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This week

THEATRE: Rock of Ages, Wycombe Swan, Tues 2 – Sat 6 Oct

Back to the Eighties and back comb that hair for the modern love story of a small town girl falling in love with a city boy in LA, accompanied by a gazillion rock anthems (We Built This City, The Final Countdown and I Want To Know What Love etc). The hit stage musical, first premiered on Broadway in 2009 before heading to the West End two years later, is doing the big tour around the UK. It’s pulling in the names – Kevin ‘Strictly’ Clifton will be joining the cast soon but for Wycombe Swan this week it’s Danielle Hope of Over The Rainbow fame and now a big musical A-lister in her own right.


MUSIC: Elements: Oxford Chamber Music Festival, various locations, Wed 3 – Sun 7 Oct

Shedku Kanneh-Mason by Lars Borges

This festival has been taking place since 2000 and it’s a really eclectic, ambitious, interesting event. There’s a packed programme and world class artists include Sheku Kanneh-Mason (as seen at Harry and Meghan’s wedding, pictured), Priya Mitchell and Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE. Check out the masterclass by chamber music legend Eberhard Feltz on Beethoven’s quartets at Lady Margaret Hall on Thurs 4 Oct; Pieter Wispelgwey plays Bach’s six suites for solo cello at the Sheldonian on Fri 5; and on Sun 7 the Waterscapes concert takes place onboard the Serafina at Folly Bridge with brunch included. Check out the full programme.


COMEDY: Harry and Chris Save the World, North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, Thurs 4 Oct 

World Poetry Slam champion Harry Baker and jazz virtuoso Chris Read have had sell out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and have been touring the country to much critical acclaim. Catch them in Oxford for a night of comedy-rap-jazz!


FILM: Hell Fire Caves, West Wycombe, Bucks, Thurs 4 Oct – Fri 5 Oct

This spooky venue beneath West Wycombe with bats, dark tunnels and a history of haunting, is a unique place to watch a movie. This week Kiera Knightly stars in The Duchess (Thurs) followed by the weird and wonderful Labyrinth with David Bowie (Fri). You can explore the caves before getting a drink from the bar, grab your free popcorn and a blanket and snuggle down in your beanbag chair for the screening.


TALK: Ayesha Hazarika: Girl On Girl – the Fight For Feminism, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Fri 5 Oct 

With #MeToo, are we really united, sisters, or at each other’s throats with fingernails at the ready? Ex-political adviser and regular pundit on Sky, BBC, CNN and LBC, Ayesha Hazarika takes look at feminism and where we stand now.


MUSIC: The Magic Gang, O2 Academy, Oxford, Fri 5 Oct

These 4 amiable blokes from Brighton haven’t been on the music scene that long but are making a name for themselves with their lovelorn indie pop. Mr Muddy raved about them when he saw them last year (he’s fussy, I trust him) and they’re now making it onto the BBC playlists. Go check out a potential Next Big Thing.


EARLY HALLOWEEN: various locations, from Fri 5 Oct

Watch out for our Halloween special coming soon (*burns the midnight oil*) but if you want to get your spooky thrills before the big night, Fright Nights at Thorpe Park opens this Fri 5 Oct. Also this Friday, you can freak out in the Hell Fire Caves in Wycombe (considered one of the most haunted sites in the UK – the caves, not Wycombe!) on their candlelit ghost tour. Family-friendly farm and play centre Mead Open Farm transforms itself by night into The Howl for twelve nights from Sat 6 Oct of adult-only Halloween horror with 5 mazes, street food, live music and a bar. The Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios Great Hall is currently decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, as seen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Arts from now until 10 Nov.


DRINKS: The Gin to my Tonic Festival, Oxford Town Hall, Fri 5 – Sat 6 Oct

The gin revolution continues (hurrah) and there’s a new booze festival to celebrate it in town. Over 80 different gins from across the UK and beyond are ready to be tasted, including local brands TOAD (The Oxford Artisan Distillery), the Chalgrove Artisan Distillery with its OX range and the British Honey Company showcasing Honey Gin, Strawberry & Lavender Gin and English Raspberry & Honey Gin. Best book a taxi home.


