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This week

Mon 15 - Sun 21 April

Whether you’re still stuck with a couple of ankle biters, or they’ve flown the nest, Muddy has you all covered with This Week’s guide.



THEATRE: The Remains of the Day, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 16 – Sat 20 Apr

Don’t forget to pack your tissues for this one – written by 2017 Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day is a brilliant story about time, memory and loneliness set after WW2. Oxford Playhouse co-produces this world premiere stage production, adapted by up and coming Brit writer Barney Norris and starring Olivier Award winner Stephen Boxer and Niamh Cusack.



DANCE: BalletBoyz, Wycombe Swan, Tues 16 Apr 

Created by ex-Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, BalletBoyz have performed around the world, won several awards and also created many arts documentaries for telly including BalletBoyz I & II, Strictly Bolshoi and 40 short films for Channel 4’s Random Acts strand that’s dedicated to the arts. A first for BalletBoyz, this new show Them & Us has been created by the company’s in-house team, and set to a score by emerging composer Charlotte Harding.


TOUR: Twilight rooftop tour, Stowe House, Thurs 18, Fri 19 Apr

The finest view in England? You decide. Stowe’s popular twilight tours return with a climb up the cantilevered stone staircase to the rooftop, with views across the stunning landscaped gardens. Booking essential.



Even I’m partial to the odd pint when the sun comes out (although I’m soon back to G&Ts) and there are a couple of beer festivals happening in our ‘hood this week where you can get your fix of the golden nectar. In Oxford, The Chester is holding a beer and cider festival (Thurs 18 – Mon 22) with over 40 different beers over the five days as well as a hog roast and BBQ at the weekend. The Black Lion at Naphill, nr High Wycombe, hosts its 5th and final beer and gin fest (Fri 19 – Sun 21) with over 20 gins (rejoice!), 12 ales and live music.


EXHIBITION: Mixed Show, Carina Haslam Gallery, Great Missenden, Fri 19 Apr

If you’re contemplating buying some new art, the Carina Haslam Gallery is a great place to start. The Muddy Award winner and pro exhibitor (Carina Haslam Art exhibits work at the Saatchi Gallery and Affordable Art Fairs around the country) is holding a show of mixed artwork in its G Miss gallery.


AFTERNOON TEA: Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden, Mill Lane, Kirtlington, Oxon, Sat 20 – Sun 21 Apr

This is one of my favourite hidden spots and it wasn’t open last summer so I’m thrilled to hear that Jane and her amazing afternoon teas are back, back, back from April this year. It’s an utterly quirky setting, hidden away down a canal towpath so only accessible on foot or via narrowboat. More dates here.


DRINK: Spirit of Wine, Waddesdon Manor, Sun 21 Apr

Posh tipple in the form of a wine tasting from bottles in the Domaines Barons de Rothschild portfolio in the Wine Cellars below the Manor. Go steady, it’s a school night!


FILM: Illuminating the Wilderness, MK Gallery, until Sun 26 May 

Image by George Smith

This short 40 minute film production by Project Art Works, in Milton Keynes’ stunning new gallery, investigates a remote Scottish glen over several days and the community that lives there. The film, part of the gallery’s inaugural Lie of the Land exhibition, launches a new venture EXPLORERS 2019- a year of exhibitions and commissions that are the culmination of a three-year programme of workshops, seminars and installations focusing on diverse communities, artists and makers- interesting stuff.




Easter week is upon is and it’s officially the season for legitimately scoffing endless chocolate so here’s where to find it. Go posh with Blenheim Palace’s huge egg hunt around the grounds and pleasure gardens (19 – 22 Apr), there’s also interactive activities, princesses, clowns, stilt-walkers, bouncy castles, bungee trampolining and circus  skills – phew! The Easter Bunny will be at Millets Farm dishing out gifts along with a bunny hunt around the Garden Centre and decorate your own chocolate egg workshops (8 – 18 Apr), while Waterperry Gardens  (1 – 24 Apr) and Batsford Arboretum (6 – 22 Apr) are both offering a more lo-fi wooden bunny hunt. Then there’s Sudley Castle’s giant easter egg hunt in the garden (13 -22  Apr) and tiny chick hunt inside the venue (6 – 28 Apr); Highclere Castle’s egg trail and Easter Bonnet Parade through the Downton Abbey gardens and woodland in aid of The Murray Parish Trust (21 Apr); Westgate Oxford’s The Big Road Dinosaur Trail with six giant dinos hidden around the centre each with a fact about the prehistoric era- trail maps are found at the Info Desk and there’s a prize at the end if you find them all (6 – 22 Apr) and Waddesdon Manor hosts three spring trails, Wild Nature, Gorgeous Greeks and Cosmic Celts with activities around the gardens (6 – 18). Finally, pretty much all the big National Trust sites in our ‘hood, including Waddesdon (which has a dinosaur theme) and Grey’s Court, are taking part in the Cadbury Easter Egg hunt – find your closest site here.



