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The Muddy Guide – What’s On Thurs 19 – Weds 25 May

In the mood for fun? Well, well, well, I have just the thing…

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, Wycombe Swan, 24 – 28 May

Bourne Sleeping Beauty, Hannah Vassallo, c Simon_Annand

I’m seeing this next week and I can’t wait. Everything I’ve seen from Matthew Bourne – The Car Man, Swan Lake –  has been incredible. His gothic take on this classic tale takes in magic, fairies, vampires and romance, and you know, a whole lot of men in tights. Just saying.

Sleeping Beauty, tickets £28 – £41.50.

The Oxfordshire Artweeks Festival, venues across the county, until Mon 30 May

Interactive painting by Ella Hendy at Naomi's Cafe Bar

Interactive painting by Ella Hendy at Naomi’s Cafe Bar

Seen any Artweeks stuff yet? It’s a brilliant dippy in-and-out way to experience art on your doorstep, and all for freeeee! Three weeks of lovely art and we’re half way through, with venues open along the Thames, from Faringdon to Henley and also the Ridgeway. Then next week it’s the Cotswolds and across to Bicester and Banbury. Have a look on the website,  choose a couple of events close to you, and try to make a few, you’ll be pleased you made the effort.

Chateau Marmot at Henley Regatta, June 29 & 30


Early heads up on what is going to sell out in a flasharoo. The fab touring pop up restaurant Chateau Marmot, a Muddy fave from way back, are coming to the Henley Festival with a 4 course tasting menu on a private enclosure bang opposite the Regatta starting line. Whoopo!! It’s £85 a head and that includes all day enclosure access, allocated table, four course lunch, a cocktail, morning tea coffee and pastries. Drinks are extra but you’ll be so giddy looking at all those rippling muscles in boats that frankly who cares?

Buy tickets

The Sound of Music, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Weds 18 – Sat 21 May


Doe your deer, vamp up your von Trapp, and dig out your leiderhosen, The Sound of Music is on until Saturday, starring BBC’s Over the Rainbow winner Danielle Hope. Gorge on that Austrian cheese!


Jungle Book, Oxford Playhouse, Fri 3 – Sat 4 June

jungle book

Don’t panic good people, I’m still bringing out a special half-term guide, but I thought I’d better tell you about this early on before the tickets go! Kipling’s classic tale comes crashing into the 21st century with Metta Theatre’s Mowgli finding her way in the urban jungle. There’s a beat-boxing bin man Baloo, graffiti artist Bagheera and a skateboarding wolf crew, and street choreography. All in all, sounds totally amazing.


Let’s Rock the Moor, Marsh Meadow, Cookham, Sat 21 May


Blue mascara? Check. Yellow eyeshadow? Check. Hair backcombed to the max? Check. Then you’re ready to hit the 80s love fest that is Let’s Rock the Moor in Cookham this Saturday. Still some tickets left apparently and the line-up including The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, Jason Donovan (!), Jimmy Somerville, Hue and Cry, Aswad and Chesney Hawkes. Boy George, Spanda and Duran Duran strangely unavailable but don’t let that spoil the retro party.

The Great Ball Run, Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, 14 – 31 May


Basildon Park is a really beautiful Palladian National Trust property just across the border into Bucks, and its annual Great Ball Run is masively popular. This year, there are with all new runs for your children to figure out with gold, silver and bronze stickers to be won when completing the ball runs. Take part by buying the Great Ball Run Kit (valid for the whole summer once bought), it costs £3 from the visitor centre.

A Taste of the Hinds Head, Bray, Thurs 26 May, 7pm


Hankering after a tasting menu this week? Here, allow me to assist. A Taste of The Hinds Head is a journey through classic dishes at Heston Blumenthal’s 15th Century British pub with the chef paying homage to signature dishes of the past and present, plus some new ones too. Tickets are £100 per person but unclench your buttocks, that’s including drinks and canapés on arrival and a 3-course meal with paired wines. For a little amuse bouche to whet your appetite, I nipped in recently and reviewed so you’ll know what you’re letting yourself in for.

To book, call 01628 626151.

