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This week

MON 11 - SUN 17 JUNE 2018

Absolutely loads of great stuff happening this week. Ready to play?


THEATRE: Matilda, Milton Keynes Theatre, Tues 12 June – Sat 30 June

Be quickity quick and grab some tickets for this wonderful show whilst it tours around the UK. A touching and joyous story of loneliness and rebellion, it deserves all 85 and counting of its international awards. Writer Dennis Kelly and composer / lyricist Tim Minchin go to top of the class with their interpretation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale. Don’t miss it!


ARTS & CULTURE: Buckingham Literary Festival, Buckingham, Thurs 14 – Sun 17 June

The big literary fests are all very well but there’s definitely a place for smaller, more locally minded ones. Smaller doesn’t mean B list guests for Bucks Literary Festival – Chris Patten in conversation with John Bercow; Antonia Fraser, historical novelist extraordinaire; Frederick Forsyth of Day of the Jackal fame, Tim Bentinck who plays David Archer on behind the scenes of the iconic radio drama and many more. There’s even a Twitter workshop if you’re struggling to know your tweets from your handles from your hashtags.


MUSIC: Chenies Manor Jazz Evening, Chenies, Bucks, Thurs 14 June

The Carina Haslam Art gallery in Great Missenden is hosting a jazz evening at the stunning Chenies Manor where you’ll be able to enjoy floral paintings and garden sculptures from Carina’s gallery in the gorgeous grounds with cocktail in hand and jazz in the background. Haslam is a Muddy award winner and although this is an invitation only affair, you can get on the guest list by emailing Carina at You’re most welcome!


MUSIC: David Byrne, America Utopia Tour, Oxford New Theatre, Thurs 14 June

David Byrne brings his peculiar talented self to Oxford as part of his American Utopia Tour, plugging his latest album which came out in March as well as performing classics from his Talking Heads days and solo career. He’s being joined on stage by a twelve-piece band so sounds like he’s pulling out all the stops for a seriously muso night.

New Theatre Oxford


MUSIC: Julian Nicholas with the Spin Trio, The Spin Club, Oxford, Thurs 14 June

Part of the critically acclaimed Loose Tubes in the 90s and co-founder of the Brighton Jazz Festival, saxophonist Julian Nicholas has spent the last 2 decades at the forefront of jazz. Expect an exuberant and contemporary jazz from the wonderfully grungy Spin Jazz Club, hidden in the top floor of the Wheatsheaf pub on Oxford’s High St.


THEATRE: Giffords Circus, Blenheim Palace 11 June, Oxford University Parks, Thurs 14 June

gifford Circus workers in red jackets outside big tent

Giffords Circus is celebrating 250 years since the birth of the big top with its new summer show My Beautiful Circus. This year there’s a new handmade tent with plush red velvet seats – no more achey bum cheeks from the wooden benches! As well as the regulars such as the Cuban acrobats, Nell on horseback and Tweedy the clown, I’m liking the sound of the Russian dachshunds and a talking turkey (could be a useful skill come Christmas). Plus on June 21 at Oxford Uni Parks you can question Nell Gifford herself at a special Q&A after the show.


MUSIC: Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Thurs 14 June and Sat 16 June

Noel Gallagher at Blenheim Palace? What would Liam say? This well-established refined live music night has a line up including Noel in his High Flying Birds incarnation, plus Nile Rodgers and Chic and Elvis Costello (headlining on different nights).With the stunning backdrop of the Great Court, one thing is certain – the mosh pit will be very civilised.


MUSIC, ART, & COMEDY: Gap Festival, Goring & Streatley, 14 – 17 June

Mica Paris

Take a peek at this 4 days of fabulousness combining live music, comedy, art workshops, talks and family activities (highlights of which include Chamberhouse Winds performing Peter & the Wolf and the Hobgoblin Children’s theatre). Love an antique? Bring along a small heirloom for Eric Knowles from the Antiques Roadshow to evaluate. Listen to Val McDermid talk about her life writing crime, or watch soul queen Mica Paris take to the stage in the Festival Marquee. If you can’t wait till then, check out the fringe festival from Sat Jun 9 to Wed Jun 13 – think live music in local pubs, art workshops, kids’ drama club and a Wind in the Willows day at Withymead Nature Reserve. Lots of these are free or a snip at £5.


