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Your social life sorted: The Muddy Guide 17-23 August

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You’ll be pleased to know that this week is looking very perky for social stuff. Have fun and if you try anything, please let me know about it in the comment box at the end of the post. Go on, share the love!

Bike Blenheim Palace, 18-19 Aug


Inspired by the British cycling team? Time to blow the garage dust off your old hybrid (or for the men, that £2,000 bike you’ve been on twice in the last year, haha!) grab your children if you have them and head down to Blenheim Palace’s festival of cycling which will be just gorgeous. There are events such as Bike Polo and the Brompton marathon that might amuse, but most importantly you can do your own thing and ride the 6.5km or 2.5km pathways around breathtaking scenery all weekend. Click here for full details.
Family riding 11.30-5pm, Saturday and Sunday.

Banbury Food Fair, Saturday 18 Aug

Banbury’s fine lady upon a white horse. Cheer up love, you’re the star of the nursery rhyme!

I was in Banbury yesterday, and was talking to a lovely boutique owner who was bomoaning the lack of people who shop in the town. Banbury actually has plenty going for it – some lovely old buildings, not to mention a certain fine lady upon a white horse. But like many provincial towns it has fallen foul of horrible town planning, too many chain stores and bad parking.

However, it is blessed with plenty of gorgeous countryside and therefore tonnes of local produce, so if you’re in the area or live nearby, it will be worthwhile supporting the Banbury Food Fair. Expect the usual accoutrement of demos, competitions and local stallholders, plus the Banbury Flower and Produce Show in which local people fruit and veg growers, jam, chutney and cake makers compete in over 90 classes in the hope of winning an award. It all sounds wonderfully Midsomer Murders. Look out for the retired major with an oversized marrow – there’s always one! For more info, click here.

English Youth Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty, Aylesbury Waterside 24-25 August

This is an early heads-up on this ballet as it will be too late to give you notice next week. I had all the grace of a small elephant as a young ballet dancer, but perhaps if I’d seen a show like this (yes mum, it’s all YOUR fault) I would have got the hang of it a bit better.  Sleeping Beauty is ideal for taking little dancers too – there’s a matinee on Saturday for the littlies and of course seeing young ballerinas is in itself inspiring.  Obviously it’s no Bolshoi, but then neither are the prices – at £24.50 top-end tickets for a two hour show, it sounds like good value for money.
www.englishyouthballet.co.uk; www.atgtickets.com

Towersey Festival, 23-27 August

Who knew that The South still had such a fervent fan base?

I didn’t think I could make this festival, but now that Mr Muddy has vetoed our holiday for an ad pitch (yes readers, I have my very own Don Draper, minus the hair and the drink problem), it looks like I’ll be trooping along with the kids. If you’re from further afield and don’t know about Towersey, it’s a really well established festival, with strong musical roots and an unashamed family vibe. Unusually the festival starts on the Thursday night, when you can pitch tents and listen to The South (formerly The Beautiful South), and from then on it’s 200 events over 5 days.  If you still have some wear left in your festival wellies, it’s definitely worth a day trip.
www.towerseyfestival.com

Open House, London. Booking available now.

The exquisite entrance hall to William Morris’ Red House

Like a good nose around? You’ll love this then. Open House only takes place once a year and allows the public access to London buildings that are otherwise strictly private. Admission to most of the properties is on a turn-up-on-the-day basis and includes fabulous buildings such as the Handel Museum and William Morris’ Red House, but for some venues you need to book. The office opened for bookings only yesterday for the Open House weekend over 22-23 September so get in there early and choose your architectural poison.
www.londonopenhouse.org

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