will report back asap, but it’s my dead cert for a brilliant girl’s night out this week.

Luna Open Air Cinema, Blenheim Palace, Fri 16 – Sun 18 Sept



More open air cinema to tempt you to the big screen this month, but you’ll need your brolly if this weather persists this weekend. Three nights of classic films under the stars on the South Lawn of Blenheim Palace so bring a picnic, blanket and deckchair or if you’re like me and can barely remember to bring yourself, you can book a director’s chair and buy food and drink there. Spectre on Friday night, Dirty Dancing on Saturday is sold out but Back to the Future is still up for grabs from 6pm on Sunday. Don’t be freaked ot that we’ve passed the date Marty travelled to in the future!

Entry from 6pm, film starts 7.30pm. Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon,

1940s Weekend, Hughenden Manor, Sat 17 – Sun 18 Sept


Hughenden holds quite a few of these Fortie events, but they’re slickly done – there are re-enactors, performers, vintage cars, costumes, stalls and the star of the show, the house itself.

Hughenden Manor, Valley Rd, High Wycombe, Bucks,


Kop Hill Climb, Princes Risborough, Sat 17 – Sun 18 Sept

kop hill
This event is getting bigger and more extravagant every year. Now in year 7 of its revival, you can expect to see 800 vintage, veteran, classic, historic and sporting vehicles being shown off by their owners, as they climb one of the steepest hills in the area – a gradient of 1 in 4 at its steepest in Princes Risborough on the Bucks/Oxon border. Loving the sound of the Soapbox Challenge which teams of racers trying to go the greatest distance through purpose-built ramp, chicane and obstacles, plus there’s a kids zone with funfairs and dodgen rides, lots of food option and all for local charideeee.

Under 5s event , Botanic Gardens, Oxford, Weds 21 Sept

Want to get out of your space and do something different with your pre-schooler? Here’s a low key, sweet option at Oxford’s Botanical Gardens, a drop in session from 10.30am-12.30 pm that’s free wtih entry to the garden. You’re right across the road from the Magdalen Bridge punting station if you want to hire a boat and a pole afterwards and cruise down the river.

University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, Oxford,

Sky Safari Festival, Longleat, Fri 16 – Sun 18 Sept 

long leat
A new event at Longleat this year – a hot air balloon festival. Er, well, why not?! More than 50 hot air balloons make a series of spectacular mass launches into the sky over the Estate between sunrise and sunset once you’ve had your fill of Longleat’s live atractions.

Longleat House, Warminster, Wilts,


A Tale of Two Cities, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 20 – Sat 24 Oct


A new dramatic adaptation by Mike Poulton (who adapted the RSC’s brilliant Wolf Hall ) with music by Oscar-winning Rachel Portman and the story provided by some bloke called Charles Dickens – it’s not a bad line up is it? Dickens considered A Tale of Two Cities to be the best story he’d ever written, the intense family drama set amid the terror of the French Revolution. If Dirty Dancing at the Waterside is too fluffy , this could be your alternative.

Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont St,

Shakespeare’s Dead,Bodleian Libraries, until Sun 18 Sept


Last few days visit the Bodliean library’s exhibition Shakespeare’s Dead,  the ways Shakespeare brings dying, death and the dead to life. Cheerful! The exhibition feature characters from Shakespeare’s works including Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet and includes ghosts and characters – all brought to life using the the Bodleian’s famous literary collections that include Shakespeare’s First Folio, a number of early editions and an extensive collection of plays and poetry by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

London Design Festival, Sat 17 – Sun 25 Sept


This festival is just incredible, and really showcases London’s design creativity in exciting ways. There are hundreds of events taking place across the city in the next week, at venues including the V&A where you can see this stunning installation The Green Room (above), the Serpentine’s Pavilion and Summer House and some amazing projects and installations as well as the Design Biennale at Somerset House. Jaw-dropping. 

Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair, Hampton Court, Fri 16- Sun 18 Sept

I can’t even sew labels onto school clothes so this kind of event is way out of my comfort zone. However, you may be au fait with a with needle and thread, sewing machine, knitters and fabric scissors, in which case fill your boots at this slick annual offering from everyone’ favourite Head Girl Kirsty Allsopp. You have to hand it to Allsopp who manages to pull in the celebrities for a series of talks – the like sof Cath Kidston, Liz Earle and Annie Sloan – plus there are sewing classes, skills workshops, jewellery making, fabric techniques and even – get this –  a talk on how to giftwrap a bottle properly. I’m not even kidding.
Hampton Court Palace,


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