EVENT: Oxford Green Week, Fri 16 – Sun 24 June

child watering plants

A rebel without a cause? We’ll here’s one for you – join in a county-wide festival to inspire people to take action against climate change. Lots of events under the banner of Oxford Green Week and many are free. How about a walk in Uni Oxford Parks with a choice of 3 treasure trails (and chance to enter a prize draw for a Frog bike) or a Teddy Bears Picnic on Meadow Farm (Bicester) Want something more low key? Head to OxGrow Community Garden in Whitehouse Road for family garden art and games. Want more? On Wed 20 June you can see a screening of the film Albatross by Chris Jordan at the Shulman Auditorium, Queen’s College, highlighting the plight of our planet in the face of so much plastic waste. Suitably inspired you can pop along on Thursday for a free workshop on how to reduce your plastic waste at the Common Ground Coffee shop (Little Clarendon Street) or take part in a foraging workshop on Sat 23 June, meeting outside Oxford Brookes Sports Centre. After a 2 – 3 hour walk you get to eat a wild food lunch (£20), some of which you will have picked yourself (note to self – pack a sandwich).


SPORT: Abbey Meadow Swimming Pool Opens, Abingdon, Sat 16 June, 1pm

I’m digging out my floral swimming hat and one piece for the welcome return of Abingdon’s popular outdoor pool after a whopping £1.3million refurbishment. There’s a gentle beach-style sloping walk-in area for little ones and those with disabilities plus refurbed changing areas so the whole experience is bound to be far more pleasant. It opens at 10 am for viewing (er, how long does that take?!) and swimming from 1pm. Pray for sunshine!


FOOD: Waddesdon Feast, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 16 – Sun 17 June

Waddesdon feast

Nosh up! The Waddesdon Manor Feast Weekend returns with its celebration of food, drink and performance in prime position at the front of the Manor. There’s a huge decorated outdoor dining table running the length of the North Avenue for picnics or trying the 70 handpicked artisan food and wine stalls, but the bit that really lifts it from just another foodie event is the performances –  from comedy gardeners, a mechanical elephant and short sighted celebrity crazed photographers to street bands, acrobats and a life-sized interactive game zone. Plenty for adults and kids so a deffo for the weekend. Entrance to Feast is £5 with a grounds ticket (£17 for adults, £8.50 for children) and as it’s understandably a popular event, best get booking now!


FILM: Peterley Manor Farm, Father’s Day Film & Food Night, Fri 15 – Sat 16 June

firefly outdoor cinema

Wondering what the hell to do for a Father’s Day treat? Peasy – take him to Top Gun at Great Missenden’s lovely Peterley Manor Farm so he can watch the fighter planes while you ogle a young Tom Cruise in his pretty aviators. Billed as a Father’s Day special, expect local street food, café goodies, straw bales, blankets and fire pits on Sat 16 June. Other films on offer are Hot Fuzz (Fri 15 June) or the family-friendly The Greatest Showman (Sat 21 July) where there’ll be tractor and trailer rides round the farm, giant games, pop-up food, drinks, and a sweet shop in the mini yurt.


FAMILY: Stonor Park Food Festival, Sat 16  – Sun 17 June

The beautiful grounds at Stonor will be groaning with food and drink stalls over the Father’s Day weekend (dads go free before midday on the Saturday) for the first ever Stonor Food Festival. Keep dad happy with the crafts beers and BBQ plus there’s talks, tastings and demos along with the large selection of local and specialist produce. Guests include the doyen of cookery, Mary Berry, and the Bake Off finalist Steven Carter-Bailey. Tickets are £10 for adults and £6.50 for kids (under 2s go free) and include entrance to the house, gardens and Wonder Woods Adventure playground.


SPORT: Marlow Town Regatta, Marlow, Oxon, Sat 16 – Sun 17 June

Back to Marlow we go for a weekend of eyeing up the muscle, I mean messing about on the river, with competitive rowing on the Saturday and family fun with the Dragon Boat Festival, live entertainment, and food and drink and craft stalls on the Sunday. Pass the Pimms!


