Praise be, it’s the weekly Muddy Guide!
Throughout the Summer don’t forget to check back into Muddy as I’ll regularly be updating and adding to the weekly Muddy Guides, and if you know of anything utterly amazing htat you think I’ve omitted, feel free to let me know.
Right, gin and tonic at the ready? Then let the holiday Muddy Guides commence!
Free weekend for kids at the River & Rowing Museum, Sat 23 – Sun 24 July
Those clever clogs at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley have just been announced as national finalists for Best Family Friendly Museum – congrats!! – and by some wonderful serendipity this announcement coincides with a weekend where your kids can visit the museum for free. Yes, free I say! There’s a lovely interactive exhibition at the moment called Picture This: Children’s Illustrated Classics in conjunction with the British Library where kids can design sweets for Willy Wonka’s factory, create their own Secret Garden, hide in a Hobbit hole or picnic with the local Mr Toad.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Old Schools Quadrangle, Oxford, Tues 19 July – Sun 31 July
One week to go to see this exciting collaboration between Oxford Playhouse, the Bodleian Library and Globe Theatre On Tour in the gorgeous outdoor setting of the Old Schools Quadrangle in central Oxford. With elopements, betrayals, songs, romance and chaos, the production promises to hurl Shakespeare’s comedy into the 21st century.
Bodleian Library, Old Schools Quadrangle, Broad Street, Oxford, oxfordplayhouse.com
Oxford Coffee Concert, Holywell Music Rooms, Sun 24 July
Oxford on an quiet Sunday morning is a lovely thing to behold. These established coffee concerts are held between 11.15-12.15 in the Holywell Music Rooms, the oldest purpose built concert venue in Europe doncha know, and they’re very beautiful, intimate surroundings. The Vaults & Garden café nearby is open to serves coffee concert ticket holders from 9am if you need some fuel to power you through the programme of piano and clarinet – Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata no 1 in F minor, op 120 and Schumann’a Fantasiestücke, op 73.
Holywell Music Room, Holywell Street, Oxford, coffeeconcerts.com
Billy Button Telegram Boy, Story Museum, Oxford, Sun 24 July
Kids driving you crazy on Sunday morning? Take them along to this author event at The Story Museum, where award winning author Sally Nicholls launches her new book, Billy Button Telegram Boy, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey. When Charlie the telegram boy breaks his leg and can’t ride his bicycle, Billy Button sees his chance to deliver messages all over the village on the red Post Office bicycle.
Suitable for ages 5+. All children must be accompanied by an adult. The Story Museum, Pembroke St, Oxford. storymuseum.org.uk
Steam Days, Didcot Railway Centre, Sat 23 – Sun 24 July
Calling the anoraks! OK, well, maybe the kids too. This weekend you can view the Didcot Railway collections of locos, coaches, wagons and buildings, plus you can ride in coaches from the 1930s, pulled by locomotive. If you’re in no hurry, stay on the train as long as you like – it’s just one charge, so you can sit their all day with sarnies and flask admiring the Oxfordshire countryside.
Didcot Railway Station, didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk
Henley Sheepdog Trial, Hambledon, Sun 24 July
I used to love the sheepdog trials on TV as a kid so this event so this has a strange allure! Attractions on the day include tractor and trailer rides, hot food, fresh lemonade and homemade biscuits, spinning and weaving displays (are you getting the picture yet), and of course well-behaved dogs are welcome if they can be trusted not to inadvertently round up the sheep themselves.
The Henley Showground, Hambleden, Nr Henley, thehenleyshow.co.uk
Creating Art Workshop for Kids, Blenheim Palace, Sat 23 & Sun 24 July
Blenheim Palace throws the kitchen sink at the summer, and this is the first of many child-led events for kids in a summer that includes drawing, sensory and creative music workshops.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, blenheimpalace.org
Catch BFG in cinema – Released this weekend (official date Fri 22 July)
I think I may be more excited about seeing this film than my kids. Roald Dahl’s BFG is on general release from Friday, the story of the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children. Directed by Steven Spielberg, so bring your hankies.
