MON 28 MAY - SUN 3 JUNE 2018
Larks In Transit, Bill Bailey, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Wed 30 – Thurs 31 May
From the Far East to Aylesbury, Bill Bailey’s hilarious observations of 2 decades as a travelling comedian with music, storytelling and banter has kept audiences from Vietnam to Shanghai in stitches and now its Aylesbury’s turn. Find out what happened when Muddy met Bill.
Sarah Raven at Bix Manor, Henley, Tues 29 – Wed 30 May
The stunning venue of Bix Manor provides the back drop to Sarah Raven’s flower and veg growing masterclasses. I buy rather than grow most of my flowers but I like the idea of learning more about arrangements for parties and everyday displays that don’t just involve plonking them in a vase. Sarah Raven is the superduperpuper expert gardener, cook, author and Gardener’s World presenter so she knows, as Hemingway might have said, her roses from her onions. The first one-day course is all about flowers, and the second focuses on growing and eating veg with some suggestions for new dishes for those of us feeling uninspired by our daily menus (*puts up hand resignedly*).
The Leander Club Exhibition, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, 23 May – 16 July
Fit men (and women) alert! The new exhibition at the delightful River & Rowing celebrates the Leander Club which was founded in 1818 in London but is now located by Henley Bridge. With 124 Olympic and 3 Paralympic medals, it’s the most successful Olympic sports club IN THE WORLD!
Alexander McCall Smith, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Westgate, Oxford, Wed 30 May
If you’re a fan of Mma Precious Ramotswe and her No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (and who isn’t?), then hotfoot it down to Blackwell’s in the Westgate Centre for an evening (7-8pm) to celebrate twenty years of this warm and witty series with the author himself, Alexander McCall Smith. Apparently, he’s quite the raconteur plus he’ll be signing books. Post culture fix, the roof terrace’s bars and restaurants would be my next port of call…
Colourscape, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 26 May – Sun 3rd June
For the fourth year in a row, the spectacular Colourscape returns to Waddesdon with 56 interlinked chambers for the trippiest experience outside of Glastonbury. There’s a new structure to fit the Aviary glade with long views of intense colour and light plus music and dance performances inside the larger spaces. To be honest, the performances are a bit bonkers but you can easily whizz off down another bouncy tunnel if they’re just too, erm, ethnic, for you. Obviously, it’s great for kids too so although the queues are often daunting, persevere as it’s one of the most unusual experiences around.
Also at Waddesdon from Fri 25 May until 21 Oct is an exclusive exhibition by Michael Eden:Form & Transform. Formerly a potter, Eden has taken pieces from the Waddesdon collection and transformed them using the latest digital techniques, including 3D printing, to create unique new works of art. Having seen previous exhibitions in Waddesdon’s stables using technology and objects from the estate, I think this will be a fascinating reinterpretation of history. Free with grounds admission so you can marvel at the art before heading to the adventure playground.
Garsington Opera, Wormsley Estate, Stokenchurch, Thurs 31 May – Sun 22 July
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 with Strauss’ final opera, Capriccio, running throughout June. To help you understand what is going on (given that it’s sung in German but don’t panic, there are supertitles) you can attend a pre-performance talk before Sun 3 June’s show at 4.30pm. 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.
JdP Music Building, Kreutzer Quartet, Sat 2 June
This purpose built concert hall hosts the Kreutzer Quartet from 7.30pm as they present music and readings which explore the significance of music to the Bloomsbury set, particularly Virginia Woolf. Bach Fugues, Mozart, Beethoven – with a new work by Jeremy Thurlow inspired by Woolf’s Orlando – will be preceded by an introduction to the life and work of Virginia Woolf by award-winning biographer, Senior Research Fellow Dr Lyndall Gordon. A seriously high brow evening (yes Muddy does do those sometimes).
Love Marlow Festival, Marlow, Bucks, Fri 1 – Sun 17 June
Yes, we do love Marlow. The river, the restaurants, the shops, it’s certainly a happening town that Muddy likes to frequent. 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’. A wee bit earnest with leanings on the religious side but I reckon there’s something for everyone here. A Young Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition (entries by midnight on June 10 please), 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 sesh to name but a few. Have to admire their community spirit so if you’re in town, peruse their website and join in the fun.
