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What’s On this week: 4 – 10 June 2015

More fun than you can shake a stick at this week. I’m the mood to get out and about, so maybe see you amongst the melée!

Hugh Quarshie as Othello, RSC, Stratford, from Thurs 4 June


Ric Griffin from Holby City has thrown away his scalpel to tread the boards? Blimey, what will they do on AAU without him? Tis true that I have a secret crushypoo on Hugh Quarshie who plays the impossibly conflicted Ric on Holby and had no idea he’d also been in Star Wars (STAR WARS!) and done his time with the RSC. Now he’s back in Stratford playing Othello for the first time with Lucian Msamati in support. I’m there. I’m so there.

4 June – 28 Aug. £10-70. Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford.

La Traviata, Oxford Playhouse, Thurs 4 & Fri 5 June

 la traviata

Loving the sound of this. OperaUpClose promises a roaring 1920s interpretation of La Traviata with bootlegging, speakeasies and gangsters providing a backdrop to Verdi’s classic opera. Sung in English and with a new orchestration by composer Harry Blake, it’s an accessible and fun introduction to opera.


Far From the Madding Crowd, Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford, 5-11 June


If you’re going to see Carey Mulligan in this gorgeous adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, do it somewhere fabulous. I’m a big fan of the UPP on Cowley Road, and from this week there is an upgraded sound system and new screen to complement the comfy seats and in-cinema bar.

Seasonal Reflections, Artist in Residence, Woburn Abbey, from Thurs 4 June

Richard Hoare

Hopping over into Bedfordshire – ‘and why not?’ to quote Barry Norman (remember him?!)  – Richard Hoare is Woburn’s first ever Artist in Residence. The Abbey’s new venture in art kicks off this Thursday in the Bedford Tea Rooms with Hoare’s work taking taking in a cycle of seasons at Woburn’s gardens and deer park.

Until 1 November. Woburn Abbey. 

 Go the Farms…

1. Peterley Manor Farm, Supper Club, Fri 5 June

 peterley yurt

Peterley Manor Farm’s Wild Strawberry yurt is celebrating its first birthday with a supper club and the food looks gooood. I mean, just how good does ‘lemon and saffron confit local chicken leg served with a fricassee of English peas, broad beans and chorizo, salsa verde and olive oil potato puree’ sound? Menus are £30 a head with wine, beer and spirits to buy on the night too.

Peterley Manor Farm, Great Missenden,

2. Open Farm Sunday, throughout Bucks/Oxon, Sun 7 June

The award-winning Orchard View Farm in Little Meadle (near Aylesbury, mid Bucks) is one of a clutch of local farms opening its doors to the public this weekend. It will dig out the spit-and-bang engines, demonstrate rare breed sheep shearing, show wool spinning, offer bug hunting, as well as show they make their award winning sausages in sausage workshops, take tours of the farm, cafe and shop, provide a bar and hog roast, and keep the kids happy with bouncy castles, archery for kids, face painting and…. well, that’s enough is isn’t it? Other farms taking part include Hazeldene Farm (Chesham), Wykham Park Farm (Banbury), Lacey Family Farm (High Wycombe), Road Farm (Great Missenden), White Pond Farm (Henley). Check out the full list here and get on your wellies!


Philip Gray book signing, Lemongrove Gallery, Friday 5 June

GRAY Rainforest 1 (untitled)

Wouldn’t you like to just hop into this painting and stay a while? Irish artist Philip Gray’s new exhibition of landscapes and seascapes has just opened at the Lemongrove Gallery in Henley and he’s at the gallery on Friday to sign books, paint (seriously!) and sprinkle some artistic fairy dust on proceedings. Gray is a former Chief Petty Officer who left his naval career for the palette and brush and is now massively successful, not only with his seascapes, but with his more Extreme Art – he’s painted underwater with sharks, close to live volcanoes, at base camp in Everest, the lot. Bonkers frankly, but the results are amazing. Take a peek at my review this week to see some more of his work.

Bucks Open Studios, from Sat 6 June


Goodbye Oxfordshire Art Weeks, and helloooo from this weekend (6 – 22 June) to Bucks Open Studios, now celebrating its 30th birthday and looking well foxy.

If you live in or pass through Buckinghamshire over the next three weeks you won’t be able to miss the bright yellow signage adorning galleries, public spaces and private houses, with literally hundreds of artists exhibiting their work. If you’re walking by, stop. Just stop! Make a detour and follow the signs. Go and see some art. It will lift your day.

Julia Biel, North Wall, Oxford,  Sat 6 June

julia biel

Hailed by the Independent as “the best British vocalist to emerge in an age” and a former Perrier Jazz Vocalist of the Year, singer/songwriter/musician Julia Biel has serious credentials. To support the release of her new album, she’s heading up to the intimate North Wall venue in Oxford. Should be fantastic.

8pm, North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Oxford,

Garsington Opera Season Starts, from Sat 6 June, Wormsley

Garsington Opera at Wormsley credit Clive Barda (3)

Another tra-la-laaaaaaaaa opera must this week. The fabulous Garsington Opera is back, once again taking place in the spectacular Opera Pavilion, which sits within the rolling landscape of the Chiltern Hills. For 2015, the company brings back Mozart as a fundamental element of its season with a new production of Così fan tutte alongside one of the seminal operas of the 20th century, Britten’s Death in Venice, and a new production of Richard Strauss’ Intermezzo. Best of all in my humble opinion, Garsington Opera collaborates with the Royal Shakespeare Company on a joint project, providing a rare opportunity to see an abridged version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream illuminated by Mendelssohn’s enchanting music.

Wormsley Estate, Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire,

HanFest, North Oxon Sat 6 – Sun 7 June


First thing I should say is, bloody hell, I wish I had breasts like that. Secondly, if you can tear your eyes away, say hello to HanFest, a fab art exhibition which is put together by a group of local artists living in this historic, arty, creative North Oxfordshire village. Entry is free to the art exhibitions, and there’s an eclectic concert on the Saturday evening (jazz, ballet and other stuff) that’s free for under 16s and £7 for adults including a glass of champers or wine and light refreshments! A no brainer, give it a go.

 Hanwell Village, nr. Banbury ,

World Pooh Sticks Championships, Langel Common, Sun 7 June

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 19.46.23

Was it last year that The World Pooh Sticks Championships were cancelled because of the weather? Well, they’re back this year at a new venue, Langel Common, on the River Windrush near Witney, and happily coinciding with a Stick Day at Cogges Manor Farm nearby. For those with very little brain and a lot of heart.

Langel Common, River Windrush,




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