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The Muddy Guide

Feast Weekend, Waddesdon Manor, Nr Aylesbury,  Sat 18 – Sun 19 June


Nosh up! The Waddesdon Manor Feast Weekend promises a  celebration of food, drink and performance in prime position at the front of the Manor. There’s a huge decorated outdoor dining table running the length of the North Avenue for picnicing or trying the  60 handpicked artisan stalls, but the bit that really lifts it from just another foodie event is the performances – everything from jazz, the smallest theatre in the world, moving art installations, and loads for kids. A defo for the weekend.

Waddesdon Manor, nr Aylesbury, Bucks,

Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Treasures from the Sicilian Seas, Ashmolean, Tues 21 June – Sept

storms seas and shipwrecks

The major Ashmolean summer exhibition Storms, War and Shipwrecks tells the extraordinary story of Sicily, the island at the crossroads of the Mediterranean through the discoveries made by underwater archaeologists. For 2500 years, Sicily was the place where great ancient civilizations met and fought – Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans have all stomped the ground. The exhibition explores this through objects rescued from the bottom of the sea – from chance finds to excavated shipwrecks. A clever idea.

Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont St, Oxford,

Experience the Country, Father’s Day, Milton Keynes, 19 June

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.08.04

Loving the sound of Experience the Country near Milton Keynes – none of this argyll sweater golf malarkey for your dads, how about a Crazy Car Experence a Quad Trek, a Marksman package of archery, air rifle shooting and axe throwing (!), or a wheels and gears package. All events can be done as a team of two. You can almost smell the pheramones from here. Still, who cares, your other half will love it.

Also available on Fri 24 June and Sun 17 July.



Oxford Festival of the Arts, Fri 17 June – Sat 2 July

Photo credit: Jens-Marrott

Photo credit: Jens-Marrott

Now in its eighth year, Oxford Festival of the Arts is a two-week celebration of culture and the arts in venues throughout Oxford – everything from music and literature to speaker events and workshops. Very eclectic, which I like, including Maggi Hambling, the first National Gallery Artist in Residence discussing her career and work at the Ultimate Picture Palace (Weds 22 June) or  Soapbox Science bring cutting-edge science to Oxford’s city centre – a kind of Speakers’ Corner for women in science. It’s worth looking at the schedule, you’ll find something you want to see for sure.

The Boodles, Stoke Park, Tues 21 – Sat 25 June


Last year was my first time at The Boodles grass tennis tournament at Stoke Park, and apart from getting massively sozzled and trying on jewellery worth more than my house (I checked the exits, they were all covered unfortunately), it turned out to be a brilliant, local, fun and cost-effective alternative to Wimbledon. There are very few tickets left ever since some bloke called Novak Djokovic confirmed his attendance for 2016 – yep, you read that right –  so you need to move swiftly. A top spin towards your purse, slice with the credit card and ooh I say, what a winner!

Stoke Park, Stoke Poges, Bucks,

Shore to Shore – Carol Ann Duffy and Friends, St Aldgate’s Church, Oxford, Tues 21 June


If you’re a bit in love with Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry like I am, and happen to be free at lunchtime on Tuesday, this will be a total treat. Shore to Shore sees the Poet Laureate and her chosen fellow poets Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker and Jackie Kay. in Oxford as part of a national tour to perform their work and to celebrate communities with independent bookshops at their heart.  There’s also music from instrumentalist and composer John Sampson.

12.30-1.30pm, St Aldgate’s Church, 40 Pembroke St, Oxford,

The Hive, Kew Gardens, opens Sat 18 June



Check this baby out! Science and beauty come together at Kew with The Hive, a 17 metre tall, 40 tonne installation that aims to tell the story of the honeybee and the important role of pollination.

Designed by UK based artist Wolfgang Buttress, The Hive is constructed from around 170,000 parts with 1000 LED lights dotted around its core which glow and fade. The humming sound and light of the Hive respond to the real-time energy levlels of bees in a beehive behind the scenes at Kew, giving visitors an insight into the life inside a bee colony and encouraging us all to help bees to help us. Entry to The Hive is included with day admission to Kew Gardens.

Blenheim Palace Flower Show, Fri 19 – Sun 19 June 


So many flower shows around these days, but this one’s a goodie – the Blenheim Palace Flower returns for its fourth year for this three day event chockful with growers, nurseries and trade stands. Plus there’s a champagne wagon to keep your spirits up amongst the dahlias and hybrid teas, you through the day, just so you know.