FESTIVAL: Feast on the Farm, Peterley Manor Farm, Bucks, Sat 6 – Sun 7 Oct

Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar’s Sindhu team will be taking over The Yurt for Peterley Manor Farm’s Feast at the Farm Festival, 6 and 7 Oct in Prestwood, Great Missenden. Clearly a man who likes to keep busy, his pop-up restaurant combines the cuisines of the Sindhu and Hawkyns (Old Amersham) in the form of small plates and he’s hosting a supper club on the Friday evening of the festival weekend. Feast at the Farm looks like it’s notching up a gear this year too – three times the workshops (including how to photograph food for Instagram by @olie_eats, tutored English wine tastings, a new children’s mini ‘Feastival’, a new area called The Garden Pergola with a Seedlip botanical bar, Harrow & Hope bubbles bar and a Campfire Gin cocktail bar.


CULTURE: Henley Literary Festival, various locations in Henley, now until Sun 7 Oct

We’re really excited to be part of this year’s festival and there are a gazillion highights – Kate Humble talks about her new book Thinking On My Feet, Cathy Newman on Bloody Brilliant Women, Bryony Gordon on Eat, Drink, Run (following in the same venue after our salon so you can make a night of it), Kate Mosse on The Burning Chambers, Lucy Mangan on Bookworm and Rebecca Front on Impossible Things Before Bedtime. Plus, if you’re coming to the Muddy Lit Salon on Saturday night (7-8pm) we’ve snaffled a stellar panel of three dazzling writers  – Viv Groskop, award-winning comedian and author of The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons From Russian Literature, Farrah Storr, Cosmopolitan editor and author of The Discomfort Zone: How To Get What You Want By Living Fearlessly and Caroline O’ Donoghue, whose Promising Young Women is one of the most acclaimed debut novels of 2018.


FOOD: Apple Weekends, various Bucks/Oxon locations, Sat 6 and Sun 7 Oct

The humble apple – let’s celebrate it people!  There are tastings, pressings and family-friendly activities in a host of locations this weekend. I have a gazillion apples in my garden and am always half-tempted to press my own but why bother when you can choose from this little lot –

The National Trust’s Stowe (taste different varieties, watch pressing and buy juice), Cliveden’s Round Garden (sample local cider, taste the apples and join in apple-themed activities)Waterperry Gardens (there’s a craft and food fair and you can take the kids round the apple anagram game in the gardens), Langford Community Orchard in Bicester (apple pressing, willow weaving, a chance to make bird feeders, DIY face painting and rock painting) and Botley Community Orchard in Oxford (bring apples to press, take home juice and enjoy tea and cakes).

Oxford City Farm Festival is on Sat 6th where you can harvest pumpkins, buy honey and farm produce, meet farm animals, make apple juice (bring apples for pressing), and enjoy the food stalls and bar. Hope you all like apples!


FESTIVAL: Chilterns Heritage Festival, now until Sat 6 Oct, and Chilterns Walking Festival, Sat 6 Oct until Sat 21 Oct

In case you didn’t know, you either live in or very close to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. No, not Aylesbury rather the gorgeous Chilterns and for the first time there’s a festival to celebrate the diverse heritage of our region. The Chiltern Society has organised 25 special events and it’s into its last week. Catch a private tour round the house and gardens at Stonor or take in a talk by Oliver Cox, fellow at Oxford Uni, who’ll tell you all about the Chilterns’ historical significance and its rich heritage. Or there’s The Chiltern Walking Festival involving fifty walks with expert guides plus stories and fun activities right across the Chiltern region until Sat 21 Oct.


EXHIBITION: Yves Klein, Blenheim Palace, ends Sun 7 Oct

Yves Klein: Pure Pigment Installation courtesy of Blenheim Art Foundation

This solo exhibition of Klein’s work, the pioneering French artist who has inspired movements in conceptual art, minimalism and performance art, features over 50 artworks including paintings, sculptures and large-scale installations.. Klein is best known for the development of his own vivid ultramarine pigment, International Klein Blue (IKB), and this is your last chance to see so many works together by this visionary artist.


MUSIC: Sons of Pitches, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Sun 7 Oct Winners of the BBC’s Naked Choir in 2015, this beatboxing acapella ensemble have thrilled audiences with their vocal gymnastics. Their improvised songs, pop covers and original numbers are winning them legions of fans and now’s your change to catch them locally.


RUN: Bradenham Bolt, nr High Wycombe, Sun 7 Oct

Fancy a 10K run through our beautiful Chiltern countryside, taking in ancient beech woodland and chalk flower meadows? Er, course you do! This Sunday the Bradenham Estate opens its gates to runners (and their dogs) for a run that includes hills and obstacles with proceeds from the entrance fee (£17) going towards maintaining the woods and wildlife.


KIDS THEATRE: Hey Diddle, Diddle, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sun 7 Oct

An hilarious adventure filled with music and puppetry by acclaimed theatre company, Goblin. Based loosely around the famous nursery rhyme, there’s flying cows, jazzy cats and runaway crockery in a show with original songs and brilliant puppets that little ones will love.


