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Reader Treats Just For You!

The Muddy Guide national digest

Feel like exploring somewhere new? Muddy tenticles cover the South of England and who better to know the cool stuff that’s hard to unearth than our brilliant regional Muddy editors (all national journalists in their own right) who are constantly scouring their counties for the best arts and cultural highlights? Whether you’re day tripping or planning for longer, here are some of the treats in store for you.


Russell Howard Warm-up, Hexagon Reading, Wed 25 Jan


Why is January such a rubbish month? We see it in with a BANG! POW! and then go and ruin it by banning the fun stuff like booze and carbs. Laughter is the only medicine. And Berkshire peeps we’re in for a treat. Just before Mock The Week star Russell Howard embarks on a massive arena tour, he’s doing a series of warm-up gigs – and his razor-sharp comedy is coming to Reading’s Hexagon for one night only. Tickets are £22 and selling fast, so grab one and you’ll be rolling in the aisles (with or without a few wines).

Last call: High Society, Mill at Sonning, until Sat 14 Jan


Before I catch you swinging round lamp posts and leaping off park benches, there is more musical magic to gorge on at the Mill at Sonning. High Society invites you to the wedding of the year (no, not Pippa Middleton’s. Although I think we’re all expecting an invite, right?). Bride-to-be Tracy Lord is planning her big day with bucketload of Champers, but who will be the groom? Her dull fiancé George, her ex Dexter or reporter Mike? The 1956 film starred Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. It’s a classic packed with fab dance routines and songs like Who Wants To Be  A Millionaire. Tickets from £53, including a two-course meal.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Berkshire


Biscuiteers: Waddesdon Manor in Gingerbread, until Sun 19 March


Worth a prod if you’ve forgetten this exhibition post-Crimbo. One of the most delicious exhibitions you’re ever likely to see, Biscuiteers – Waddesdon Manor in Gingerbread shows the whole manor house recreated in a 2 metre long model of gingerbread. It’s an extraordinary repilica of Waddesdon’s most famous rooms including paintings, furniture, porcelain and textiles that took more than 500 hours to make, used more than 30kg of butter and sugar, 240 eggs and 216 kg of icing. Don’t you want to just gobble it all down in one?  Also worth mentioning htat this weekend for the first time you can take your dogs into Waddesdon Manor’s grounds and down to the Coach House. Don’t let them near this exhibition, they’ll slather all over the home furnishings.

Waddesdon Manor, nr. Aylesbury,

Gaslight, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Mon 16 – Sat 21 Jan


A couple of star turns in the thriller Gaslight, rocking up at The Aylesbury Waterside this week, wtih Kara Tointon, Keith Allen and Rupert Young headlining. While Jack Manningham is on the town each evening, his wife Bella (Kara Tointon) is home alone. She can’t explain the disappearance of familiar objects, the mysterious footsteps overhead or the ghostly flickering of living room gaslight, and the surprise arrival of a retired detective (Keith Allen) leads to a shocking discovery. Der, der, derrrrrrr!

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre,

Pianist Jonathan Powell, JdP Music Hall at St Hilda’s College, Sat 14 Jan


Loving the idea of this piano programme featuring international soloist and composer Jonathan Powell, bringing together four radical piano works from the first half of the 19th century from Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin and Alkan.

Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford,

More insider tips on what’s happening this week in Bucks & Oxon


WOW! Science Weekends, The Eden Project, 14-15, 21-22 and 28-19 Jan

Eden Wow Weekends

The Eden Project does a brilliant job of getting kids excited about science with its fun-packed WOW! weekends. From 14-15 Jan, it’s all about ‘Far Out Forces’, with live shows from the Ministry of Science, experiments and interactive displays exploring weather with the Met Office and science-themed crafts and story-telling. Everyone is welcome but these weekends are recommended for children age 7 and up. All activities are included in the normal Eden admission price.

Chef Lee Skeet Pops Up In Truro & Falmouth Sat 14 Jan & Mon 16 Jan

Lee Skeet Cornish Food Box
Devon-born chef Lee Skeet trained under Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing, working with Michelin chefs from London to Germany. Since heading back to the South West, he’s been popping up in galleries and breweries, hosting sell-out super clubs. The first of 2017 are at The Cornish Food Box Café – his Truro debut and Oliver’s in Falmouth, as part of their 12 Chefs 12 Nights series, raising money for charity. Tickets are limited, so book them quick!

