The Muddy Guide
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Summer always brings out the bard – usually in outdoor productions in the pelting British rain. So hurrah of the sun which will make the whole thing much more pleasant. It’s the last few days for the Globe Theatre on Tour’s production of The Taming of the Shrew in the glorious setting of Oxford’s Bodleian library (finishing Saturday). Also in Oxford, in Wadham College Gardens The Merry Wives of Windsor are treading the boards until 16 August. Alternatively, if you like you’re entertainment safely roofed, take a trip up to the RSC in Stratford on Avon for the brand new production of All’s Well That Ends Well, starting tomorrow 19 July (until 26 Sept).
Chenies Manor Plant and Garden Fair, Chenies, Bucks, 21 July
I haven’t visited Chenies Manor before but this looks like a fantastic opportunity. The semi-fortified manor house dates from 1460 and received both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and their courts on numerous occasions, while the stunning gardens have won prestigious national prizes with rose gardens, sunken gardens, topiary, the works. Entrance into the plant fair, now in its 15th year, also allows you to wander the gardens (£8 adults, £4 under 14s) so it’s a perfect family event, plus from 2pm the house opens for an extra £4 per adult, and £2 per child.
Mozart’s Pride & Pretence, Bampton Opera, Bampton, 19-20 July
If you are inwardly groaning at the thought of opera, this one will mightily surprise you. Bampton Opera are a nationally respected but very relaxed company, with their operas all sung in English, garden chairs and picnics encouraged, a licensed bar available and best of all, tickets at incredible prices – listen to Mozart’s Pride & Pretence for £5!! That’s an incredible deal, you can barely get a beer for that these days. Opera Now proclaims that ‘there isn’t a company in England with as sharp a sense of fun as Bampton. Season after season they dig up rare gems, served up with canny wit, visual deftness and a musical spring that make them one of the high pleasures of an English summer’. So there you have it! If you can’t make it to Bampton, the opera moves to The Orangery Terrace in Westonbirt on 25 August.
Truck Festival, Steventon, 19-20 July
If you like your festivals no hassle and local, the Truck festival in Oxfordshire could be the one. From its first outing in 1998 it’s grown massively – this year it’s been nominated as Best Independent Festival in the AIM Awards. Spiritualised, The Horrors, Ash, Gaz Coombes and masses of others who I don’t recognise in my decrepitude are playing. It looks like a slick operation and there won’t be a muddy welly in sight this weekend. Under 12s go free, and tickets are nearly sold out so it’s worth getting in touch pronto.
Children’s Art Class Waterperry Gardens, Waterperry, 22 July
If you read Muddy Stilettos regularly you’ll know I’m a big fan of Waterperry Gardens, so the idea of a kids art class here sounds gorgeous. Aimed at 7-13 year olds, the children are taught drawing, painting and 3D using the garden as inspiration. At the time of writing there were 14 places left so if you want to turn your grunting Damien Hirst into a sublime Da Vinci now’s your chance.
10-12.30pm, £25. www.waterperrygardens.co.uk