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5 brilliant things to do this week

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This ‘What’s On’ will last until a week on Wednesday as a reader pointed out that it’s more helpful to have these posts come out mid-week before the weekend arrives. I am nothing if not your servant, so here are 5 brilliant things to do with your time until May 23rd…

Book these!

For budding ballerinas everywhere who are not yet ready to sit through hours of La Sylphide, My First Swan Lake touring at The Wycombe Swan is an inspired idea. The ballet introduces children as young as three to an enchanted world of castles and curses, forests and fairies, especially adapted for young eyes and ears and starring graduate dancers from the English National Ballet School. Children are encouraged to dress up, clap, cheer and boo, and generally express themselves without being told to shush by the grumpy lady in Row C.

On a more adult level, fans of a certain Mr Shakespeare, The Ox Bard Fest runs from 20th May-3rd June around Oxford, including Twelfth Night (23-26th May) in the amazing Christchurch Cathedral Gardens, free music recitals in stunning locations such as Brasenose or New College chapels, plus talks and one-off events. Well worth a gander.

My First Swan Lake, 26-27th May, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe.

The Ox Bard Fest, 20th May- 3rd June

Museums at Night, Friday 18th-Sunday 20th May

Museums at Night’ is a nationwide annual after-hours celebration when hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events. I love the idea of after-hours Museums, there’s something really buzzy and fun about it – plus you can just nip in after work rather than dragging yourself around on a weekend with a hangover and the kids. The Ashmolean’s has a brand new exhibition ‘The English Prize’ (opening Thursday 17th  May) that you can see after hours on the 18th between 6-9pm that looks really worth seeing – basically the story of the Westmorland,  a British armed merchant ship that was attacked by the French en route from Livorno to the UK laden with art, antiquities and booty. Now is the first time the goods have been brought back together in the UK, along with the stories and personalities behind them. ‘The English Prize: The Capture of the Westmorland’, Ashmolean Museum, from 17th May-27th August 2012. Museum entry free, £9/£7/under 18s free.

Open Gardens scheme

The beautiful garden in Turn End, Haddenham, Bucks

Wish you had a bigger garden? Pah, let someone else do the hard work!  The National Gardens scheme lists the gardens open to the public, from bijoux suburban spaces to Grade I listed whoppers there are other beautiful gardens from Faringdon to Chalfont, Chesham to Abingdon and the counties beyond. You can search for gardens open within days, a week, fortnight or monthly which is useful too.

By the way, one of the most interesting, quirky and exceptional gardens I’ve seen in Buckinghamshire doesn’t seem to be listed on this website, so check it out here instead as it’s open from 2pm on Tuesday 15th May only. It’s Turn End in Haddenham, designed by architect Peter Aldington almost as a series of outdoor ‘rooms’ – no traditional expanse of lawn to stroll on, but wonderful nooks, crannies, water features and herbaceous borders instead. Nirvana for kids and creative gardeners. National Gardens Scheme,

Notting Hill Arts Club at the Ashmolean Vaulted Cafe, 18th May, 9.30pm-1am.

Aluna George. But of course, we knew that!

The Ashmolean is Teacher’s Pet this week as, aside from its new exhibition and its participation in Museums At Night, it’s also playing host to the Notting Hill Arts Club night in its Vaulted Cafe. Way back in the day when my bum was perky enough for hotpants (er, last century) the Notting Hill Arts Club in W11 was a regular haunt of mine. I can’t pretend to be funky enough to know any of the acts booked in – Aluna George, Trumaca, DJ Mim or DJ Paul Como – but the NHAC has impeccable credentials, so I shall put my money where my mouth is and check it out.
Notting Hill Arts Club at Vault Cafe, The Ashmolean Museum, tickets £12

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Seen one wildlife park, seen them all? The Cotswold Wildlife Park is doing a good job of persuading me for a return visit, with a host of new attractions including Darwin, a 25 year old giant tortoise from the Seychelles who arrived in February; a new viewing platform so the kids can see eye to eye with the giraffes; and the UK’s first Wolverine cubs ever to be born in captivity. Bring your own picnic (the canteen food is pretty ropey and the queues can be long) and sit on the beautiful lawns while your kids bomb around on the huge playground nearby. There are also daily animal feeding displays, a small farm animals enclosure and a mini steam train.

