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Things to do in Bucks/Oxfordshire this Easter!

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If you’re wondering how the hell to get through two weeks of kids at home over the Easter holidays without resorting to a morning G&T and tramadol (well, why not – it’s your holiday too!), I’m here to help. Not all suggestions are kiddy-centric, so those of you unencumbered read on too…

The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Bros Studios, Watford

A brand new attraction opening tomorrow (March 31st 2012), this is 150,000 sq ft of Potter heaven. The Making of Harry Potter includes two soundstages where the films were filmed, incorporating sets for the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room and Hagrid’s hut. There are costumer and props on show, an animatronics workshop and (I’m guessing here) probably the slickest tourist shop this side of the M25. Booking essential.

Warner Bros Studio Tour, Aerodrome Way, Watford, Hertfordshire WD25 7LS. Tel: 0845 0840900. Email: [email protected]

Peppa and George Pig come to Blenheim Palace, April 8-9th

As we all know, pigs are intelligent animals, and of course Peppa and George are renowned for their interest in English baroque architecture. You can meet them in the Pleasure Gardens on Easter Sunday and Monday to ask them questions about the hand-painted ceilings and tapestries. On Monday the The Piplings from ‘Waybuloo’ will be arriving to discuss the legacy of Capability Brown.

Head for the coast

If the weather holds and you’ve filled the jerrycan to the brim, head to  Mudeford Sandbank in Dorset (nearest town: Christchurch) the perfect white-sandy sojourn if you live in Bucks/Oxon or a little beyond. Park at the wharf, then it’s a two minute chug across to the spit on a ferry, and as you arrive you’ll see a fantastic cafe/bar/restaurant, The Beach House, open all week from 10am-6pm, and until 10pm on a Saturday night if you really can’t bear to leave. Next door is a small shop with the basics if you’re planning on staying the night or need emergency child-bribing rations. Attractive, colourful beach huts line the beach, and there’s not a beer belly or knotted handkerchief in sight. For a full review, search ‘Mudeford’ on the Muddy Stilettos homepage.

Mudeford Quay: BH23 4AB. Call 07968 334441 for up to date ferry information.

National Trust egg-hunts

They’re all at it! Cadbury has teamed up with the National Trust to run egg-hunts at NT treasures, coinciding when the majority of NT gardens and buildings reopen their doors. Worth checking out are Kew Palace and Gardens (opening 2nd April) , Ascott house and gardens (now open), Wycombe Park gardens (opening 1st April), my local NT gem Waddesdon (gardens now open) Upton House and Gardens (pictured, now open) and too many others to mention! Check out for opening times.

Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race, Saturday April 7th, 2.15pm

Who cares who wins (particularly if they all look like this, haha!)? This is a fun day out for couples, friends or families along some gorgeous stretches of the Thames. The course undulates from Putney to Mortlake, and Time Out has generously decided to map the course via the capital’s best pubs! Here’s the link.

Walking with ipods (no really), Angling Spring Wood, Great Missenden.
Perfect for getting reticent teens out of their fetid rooms and into the fresh air. Download a ‘talking trail’ onto your MP3 player before you leave for the stunning Angling Spring Wood in Great Missenden. While exploring the two hours trail you’ll find 10 carved posts that correspond to the pictures on the map and the audio track. Hell, it’s worth a try!

Longridge outdoor activity centre, 2nd and 15th April (family days)

I’m yet to try this but it looks fantastic for kids 8+. These are ‘family days’ where you get to row, kayak, climb, play on the high swings and basically hang out with your kids on 12 acres of beautiful river and island outside Marlow. You can also book in your darlings for day courses if the call of the Marlow boutiques is too strong to resist.

Kensington Palace

Unveiled only days ago after a £12m refurbishment, here’s your chance to nose, I mean, explore the gardens, state apartments, shop, cafe and terrace. There are several exhibitions running concurrently, including a small display of Diana’s dresses and an intimate account of Queen Victoria’s life through her own journals and personal possessions, in the rooms where she once lived. Kids go free.

Free jazz at the Ashmolean, Friday 6th April, 12pm.
You’re probably planning a trip with the kids to the Ashmolean anyway at some point, so why not coincide it with some free jazz? If you subscribe to MS, you’ll know that the Oxford Jazz Festival starts this weekend. There are several other daytime performances well worth checking out, or just think about yourself – I do! – and book for an evening with mates.

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