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8 cool things to do this weekend

Ready to seize the day, grab life by the you-know-whats, forge on into the… OMG, the effort, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Shall we just slip on a coat and try some Muddy Guide stuff instead?


Kids Go Free this Weekend! Bagpuss and the Clangers, River & Rowing Museum, Sat 4 Feb – Sun 4 June

Are you old enough to remember Professor Yaffle and the mice on the marvellous mechanical mouse organ? Starting on Saturday there’s a brand new exhibition at The River & Rowing Museum in Henley focusing on children’s classics Clangers, Bagpuss and Noggin the Nog. As well as exploring the stories and behind the scene action, your kids can try animating the characters if they can push you out the way first. Children go free on this opening weekend.

River & Rowing Museum, Henley,

Creation Theatre’s ‘1984’,  The Mathematical Institute, Oxford, Sun 5 Feb – Sun 5 March

Oxford-based Creation Theatre has a new production to shout about – an adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 starting this Sunday. The big news here is that the performances take in the space-age Mathematical Institute on Woodstock Road, with the classic novel adapted using the cafe, corridors and seminar rooms as the set so it should be a really exciting production. Suitable for 12+ as it contains nudity and some disturbing scenes but you can also book what they call ‘discreet performances’ if you’re feeling prudish.

‘British Abstract’, Sewell Centre Gallery, Radley College, until 9 Feb

Did you know there’s an stunning, purpose built public gallery at Radley College near Abingdon, that hosts six contemporary art shows a year? Over the last year it’s seen exhibitions by the likes of Tracey Emin, Sarah Wenden, Mark Spray and the Oxford Printmakers, and until the 9 Feb you can catch ‘British Abstract’, an exhibition of post war painting by prominent British artists living and working in Cornwall’s St Ives and Penwith in the 1950s and 60s. Well worth the effort to see both the gallery and those within it.

Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 2-4pm. Radley College, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 2HR.

FUNomusica: Time Travellers, Oxford Town Hall, Sun 5 Feb

A twice yearly fixture at Oxford’s Town Hall and a lovely opportunity to introduce young children to musical instruments and classical music, Alasdair Malloy and the Oxford Philharmonic orchestra are back with the FUNomusica concert. The theme this time is ‘a journey through time’ , a kind of Doctor Who style zip through centuries of music, meeting key people in history. Plenty of audience participation to embarrass the grown ups, and genuine fun for the 8-12 year old they try to attract. Note: I took my kids when they were much younger and they still loved it so don’t be put off by the age thing. As long as they your children aren’t totally feral they should be fine.

Oxford Town Hall,

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Aylesbury, Tues 7 – Sat 11 Feb

I love this National Theatre adaptation of Mark Haddon’s modern classic so much I’ve already seen it twice (a bit greedy I grant you), and I’m gearing up for a third go as it returns to the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre next week before transferring to Oxford in May. My review is here but don’t just take my word for it –  it’s won seven Olivier awards and five Tonys so far.

Orchids Festival, Kew Gardens, Sat 4 Feb – Sun 5 March

There are over 28,000 species of orchids, so it’s no wonder they get their own festival! This returning festival starts at Kew Gardens on Saturday and sticks around for the next month, so plenty of time to see the giant floral displays, decorative rickshaws, orchids hanging from ceilings – an orchid frenzy no less, and free with your entry ticket into Kew so you can see the rest of the gardens at your leisure.Kew Gardens,

Swan Lake, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Thurs 2 Feb

Tutus and man tights at the ready, the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet pirouhette into Aylesbury tonight accompanied by a full orchestra to perform Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece of love and betrayal.

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange St, Aylesbury,

Wow! Said the Owl, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sun 5 Feb 

Looks cuuuuuute. Based on the acclaimed children’s book by writer Tim Hopgood, Wow! Said the Owl explores the world of colours with a curious little owl who’s determined to stay awake to see what daylight brings. Aimed at 2-5 years, but might be good for those with hangovers too. Just saying.

Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Rd, Didcot,

78 Derngate, Centenary exhibition, Northampton 1 February – 29 April

Tobacco Flower. Charles Rennie Mackintosh.c.1920. © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow.

78 Derngate, the only house in England designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is set in the heart of Northampton. This county town has a rich heritage spanning 800 years and there is much to engage visitors around the town and in the wider county of Northamptonshire. Starting from 1 February is a special centenary exhibition “Charles Rennie Mackintosh & The Great War”.  This major exhibition will tell the story of Mackintosh’s late career and how it was impacted by World War One. With stunning exhibits and designs from major collections.  Entrance to the Visitor Centre – with shop, galleries and restaurant is free of charge.


The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined, Barbican Art Gallery, London, Closes 5 Feb 


The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined questions notions of vulgarity in fashion while revelling in its excesses, inviting the visitor to think about exactly what makes something vulgar and why it is such a sensitive and contested term. Drawn from major public and private collections worldwide, with contributions from leading modern and contemporary designers such as Christian Dior, Iris van Herpen, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, Stephen Jones, Christian Lacroix, Prada, Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Philip Treacy, Viktor & Rolf and Vivienne Westwood, it has Muddy Stilettos written all over it.

Barbican, London,


Wonderland, New Theatre, Oxford, 20-25 Feb

Loving the sound of this. Wendi Peters (Cilla in Coro) stars in this UK tour of the multi-Grammy award-winning Wonderland as Queen of Hearts alongside BGT’s Rachael Wooding as Alice. Hailed as ‘inspirational’ by the New York Times, the musical is an adaptaion of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Go with your girlfriends or take your kids!

Book tickets

 Native Feasts dining pop up, Coopers & Co, Bourne End, Fris/Sats through March

Michelin starred chef Chris Godfrey, formerly of The Sir Charles Napier in Sprigg’s Alley, is pretty busy with his dining pop ups these days and here’s a new one in a gorgeous location – at Coopers & Co, above (formerly Riverlight) in Bourne End Marina overlooking the river. He’ll be cooking up a storm each Friday and Saturday night throughout March, with snacks and three courses of British cooking with hints of Asia apparently! It’s £40 a ticket, except for the 17/18 March when a special collaborative weekend with Graham Long (L’Autre Pied, The Chancery, Elystan street) is £55 for 6 courses. Check out the menus, and book fast – the tickets will get munched superquick.



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