Wood Festival, Braziers Park, Fri 20 – Sun 22 May

© Licensed to 17/08/2013 London, UK. Lollibop Festival, Olympic Park, Stratford, London. Photo credit : Simon Jacobs

OMG, here they come! The first of the local summer festivals, Wood Festival at Braziers Park School, near Wallingford is a relaxed, family-oriented two nighter event dubbed a FAmily Festival of Music and Nature, with a solar-powered, grass-roofed wooden stage in a wooded clearing in the Chiltern Hills, composting toilets. There are workshops like An Introduction to Shamanic Journeying, perceiving auras, carrot flutes and family yoga. Slightly hippy? Hmm, pass me my guitar and Birkenstocks while I think that one through.

Braziers Park School, Ipsden, Wallingford, Oxon,

John Piper Gallery, River & Rowing Museum, Henley

John Piper at Fawley Bottom Farmhouse

Can you believe the quality of art around these parts of late? Sooo many good exhibitions. Blazing a trail is the RRM which launches an impressive crowdfunding campaign today through Art Fund to create a world leading gallery dedicated to the work of local artist John Piper. Who he? Well, Piper was a major contributor to the artistic landscape of 20th century Britain and led the way in bringing modern and abstract art to this country. The new RRM gallery will be the largest permanent exhibition of his work in the world, bringing together some of his greatest creations, including rare pieces from private collections rarely seen by the public.

The Encounter, Oxford Playhouse, 25 – 28 May

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 14.19.39

This play received 5 stars from everyone from The Daily Telegraph and The Independent  to Time Out, and looks fantastic. It tells the true story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre who became hopelessly lost in a remote part of the Brazilian rainforest in 1969 while searching for the Mayoruna people. Threading scenes of his own life with details of McIntyre’s journey, Simon McBurney incorporates objects and sound effects to evoke a rainforest landscape through headphones. Unusual, immersive, a bit odd, probably brilliant.

Max and Ivan: The End, Old Fire Station, Oxford, Sat 21 May

max and ivan

Edinburgh Comedy Award winners and Melbourne Barry Award nominees Max and Ivan come to Oxford’s Old Fire Station via BBC One’s W1A and BBC Radio 4’s Casebook of Max and Ivan as part of  their first UK tour. Apparently it’s an epic narrative sketch comedy tale about the hopes, fears and dreams of a doomed town. The Times gave it five stars, The Guardian four. Signs are good my friends, signs are good.

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

London Wine Week, Mon 23 – Sun 29 May 

Does it need any more introduction? Cleverly they have incorporated the late May bank holiday into this festival – yeah come on, STAMPEDE!! – with more than 100 venues across the capital creating created discounted wine flights, paired menus and drop-in tastings when you flash your London Wine Week wristband *hic*.

Sean Lock – Keep It Light, Milton Keynes Theatre, Sun 22 May

Every three years the comedian Sean Lock writes and tours a new stand-up show, and, well, here it is! The stalwart of Have I Got News For You and all those panelly TV shows is one of my preferred comics, so if you love him too, head to MK Theatre for some Sunday night relief before Monday hits you like a relentless metal rod. Oh, just me?

Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Buckinghamshire,

Cushion Concert, Jaqueline Du Pre building, St Hilda’s Building, Sun 22 May


These 45 minute concerts at the lovely Jacqueline du Pre building in Oxford are a lovely (and mercifully short) way to introduce little kids to different instruments, led by Roz with Mr Cello. This week, it’s the drum kit. Earplugs at the ready and don’t forget your cushions.

Buy tickets

The Girl who fell in Love with the Moon, Chipping Norton Theatre, Thurs 19 May

girl who fell
Combining puppetry, poetry, movement and live music, The Girl Who Fell in Love With The Moon not only has the sweetest title ever, but also happens to be a stand-out highlight from last year’s Edinburgh fringe.

The Theatre Chipping Norton, 2 Spring St, Chipping Norton,

Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble, Sun 22 May

One for petrolheads. The 9th Sunday Scramble at Bicester Heritage near is mainly an excuse for hundreds of classic vehicle enthusiasts to come together and enjoy a relaxed social gathering.  The Bicester Gliding Centre in operation, there’s a new Motor Market where people can sell their pre 1990 vintage or classic car to others on the day, another where you can sell your Modern Vehicle (post 1989) and live valuation arena where you can get your cars valued on the day.

Adult tickets (16+) £5, kids under 16 free. 9 am-2pm. Bicester Heritage, Buckingham Road, Bicester,


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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Bucks & Oxon