The Muddy Guide
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Legoland Windsor, re-opening 15 March – with new sharks!
Legoland, it’s been too long. I haven’t made it to plastic city in Windsor for a couple of years, so still haven’t seen the rather natty Aquarium they built in 2011 but I have a sneaky feeling that’s about to change.There are 18 sharks already established in the Aquarium, but last week four baby Bamboo sharks also took up residence in a pop-up nursery of colourful Duplo, including a bright train and bricks for them to swim through. Isn’t that sweet (and, um, a bit mad?) They’ll eventually join the big sharks currently residing at Atlantis, viewed by guests submerged in yellow submarines with giant underwater viewing windows. Frankly, that sounds too bonkers to miss.
Oxford Literary Festival, central Oxford, 16-24 March
Here comes the Oxford Literary Festival, a Who’s Who of exciting contemporary authors. How about Phillip Pullman, Joanne Harris, Ruth Rendell, Julian Barnes, Seamus Heaney and Hilary Mantel for starters? And for young people, Julia Donaldson, Charlie Higson, Alex Scheffler, Roger McGough? The venues are primarily Christchurch College, Corpus Christi College, The Sheldonian Theatre and The Bodleian – more beautiful arenas are pretty tough to find anywhere in the world. The full programme is here, so it’s the perfect opportunity to inspire yourself or others close to you.
Jazz Brunch, Blenheim Palace , Sun 10 March
This is the first in a series of three Sunday morning jazz brunch concerts between 10-12.30pm in the Oxfordshire Pantry at the lovely Blenheim Palace. Order up big-styly with paninis, croque-monsieur, Welsh rarebit or porridge, and ignore your children behind the Sunday papers as they stick their hands down trombones and grab drumsticks from innocent musicians. Er, bliss!
10 March: Danny and the Barebones; 17 March: The Matthew Crook Trio; 24 March: Thames Trio. All 10-12.30pm.
‘The School of Night’, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 12 March
I’m not usually a fan of audience participation at the theatre – the fear of being picked upon outweighing any amusement value – but this really does sound like good fun. Literary improv show ‘The School of Night’ (named after a 16th century underground sect of artists, thinkers, scientists and spies whom some scholars believe secretly wrote Shakespeare’s plays) sees a new Shakespearean play created from scratch based on suggestions by the audience. The Daily Telegraph described it as ‘uproarious improvised scenes… intelligent, laugh a minute-fare’. Go along and see if they’re right.
www.oxfordplayhouse.com. Tickets £15. Book here
‘Masquerade’, High House Gallery, Nr Witney, Oxfordshire, until Sun 17 March
Masquerade, an exhibition of contemporary portrait photography at the lovely High House in Clanfield (between Witney and Farringdon), brings together a selection of award-winning contemporary photographic arts, including Jonny Briggs, Virgilio Ferreira and Minhong Pyo. They all work with the human body but the bodies here are altered in some way – perhaps distorted, manipulated, cut, layered, collaged, appropriated, painted or stitched over. Not all the art is as in-your-face as the piece pictured above, well, you either like this kind of stuff or you don’t, but at least you won’t be bored!
1930’s Beauty Parlour, Upton House & Gardens, Nr Banbury, 9-10 March
I don’t want to label all women as beauty, fashion and make up fanatics, but, well, this does sound like a nice way to spend Mother’s Day! There’s a special 1930’s Beauty Parlour set up in this grand National Trust property close to Banbury. Apparently there’s a professional make-up artist on hand, so I shall be commandeering her for serious pimple control at least the first hour. Don’t worry though, there’s a craft table to amuse your kids and demonstrations to keep you occupied while you’re waiting. And waiting.