FESTIVAL: Flofest, followed by Glofest, Florence Park, Oxford, Sat 16 June

Hats off to this free community all day mini-fest for launching itself into the night under the banner of Glofest. Daytime delights include stories in the Story Museum tent, food stalls, dog show, Oxford Uni lectures, bouncy castle, climbing wall and live music all day. Hang around into the evening and your £5 entry (free for under 12s) gets you DJs, a climactic laser light show and more live music including local space-pop/psychedelic rock band, Flights of Helios, who are making a name for themselves with their unique sound.



MUSIC: Garsington Opera, Falstaff, Wolmsley Estate, Sat 16 June

garsington exterior night

The bucolic Wormsley Estate is the setting every year for a spot of warbling of the highest form. You can arrive from 3.30pm to roam the grounds and take afternoon tea before the main event in the evening. Mozart’s much loved The Magic Flute kick starts the season (and goes through until July); Strauss’ final opera, Capriccio, runs throughout June; and from Sat 16 June until 22 July, Verdi’s comic opera Falstaff will be performed on various Saturdays. The food and drink at Garsington is top notch and thanks to the bus transfer service to and from High Wycombe station (no fights over who’s in the back row) you can indulge to your heart’s content.


ART: Modern Art Oxford, Life Drawing Workshop, Sat 16 – Sun 17 June

Get your muse on and join in the free life drawing workshops with clothed models (shame) on the opening weekend of A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, with graduate of the Ruskin School of Art, Mirren Kessling. No problemo if you’ve never drawn before as materials will be provided. The Slice through the World exhibition celebrates the drawing skills of a collection of artists in the digital age.


MUSIC: Jazz at The Abingdon Arms, Sun 17 June

A regular event on the third Sunday of each month, Oxford’s finest jazz musicians descend on this lively pub with fabulous garden overlooking the Otmoor Nature Reserve. Frank Harrison on keyboards, Mark Hodgson on bass and Mark Doffman on drums are jamming it up next.  Free entry – niiiiice!


EVENT: Father’s Day BBQ, Bletchley Park, Bucks, Sun 17 June

No dad dancing please at this Father’s Day event at Bletchley Park with BBQ, live music, dancing from JiveSwing and a specially crafted beer from The Concrete Cow Brewery, named Station X after Bletchley’s code name in the Second World War.


SPORT: Oxford Bike Week, until Mon June 18

group cyclists on road hills

Don your lycra for a week long celebration of cycling with various events taking place throughout Oxford and the surrounding countryside. It kicks off this weekend with the Big Green Day Out on Broad Street with loads of stalls (not all cycling related) and entertainment. On Sun 10, you can take a gentle ride with the Condors Newbies meeting outside Beeline Cycles on the Cowley Road at 9.45am or a longer ride to Bridewell Organic Gardens. Meet outside Costa in Summerton at 1.15 to head to the gardens for afternoon tea. All events are free so say pah to Oxford’s notoriously bad traffic and get on your bike.


FESTIVAL: Love Marlow Festival, Marlow, until Sun 17 June 

church spire boats ducks on river

The Love Marlow Festival has a list of events as long as your arm with the aim to ‘strengthen relationships, promote kindness, volunteering and fun’ – nice eh?  Fun stuff includes taster sessions of watersports at Longridge Activity Centre, Kids Fun Cycle, Princess and the Pinot Pop-up wine bar (my ears prick up) and Coopers Love Marlow afternoon music session. Marlow is gorgeous of course and there’s a great community spirit in the town so it’s definitely worth checking out.


ART: Bucks Arts Weeks, various locations, until Sun 24 June

Photo: Alexandra Buckle at Claydon Gallery

Didn’t get round to seeing any of Oxford Art Weeks? Naughty! Well, here’s your chance to redeem yourself with the launch of Bucks Art Weeks with exhibitions, events and artists’ studios open to the public. There’s the full range of artistic endeavours from linocuts (above), paintings, ceramics, jewellery, glassware, photography, textiles – and even paintings created on an iPad (check out Nancy Taylor in Naphill, High Wycombe). You can plan your visits on their website but I prefer the magical mystery tour approach and to stop off at random places when I see the sign. Being nosey and mooching around some lovely gardens and studios is half the fun.


EXHIBITION: Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, Weston Library, Oxford, 1 June – 28 Oct

The extensive archive of artefacts from the Lord of the Rings author are on display in the biggest Tolkien exhibition in a generation. Top attractions are parts of the manuscripts for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but there are also pieces of fan mail, private letters, maps, drawings and an interactive display on the Elvish language. A third of the 200 items have never been seen before so it’s a real thrill for all you superfans out there.