FAMILY: Natural Play, Duck Decoy, Boarstall, now until Sun 4 Nov

One of the National Trust’s more unusual venues, the Boarstall Duck Decoy was once used to trap the famous Aylesbury ducks for the tables of smart restaurants. Now it’s a lovely place for a walk and there’s a new kids’ trail in the woodland with stepping logs, fallen trees to climb and a den building area. You can take your dog on a lead and, once the refurb has finished, take a walk around Boarstall Tower (pictured) too.


ART: Future Knowledge Exhibition, Modern Art Oxford, now until Sat 28 Oct

Hmm. Algae or something more sinister?! This exhibition explores climate change through creative presentations. It’s a truly international affair with an epic timeline stretching back 750 million years by American artist Rachel Susan, Eline McGeorge’s weaving works from Norway, and Brit Tania Kovats’ vast steel and salt sculptures, to name but a few. I’m liking the sound of Lucy Kimbell’s wallpaper that changes colour over time in response to air pollutants – might save a trip to Homebase.



FESTIVAL: Windsor Fringe Festival, various Windsor locations, now until Sat 6 Oct 

If you like your arts fresh out of the box, head to Windsor Fringe Festival – the second oldest fringe in the UK after Edinburgh. Expect an eclectic programme of comedy, music, drama, DJs, arts, gin tasting and more, plus the world reknowned International Windsor Fringe Award for New Drama Writing, sponsored by the legendary Kenneth Branagh.


ART: Frieze Art Fair, Regents Park, London, Fri 5 – Sun 7 Oct

Considered the world leading platform for contemporary and modern art, the Frieze Art Fair unites 160 of the world’s leading galleries. You can view and / or buy art from over 1000 contemporary artists, some emerging talent, others more established. Daily events include talks and performances plus there’s Frieze Sculpture and Frieze Masters (showcasing work from the ancient era and Old Masters) in Regent’s Park. If all this culture makes you hungry, there are loads of delish food pop-ups whilst you contemplate the art and what it’s all trying to say.


THEATRE: The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, Tues Oct 2 – Sun 30 Dec

Exciting news – there’s a theatre being opened in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Earth, a play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.


FOOD: London Restaurant Festival, various London locations, all month

London’s fantastic restaurant scene is in full celebration mode this month, with great value festival menus at loads of restaurants, plus foodie events like gastronomic weekends, tasting menus, restaurant-hopping tours, tasting menus with famous chefs, talks, films and art.


EXHIBITION: Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire, the Saatchi Gallery, London, now until Sun 13 Jan 2019

Turbulent Tumble Tumble by Clayton Brothers

In these troubling times, satire can provide some light relief and hold up a mirror to modern-day politics. This new exhibition explores how art and satire can question and commentate in a way that can diffuse situations. All sorts of media have been used, including photography, installations and more obviously caricatures, and what’s even better is it’s completely free (very helpful when in Chelsea flexing the credit card).


EXHIBTION: The Shape of Light, Tate Modern, now until Sun 14 Oct

Antony Cairns, LDN5_051 2017 © Courtesy of the artist Antony Cairns

Last couple of weeks to see this exhibition which chronicles 100 years of photography and abstract art. It explores the development of abstraction with photography from early pioneers to our 21st century digital innovators, with over 300 works by artists such as Man Ray and Jackson Pollock.



THEATRE: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Wycombe Swan, Tues 9 – Sat 13 Oct


Matthew Bourne’s menacing, witty and unique production of Swan Lake has won tons of awards and rightly so. It’s best known for the all male corps-de-ballet – unheard of in the ballet world before – but it’s an all-round winner even if you’re not a ballet fan.


TALK: Nigella Lawson, Oxford New Theatre, Mon 13 Nov

Chatting about her life in food, saucy Nigella Lawson is on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her first cook book, How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food. Nigella manages to make everyday cooking seem sexy and easy and here she talks about her love of food and what it means to be an author, cook and TV personality. Don’t miss the book signing after the performance too.


THEATRE: Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends, The Royal Albert Hall, Sat 1 Dec 

Tickets for Rob Lowe’s live show are bound to sell out fast (as they have in the States). Inspired by his memoirs of the same name and his previous book Love Life, Mr Lowe will spill the beans on a career from the Brat Pack to The West Wing to Parks and Rec and beyond. Apparently, he’s quite the raconteur with loads of witty anecdotes that touch on his career, fame, Hollywood, fatherhood and marriage.




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