Sigala, The Wateringhole, Perranporth, Sat 14 Jan


Strap on your smokin’ roller skates and get down to The Wateringhole, Perranporth, where DJ Sigala will be holding court on Saturday night. The Norwich-born dance producer, known for singles ‘Sweet Lovin’, ‘Say You Do’ and ‘Give Me Your Love’, is dropping in ahead of his UK tour, which begins mid-February. The beach pub’s ‘big winter night’ is for over 18s only and runs from 9pm-2am.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Cornwall


Alternative Letchworth, Broadway Gallery, until Sun 19 February


If you like quirky and different, this one could be for you. And if you haven’t yet been to the Broadway Gallery, it’s definitely worth a visit – light and bright and airy, full of interesting stuff, and, as you would hope, a fab cafe. This exhibition takes a look at counter-culture and radicalism in the first Garden City. Photographs and costumes and on Sat 21 Jan, you can do an afternoon tour with the curator herself. As I’ve matured, I’ve become increasingly curious about Letchworth and its pioneering past (including the world’s first ever roundabout) and I felt extremely uplifted after my last visit to the Broadway Gallery so I’m definitely going to check this out.

Broadway Gallery, 2 The Arcade, Letchworth, SG6 3EW

Jazz at Here, Berkhamsted, Thurs 12 Jan


Another opportunity for toots and toe tapping, although this week at Here it’s more a case of digesting smooth, cool notes wearing an enigmatic smile. John O’Reilly plays guitar and this week he’ll be mixing it up with blues as well as jazz. And all this while you tuck in to Thai beef spring rolls (don’t tell Nick Knowles) with chilli jam, and there are many other tasty morsels on the menu.

Jazz at Here, 28-30 Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted, HP4 2AB

More insider tips on what to do this week in Herts


Ghost The Musical, The Orchard Theatre, Dartford, Tue 17 Jan – Sat 21 Jan

Ghost the Musical - Jacqui Dubois and company - cMatt Martin

See this timeless story of love, hope and despair in Ghost The Musical at The Orchard Theatre. The type of show that would see Mr Muddy put on an Olympic style sprint away from the theatre, but see ya later, I’m staying right here! If you want to see Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud chanelling Demi Moore and flinging clay around the potters wheel in erotic abandon, here’s your moment.

International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Mon 16 Jan – Sat 4 Feb


If you have an eye for photography and a love of nature then head to Sissinghurst Castle for a beautiful showcase of the best landscape and garden photography from across the world. Images captured by professional and amateur photographers will be displayed with fresh plants and flowers from the castle grounds to really bring the exhibition to life.

11am-4pm, Free entry after admission (Adult £6.05, Child £2.95, Family £15). Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Biddinden Road, Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 2AB,

More insider tips on the best things to do in Kent


Paul Cross Memorial Concert, The Assembley House, Norwich – Sat 14 Jan


With its coved ceilings, rare artwork and ornate chandeliers, The Assembley House is the ideal venue for classical music. This fund-raising concert of piano and song is designed to raise awareness of – and funds for – the Milan Petrovic special needs School in Novi Sad, Serbia, which is twinned with Norwich. Radoslava Gorgic sings soprano to Julija Bal on piano, who plays a range of music  from Handel and Mozart, as well as four Serbian songs.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Norfolk


The Burlesque Show, Royal & Derngate, 13 – 14 January


Have green ostrich plumes, will travel. The Burlesque Show at The Royal Auditorium returns with a triumphant medley of tricks, titters and tease. An uproarious revue of razor-wit, contemporary cabaret and frisky burlesque featuring the daring antics of scantily clad showgirls, the sultriest of sirens and the edgiest comic-cabaret masters. This is right up the Muddy Street, and promises to be a night not for the faint hearted. Bring it on. Tickets £22.

