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The 2019 Muddy Stilettos Awards

24th April - 22nd May 2019

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This month

April 2019

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH

THEATRE: In the Willows, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 9 Apr

Theatre’s going all hip hop- the West End may have Hamilton, but we have Metta Theatre’s production of In the Willows! Featuring Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe (Tracy Beaker) deaf street dancer Chris Fonseca (The Greatest Dancer), Seann Miley Moore (X Factor) and Matt Knight (Let It Shine), the classic Edwardian tale gets a revamp with Toad, Ratty and Badger spitting bars, backflipping and street dancing. Word.

oxfordplayhouse.com

 

OUT OF HIBERNATION 

A bumper crop of family days out to enjoy this month with loads of places opening up their doors for spring. The beautiful Broughton Castle(above) near Banbury, a moated and fortified manor house with a tearoom, opens again from Mon 1 Apr. It’s one of my favourite local castles – small enough to get around without boring young children, and there’s a lovely garden for them to bomb about in.

The National Trust’s Buscot Park near Faringdon opens its lovely landscaped grounds on Mon 1 Apr, with the house opening on Wed 3 Apr; Hellfire Caves, near High Wycombe, an underground network of tunnels and the infamous hangout of the high society Hell-Fire club also opens on Mon 1 Apr after essential maintenance (a quirky day out but a big no if you’re claustrophobic!). William Morris’s Cotswold retreat Kelmscott Manor in Glos, opens Wed 3 Apr with croquet and a new exhibition of artwork by former tenants Edward and Stephani Scott-Snell, plus over the border in Berks, Highclere Castle (of Downton Abbey fame) reopens on Sun 7 Apr.

 

LITERARY FESTIVALS

We love a good lit fest here at Muddy and the Oxford Literary Festival (until Sun 7 Apr) is a biggie – over 100 events with talks from leading authors and public figures all in fantastic settings including Sheldonian Theatre and Blackwell’s. Highlights this year include interviews with Strictly’s Darcy Bussell, Ranulph Fiennes and Michael Morpurgo. Other speakers announced include Jo Brand, journalist Kate Adie and Nobel Prize winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

Another one to check off the list is Chiplitfest, Thurs 25 – Sun 28. A lovely counterpoint to Oxford’s literary festival with great talks from 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: Activities at Wycombe Museum, Wycombe,  Fri 5 – Tues 23 Apr

For a relatively small venue, Wycombe’s heritage museum is pulling out all the stops for Easter with loads of activities going on across the two weeks, not forgetting the lovely big garden that’s great for exploring (fingers crossed for sunshine!) As well as your usual gg hunt, there are laser clay pigeon shooting sessions for kids 8+ (Sun 7 Apr), and a family stargazing event (Mon 8 Apr) with a talk about the moon followed by looking through telescopes with local astro experts. Other events include clay moulding (Tues 9 & Thurs 11), Easter crafts, (Tues 16 & Thurs 18), and a pop-up play village (Sat 13 Apr).

wycombemuseum.org.uk

 

 

EASTER EGG HUNTS 


Tis’ 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). Finally pretty much all the big National Trust sites in our ‘hood are taking part in the Cadbury Easter Egg hunt – find your closest site here.

 

TREE CLIMBING

As part of the National Trust’s “50 things to do before you’re 11 and 3/4″’s campaign, The Great Big Tree Climbing Company pitch up in the woodlands at Hughenden (Thurs 11, 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+

If trees aren’t your thing then Stonor Park, in Henley, has a pop up 4m climbing wall (Sat 6 – Mon 22 Apr) there’s also an Easter trail around the Wonder Woods. Stonor House opens Sundays from 7 Apr and Easter Monday.

 

EXHIBITION: Matilda at Thirty, 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 is also piling on the activities for the Easter period (Sat 6 – Mon 22). 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.

roalddahl.com

 

 

FARMYARD FUN

Cogges Manor Farm reopens for spring with your classic Easter trial and farmyard antics as well as some more unusual activities including drop-in cooking by campfire sessions (Tues 9, 16 Apr), and a family theatre performance of Treasure Island, (Thurs 11). On Wed 10, Cogges are also collaborating with Science Oxford on an egg drop challenge– how eggciting (sorry). Mead Open Farm also has loads of new things going on for Easter including an immersive Wizard of Oz walk-through experience (Mon 8 – Mon 22 Apr), Easter shows and new large Indoor Play area and Grain Store Kitchen Café.More farms good for a lo-fi, wholesome day out are Green Dragon Eco Farm in Bucks,  Thrift Farm, near Milton Keynes, Farmer Gowes near Faringdon and the Waterfowl Sanctuary near Banbury that’s celebrating its 30th birthday this Easter.