As part of the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 and 3/4 campaign, The Great Big Tree Climbing Company pitch up in the woodlands at Hughenden (Thurs 18) and Cliveden (Wed 17, Thurs 18, Fri 19). With expert help, kids can safely scale the trees with ropes, harnesses and helmets and even zip line to the forest floor at Cliveden- rather them climbing trees than the walls, right? Suitable for age 6+


EXHIBITION: Samurai, Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury, until Sat 13 July 

This brand new exhibit at Bucks County Museum, in Aylesbury’s old quarter, is promising some awesome artefacts from ancient Japanese Samurai armour to ornate helmets and swords- it looks like a goodie.


EXHIBITION: Matilda at 30, Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden, until Sun 2 Jun 

To celebrate Matilda’s 30th birthday, the Lower Babbling Room has a mini exhibition of eight new drawings by Roald Dahl’s illustrator Quentin Blake, each showing a different version of a grown-up Matilda. The museum in G Miss is also piling on the activities to keep the ankle biters entertained over the Easter break. Kids can make crazy glasses and kaleidoscopes at Matilda’s Phizz-whizzing Eye Tricks workshop (try saying that after a couple of gins), mould their own villainous Miss Trunchbull out of clay, learn about opposites at Miss Honey’s Science School and more. Tickets here


TRAIL: Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, until Mon 22 Apr

For brain-boxes aged 5 – 14, the top-secret heritage spot host a D Day themed trail based on the interlocking stories of a soldier, a commander, a codebreaker and an evacuee on the homefront. Expect clues, codebreaking, crafts and challenges. Activities run on Tues, Wed and Thurs and even over the Easter weekend (just in case you need to drag ’em away from the chocolate for a few hours).


TRAINS: Thomas the Tank Engine, Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Fri 19 – Mon 22 Apr 

life size thomas tank engine train

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, kids can meet the big blue guy, his friends and The Fat Controller at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre (Fri 19 – Mon 22 Apr), with hop on rides, activities and stories throughout the day. Or head to Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway for tea on a steam or vintage diesel train and Chick Hunt on the platform (Sat 20 Apr). Trains run at 9.30am, 11am, 12.15pm, 13.35pm, 15pm and 16.30pm.



EXHIBITION: An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & the Thames, River & Rowing Museum, until Sun 14 July

I have great memories of taking my family to William Morris’s house in Gloucestershire and having them all sit outside glumly for an hour proclaiming it the most boring thing ever while I drooled over the textiles and furniture. Ah, happy days! Anyway, this exhibition focuses on how the Thames influenced Morris’ work. He had a rural retreat in Oxfordshire, where he loved to boat and fish, ergo the influence of the river in his textiles and designs. Pieces have been collated from the V&A, The William Morris Gallery and the British Library to make this exhibition possible and it also delves into Morris personal life and his politics.


EXHIBITION: Turner, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until Mon 22 Apr

It’s your last chance to see The Young Turner: Ambitions in Architecture and the Art of Perspective  in Blenheim’s Gallery with works from The Ashmolean, The Tate and private collections. The exhibition celebrates some of his earliest commissions and shows his progress in depicting architecture and perspective in drawings, paintings and engravings from the 1780s – 1810s. You can also see one of Turner’s sketchbooks and some diagrams from a lecture he gave to the Royal Academy on perspective, which have rarely been exhibited before.


EXHIBITION: Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, Oxford, until Sun 9 Jun 

Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean

Spanning Koons’ entire career and showcasing seventeen works, most of which have never been shown in the UK before, the show will include his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings. To celebrate the Ashmolean’s exhibit, Koons has created a brand new limited edition print (oooh exclusive!), experimenting with different arty techniques, which you can buy, signed and dated, from the museum.



Punting season is upon us and fingers crossed the sunshine follows. All the local punt spots are now opening for business, central Oxford has Magdalen Bridge or Folly Bridge , but if you want to escape the crowds and grab a posh lunch while you’re at it, head to Cherwell Boat House– it’s all very civilised until you fall or crash into the river bank.