ART: Conserving Michelangelo, Christchurch Picture Gallery, Oxford, now until 18 June

Michelangelo sketch Christchurch gallery

Looking for serenity? A trip to the very special Christchurch Picture Gallery will soothe the soul and broaden the mind. The only college in Oxford or Cambridge to possess a unique collection of Old Masters is displaying a Michelangelo drawing from its vaults, recently restored by The Met in New York. The design for a facade on one side and sketches of angles and shadows on the reverse – it’s a beautiful piece of art history right there. The exhibition gives insight into how the restoration was done which is fascinating but take your time and view the whole stonking collection whilst you’re there. 



ART: RA Summer Exhibition, Piccadilly, London, opens Tues 12 June

It’s here! It’s the 250th year of the Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition and this year, Grayson Perry RA and his committee of fellow artists have handpicked over 1,300 artworks in an array of mediums. This is always great fun and this year it could look very different.

RA Summer Exhibition


ART: Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up, V&A, London, from Sat 16 June 

The iconic Mexican’s artist’s personal belongings were locked away by her husband when she died and are being exhibited outside Mexico for the first time. There are some beautifully embroidered clothes but more interesting are her cosmetics (no jokes about eyebrow tweezers please), swimsuit and brightly painted prosthetic leg (Kahlo suffered Polio as a child and had a deformed limb) in this intimate and fascinating exhibition.

V&A Museum


ART: Monet & Architecture Exhibiton, The National Gallery, now until 29 July

Never been done before, this awesome exhibition that’s got the critics in raptures, puts more than 75 of Monet’s paintings all together to look at his career through the buildings he painted and how he used them to create his compositions. Once you’re done, why not totter next door to the National Portrait Gallery? Loads to see there plus you can buy tickets for the Michael Jackson On the Wall exhibition examining the influence he’s had on contemporary artists which starts on June 28.


FESTIVAL: Summer by the River, London Bridge, from 1 June to 1 Sept

london bridge city summer outdoor

If you’re heading for the big smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital. Outdoor cinema, big screen sporting events like Wimbledon and Tour de France, comedy from the Edinburgh Fringe, workshops and quizzes. You can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.



THEATRE: Jersey Boys, Aylesbury Waterside, Tues 3 – Sat 14 July

the jersey boys

The West End phenomenon hits Aylesbury Waterside and Muddy can’t wait. The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons who came from the wrong side of New Jersey but rose to become one of the biggest bands on the planet has won a whopping 57 awards. The show’s packed full of their hits like Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back To You, and Big Girls Don’t Cry. Yeah, yeah, it’s not cool but these are classics, girlfriend, and you know you love ’em really.


THEATRE: Aidan Turner, in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward Theatre, London, 23 June

Fresh from his Cornish sojourn, Aidan Turner treads the boards with this revival of Martin McDonagh’s satire on terrorism. Set in Ireland in the early 1990s, the protagonist Padraic (a member of an IRA splinter group) ventures back to the island of Inishmore after discovering that his cat has been killed. Padraic’s penchant for violence is a long way from Aidan’s most well known role as Poldark (oh Ross!) and this is not for the fainthearted. Running until 8 September, there are over 200,000 tickets at just £10. Stampeeeeede!


EVENT: Chalke Valley Festival, Salisbury, 25 June – 1 July

If you and your kids love Horrible Histories, dressing up and a game of spot the celeb then book up for the Chalke Valley History Festival nr Salisbury in wiltshire. It is absolutely HUUUUUUGE! This 7 day summer jaunt is dedicated entirely to history in the UK, it’s set across 70 acres with enactments, sword school, a trench experience and more more more. It’s an awesome day out – A* in History almost guaranteed.



FOOD: Native Feasts and TAP Social Movement, Oxford, Tues 12 June

The Native Feasters bring out the tapas for their latest pop-up but instead of patatas bravas, tortilla and the like, they’re full of English summer bounty – asparagus, strawberries, rocket and peas, elderflower and gooseberry ice cream as well as Paddock Farm’s amazing sausages and hake from the Cornish seas. Mouth-wateringly tempting with a beer tail on arrival, tickets are only £25.  (THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT)


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