Experienced Hands – the Art of the Shoemaker, Northampton Museum & Art Gallery until Sun 19 Feb 2017

Hall, Frederick; Experienced Hands; Northampton Museums & Art Gallery;

We love shoes right? I love everything about them, and to be honest this captivating exhibition ticks all the boxes for me because it’s great to learn new things, particularly when it’s all related to one of my favourite subjects/items. Using the painting ‘Experienced Hands’ by artist Frederick Hall as a starting point, this exhibition investigates the tools and techniques of traditional shoemaking, using tools and objects from the Shoe Collection at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Northants


Djorde Ozbolt & Elisabeth Frink, Hauser & Wirth, Bruton, Thurs 19 Jan – Sun 7 May


Two separate solo exhibitions.  Djorde Ozbolt spent most of the last year as artist-in-residency at The Maltings studios in Bruton; his ‘Brave New World’ exhibition features the paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations produced during this time. The other exhibition is ‘Transformation’, with Dame Elisabeth Frink’s distinctive bronzes and some of her drawings. The Roth Bar and Grill are on hand, as ever, to provide bodily sustenance after all the spiritual.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol, Tues 25 Jan – Sat 4 Feb

Get your tickets Toot Sweet: this production of the famous musical show is said to be supercalifragalisticexpealidoshus (oh, sorry, wrong musical but you know what I mean).  This is a new stage version of the film scripted by Roald Dahl rather than of the original book by Ian Fleming (you didn’t know?) with sparking performances, some additional songs and ‘Me Ol’ Bamboo’ as a Morris Dance. Just hold onto your hats (or lunch) when Chitty flies off the end of Beachy Head.

RPS International Print Exhibition 159, Museum of Somerset, Sat 14 Jan – 11 Sat 11 March


An eclectic mix of work by 75 photographers from 16 countries including this photo Abrigo Corner by Tom Blachford. This Royal Photographic Society annual touring exhibition (well, it’s a competition really) at the Museum of Somerset is now in its 159th year  – and for the first time all four medal winners are women. Come away inspired.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Somerset


Butterflies in the Glasshouse – RHS Garden Wisley, Woking – 14 Jan to 5 Mar

Set your heart a flutter with a trip to see the butterflies among the exotic beauties in the glasshouse at Wisley. Watch for the striking blue morpho, the giant owl and the king swallowtail flitting among the lush creepers and bright flowers and fruit in the tropical zone. You’ll also see butterflies feeding at special feeding stations, and learn about their lifecycle. General admission is usually available, or you can pre-book a particular time slot.

RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, GU23 6QB.

Magical Lantern Festival – Chiswick House and Gardens – 19 Jan to 26 Feb


The Magic Lantern Festival returns to Chiswick for a second year with a Silk Road festival. More than 50 giant lanterns will be on display celebrating this route of trade and culture from Europe to Ancient China. Look out for the giant fire rooster to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Rooster. The festival is an outdoor event (so get you winter woollies on), and there are children’s activities, including a synthetic ice rink and a funfair. This promises to be a unique and cultural event, with a buzzing carnival atmosphere. Tickets are £5.90-£19.70.

Chiswick House and Gardens, Chiswick, London W4 2QN,

More insider tips on what to do this week in Surrey


Stand up & Slam, Komedia, Brighton, Wed 18 Jan


I’ve seen this show and it’s a great concept – stand up comedy and a poetry slam combined but with a juicy element of rivalry thrown in. The audience decides which team is winning, the performers diss each other in jokes and rhymes between their sets and it’s all good-natured fun. It’s a fairly regular slot at the Komedia with the next two up on 15 Feb and 15 March.

Tours of Mermaid Inn, Rye, 9 – 13 and 16 – 20 Jan


Part of the historic Mermaid Inn in Rye is having a temporary closure, with the chance to peek behind the scenes on a guided tour. Discover the 12th Century cellars, find out the story behind the Slade School of Art Murals, walk in the secret passageways, sit in the priest hole, and hear stories about olden times. The Mermaid Hotel and Restaurant are closed Sun 14 Jan lunchtime – Fri 20 Jan lunchtime. The Giant’s Fireplace Bar remains open throughout the period. You can book a tour between 10.00am and 5.00pm 9 – 13 and 16- 20 Jan  on 01797 223065 or The Mermaid is simply asking for donations at the end to The National Deaf Children’s Society.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Sussex

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