Bumper Summer Hols Muddy Guide 25 – 31 July
Hmmm, you’ve reached an older feature - let’s get you up to date! Read our latest What's On features here.
Holy crap! And I thought childbirth was painful… I’ve spent hours, days, weeks, in fact what feels like centuries finding the cool stuff in Oxon, Bucks and beyond to keep you and yours occupied throughout the summer! Here’s the next week sorted for you. As there’s so much going on, and so you can easily find what’s going on during the most stressful hipflask-and-Tramadol days (we all have them *sigh*), I’ve compiled brief descriptions under days of the week. I will be adding to the Guide as and when I hear of new things so please do check back. Anything new will be added to the top of the list in a slightly lighter colour, so you don’t have to scroll around madly.
Here’s to a fabulous Summer!
Friday 25 July
Summer Funtime with Mr Toad, a fab little exhibition/sensory experience at the River & Rowing Museum. I went in yesterday and my 5 & 7 year olds loved the musical instruments, dressing up, games, puppets etc. Lots of fun. Discovering Tutankhamen at The Ashmolean has just opened, better for older kids and adults as it’s more about the story of the discovery and its impact on popular culture, but I’m still planning to drag my kids along. (Ashmolean closed Mondays). The Quince Tree is having its second BBQ from 4pm – 8pm today; ’tis child-friendly, with a new wine bar and cooking from the summer menu. Last week’s was massively successful, so expect more of the same.
Dawn French’s 30 Million Minutes Tour reaches The Hexagon in Reading – not cheap at £41.50 but she’s probably worth it. Words and Wickets at the Wormsley Estate is well worth the gander – cricket, literature and boozing no doubt in the glorious Chilterns Getty Estate. Foodie lovers, come and find me at pop up restaurant Duende in Chesham. I’ll be troughing my way through 12 tapas dishes and I dare you to beat me! Or for culture, how about King Lear performed by the Globe Theatre on Tour at the Old Schools Quadrangle of the Bodleian in association with The Oxford Playhouse? It’s also the last weekend for the Henley Fringe and Film Festival, and the first of two weekends of outdoor film with the Regal cinema returning for Regal by the River with large screen and seating at Mill Meadows in Henley, plus catering and a pop up bar. The Great Gatsby kicks off tonight, then it’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off tomorrow (Sat) and Singin’ in the Rain on Sunday.
Saturday 26 July
Family Activity Days at Longridge, nr Marlow are running every weekend through Summer – 3 activities between 10.30-4pm for a bonkersly reasonable £16 per person. My son went here yesterday and though it was amazing so I’m definitely doing one of these. Waterperry has Orienteering Treasure Trails, exploring the gardens using pirate themed clues before saying ‘ooh aarr me hearty, let’s spend some money in the tea shop’. £3 per child with an adult entrance fee of £6.50. Duende pops up again today for its last Chesham dinner serving, while Modern Art Oxford kicks off its Yard Summer Sessions of live music, theatre and performance with live music from Charlie Cunningham. from 3-5pm.I love this space, worth a drop in for a smoothie alone if you’re in central Oxford.
‘More!’ you say? OK then. If you’re going into London take your bikini – The Roundhouse returns this summer with 900 sq m of ‘shoreline’ at Camden Beach, with 150 tonnes of sand. plus end-of-the-arcade attractions, bars and restaurants. Mr Whippy, make mine a double please. Or if you prefer your beaches closer to home, Maidenhead Beach at Norden Farm returns from today until Sunday 31 August (please note: closed Mondays) 10am – 5pm and it’s free! The Maidenhead Festival starts today too, a two day pirate-themed event with fireworks, fairground ride rides, loads of kids activities, food fair, and live music with two stages (also free). In Oxford’s Botanical Gardens, there’s a Flower Power Picnic Afternoon with live classical music, storytelling and paper making. Free with entry to the garden. August tickets for the fabulous art deco cinema The Rex in Berkhamsted go on sale today. Book fast!