Waddesdon’s gardens

Say goodbye to snowdrops and a big hello to daffodils that are springing up everywhere. New for 2019 Cliveden present their new programme The Gilded Gardens, inspired by the 24 carat gilded golden gates on the Sounding chamber and thousands of daffodils that grow across the estate- this year the gardening team have added a further 57 varieties to the existing 20 so there grounds really will be carpeted in canary, until Tues 30 April. Head to the Water Garden and Blenheim Pavilion for the best of ‘em. Stowe will also be brimming with the yellow bloomer, along with other pretty spring foliage. Or head to Waddesdon who’ve named a whole patch of the grounds after the flower, Daffodil Valley.



EXHIBITION: Beasts of London, Museum of London, Fri 5 – Sun 5 Jan 

This looks amazing- a fully immersive, digital installation (here’s a sneak preview) exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the animals, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London. There are some major British celebs involved too, with Kate Moss, Brian Blessed, Pam Ferris, Joe Pasquale and more voicing the beasts.


EXHIBITION: Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum, London,  from Sat 6 Apr

This is going to be awesome! The iconic 1960s designer and the mother of  miniskirts, Mary Quant, gets her own exhibit at the V&A with over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive. Tickets here.


KIDS: Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Beds, Sat 6 Apr – Sun 2 Jun 

More Lego! New for Easter, Whipsnade Zoo introduces its Brick Safari- there’ll be loads of LEGO brick beasts and animals around the mammoth zoo (it’s the biggest in the UK doncha know) made from over one million bricks, as well as hands-on family activities. Included in entry price.


EXHIBITION: Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain, London, until Tues 27 Aug

This new major exhibition will be the first to explore the artist’s relationship with Britain and the literature, art and culture that inspired his work. Over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery, London. There’ll also be work by British artist  who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg.


EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, until Sun 14 July

This exhibition, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, has been HUGE- it is sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am (from the Grand Entrance) and it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibit by purchasing a membership for the V&A (plus you get loads of added extras like sneak previews, a magazine subscription and access to the members room). Tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him, it’s based on the a Parisian exhibition but with a new section exploring Dior’s fascination with British culture. A highlight is the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.



LIT FEST: Chiplitfest, Chipping Norton, Thurs 25 – Sun 28 Apr 

Chiplitfest (Thurs 25 – Sun 28) kicks off next week with great talks including journalist Kate Spicer (The Sunday Times, Red, The Pool), author of Sunfall Jim Al-Khalil and Kate Williams, author of Rival Queens. Loads of workshops to get stuck into across the weekend as well. Chippy has a great programme for kids too with talks from Andy Stanton of the award-winning Mr Gum series and Paralympian Ade Adepitan. Jo Brand pops up again too.


KIDS: The Little Welly obstacle course and festival, Henley, Sat 8 –  Sun 9 June 

This is all about getting Muddy so we are IN! A 3km hop, skip, jump and dash through 30 challenges, taking in streams, trails, mud and woodland The Little Welly’s obstacle course is the largest  in the UK for kids. There’s also an accompanying festival with – deep breath – kart racing, rope climbing, circus skills workshops, live music, helter skelter, laser tag, climbing wall, pony rides and loads of family activities. I think it’s such a fantastic idea – get them away from screens, into the fresh air and doing some exercise.


FESTIVAL: Chilterns Live, Pendley Meadow, Tring, Sat 29 June

guitar grass summer

Oooh, new and shiny! There’s a brand new festival near our ‘hood! Chilterns Live will be popping up in Tring with a stellar pop line-up of Busted (this got a few squeals in Muddy HQ), Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling.


TALK: Margaret Atwood, New Theatre Oxford, Wed 30 Oct

To celebrate the launch of her new book The Testaments, a sequel to the totally brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale (which I am very excited to get my mitts on), author Margaret Atwood is going on a live tour- an evening of conversation, exclusive readings and special guests. She’s only touring for eight dates in the UK and our ‘hood is super lucky to secure a spot, so get booking if you fancy it as no doubt  it will be a sell out. The tour follows the book launch on Tues 10 Sept where Margaret will be speaking at the National Theatre- the talk will be screened to 1,000 cinemas worldwide with loads of Bucks & Oxon cinemas taking part. Find your nearest screening here.

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