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This week

MON 12 - SUN 18 MAR 2018

New openings alert!

Grab your elasticated trousers, we’re eating! So many brilliant places to eat around here but our appetite for the new never ends, so if you’re looking for a change, there are several new eateries to tantalise the tastebuds. Down to Henley first where Coppa Club has just opened in the town centre – already a fantastic Coppa Club just over the border in Sonning and several in London, this one in Henley is by the cinema so perfect for a little drop in prior to its official launch on Monday.

And there are two more openings at that gorgeous roof top terrace at the Westgate. First up Mowgli – which has already been a success in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham and is opening its first eaterie in Oxford . It’s all about Indian street food – smash and grab zing of healthy, light herbs and spices. And then there’s Salt ’n’ Sauce – a fast casual offering focused loosely around the British chippy but there’s nothing greasy about this place – it has two restaurants in Fitzrolvia and Soho and gets rave reviews in London.


Christy McCormick exhibition, Jam Factory, Oxford, 13 March – 23 April

This buzzy, boho central Oxford restaurant/bar has an admirably arty bent, hosting life drawing glasses, craft sessions and using the walls as its airy dining room as a gallery for upcoming artists. Their newest exhibition caught our eye – Christy McCormick is a London College of Fashion-trained illustrator who has previously designed prints for Alexander McQueen. This new project sees her focus on the feminine body as a work of art in itself. Go have a gander, and grab yourself a tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner while you’re there.


Flight of the Conchords, Milton Keynes Theatre, 13 – 15 Mar

flight of the conchords twopence band holding old musical instruments grey background

Credit: Sub Pop

It’s business time! This rare UK tour from the hilariously hapless New Zealand comedy/musical duo, Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, sold out in a millisecond so you’ll need to beg, borrow or steal a ticket to catch the lo-fi Kiwi crew as they roll into Milton Keynes. But will their dogged manager Murray be present to take the register at the beginning of the show?


Book Signing with Lauren Child, The Story Museum, Oxford, 17 Mar

Isn’t everyone a bit in love with superclever, super funny Lauren Child? Come and meet best selling author of Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and countless others as she drops into The Story Musuem café and shop ahead of her evening event here as part of the Oxford Literary Festival.


Cogges Manor Farm Opening Weekend, Sat 17 – 18 Mar, Witney

stone wall hall flagstone floor sunflowers

We are massive fans of Cogges here at Muddy. Opening this weekend for 2018, the farm has a Spring programme of sweet, family-oriented events from feeding the animals to cooking demonstrations in the manor house.


Oxford Literary Festival, various venues around Oxford, 17-25 Mar 

One of the big beast literary events, the 22nd FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival packs some real beef, boasting over 100 events where you can meet leading authors and public figures from children’s laureate Lauren Childs to one of my favourite authors, Boyd Tonkin. But seriously  the list of alumni goes on and on, and all in magnificent settings, from the Sheldonian theatre to various colleges and onto the Blackwell’s Marquee


Wedding Showcase, Stonor Park, Henley 17 Mar

Put a ring sparkly enough on my finger I’ll say yes to anyone (just joking Mr M). Wedding showcases seem to pop up everywhere in Oxfordshire – clearly we’re a romantic bunch – and The Stonor Park Wedding Showcase is sure to be particularly lovely with a beautiful marquee on the lawns at the front of the house and fully decorated for a Stonor wedding, 11am-3pm.


Earth Trust Lambing Weekend, Little Wittenham, 17 & 18 Mar 

The Earth Trust’s annual lambing weekends looks like kiddie-heaven. Go behind the scenes of a working farm, visiting new spring lambs, with bale climbing, tractor rides and food on offer at Poem Tree Cafe (including, er, lamb burgers – I’m not kidding!). Don’t forget your wellies.


Suggs – What A King Cnut: A Life In The Realm of Madness, Aylesbury Waterside, 13 Mar

Just double-checking we’ve spelt the name of this show correctly before I continue – naughty Suggs! The Madness frontman is a perennially genial raconteur and he comes to Aylesbury not to sing about his baggy trousers but rather talk about his life, in this new one-man show (the follow up to the well-received My Life Story). And veteran popstars have all the best stories, believe me. Here he talks about nearly ruining the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics and watching his underpants fall to earth on David Bowie’s driveway among other titbits.


Highway Rat Activity Trail, Wendover Woods , 17 & 18 Mar

Following the roaring success of the Gruffalo forest trail, The Highway Rat is the latest Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book to be brought to life in Wendover Woods. Follow the panels and complete activities as you head on a journey with the beloved characters from the story.


Katherine Ryan: Glitter Room, Milton  Keynes Theatre, 17 Mar

The hotshot Canadian comedian has been tearing up panel shows such as Have I Got News For You and 8 Out of 10 Cats (and there’s nothing token about this woman, let me tell you), as well as presenting/writing the fantastic Channel 4 documentary series about mad millionaires, How Did You Get So Rich? (if you missed it, it’s worth tracking it down). You get the impression that she’s about to go supernova so catch her in our ‘hood while you can. She’s coming to MK Theatre’s intriguingly named Glitter Room this month – I don’t know what that is but I want to be in it.


