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What’s on this week? The Muddy Guide 10-17 Sept 2014

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Roald Dahl Day, Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, 13 Sept

Roald Dahl Museum

Roald Dahl Museum

As a long standing Roald Dahl lover and fan of this pocket powerhouse of a museum, I’m not sure I could be more excited about this if I tried. Roald Dahl Museum celebrates the famous children’s author on his birthday each year on Roald Dahl Day (though, ahem, he’s actually four days from greatness, the 17th being when a certain regional superblogger celebrates her ageless charm).

Everything this year is chocolate flavoured *sigh*, it being the 50th anniversary of Charlie and the Chocolcate Factory, but there’s also a Golden Ticket trail, magic and face-painting and Oompa-Loompa led tours, guided village trails, magic, and a fancy dress competition and the chance ot make a Wondercrump Wonka Bar (age 4+, 11.30pm, 12.30pm, 2.00pm, 3.00pm and 4pm, £2.50 per participant). Frankly, if you’re looking for something to do with your kids that you can actually enjoy too, hellloooooooo! I think you’ve just found it.

Henley Show, Hambleden, 13 Sept

The Henley Show

But where’s the combine harvester when you need it?

Muddy Stilettos must occasionally totter over real turf, and this year’s Henley Show in lovely Hambleden is my agricultural top totty. Unlike many local shows, this one has grown by almost 45% in the past five years. If tractors heavy horse and cattle aren’t your thing, check out the vintage cars, dog show, microbrewery, beekeepers, hedge layer, flour and bread display, children’s baking area, and four Tamworth piglets that are seeking names. I’ve also seen some tweeting about a rodeo bull, which has the potential to be hilarious on sooooo many levels. Best news of all, you’re within shooting distance of The Quince Tree for a stiletto-friendly pub lunch before or after (or during if you stock up at TQT superdeli). Well, you might as well do it in style.

Glittering Design Event, Biagio the Jeweller, Bicester, 13 Sept

Citrine and diamond necklace in 9ct yellow gold, £185

It seems that everyone is getting jewellery designed these days. My mum just spent my entire inheritance on some diamonds that she’d designed into a frankly gorgeous arc motif “because what else will I spend my  money on, dear” (grrrrr). Various grandmas have left me rings that are sentimentally lovely but not wearable or pretty, and it’s struck me that an event like Biagio’s Glittering Design Event could really help me update them. Bond street and celeb jeweller Fenella Baskerville has just started a partnership with Muddy fave Biagio in his two Oxfordshire stores, and is on hand at this inaugural Biagio in-store design event to offer her advice on creating stunning, unique pieces of jewellery. You don’t have to have a design in mind (which is helpful as I am nil points on that kind of creativity), you just need the will to create something lovely and different. Fenella and Biagio will do the rest.

Biagio the Jeweller, Pioneer Square, Bicester, OX26 6FA. Tel: 01869 252323. 


Blenheim Horse Trials, Woodstock, 11 – 14 Sept

Blenheim Horse Trials

Blenheim Horse Trials

Ooh it’s a clear round!  I can’t say I’m massively horsey but even I’m excited about the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, now in their 14th year, and attracting the world’s best riders over four days who compete in Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping. In addition to the eventing, there are Pony Club and Riding Club Team Competitions on the Thursday and Friday for kids thirsty for rosette glory, a High Jump Challenge on Sunday (nothing to do with athetics apparently), kids play areas, classic car displays and the usual shopping extras. Kids under 12 go free and well behaved dogs on leads welcome. I’m off to it today so will report back anon.

