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The Muddy Guide

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Escape to the beach, bank holiday weekend

Studland Beach, Dorset. Lookin good.

Studland Beach, Dorset.

Dare you reveal that pallid body to the outside world yet? Hmm, maybe not! But the kids can run around on the beach while you watch them from the deckchair. Last summer I lovingly crafted a guide to the best beaches within easy distance of Oxfordshire & Bucks and unless the coastline is eroding faster than I anticipated this post should still be current. Smell the fresh air, go crabbing, scoff chips!

Oxfordshire Art Weeks 4 – 27 May

oxfordshire art weeks anna dillon

These Art Weeks are always fab. I love watching artists at work in their own spaces, having a chat with them, mooching around a village I haven’t been before. (I think the technical term is ‘nose’).

The Oxfordshire Art Weeks was the first open studios event in the country and is now firmly established with over 500 artists exhibiting this year. The event is staggered, so Oxford City’s 200 art spaces are showcased first (4-12 May), then South Oxfordshire (11-19), and finally North Oxfordshire (18-27). It looks like it will be a beautiful weekend so tie it in with a good pub (maybe check out one of the Muddy Stilettos Awards finalists) in a pretty location. Here’s the full Art Weeks programme for your delectation.

Get ready for the Bluebells, the Chilterns, this weekend

Bluebells in Bottom Wood, near Stokenchurch

Bluebells in Bottom Wood, near Stokenchurch

Spring has sprung a little late this year, but with a bit of luck the bluebells will feel the sun this week and pop out nicely for the weekend. Ipsden HeathAdams Wood, Bottom Wood, Wendover Woods and Cowleaze Wood are the bluebell standard bearers but you can check out a full list of Chilterns bluebell woods here.

Oxford Children’s Comic Festival, The Story Museum, Oxford

comic, Corpse-Talking-to-Blackbeard
Advance tickets for this event are sold out but I’m told a limited number of tickets will be available on a first come, first served basis on the day (at the door). Your kids can meet illustrative artists, doodle themselves, win prizes, eat cake! Workshops include ‘How to Make Awesome Comics’, a Comics interactive Jam Session, and loads of stuff about monsters, superheroes and villains. George Eliot it ain’t and (whisper) it’s probably a lot more fun for it.

Morning workshops from 10am; afternoon workshops from 1pm. General entry £2.50. Workshops are an additional £3, and last 45 minutes. Suggested age 7+.
Millett’s Falconry Centre opens, Millets Farm Centre, Nr Frilford, 4-6 May

My parents live near Frilford so I’ve spent countless days at Millets, looking at the fish in  in the farm shop, petting donkies and feeding ducks and losing my children in the maze. From Saturday I can also add ‘meet the falcons’ to the list, since Millett’s is opening a brand new Falcony Centre in time for the Bank Holiday Weekend. Expect 3 daily bird displays, ‘encounter’ sessions throughout the day, 70 species on show in the aviaries and a BBQ each day on site. To reel you in for good, it’s free face-painting on Sunday and free balloon-sculpting on Monday. You had me at BBQ!

£26 for partie of 5, £21 for parties of 4, £6 adults, £5.50 3-15 yrs, 0-2yrs free. Kingston Road, Frilford, Nr Abingdon OX13 5HB.


Updated 50 Things to do before you’re 11.75, National Trust, from 2 May

muddy puddles and wellies
Last year the National Trust brought out 50 Things to do before you’re 11.75 (sorry, my machine doesn’t want to do the numerals for three quarters!). It was a great idea, a lovely way to sell the outdoors to children, and now they’re building on it. From today (2 May) there is an updated list (including ‘make a mud pie’ – mums’ hearts sink across the country!)  plus the Top 10 activities for reconnecting children to nature. There’s an adventure scrapbook that you can pick up from NT places, interactive log for your kids adventures via the computer and… well, you get the picture. Kiddie heaven.

Charlotte Storr Stoneware seconds sales, Culham, 5-6 May

charlotte storrs stoneware
I’m a bit obsessed with Charlotte Storr’s beautiful ceramics. You may have spotted them yourselves in FROM (Thame), Turl St Kitchen and also Blenheim Palace, or Fortnum & Mason in London. Simple, elegant, gorgeous stuff that you can snap up for a bargain this weekend with her seconds sale. Continental cake queens Barbara and Susanne from Break4Cake will be seducing customers with sponge (not literally, that would be odd). Really, it would be rude not to.



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