Twelfth Night,Trinity College, Oxford, Tues 19 – Fri 29 July
Oxford Theatre Guild, Trinity College, Oxford, oxfordtheatreguild.com
The Wizard of Oz, Outdoor Theatre, Blenheim Palace, Fri 22 – Sat 23 July
Immersion Theatre brings its own adaptation of The Wizard of Oz to Blenheim Palace in this family show. It promises audience participation (so that’s Mr Muddy out for starters), dazzling costumes, an original script and lots of comedy and singing along. The show will take place on the lawn at the Pleasure Gardens, so bring your blankets, chairs and picnics. And yes Mr Muddy, you have dispensation to bring your hipflask if it will see you through the evening in one piece.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, blenheimpalace.com
Love Your Garden: Family Picnic Afternoon, Oxford Botanic Garden, Sat 23 July
Part of Love Parks Week, this event at Oxford’s gorgeous Botanical Gardens sounds very sweet. Free with entry into the Gardens between 1-4pm, you can bring a picnic, listen to live music, boot the kids off into craft activities and enjoy the kind of halycon days only the dreaming spires can provide.
University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, Oxford, botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk
Ragged Victorians, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Sat 23 – Sun 24 July
A clever idea from COAM, playing on Horrible Histories to create this family-friendly event based on the Ragged Victorians, and the less savoury aspects of Victorian life. There are costumed re-enactors in the buildings and around the Museum site, including the rat catcher and his rats; street urchins; plus a doctor with real leeches. Sounds fun, particularly for those kids who are learning about the era in school.
Newland Park, Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, coam.org.uk
Summer Series: A Tribute to Shakespeare, Merton College Chapel, Oxford, Sat 23 July
Love your classical music? With readings from Shakespeare’s plays, the Soloists of the Oxford Philharmonic perform in the stunning 13th century chapel of Merton Colllege to music from the likes of Purcell (suite from The Fairy Queen), Handel (Water Music Suite) and Walton (Suite from Henry V), all inspired by Bill from Stratford-on-Avon. Marios Papadopoulos conducts.
Merton College Chapel, Merton St, Oxford, oxfordphil.com
Finding the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter Studios, Fri 22 July – Mon 5 Sept
The Harry Potter Studios manage to come up with new ideas every year to hoik Harry fans into its attraction, and this summer they’ve managed it again. For the first time, there’s a moving display of the Devil’s Snare that the trio encountered in their hunt for the Philosopher’s Stone in Creature Effects, plus the chance to touch the giant tentacles that have been specially created as they were in the films. Kids can learn how one of Ron Weasley’s favourite games, Wizard’s Chess, was brought to life on a large scale with the giant chess pieces moving across a chequered board, as if by magic, on the HP backlot.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, wbstudiotour.co.uk
Henley Fringe, Mon 18 – Sat 23 July
A few days left of the Henley Fringe, an event that’s been going for nine years now. It’s a lovely riverside pre-Edinburgh festival teaser in many ways, with comedy drama, musicals, film and new writing. Worth checking out – Norris & Parker’s dark surreal comedy, comedians Will Duggan and Tom Ward, Comedy on Water (presumably it’s not just people being pushed in), Alice and and Twelfth Night, all in venues around the lovely town.
The private schools have been off for a month already (well, I’m sure it feel like it) and the state sector has finally followed suit. Don’t forget to check out my list of camps and courses for kids if you’re looking for last minute inspiration. Everything from Creation Theatre’s Play in a Week around oxford for kids 5-16, short courses for 16+ at Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, Longridge outdoor adventure activity days for kids 8+ in Marlow, and Ultimate Survival for budding Bear Grylls in Farnmoor in just east of Oxford. See the full list here.