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13 comments on “5 brilliant things to do this week”

  • Sara May 28, 2012

    After reading your blog on My First Ballet, booked up, got seats on the front row and had the best time! Thank you. Perfectly pitched for all the little ballerinas, fairies and princes dressed up in the audience…. and with front row tickets there was also lots of close up “men-in-tights” for the Mums, Aunts and Grannies too! Definitely would recommend this to anyone if they go on tour again.

  • Sam August 8, 2013

    I can understand your panic, however, my first port of call would have been to check where the other children were (and in this case you would have immediately have found your son) before assuming that all and sundry around were potential abductors. I think in a lot of cases, the panic is actually sparked by guilt that you took your eyes of them for a second or two (which is completely understandable – it’s impossible to be omnipresent!)

    • muddystiletto August 8, 2013

      Yes, it’s a good point. I did actually try to find the other children as my first thought was that my little one was with them. When I couldn’t find them (though at 11 and 14 I wasn’t worrie) my focus went back to Cass. My husband pointed out that if my oldest son had had his phone I could have called him to check and averted the problem immediately. So I think more forward planning to cover potential crises is needed really.

  • Joanna August 8, 2013

    OMG, totally understand where you were coming from. Those heart-stopping minutes when you realise you have lost your child, not just can’t see them for a minute, are TERRIBLE. I know that mostly they are near by and there is no problem but STILL, we’ve grown up with James Bulger and Madeleine McCann. I like the Cotswold Wildlife Park and know how busy it can get. Maybe they could have a brightly coloured meeting point near the playground and a whistle or horn they can blow when a child goes missing that would stop play and get people’s attention? Thank heavens your story has a happy ending xx

    • muddystiletto August 8, 2013

      That’s a good idea Joanna! Will suggest it on. x

  • Georgey August 8, 2013

    Fortunately the number of times that children are abducted from public places by strangers is very very small and the number of kids who get separated from their parents in a busy zoo is quite large. So although the zoo staff should be reassuring and helpful, they know the odds are massively in favour of a happy reunion. I know what the panic is like though. I lost my middle son (age 4) on a busy West Wittering beach once and spent a frantic 40 minutes certain that he had either drowned or been abducted. However the very calm and helpful lifeguards found him safe and sound.

    • muddystiletto August 8, 2013

      Very true. When they’re found you look back and feel a bit stupid and dramatic. At the time you feel you can’t afford to be complacent. No easy answer really!

  • Jana August 8, 2013

    I had almost the exact same experience at the exact same place. I looked away for 10 seconds to calm my 1 year old teething girl and my 3 year old boy just disappeared. My reaction was far less organised than yours, I started running around the playground in complete panic and was quickly in tears. The Zoo was very busy that day and he could have gone literally in any direction. Fortunately he just went around the corner to look for ice-cream stall and came back 20 minutes later. Still those were the longest 20 minutes of my life!

    I completely agree with you that the Park management and rangers should have a set plan and training for situations like these. There is so much to gain from thoughtful and active approach given how horrid (even though unlikely) the consequences of negligence can be!

    • muddystiletto August 9, 2013

      Hi Jana,
      Thanks for replying and for letting me know you were in the same boat! x

  • Camilla Philip August 12, 2013

    You’re a good Mum, you did what you needed to! It’s a funny story to tell when the kids are older! Neon, bonkers outfits are the way forward!!!! X

  • Joyce Scotland August 13, 2013

    I know that feeling, when a child goes missing, Your blood does actually run cold, there is. Itching so terrifying.
    I believe that in e wry case, there should be an immediate lock down. Better to to be safe then sorry

    • muddystiletto August 14, 2013

      Thanks for commenting Joyce x


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