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This weekend

FRI 28 - SUN 29 SEP 2018

THEATRE: Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art, Oxford Playhouse, Mon 24 – Sat 29 Sep

As one of our finest playwrights, Alan Bennett is renowned for his wit and sharp character observations of  us Britons, done with warmth and compassion. Here he explores friendship, rivalry and heartache through a meeting between the poet WH Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten, and how their creativity impacted on them. This is the first revival of this brilliantly clever play since it was first staged at The National Theatre and with Matthew Kelly, David Yelland and Veronica Roberts in its strong cast and Phillip Franks directing, it should be a winner.


FESTIVAL: Chilterns Heritage Festival, now until Sat 6 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 which include an Iron Age weekend at Wendover Woods (where families will have the opportunity to meet the Iron Age inhabitants of Boddington Hillfort, and help them with their everyday jobs like grinding grain, making butter and cooking stew), pop-up cinema screenings at the National History Museum in Tring and the Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe, a Roald Dahl guided trail and afternoon tea in Great Missenden, an afternoon at the Wormsley Estate owned by the famous Getty family and history walks around some of the area’s market towns including Berkhamsted and High Wycombe. That little lot should keep you busy. If you’ve always meant to visit some local attractions but never got round to it now’s your chance.


THEATRE: The Fishermen, North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, Wed 26 – Fri 28 Sep

Based on the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel by Chigozie Obiama, award-winning playwright Gbolahan Obisesan has adapted this powerful story set in Nigeria of 2 brothers setting off to fish at a forbidden river. Director Jack McNamara has received much praise from the critics for this production, and its setting and strong performances will whisk you away from Oxford to Africa for a couple of hours of compelling theatre.


FOOD & DRINK: Native Feasts, Feast in the Greenhouse, Peterley Manor Farm, Fri 28 – Sat 29 Sep 

The Native Feasters are popping up at Peterley’s new greenhouse venue, The Herb House, for two supper clubs ahead of their Feast On The Farm festival in early Oct. A vegetarian 5 course meal consisting of delicious seasonal and locally-sourced scrumptiousness (cooked by Michelin-starred chef Chris Godfrey and hosted by mixologist extraordinaire Greg Jones) awaits plus a bar selling artisan wines and seasonal cocktails. Wrap your lips around a butternut fritter with capers, tamarind dahl, caramelised onion and fig tart, wild mushroom ragu and pear and lime cake. Don’t mind if I do, thank you very much.


MUSIC: Uprising, BBC Music Introducing, 02 Academy, Oxford, Fri 28 Sep

This regular night showcasing new music talent returns to the O2. This week it’s the turn of Cameron A.G.,OMYO, Rosie Samaras, Waterfools, and Zerowe to show us what they’ve got. You never know, you might be witnessing the birth of the next big thing in music so grab a drink and I’ll see you in the mosh pit.


THEATRE: Graham Norton in Conversation, Old Town Hall, Wycombe Swan, Fri 28 Sep

Plugging his second novel The Keeper (his debut Holding was a Sunday Times bestseller), Graham pops up in High Wycombe to talk about his book – a tale of secrets and ill-fated loves – followed by a Q&A. Let’s face it, the opportunity to ask Graham some nosey questions is the draw rather than the free signed copy of his book but we’ll humour you, Graham.


FAMILY FUN: Natural Play, Duck Decoy, Boarstall, Fri 28 Sep – Sun 4 Nov

One of the National Trust’s more unusual venue, the Boarstall Duck Decoy was used in days gone by to trap the famous Aylesbury ducks for the tables of smart restaurants. Now it’s a pleasant 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 while away an hour having fun in the woods.


CULTURE: Henley Literary Festival, various locations in Henley, Sat 29 Sep – Sun 7 Oct

We’re really excited to be part of this year’s festival as there is so much uber literary-ness going on but before we tell you about the Muddy literary salon, we should also mention a few other highlights, although in all honesty there are too many to mention. But here we go – 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, we’ve snaffled a stellar panel of three dazzling writers for our salon – 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, writer for The Pool whose Promising Young Women is one of the most acclaimed debut novels of 2018. The festival is now one of the biggest in the UK and well worth a visit to this chichi riverside town.


MUSIC: Jazz at St Giles, Oxford, Sat 29 Sep

A whole series of concerts (8 in total) are taking place at St Giles Church, helping to raise funds for The St Giles Academy of Music which trains young musicians. This week the Chris Ingham Quartet play tribute to Dudley Moore. Famous for his comedy act with Peter Cook and staring roles in Hollywood moves, Dudley’s talent as a jazz pianist and composer has often been overlooked. The Chris Ingham Quartet are a talented bunch themselves, often selling out at Ronnie Scott’s, and here they play tribute to the music of Dudley Moore.


GARDENING: Babylon Plants Open Day, Cuxham, Sat 29 Sep

Usually just open to the trade, the brilliant Babylon Plants and Flowers nursery is opening its doors to the general public for the day. Wholesale prices, expert advice and more cake than even Prue Leith can handle. 10.30-4.30pm. Babylon Plants, The Stables, Chestnut Farm, Cuxham, Watlington, Oxon,


FAMILY FUN: The Marvellous Picnic, Great Missenden Abbey, Bucks, Sat 29 Sep

George marvellous medicine illustration

Enjoy loads of family-friendly activities and a yummy picnic in the grounds of Missenden Abbey, all in aid of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity. Activities include story-telling, puppets, bouncy castle, face painting, cake bake off, bouncy castle, acapella choir and, if you’re in need of a pick-me-up after that lot, a Pimm’s Bar, thank you very much.