Skylight Live Screening, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, 11 Sept



I’m yet to go to one of these live screenings (it’s on the list…!) but continue to be impressed by the concept, because there are so many brilliant shows on in London and so little time to get to them. Skylight by David Hare stars Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, and is directed by Stephen Daldry so its theatrical credentials are impeccable. It’s broadcast live from the West End at 7pm, with tickets starting at £15.40. Top that up with a live screening of National Theatre’s A Streetcare Named Desire on 16 Sept, again at the Waterside, when Gillian Anderson wrestles with Blanche DuBois, and according to the critics, slamdunks her. Worth the watch. Beginning at 6.45pm, tickets start from £14.85.
Buy tickets

Rothschild Wine Dinner, The Five Arrows, Waddesdon, 12 Sept

The Five Arrows Hotel, Waddesdon

The Five Arrows Hotel, Waddesdon

Do you love your wine? Partial to the contents of the Rothschild cellar? Then this 4 course dinner with Rothschild wines at Waddesdon Estate’s Five Arrows Hotel has your name all over it. Its £69 per person which sounds like amazing value with the wines included, and if you get too sozzled to get home, you can check out the recently upgraded Five Arrows (from £230 for two sharing a classic double room). Hic.

Reservations: 01296 651727;

Oxford Open Doors, 13 – 14 Sept

The Painted Room

The Painted Room

This is a fantastic Oxford Open Doors initiative allows we prols to experience buildings usually closed to them, including many of the university colleges – well worth a look through the brochure. I’m most keen to visit the Painted Room, which I learnt about through the lovely author Griselda Heppel when she featured in Muddy last year. Rarely open to the public, this is how she described it:

Up some narrow stairs by – of all things – a betting shop in Oxford city centre, lie the remains of the 14th century Crown Tavern, a place Shakespeare is known to have stayed in, probably in this very room where the walls are decorated with the original hand-painted sixteenth century paper.  Hidden behind wall panels until 1927, the Painted Room has been a secret to the general public until only last year, when the Oxford Preservation Trust got permission to open it for viewing on certain days. The lovely trellis pattern enclosing depictions of Canterbury bells, windflowers, roses, passion-flowers and grapes was painted between the 1560s and 1580s’.

which made me particularly keen to see it, since my current children’s book, The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst is partly set in 1586! – See more at:

Open Air Cinema, Hampton Court Palace, 12 – 13 Sept


Anywhere near Hampton Court Palace this weekend? Pack a rug and a picnic and enjoy 12 Years a Slave (Friday) or Captain Phillips (Saturday) on the giant screen in front of the palace. Tis more pricey than the flicks but then you do get a complementary Benefit make-over and goodie giveaways. There will also be a full bar and delicious food on site at each screening.  £16.50 adults/ £12.50 5-15 yrs

Book tickets

Final Day at Oxford Castle Beach, Oxford Castle, 15 Sept

Oxford Castle Beach

Oxford Castle Beach

Last call for the Oxford Beach! Lovely Max from The Big Bang sausage-and-jazz restaurant came up with another brilliantly bonkers campaign this year to get the public visiting this Oxford path less trodden and largely succeeded. Make footprints in the sand before Autumn turns them back to concrete.

Winslow Hall Opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, 11-14 Sept

If you’re an opera buff you probably wait for the WNO to appear at Oxford or pre-order your champers at the Royal Opera House in London, but I’ve been to many a ‘provincial’ performance that’s impressed. I like Winslow as a town actually, and Winslow Hall is a lovely grand town house with some whopper chimneys and a garden made for opera. There have been very good reviews of Winslow Hall Opera nationally, most notably in the Telegraph, so go and enjoy international singers in your own back yard so to speak

London Design Festival, 13 – 21 Sept

Trafalgar Square looking south towards Parliament

It’s hard to believe this festival is only in its 11th year. One of the world’s most important annual design destinations, and a massive inspiration for lovers of all things gorgeous, this year’s festival boasts over 300 events. Pull a sicky, or put the kids into school early, and catch the early morning train to your ‘other’ life!

Oxford Photography Festival, 14 Sept – 5 Oct

Oxford Photography Festival

Wow. I’ve been checking out the photography in this inaugural festival and it’s really superb – not only the photos themselves, but the beautiful places in which they’re exhibited (the likes of Wadham, St John’s, The Story Museum), the films included in the programme – mostly at the supercool Ultimate Picture Palace – and the workshops and discussions. Big like from Muddy.

Entry is free.

Additional reporting: Anya Day

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