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The Muddy Guide

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Royal Ascot, Windsor, 18-22 June

The prospect on some mud on my stilettos – ooh, that feels good! Bizarrely I have never been to one of the big formal race events in the UK, but that may change this week as Mr Muddy and I are in talks to don silly hat and tie and go to Royal Ascot ourselves. I’ll catch you in the champagne tent with Charles and Camilla, yah?

Man of Steel premiere, 14 June

man of steel
Superman, the prequel. Of course, how have we survived all these years without it? But Brit Henry Caville is a handsome Clark Kent there are more celebs in this movie than you can poke with a stick of kryptonite (Lawrence Fishburne, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams…). Most importantly, your kids will love it. Five seats and a barrel of popcorn, please.

National Gardens Festival Weekend, 15-16 June

The stunning formal gardens of Broughton Grange

The stunning formal gardens of Broughton Grange

This is a fantastic event and a real family pleaser whether it’s a day out with your parents or a way let your own little ones let off steam and trample on someone else’s borders for a change. There are hundreds of fantastic gardens open all over the country this weekend but I love the sound of the 25 acre Broughton Grange in North Oxfordshire village of Broughton (stop and see the lovely castle while you’re in the area – read my review here) and Blewberry Manor House with its moat and parterre, set in 10 idyllic acres. 

Stradivarius, The Ashmolean Museum, 13 June – 11 August

I don’t play the violin but I’m still very excited about this new exhibition at the Ashmolean – the first major UK event dedicated to the life and work of Stradivarius, unique amongst musical craftsmen in that his name is as well-known as the composers of the day. Twenty of the most important violins and cellos in the world, some of which have ever before been displayed in public will be on displayed, many from Stradivarius’s ‘Golden Period’ (1700-1720). There’s also a special evening concert at the Sheldonian on 14 June performed by James Ehnes. For tickets visit: £6 / £4 concessions; free to under-18s

Selfridges Summer sale, London, 13-15 June 

shopping illustration
It seems so early in the summer to be talking of sales, but the big London stores are all at it, just in time for the run up to the holidays. My superfave department store Selfridges is starting its Summer Sale today – doors opened at 8am this morning if anyone was ahead of the curve (no, me neither). If you can’t be bothered to budge from your seat, just do it online. You might as well check out Harvey Nics’ sale while you’re at it, now offering a whopper 60% all lines until Sunday. Yippee!

Giffords Circus, moves to Bicester 13 – 16 June

giffords bear
The wonder that is Giffords Circus continues to criss-cross Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. If you haven’t already booked to see the show, Bicester and Stadhampton are the next two areas on the schedule. Reviews have been excellent for this new show and it’s fantastic for kids and adults so put it in your diary!

Kids Week, London, theatre bookings opens 18 June

Kids Week returns this summer, offering children aged 16 or under the chance to see a participating London show for FREE in August when accompanied by a full paying adult. You can also purchase up to two extra children’s tickets at half price. More than 30 shows are offering the Kids Go Free deal, including Matilda (above), The Lion King and Top Hat so it’s well worth getting online when it opens on 18 June at 10am.

Family camp, Brownsea Island, Dorset, 15-16 June

An extra-special treat for Father’s Day weekend is the rare opportunity for families to spend an adventurous night on the beautiful Brownsea Island courtesy of the National Trust. Camping, outdoor activities, a BBQ and a bit of Kum-ba-yah around the campfire for those of a beardy disposition (no offence grandma). I’ve been to Brownsea before and it’s absolutely gorgeous – well worth the trip if you’re looking to do something as a family away from it all.

Booking essential. For more information, tel 01202 492161

Jane’s Teas, Kirtlington, every Sunday afternoon through summer

janes tea shop frontageA slightly more sedate alternative to Brownsea Island on Father’s Day, this fabulous , famous Oxfordshire tea boasts canal boats, English eccentricity, and the best homemade cakes around. Wander down a pretty track to the cafe, accessible only on foot or by boat and scoff yourself to a standstill. Read my review of Jane’s Teas here.

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