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon,

Bucks Open Studios, now to Sun 26 June


Bucks Open Studios has now been going for 31 years – respect!  Over 500 artists and makers in over 200 different venues across Buckinghamshire opening their studios and run exhibitions and events for the public to visit.  Choose a pretty village you’ve never been to, find a good pub and an art exhibition or two and enjoy.

Perfect, Old Fire Station, Sat 18 June


Can’t fit theatre into your week? Here, try this – a one hour, lunchtime play from the Saturday Matinee Company at the Old Fire Station in Oxford. It’s about Cathy, a cognitive behaviour therapist working in a South London OCD clinic who is inspired to help a young patient with a gruelling phobia. These events are always a punt, but at one hour flat, you can afford to take the chance.

Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George St, Oxford,


OffBeat Oxford, Performing Arts Festival, Mon 20 – Sun 26 June


The second performing arts festival in Oxford this week – 7 days jammed with theatre, dance, comedy, music, spoken word. It’s a collaboration between The Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station, so it has a quality mark to it already, so worth checking out the performances.

salvo fair_7584

Salvo Fair, the biggest and best architectural salvage and garden antiques show in the UK returns to Henley this weekend. Anything goes – previous years they sold a box from Royal Ascot and a 50ft church steeple but you can also buy upcycled furniture, garden salvage,, baskets, fruit boxes, tin baths and all that kind of thing. It’s held on Sir William McAlpine’s estate, whose steam trains will be offering rides to fairgoers that day.


The Taming of the Shrew. Don’t Hate the Players, Waterperry Gardens, Fri 17 – Sat 18 June


The outdoor Shakespeares season is upon us.The Taming of the Shrew by Don’t Hate the Players (great name!) opens at Waterperry Gardens, a lovely genteel venue with its own outdoor amphithetre. If you can’t make it the production moves to Oxford Castle from Monday and stays there until Sat 2 July. Castle Quarter, Castle St, Oxford,

Beacon Festival, Watlington, Bucks, Fri 17 – Sat 18 June


A real family friendly festival in Watlington, there’s music, workshops, a kidzone, literary and comedy line ups, and also a Feel Good area with healing therapies – reflexology, reiki, crystal healing, chair massage. The headline act is Not the Rolling Stones so I’m not sure it’s one for Glasto-wannabies but it has a great reputation, camping available at the top of Watlington Hill, and y’know, it’s nice and local.

Watlington Hill Farm, Watlington Hill, Christmas Common, Watlington,

Father’s Day Gladiator Arena, Chedworth Roman Villa, Sun 19 June

Roman legionnaires display their military skills

Worth a mention if only becuase you can watch your dad sold as a slave to fight in the arena today! Roman re-enactment group Legio II Augusta return to Chedworth with their gladiator arena and fighting displays and activities for kids. Go on, you know he wants to.

Chedworth Roman Villa, near Cheltenham, Yanworth, Gloucs,


Bill Bailey, Milton Keynes Theatre, Sun 19 June


Bill Bailey is touring a lot at the mo, and here he is over at MK Theatre this weekend with his new show is Limboland. Worth seeing just to watch how he plays a heart-rending country and western ballad played on a Bible.

Summer Jousting, Knebworth House, Sun 19 June


The Knights of Arkley joust in front of the House today, along with hand to hand combat and all the historial camping it up that kids love. There are two scheduled jousting displays at 12.30 and 2.30 pm (depending on the weather), and it’s all part of the usual ticket entrance to Knebworth with its adventure playground, gardens, park and dinosaur trail.

Knebworth House, Knebworth, Herts,

peterley yurt

Father’s Day Hog and Cider, Peterley Manor Farm, Sun 19 June

If local cider is the way to your Dad’s heart, here’s one for you this Sunday. The Father’s Day Hog and Cider event is back for the second year serving up an Old Gloucester Spot Hog Roast and an array of local ciders and beers from their kiosk bar.

Peterley Manor Farm, Peterley Lane, Great Missenden, Bucks, HP16 0HH 

The Buckingham Literary Festival, Buckingham 1-3 July


An early flagwave so you can plan this one into your weekend. Plucky Bucky is at it again, with its inaugural literary festival spread over three days in this vibrant north Buckinghamshire town. Most events take place at the Radcliffe Centre in Church Street, and it’s an eclectic, and impressive first festival with talks by the likes of Louis de Bernieres, psychologist Oliver James and Will Gompertz plus The Wimpy Kid Show for kids. Tie in your trip with a visit to Stowe Landscape Gardens or Claydon House if, like me, you really want ultimate middle class brownie points.

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