MON 23 - SUN 29 APRIL 2018
The Little Mermaid, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, Weds 25 April
I’ve seen Swan Lake a trillion times, but The Little Mermaid as a ballet is new to me. Not for long though – the brilliant Leicestershire-based Ballet Theatre UK comes to the Wycombe Swan for one night only in this dramatic interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy story. Tissues at the ready for the mermaid who gives up everything to win the love of a human Prince, making a tragic bargain with an evil Sea Witch in the process.
Chipping Norton Lit Fest, Thurs 26 – Sun 29 April
Loving the sound of this eclectic festival. Reggie Yates (a secret crush of mine – there, I’ve admitted it) and Gorky Paul rub shoulders with Terry Waite and Lionel Shriver in various venues throughout this elegant Cotswolds town in North Oxfordshire.
Sneaky supper club, Wytham Village Hall, Oxon, Fri 27 April
This popular supper club housed in groovy or unusual venues in and around Oxford, has its next soirée this Friday with a five course menu including miso roast cod and pink lamb rump with breast boulangere (with advance warning you can request vegetarian and other dietary requirements), all served up on sociable banquet tables. The emphasis is on exceptional food and a fun, relaxing evening that’s a little bit different from the norm. Tickets are a reasonable £42 per head.
Simon Callow, The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Sat 28 Apr
Simon Callow divides opinion with his OTT thespy-ness but I rather like his flamboyant approach to life. He narrates Fretwork: The World Encompassed, a sound journey charting Sir Francis Drake’s epic voyage in the grand surrounds of The Sheldonian Theatre. When Drake sailed from Plymouth in 1577, he took four viol players with him to entertain and play during worship. Little did they know they would also perform for native Americans. Composer, Orlando Gough, uses 16th century music to create a score following this epic journey, interwoven with narration by Simon Callow, a lifelong classical music fan whose full-bodied resonant voice will no doubt give an extra dimension to the piece.
Big Fish, Little Fish, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, Sat 28 April
Have kids, will party. Want to go raving but too knackered to dance for 6 hours and get home in the early hours? Big Fish, Little Fish’s bonkers afternoon raves for parents with under eights are part of Camp Bestival’s warm up tour. Balloons, bubbles, glitter, parachutes, face painting and arts and crafts accompanied by DJ Mark Archer (Altern 8) playing acid house, techno, hip hop, drum ‘n’ bass and house floor-fillers return to High Wycombe. Get your white gloves and whistles at the ready.
7k run Blenheim Palace, Oxford, Sun 29 April
Well it’s not quite a marathon (thank god) but 7k is still a sizeable puff around the bucolic Capability Brown grounds of Blenheim Palace. It’s essentially a family fun day with a separate race for under 15s and medals for all competitors, plus prizes for winners. There are still places available, so if you’re a horrifically lapsed exerciser like me this could be the kickstart to your fitness season.
Tractor Ted Live, Stonor Park, Sun 29 April
Parp parp! (or maybe vroom vroom – er, who actually knows what noise a tractor makes?). The UK’s favourite little green tractor will be making a star appearance at Stonor Park this weekend, along with a mobile farm for kids 1-7 years, and a giant Tractor Ted Bouncy Castle. You can book online for a 10% reduction btw.
Tulip Festival, Chenies Manor, Ricksmansworth, Sat 28 April
The stunning red brick Chenies Manor on the Bucks/Herts border is back with its annual celebration of the humble tulip with thousands of varieties in full bloom throughout the award-winning gardens. The Tudor house also brims with displays of tulips in beautiful arrangements. For those wanting to know more, many examples will be labelled and they’ll even be a member of the gardening team on hand to answer your questions on planting, colour combos and all other related tulip topics. I don’t know about you but I have a list as long as my arm (er, slight lie).
Musical Bingo at The Botanist, Marlow – Sunday 29 April
On the last Sunday of each month, this buzzy bar/bistro in Marlow offers bingo with a twist. No boring numbers here – Musical Bingo features live music rounds to replace legs eleven and all the fours, and there are prizes aplenty if you’re still standing by the end of the night.
Bluebell woods across Bucks / Oxon
Remember how cold it was at Easter? Thankfully our mini-heatwave has encouraged our numerous gorgeous bluebell woods to finally come out in force and are at their spectacular best. Take a look at my bluebell hotspots for the lowdown on the best places to go and enjoy this beautiful sight. We’ve already been around Greys Court and Nettlebed so far (recommended) but there are gazillions of other fantastic options across Bucks & Oxon too.
The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London, Tate Britain, London – until 7 May
Claude Monet Houses of Parliament, Sunset 1904. Kunstmuseen Krefeld
The likes of Monet, Pissarro and Tissot fled France in the 1870s following the Franco-Prussian war and this exhibition gives a fascinating insight into how these artists saw London. Leaving behind their own devastated country, they sought solace in the thriving art market across the Channel and made an indelible contribution to Britain’s art scene. The last chance to see all these paintings curated together and have a mooch around the books and posters accompanying the exhibition in the gift shop.
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Great Antique Vintage Car Boot Fair, Stonor Park, Sun 6 May
Looking for a vintage find? This upmarket car boot fair has been a massive hit for Stonor Park and it’s back in the gorgeous 850 year old surrounds again for May. You can celeb spot – last year Russell Brand, Pete Doherty and Mary Berry have all been spotted in previous years all on the rummage for a bargain – and you can make a day of it with the cafe, chapel and the Wonder Woods play area all open. A day’s fun right there.
An Officer & A Gentleman, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, Mon 7 – Sat 12 May
This is a movie etched forever on my brain – anyone else have happy teenage memories of Richard Gere in full navals (or maybe, er, half navals)? Like all films pre 1990 An Office & A Gentleman has now been judged ripe for a musical makeover, and this is its premiere season, having started last month in Leicester’s Curve theatre. The soundtrack includes the hit song from the movie Up Where We Belong along with Eighties anthems including Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Livin’ On A Prayer, Heart of Glass, Material Girl, and ‘The Final Countdown’. The Muddy fromage-ometer is riper than a blue cheese in the midday sun but pass those goddam crackers and fill up my wine glass, I’m grabbing my girl posse and GOING!
The Little Welly, Henley, Sat 9 – Sun 10 June
This one’s all about getting muddy, so naturally us Muddy crew are very much on board. The Little Welly organise summer children’s obstacle courses and festivals, in various locations in Oxon, Herts, Kent and Surrey. The 2018 dates local to us are 9 and 10 June in Henley.
The course is a 3km hop, skip, jump and dash through 30 challenges, taking in streams, trails, mud and woodland. If that doesn’t tire out the little blighters, what will?! Then there’s the accompanying festival with – deep breath – go-karting, live music, soft-play bus, helter skelter, zorbing, den building, climbing wall and pony rides. What more could you want? I think this is such a fantastic idea – get ‘em away from screens, into the fresh air and doing some exercise. And I quite fancy a pony ride myself.
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