Day Out with Thomas, Didcot Railway Centre, 17 & 18 Mar

I’m always slightly puzzled by the enduring appeal of Thomas, though my oldest son would probably still choose ‘Episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine 2002 – 2007′ as his specialist subject on Mastermind.  Anyway, your children or grandchildren can meet Thomas and his friends and The Fat Controller at Didcot, hop on rides all day, listen to story readings from 11am, and then watch some balloon modeling and clowning.


Michelangelo, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 6 Mar – 2 Apr

Nice earring! And, er, the drawing’s not bad either. Your chance to explore a remarkable group of drawings by Michelangelo, recently returned from New York where they were a central feature of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They’re only on show for four weeks so don’t miss your chance.


Coffee Concerts, Holywell Music Room, Oxford, 18 Mar

I’m always mentioning them in the hope that someone will try them out! I have very fond memories of sitting with my lovely dad, giggling through one of these concerts when the music turned out a bit more experimental and screechy than we were expecting. No such problems for you though – the Marmen Sring Quartet plays Schubert and Beethoven on the Sun 11 and the brillaint Fionacci Sequence Piano Trio let rip with some more Schubert and Tchaikovsky on Sun 18. As always head to The Vaults for a free coffee with every ticket to shake away Saturday night’s hangover.


Barbara Hepworth: Finding Form, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, 9 Feb – 3 June

I love Barbara Hepworth’s work – if you’re ever in St Ives, be sure to visit her gorgeous house/studio, with its striking sculptures dotted all around the pretty garden. So I’m very excited about this – and what a coup for Henley’s little museum. This retrospective covers the sculptor’s work from the 1930s to the 1960s, borrowing pieces from the Tate and National Portrait Gallery. A must-see.


Dancin’ Oxford, Various dates and venues in Oxford 

Dancin’ Oxford seems to have cranked up a gear – though it offers its festival every year, now there’s an ongoing programme of grooving, moving, locking and popping across the theatre space and public spaces in the city. This month choose from taster classes in Zumba, Charlston or African dance, watch Tango Moderno with Flavia and Vincent or Theatre ad Infinitum at The North Wall. Full listings here.


Alexandra Buckle Exhibit, The Stables at Claydon Estate Courtyard, Bucks  10 – 25 Mar

Alexandra buckle forest painting big tree

Bicester-based Alexandra Buckle is the first artist of 2018 to exhibit at The Stables in the beautiful Claydon Estate near Buckingham, and what a fab choice. Even better this is the linocut artist’s first major solo exhibition so snap up a classic while you can.


Paddington 2, Blue Door Cinema, Gt Missenden, 17 Mar

I love a community cinema and the passionate volunteers who run them, on a mission to import a dash of culture to our little villages and save us trekking to a soulless city Odeon. Great Missenden’s cinema is held in the memorial hall and they’ve made a smart booking with their Saturday matinee 3pm screening of Paddington 2. Despite being overlooked for any major awards, it’s now the most positively reviewed film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes and universally loved by critics. But most importantly, I’ve yet to find a child – or adult – who didn’t adore the newest adventures of the ridiculously cute Peruvian marmalade muncher. Watch out for Hugh Grant’s brilliant turn as a deeply theatrical baddie.


Justin’s Band, New Theatre Oxford, 3 Apr

Is this the most famous man in the UK? There can’t be a parent in the land who hasn’t weeped in gratitude to Justin Fletcher and his children’s TV shows over years. Fletcher is a dab hand at live performance too – he was in Reading over Christmas for the panto – and he’s rocking up at the New Theatre Oxford with a brand new show, Musical Adventure. Expect lots of singing and learning about musical instruments along the way, and possibly some requests to play the tuba. Tickets 



Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography, National Portrait Gallery, London, 1 Mar until 20 May

A major new exhibition brings together, for the first time, the works of four of the most celebrated figures in art photography, Lewis Carroll (1832–98), Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–79), Oscar Rejlander (1813–75) and Clementina Hawarden (1822-65). These four artists would come to embody the very best in photography of the Victorian era and have influenced photographers ever since. Featuring striking portraits of sitters such as Charles Darwin, Alice Liddell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Thomas Carlyle, George Frederick Watts, Ellen Terry and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.


Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, V&A, London, until 17 Jun

v and a museum ocean liners exhibit empress of Britain poster white ship

These days the nearest I get to ocean-faring is a packed P&O ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg but in the early 20th century travelling by sea was fabulously glamorous and romantic. The V&A’s major Spring exhibition, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style celebrates the golden age of the big boats, looking at their design and cultural impact. Exhibits include Goyard luggage once owned by the Duke of Windsor, 1920s bathing suits and a door panel from the first class lounge of the Titanic.

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