The Muddy Guide
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The Horse Trust, Speen, now reopened
This gorgeous facility is set in 200 acres of beautiful Chiltern countryside in Speen (just outside Princes Risborough on the way to High Wycombe) and it’s here that 100 retired and rescued horses, ponies and donkeys are looked after. It’s newly reopened after an extensive refurbishment – it’s now a kind of equine Claridges – and there’s a museum, the Black Beauty Tea Room and a gift shop. Print off a coupon from the website and you’ll get a free cup of char too. Your kids will love it.
Garsington Opera, Wormsley Estate, 7 June – 20 July
If there’s a more beautiful setting for an opera I’m yet to find it. The Garsington Opera returns with a repertoire that includes Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, the British premiere of Rossini’s tragic drama Maometto secondo and Mozart’s masterpiece (that, um, I don’t know I’m afraid) Die Entführung aus dem Serail. You can take a picnic or dine, but if you’re into opera make sure you go!
Bucks Open Studios, starts 8 June
In case you haven’t noticed the massive yellow signs dotted all around Buckinghamshire, it’s Bucks Open Studios this weekend. It can feel strange nosing in someone’s studio or private space but it’s a really fantastic initiative. Have a peek online here and choose a couple of favourites or just meander around your own village, there’s bound to be some artists exhibiting.
Magical Books: From the Middle Ages to Middle Earth, Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 27 Oct
I know this sounds a bit esoteric, but sometimes these exhibitions can surprise you. The Bodleian’s summer exhibition takes as its inspiration the work of some of the great modern children’s fantasy writers, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and Philip Pullman. The Library will display a selection of Tolkien’s original artwork for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; C.S. Lewis’s ‘Lefay notebook’ and his map of Narnia, and manuscripts of novels and poems by Alan Garner, Philip Pullman and Susan Cooper. The Exhibition room in the Old Bodleian is a fittingly beautiful place to show the works.
Book now for… Nigel Kennedy and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Despite Nigel Kennedy somehow declining to play a Chopsticks duet with Muddy Stilettos on my next vlog (spoilsport) I am still massively excited to see him play next week. Oxford is sold out but are still some lurking for Aylesbury Waterside on Friday 14 June. He’s undoubtedly one of the world’s most charismatic and talented violinists so it’s going to be an incredible concert. Tickets £16.90 – £38.90.
At the other end of the musical spectrum, the Sam Mendes’ directed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now in preview at the Drury Lane Theatre, London. I called the box office today and more tickets have been released so if you want to be among the first to see the show before it’s sold out to London’s tourists all summer, now’s your chance. Balcony seats start at £24.