Sunday 27 July
Married to a petrol-head (or one yourself)? Off you pop to Blenheim Palace’s Pre-50’s American Auto Club Rally of the Giants then, with well over 400 vehicles attending, including some of the finest and rarest in all of Europe. At the lovely National Trust Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate, it’s time for Lazy Sundays – bring a picnic, bottle of wine and leave your children to run amok (oh, just me?). The Museum of Childhood in Bethnall Green is having its summer event, with live music, dance, walkabout acts, rickshaw rides and arts and crafts. Want some adult time? Outdoor cinema Regal by the River in Henley is showing Singin in the Rain, with a pop up bar and catering. Or Relax and Unwind at Upton House and Gardens with a glass of Pimms or bubbles on the terrace to some jazz. If you can’t make it this weekend it will take place each Sat/Sun in August.
Monday 28 July
On writing this it’s still perfect weather for outdoor theatre, so check out Twelfth Night by Shakespeare on the mound of Oxford Castle (£23). South Oxon District Council starts its, er, nattily titled Activities for Young People today, a whole month of sport for kids between 5-18 including horseriding, archery, athletics and kayaking or you can send your kids on the daily Activity course at Longridge, where they get to do between 3-4 water-based activities through the day with lunch thrown in for great value £40-50. Garden games are out around the Temple of Venus at Stowe Landscape Gardens – everything from hoops and sticks, hobby horses, quoits, skipping ropes, giant jenga, skittles, kites and a croquet set. Instructions are information are provided in case you can’t have a family argument on who’s winning without it.
Tuesday 29 July
Science Oxford is running Creative Computing, a free five-week course each Tuesday from today for young people aged 9-16 all about making, crafting and hacking your own computer-controlled creations. There’s Beach Craft (5+) 11am and Storytelling (1.15/4pm) from today until Friday at the Maidenhead Beach at Norden Farm for a small cost. MiniBeasts – Summer of Fun at Stowe Landscape Gardens has the sweep nets, pots and magnifying glasses at the ready amongst the monuments and meadows, plus craft masks to create. At the Pitt Rivers throughout the Summer hols, Tuesdays (between 2-4pm) are the day to borrow a backpack full of activities. Go fruit picking – Peterley Manor farm has a new pop up yurt cafe this year, while Rectory Farm now has wifi and its own revamped cafe area.
Wednesday 30 July
Seven of the most gifted young pianists will perform with the Oxford Philomusica in Young Prodigies to make you realise the limitations of your Chopsticks repertoire (£10); The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden is holding a Veruca Salt party for 6+ kids at 12pm, 2pm and 3.30pm with craft, games, storytelling and prizes, while Beale Park is having a the first of its summer Meet the Bugs day (er lovely), each Wednesday at 1.30-3.30 in its newest area ‘Bertie’s Bugs and Beasts’ where you can see giant insects, meet a snake, stroke a Giant African Snail and get close to a tarantula (holy crap). There’s the first Wild Wednesday at Cliveden where kids (4-11 yrs) can have outdoor adventures while you recline with a cappuccino. This week’s theme is ‘bugs and butterflies’. £2 per child plus usual admission, no booking required. To segue slightly, I think the giant slide is open now too – wheeeee! There’s a Meet the Aviary Keeper talk at 2.30pm at Waddesdon every Weds, Thurs and Friday (just meet outside the aviary) if you or your kids want to know about the exotic birds on your way around the Manor, or Family Fun Wednesdays at Bletchley Park, with craft and spy workshops for all ages, children’s guided tours, trails, quizzes and handling collections.
Thursday 31 July
The Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford, The Found Footage Festival sounds like a great laugh, showcasing videos found at garage sales and thrift stores and in warehouses and dumpsters throughout North America. Curators Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher (Letterman) take audiences on a guided tour of their latest and greatest VHS finds, providing live commentary and where-are-they-now updates on the people in these videotaped obscurities. Explore the architecture and art at Windmill Hill, Waddesdon’s new archive building, open most Thursday afternoons 2pm to 4pm. Old Thatch Gardens, where Enid Blyton lived and worked, is open every Thursday (plus Wednesdays and Sundays) until 31 Aug, and is a really. Be warned, they’re a bit nervous about young kids, so you’ll have to pretend they’re well-behaved.