MUSIC: Fidelio Trio, Hollywell Music Room, Oxford, Sat 29 Sep

Shortlisted for the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, the Fidelio Trio perform the widest possible range of repertoire on concert stages across the world. They are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio and featured on Sky Arts documentaries and you can hear their enchanting sound in Oxford this Saturday. Piano, violin and cello players extraordinaire, this is a great opportunity to catch this talented trio locally.


FOOD & DRINK: Thame Food Festival, Thame, Oxon, Sat 29 – 30 Sep

The Thame Food Festival has expanded its waistline over the last few years, having totally outgrown the centre of town. Last year was its first at the Thame Showground with the advantage of loads of free parking, a free shuttle bus from the town centre and no fear of being trampled and parted from your loved ones whilst trying to sample an organic sausage on a stick. Guests this year include Raymond Blanc (obvs or should I say bien sur), Chris Wheeler (the award-winning Ginger Chef from Stoke Park), Martha Collison of Bake Off fame and reality TV combo of Matt Evers and Candice Brown who were partners on Skating on Ice after Candice won Bake Off (keep up!). Demos, cook-offs, interviews, loads of stalls groaning with delicious produce and loads of kids activities makes this a jolly weekend event for all the family.


MUSIC: Doric String Quartet, Windmill Hill, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 29 Sep

This talented four have played at Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall and are making their debut at the stunning Windmill Hill venue with a programme of Haydn, Britten and Schubert. If you love classical music and want sublime surroundings in which to immerse yourself, this one is for you.


CULTURE: Cliveden Literary Festival, Cliveden House, Sat 29 – Sun 30 Sep

cliveden statue house

For a small festival, this sure punches above its weight. Famous names this year include historian Kate Williams, actress Ruth Wilson, broadcaster June Sarpong, author Professor Simon Schama, MP Priti Patel, psychologist Tanya Byron and barrister/former PM wife Cherie Blair. With the sumptuous hotel as the backdrop, this promises to be a fabulous affair.


COMEDY: Tom Allen, Absolutely, Oxford Playhouse, Sun 30 Sep

Tickets are selling fast for the acerbic wit of Tom Allen, regular on Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Radio 4’s Just a Minute and more. He tells great stories, playing up his camp credentials, and his show has been a sell out around the country so grab a ticket whilst you still can.


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

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.



SPORT: Half Marathon, Blenheim Palace, Oxford, Sun 30 Sep

Blenheim Palace outside nature lake trees blue sky building

Well it’s not quite a marathon (thank god) but it’s still a sizeable puff around the bucolic Capability Brown grounds of Blenheim Palace. It’s essentially a family fun day in aid of the British Heart Foundation with 10k and 2K options also available so if you’re a horrifically lapsed exerciser like me this could be the kickstart to your fitness you’ve been looking for.



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.


THEATRE: Antony & Cleopatra, National Theatre, London, now until Wed 19 Jan 2019

Super thesps Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, star in Shakespeare’s tale of ill-fated lovers in war torn Ancient Rome and Egypt. With celebrated director Simon Goodwin in charge (who even took a trip to Egypt to consider how the country might differ in our imaginations from that of Shakespeare’s day) and award-winning designer Hildegard Bechtler, it’s shaping up to be a special theatrical event.


CULTURE: Conquer the Tower, Windsor Castle, until 30 Sep

To the tower! On this occasion you’ll keep your head. The iconic Round Tower dominates the Windsor skyline, and now you can take the 200 steps (wheeze… one too many ice creams this summer) to check out the epic view from the top. While the Queen’s holidaying in Balmoral, poke around her gaff and see St George’s Chapel, Long Walk, Windsor Great Park and the London skyline.


THEATRE: Pinter at The Pinter, London, now until 23 Feb 2019

Never before have all twenty of Pinter’s short plays been performed together in one season.  To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pinter’s death, this gathering of stellar actors (many of whom worked with Pinter) looks like a humdinger. Famous names include Martin Freeman, Jane Horrocks, Tamsin Greig, David Suchet, Sir Anthony Sher, Mark Rylance, John Simm, Penelope Wilton and – alright, love – Danny Dyer! And if that’s not enough, they’ll even be some surprise guest stars. This is gonna be big, people, so get booking. Bonus: one act plays mean you’ll still have some evening left for dinner and drinkies in the Big Smoke


EXHIBITION: Dark Arts, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios, Watford, Fri 28 Sep – Sat 10 Nov

Back by popular demand, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios will be decorated the Great Hall 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 – wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels as well as filmmaking snot, blood and drool. Er, nice!


EXHIBTION: Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire, the Saatchi Gallery, London, Fri 28 Sep – 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).


UNIQLO Tate Lates, Tate Modern, London, Fri 28 Sep

Totally groovacious after hours event at Tate Modern on the last Friday of every month, with a mix of art, music, film and workshops. Yours from 6-10pm and absolutely free.


THEATRE: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Tues 9 – Sat 13 Oct, and Evita, Tues 23 – 27 Oct, Wycombe Swan

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

Tickets for Rob Lowe’s live show go on sale this Friday and 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.


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.


THEATRE: Evita, Wycombe Swan, Tues 23 – Sat 27 Oct

After a smash hit run in London, Bill Kenwright’s production of Rice and Webber’s classic Evitapromises to captivate the provinces with its story of Eva’s rise to power at a time of political unrest, leading her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people. With top West End stars including Lucy O’Bryne and Mike Sterling, it’s been doing the rounds to critical acclaim so get booking tickets now.

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