Here you go – your next week’s fun sorted!
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From the feedback I’m getting these weekly round ups of the best things to see/do/watch seem to be useful, so here’s the pick n mix of this week, including the all-important bank holiday weekend. I know, I’m just nice like that.
1. West Wycombe Park house opens, High Wycombe, May 6th.
I’m superexcited about this because I’ve been dying to go inside West Wycombe Park for the last year. This stunningly beautiful Palladian mansion, managed by the National Trust but privately owned, is only open to the public between May and November, and even then just on Wednesday 2-6pm and weekends (prime ferry-kids-around territory), so I just haven’t managed to get there. This year is opens a week early, to coincide with a rare exhibition (until May 31st) of 40 Windsor chairs, including Captain Cook’s comb-back chair which travelled with him on his last voyage in 1776. There’s no cafe at the house, but there’s a sweet licensed cafe in the West Wycombe Garden Centre opposite, in the old walled garden on the estate.
Check opening times before you leave, or you’ll be cursing me!
2. Grand Designs Live, May 5-13th, ExCeL centre, London
Let’s face it, for most of us these days it’s less about building our grand designs and more about minor tinkering. Either way, if you’re looking for inspiration, Grand Designs is the place to go. Now in its eighth year at the Excel Centre in Royal Victoria Dock, it promises interiors workshops, live kitchen demos on the latest gadetry, landscaping, expert advice, eco-innovations, plus hundreds of new products and designs to tempt you. And to top it off, housewife’s favourite Kevin McCloud will be on hand to coo over the symbiotic beauty of it all. Tickets £16. Grand Designs Live, ExCeL, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock London, E16 1XL.
3. See the bluebells
Theyre out now, and you can see them in romantic coupledom, or with your delighted kids, out walking the dog or even in beautiful solitude. Just make sure you see them ok?! Click here to see a list of bluebell woods, provided by the official Chilterns website.
3. Oxfordshire Art Weeks, May 5-27th, throughout Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire Art Weeks is one of the county’s most important arts festivals, with over 500 free and inspiring exhibitions and events including jewelry, ceramics and of course painting. The first week centres on North Oxfordshire, then Oxford itself, before moving to the South. There’s a comprehensive guide here to help you decide what to see. It’s all subjective of course, but I’d recommend The Caravan Gallery, a small but perfectly formed gallery in a 1969 mustard caravan that will be parked in Castle St Square, central Oxford from May 5-12th. Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale, the artists behind The Caravan Gallery, created the brilliant Is Britain Great? photography book and they’re exhibiting more surreal, poignant and darkly humorous work here and the 03 gallery. Should be great.
4. Trade Secrets furniture May Sale, May 2nd-3rd, Adderbury (Banbury) Trade Secrets is a 26,000sq ft furniture warehouse where cancelled orders, overruns and returned products from respected high street stores are sold at massive discounts – up to 60%. Now there’s also a new Premier Collection, which promises furniture from high end independent stores. I went a few years ago and the furniture was a bit modern for my tastes but there was no doubting the quality. Ideal for updating big pieces of furniture on a budget or a mooch on a rainy day.
Trade Secrets, Unit 6, Twyford Mill, Oxford Road, Adderbury, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX17 3SX
5. Watch Albert Nobbs, starring Glenn Close, on general release I haven’t seen this film yet but it’s had great reviews and the whole repressed/gendy-bendy sexuality theme is so delicious I can’t wait. Glenn Close stars as Albert Nobbs, a waiter at an upmarket Dublin hotel at the turn of the century who’s secretly a she. When he’s asked to share his room with visiting painter Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), Albert gets the shock of his life when Page reveals that not only is she a woman too, she’s also happily married to another woman. If you’re wondering where all the eye candy is, say hello to Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy) and enjoy the ride. Marvellous! Playing at The Rex Henley and Phoenix Picturehouse, Oxford (PS any others, let me know).