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Feeling skint but sociable!

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Still brassic after Christmas? Me too. But fear not Cinders, we can still go to the ball. Here’s a list of cheap, cheerful but still chuffing great things to try over the next month.


Verroncchio's 'Head of a Young Woman'

Museums and galleries are mercifully quiet at this time of year. Oxford’s Ashmolean is the biggie of course, but have you checked out Christ Church Picture Gallery? Oxford’s most famous college houses 300 paintings and nearly 2000 drawings by masters such as Michelangelo, Rubens and Raphael, plus you can amble down through Christchurch Meadow to the river afterwards.

Hughendon Manor, near High Wycombe - top of Hitler's hit list apparently (not fond of the brickwork perhaps?)

Do the indoor-outdoor thing at Hughendon Manor, one of the few stately homes open at this time of year (from February 11th). There’s a lovely 4 mile circular walk around the grounds, and then channel your inner Disraeli as you you thaw your fingers and toes inside.

Holywell Music Rooms - built in 1748, it's the oldest purpose built music hall in Europe. You're welcome fact fans.

Be an uber-parent and take your budding Nigel Kennedy to the famous Holywell music rooms in Oxford on Sundays for a morning of world class chamber music. The Coffee Concerts are only £11 for adults and 5-10 year olds go free. Top it off with a snack at Vaults Cafe (by the Radcliffe Camera, a few minutes walk away), or go the whole hog have  a pub lunch at 13th century, higgledy-piggledy Turf Tavern in Bath Street, beloved of students, Morse fanatics and everyone in between.

David Hockney's 'Woldgate Woods'

David Hockney’s much-anticipated exhibition A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of the Arts starts next week (January 21). It’s only £14 for adults, £3 for children between 8-11 and 7-and-unders go free. That’s cheaper than a family trip to the movies! Or there’s Lucien Freud’s portraits at the National Portrait Gallery (opens Feb 9th)  or  ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan’ at the National Gallery, the most complete display of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever held. 

Bluebells in Bottom Wood, near Stokenchurch

Did you know, walking is free? Yeah, it’s like, amazing. What you do is put one leg in front of the other, usually wearing some rubbery things over your feet and  legs.  Then you breathe in fresh air, exercise your children like they’re dogs and finally crash in front of your fire in the afternoon. Given we’re in spitting distance of the Chilterns, it’d be rude not to. has dozens of beautiful walks, tracks and rides among some of the area’s most picturesque villages. Enjoy!

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2 comments on “Feeling skint but sociable!”

  • Kathy January 30, 2012

    I love Christ Church picture gallery. Many a happy lunch hour spent there and Vaults cafe is fab but it seems to be closed at the moment for renovation. I think it said reopening May but i may have got that wrong…


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