The Summer Muddy Guide
Peter Pan in Scarlet, Oxford Playhouse, Fri 12 Aug – Sun 4 Sept
Finally it’s here! Unquestionably one of big family shows of the summer, Peter Pan in Scarlet at the Oxford Playhouse is based on the best-selling novel by three-times Whitbread Children’s Book Award winner (and local writer) Geraldine McCaughrean, and adapted/ directed by the brilliant exec director of the New Vic Theresa Heskins. She promises circus and fire, shipwrecks and battles, as the grown up Wendy and the Lost boys return go Neverland to rescue Peter in one last adventure armed with, er, fairy dust (and let’s be realistic, probably a few swords too when it comes down to it). Price-wise it’s good value, with weekday family tickets (2 adults, 2 kids) at £65, and weekends £75. I’m taking the Mudlets next week so I’ll report back pronto.
Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford, oxfordplayhouse.com
Picture This Children’s Illustrated Classics, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, until 25 Sept
There’s a lovely interactive exhibition at the RRM in Henley called Picture This: Children’s Illustrated Classics in conjunction with the British Library. Kids can design sweets for Willy Wonka’s factory, create their own Secret Garden, hide in a Hobbit hole or picnic with the local Mr Toad. Sweeeeeeet!
Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, Thurs 11 – Sat 13 Aug
This quirkily cool festival has been running since the 70s and has witnessed the likes of Alice Cooper, Robert Plant, Status Quo, Steve Winwood and Buzzcocks playing in this tiny north Oxfordshire village five miles north of Banbury to 20,000 music lovers. The Cropredy Festival bucks current trends and sticks to one stage so you’re unlikely to miss an act! Even better, there’s no backstage bar for the musicians, so there’s a very good chance this year that you’ll be drinking next to the boys from Madness. The Cropredy ‘Fringe’ – entertainment provided by the two pubs in the village – act as satellite stages if you want to listen to your music in the warm. On Sunday depending on the weather, various members of the Fairport Convention and their musical guests will turn up after lunch for the annual Fairport versus Cropredy village cricket match. It all sounds strangely alluring, don’t you think?
Cropredy, nr Banbury, Oxon, fairportconvention.com
Jazz on the Farm, Peterley Manor Farm, Sun 14 Aug
Peterley Manor Farm has done a great job of diversifying over the last few years with its popular yurt and dining evenings. Here’s another one – an afternoon of jazz, blues and boogies in the gardens of the Wild Strawberry Cafe. The cafe will be open all day from 9am (brekky served until noon), plus there are food stalls, a hog roast, and an outdoor bar until 4pm. Best of all, it’s freeeeeeee!
Peterley Ln, Prestwood HP16 0HH. peterleymanorfarm.co.uk
Beer Festival, The Angel at Burford, Fri 12 – Sun 14 Aug
The lovely Angel at Burford inn, owner of two AA rosettes for its cooking, is extending its offering this weekend with food, live music and a full beer festival plus added Hooky shire horses on Sunday. And never let it be said there’s no room at the inn – there are 3 refurbished bedrooms if you’re too sozzled to ride your donkey home.
Big Tree Climbing, Cliveden, Thurs 11 Aug
I’ve never laughed so much as when Mr Muddy rocketed so fast down a zipwire that his trousers nearly came off (oh hang on, I haven’t told you about his salsa dancing in Barcelona – that one took the biscuit). Anyway I digress. If you’re brave enough to go high into the canopy with your kids, you can enjoy the ropes and harnesses, zip wires and rope swings under the watchful eye of the Great Big Tree Climbing Company. For children aged 6+.
Cliveden House, Clivedon Road, Taplow, Berks, nationatrust.org.uk
Green Picnic Afternoon,Oxford Botanic Garden, Sat 13 Aug
A Green Picnic afternoon in Oxford’s Botanical gardens sounds a tad tautologous, but who cares? It’s a sweet way to get families into this lovely space in central Oxford. There’s live music craft activities for kids, storytelling, facepainting, and a chance to meet local eco champions. They’ll be the ones wearing the red hemp underpants and capes, in case you’re wondering.
Drop-in session. Free with entry to the Garden. Suggested £1 donation for materials at activities. University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, Oxford, botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk
It’s a Knights’ Tale: Medieval Pageantry, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Sat 13 – Sun 14 Aug
Kid studying medieval England next term? Or do you have kids who like to kill each other at every opportunity? Give them some new inspiration by going down to Chiltern Open Air Museum near Chalfont St Giles. They can meet the costumed re-enactors, watch knights in combat, meet the soldiers, longbowmen and crossbowmen and even join in with the Knights’ School (ages 5-11). Catnip for kids.
Chiltern Open Air Museum, Gorelands Lane, Chalfont Saint Giles, coam.org.uk
Family Cycling Day, Blenheim, Sun 14 Aug
Grab your bikes and helmets and head to Blenheim Palace for the once-yearly chance to cycle around the idyllic parkland. Make sure you bring a picnic so you can justifiably stop before you start to puff embarrassingly. No age restrictions for kids but they have to wear the safety gear and be escorted by adults.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon.blenheimpalace.com