The Half Term Muddy Guide Part 1
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If you’re feeling a bit unprepared for half term week, fear not – Muddy Stilettos has been tip-tapping away on your behalf, finding the most fun things to do in Oxon and Bucks both for those with and without kids.
Keep referring back during the week as I’ll definitely be adding to it regularly.
But for now, without further ado, here goes!
The Oxford Fringe, 24 May – 8 June 2013
An eclectic mix of local artists, big name acts and touring companies make up this lively-sounding Oxford Fringe. Plenty for families with magic acts (see Morgan & West above) and comedy but also more adult fare with music and theatre also well represented. Cool venues too including Turl St Kitchen, Old Fire Station and the Ashmolean.
Nicola Benedetti at the Aylesbury Waterside (24 May) and Sheldonian Oxford (25 May)
I read a really interesting interview with Scottish-born Benedetti recently, in which she stuck her neck out by suggesting kids should stick at one instrument and learn to apply themselves rather than being average at two or three. She obviously took her own advice because she’s creating a buzz not seen since Nigel Kennedy discovered the hair gel. She plays both Aylesbury and Oxford this week with the Oxford Philomusica, performing Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto so no excuses not to go along and be wowed. Tickets start at a very reasonable £13.90 up to £31.40.
Horrible Histories at Warwick Castle, 25 May – 2 June
Love the idea of this great new attraction at Warwick Castle – Horrible Histories, Foul Fayres – which is bringing the foulest and funniest moments from five eras of history to life this half term. I saw something similar at the Tower of London last year and it works incredibly well for kids.
Try on some chainmail with the Stormin’ Normans, watch out for the Terrible Tudors and Henry VIII, who’s on the lookout for another wife; or go to school with the Vile Victorians. Also check out the raising of the portcullis, watch the Warwick Warriors show to see just what you need to do to be a medieval knight; see the firing of the mighty trebuchet; meet the Great Dragon The Dragon Tower, and watch the Flight of the Eagles, a spectacular birds of prey display. For more info, visit www.warwick-castle.com.
Lechlade Festival, Gloucestershire, 24-26 May
In its gorgeous Cotswolds surroundings Lechlade leads the festival charge by sneaking in before summer begins, and organisers really throwing the kitchen sink at it. 50 bands, a burlesque review, belly dancing, free kids workshops, glamping, champers on tap… It looks very child friendly and you can pay on the gate (cash or cheque only) so maybe take a look at the weather and make your decision according to the clouds.
English Music Festival, Dorchester, 24-27 May
Dorchester Abbey is just gorgeous; and if classical music is your thing combine two pleasures by going to this English Music Festival set in the South Oxfordshire village. As you’d expect the programme is awash with Elgar, Parry, Byrd, Holst, Britten and Vaughan-Williams and of course Jerusalem gets a rousing outing. Grab your Pimm’s and your English flag and be proud!
Launch of Ox Trails apps, 24 May
Bravo to South Oxfordshire District Council which is launching a series of Apps designed to help local businesses and towns promote themselves. You can download versions themed around food, history, literature, film and outdoors for the area. I haven’t tried them out so no idea yet if they deliver on their promise, but I’ll be giving them a go.
Meet Paddington Bear, Buckinghamshire Railway Station, Quainton, 26 May
Paddington Bear boots off regular visitor Thomas the Tank Engine for the day at the popular Bucks Railway Centre outside Quainton. Promised excitement (hold onto your hats parents) includes a ride on the steam train, a giant lego display, veteran cycle display, kids competitions, face painting and arts and crafts. You’re also enticingly close to well-regarded The Black Boy pub in the ‘Hovis ad’ village of Oving next door for a spot of lunch, should marmalade sandwiches not quite hit the mark.
Longridge Open Day, Marlow, 27-28 May
Get those kids outdoors and exhaust the buggers! Longridge in Marlow is outdoor paradise and is running an open day to encourage kids to try different sports on offer, from climbing and kayaking through to bell boating and water-zorbing. Drop them off at 9am, have a leisurely shop and lunchie, and collect them bedraggled at the end of the day. Heaven.
English Wine Week 25 May – 2 June
Children’s tour of Waddesdon, Weds 29 May
I promised to remind you about this tour when it popped up again. I took my 3 and 5 year olds last month and we all super-loved it. I’m sure my 10 year old would also have found it interesting, so it’s a good one to do with a range of kids ages. Read the review here and then begads make sure you go!
Wild Wednesday Orienteering at Cliveden, Wed 29 May
A drop-in session for children 4-11 to see how quickly your little Bear Grylls can complete a fun orienteering course (though you’ll have to help if they’re little, so take your trainers). If that sounds a bit too much like hard work, there’s the maze, play area and a new play trail in the woods, not to mention the rental boats on the River Thames – a lovely thing to do on a sunny day.