English Wine Week, Various locations, Sat 26 May – Sun 3 June
If you fancy a local tipple, now’s your opportunity to discover the movers and shakers in the English wine industry with a week of wine tastings. We are blessed in our beautiful Bucks/Oxon with quite a few award-winning vineyards where you can book a tour, learn about viticulture, sample the wines and buy bottles to enjoy at home. Harrow and Hope in Marlow, Bothy Vineyard in Abingdon, Chafor Vineyard in Gawcott, Chiltern Valley in Hambledon, and Daws Hill in Radnage are all now open for tours and tastings (the latter by appointment only). If you’re not convinced about English wine you could surprise yourself at Roast Restaurant in Borough Market, London (where 26% of the white wine on their menu is English). On Mon 28 and Tues 29 May you can take part in a blind tasting with food and wines from Europe with prizes up for grabs. Bottoms up!
Pop-up Party at the Oxford Artisan Distillery with Native Feasts, Oxford, Sat 2 June
The Feasty Boys’ (see what I did there?) first ever pop-up party at The Oxford Artisan Distillery, AKA TOAD which is set at the top of Oxford’s South Park. Expect live music, TOAD cocktail bar, Native toasties and cheese / charcuterie plates, local ice cream, craft beer and artisan wine. Starting at 5pm to hopefully party in the sunshine, then move on in to the threshing barn when dark.
Jericho Street Fair, Canal Street, Oxford, Sat 9 June
Oxford’s trendy suburb is having its own mini festival with two music stages, stalls, bouncy castle and sumo wrestling for kids. With loads of lovely independent shops, cafes and restaurants it’s a great place to just hang out and soak up the atmosphere.
Woughton House Hotel launch, Milton Keynes, Fri 1 June
If you’re looking to stay in something more luxurious and boutique-y than Milton Keynes currently offers, then check out this hotel in the village of Woughton-On-Green, just 3 miles outside MK and launching on 1 June. It is owned by Sofitel but its attractive country house and acres of parkland, lakes and orchards gives the impression of something less chain-y and more individual.
Decor-Architectural, Fawley Hill, Henley, Fri 1 – Sun 3 June
This year in addition to the usual salvage dealers, experts on Decorative Antiques and Textiles will be selling their wares, including some familiar faces from The Antiques Roadshow. Children’s entertainment, food and drink stalls, vintage cars, military vehicles and traction engines and with the Fawley Hill Steam railway open, there’s enough to keep the whole family happy.
Stratton Audley Festival, Sat 2 June
This bi-annual music, beer and food festival is free to all with over 30 food and drink stalls, live music and kids’ entertainment in the manor grounds. Pig roast, tea and cakes, burgers and bangers, bouncy castle and face-painting plus a brass band all adds up to a thoroughly English day out. More tea, vicar?
Bloodwise Triathlon, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Sat 2 June
Right, my beach body regime starts today – a swim in the Great Lake, a cycle round the Capability Brown gardens, and a run starting at the Queen’s Pool all in aid of Bloodwise, the UK’s largest blood cancer charity. Plus food, drinks and spectators galore make this an ever popular event in the triathlon calendar.
World Pooh Sticks Championships 2018, Langel Common, Witney, Sun 3 June
The perfect way to end half term, grab a stick and head to the 35th anniversary World Pooh Sticks Championships where you can compete against players of all ages from all over the world, in teams or solo. They’ll be music, games and refreshments with Cogges Manor Farm just down the road also open for family activities.
Oxford Festival of the Arts, various venues throughout Oxford, Sat 23 June – Sat 7 July
Two weeks of cultural immersion with performances, workshops and talks around theatre, literature, art, film and music, as well as dance and sport with the theme of Journeys. Try your hand at traditional Chinese dancing, give rowing a go, have a laugh at the Cambridge Footlights, do a steel band workshop, join actress Emilia Fox in conversation with screenwriter Tim Prager, the list goes on. The aim is to celebrate the diversity of Oxford’s community and offer something for all backgrounds, abilities and tastes.
Mamma Mia, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Tues 26 – Sat 30 June
The eighth longest-running West End show finally hits our very own Aylesbury Waterside and with the theatre’s beautifully designed spacious interior, there’s no excuse not to get up and dance to the numerous Abba classics and shimmy your way into a feel good mood which should last all week.
Joan Jonas, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, 31 May
With all the talk of the pollution of our oceans , this timely four day programme sees the artist Joan Jonas preside over live drawing, readings and film projections exploring the poetic and ecological aspects of ocean life. If you don’t understand what the hell’s going, just walk purposefully around the Turbine Hall looking intelligent. It works for me every time.
Peter Pan, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London, Thurs 17 May – Fri 15 June
The Open Air Theatre in Regents Park is such a magical venue and swooping in this summer is this reinvention of the Peter Pan story told through the lens of the First World War. Remembering a generation of Lost Boys, it’s promising swashbuckling and puppetry and Captain Hook played by Benedict Cumberbatch in incredibly tight leather trousers. (disclaimer: one bit of this sentence was made up).