 

HISTORY: D-Day themed trail, Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, Tues 9 – 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).

bletchleypark.org.uk

 

MUSICAL: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Milton Keynes Theatre, Tues 9 – Sat 13 Apr

For his first ever starring role in a major musical, Union J’s Jaymi Hensley dons the technicolour dreamcoat as Joseph at MK Theatre; all the iconic tunes plus new choreography from Gary Lloyd (Thriller Live, Heathers). Tickets here

 

WORKSHOP: Survival School, The National Herb Centre, nr Banbury, Tues 9 Apr, Tues 16 Apr

Firelighting, shelter building, signalling, foraging for food? Um, you’ll find me in the nearest boutique hotel, but kids always love this sort of thing once you can tear them away from the iPads and get them outside. The workshop runs from 10am to 4pm (don’t forget a packed lunch) and is taught by Outdoor Specialist Simon Birbeck, aka Banbury’s answer to Bear Grylls. Suitable for ages 8-14 years, booking essential.

herbcentre.co.uk

 

KIDS: Nick Sharratt’s Right Royal Drawalong, Roxburgh Hall, Stowe, Wed 10 Apr

Illustrator and children’s author Nick Sharratt, of Tracy Beaker fame, hosts a drawalong to celebrate his latest book Nice Work for the Cat and the King (hence the royal theme). He’ll be giving a tutorial on how to draw his most iconic characters as well as unicorns, dragons and other fantastic creatures. The show lasts for 75 minutes, bring pens, pencils, paper and something to lean on.

stowe.co.uk

 

EASTER PANTOS (YEP, THEY’RE A THING)

Pantos are just for Christmas you say? Oh no they’re not! Wycombe Swan put on a panto with the same team every Easter – this year it’s Peter Pan starring ’80s comic Bobby Davro, Dani Harmer (Tracy Beaker, Strictly) and Lloyd Warbey (Disney’s  Art Attack), Wed 10 Apr. Over in Oxon, TaleGate Theatre Productions are performing The Little Mermaid at the Beacon, Wantage, complete with pop songs, magic and puppets, Fri 12 Apr.

 

KIDS: Star Seekers, Cornerstone, Didcot, Wed 10 Apr

Fresh from a run at the National Theatre, The Wardrobe Theatre company perform Star Seekers, an interactive show exploring the galaxy through songs and silliness. It’s only an hour so great for little ones with short attention spans. Suitable for 3-8 years.

cornerstone-arts.org

 

SUPPER CLUB: Smoke & Thyme, Tap Social Movement, Botley, Thurs 11 April – Sat 13 Apr

Young chef/blogger and supper club aficionado Jack Greenall pops up in Botley with Smoke & Thyme. On the menu? Fried chicken, sliders and ale brewed onsite in Tap Social. Veggie and vegan options available.

smokeandthyme.com

 

FESTIVAL: Outburst Festival, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, Thurs 11 – Sat 13 Apr

Organised by Oxford Brookes University Outburst Festival, now in its eighth year, this showcases new research from across the university in a variety of activities and workshops, exhibits, events and discussion for all ages. Highlights for families include tai chi and kung fu lessons, comic book making and an interactive story telling event with local children’s authors Adam & Charlotte Guillain. There’s also street food, music, augmented reality (ooh!) and face painting. The festival is held in Muddy favourite, Pegasus Theatre.

pegasustheatre.org.uk

 

MUSIC: Heather Small, Wycombe Swan, Fri 12 Apr

The giant-lunged, double BRIT Award-winner, star of a cameo turn in Miranda and M People frontwoman performs at Wycombe Swan on the third date of her UK tour. And seriously, doesn’t she still look A-Maz-Ing?

wycombeswan.co.uk

 

KIDS: Dinosaur World Live, Oxford Playhouse, Fri 12 Apr 

Kids can explore uncharted territories and discover a prehistoric world of (remarkably life-like) dinosaurs at this interactive show. You’ll meet a host of impressive creatures, from Triceratops to every child’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus rex.

oxfordplayhouse.com

 

FESTIVAL: Alchymy Festival, The North Wall Theatre, Oxford, Fri 12 Apr – Sun 14 Apr 

The North Wall’s annual festival celebrates young actors with performances developed by its ArtsLab (that runs residential workshops and projects for artists aged 18-25). Top picks this year include the festival launch (12 Apr); Call Me Fury, a bold exploration of womanhood through the Witch Trials (13 – 14 Apr); Hotter, a dance show about all things sweaty and sexy (13 Apr); plus an ongoing programme of panel discussions on Brexit, comedy and theatre.

Full programme here.

 

TALK: WillNE and Stephen Tries live, New Theatre Oxford, Sat 13 Apr

This will definitely get you in the good books with vlogging-obsessed tweens and teens. YouTube personalities WillNE and Stephen Tries stop off at the New Theatre on their UK tour – the duo have over three million subscribers and over 355 million views on their channels. For bonus points, you can buy a VIP package which includes a meet and greet and gift for £30.

Tickets here.

 

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.

oxfordplayhouse.com

 

TOUR: Twilight rooftop tour, Stowe House, Sun 14, 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 view across the stunning landscaped gardens. Booking essential.

stowe.co.uk

 

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.

carinahaslamart.com

 

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!

waddesdon.org.uk

 

THEATRE: American Idiot, Milton Keynes Theatre, Tues 23 – Sat 27 Apr 

Like Green Day? Love musicals? If so, American Idiot is a dead cert. The double Tony award winning show returns to mark its 10th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of the Grammy Award winning original album. Luke Friend (X-Factor), Tom Milner (The Voice, Waterloo Road) and newcomer Sam Lavery star.

Tickets here.

 

SUPPER CLUBS

Book that babysitter ASAP – supper club aficionados Native Feasts pop up in the vintage greenhouse at Peterley Manor Farm with five course menus all made with local spring produce for two nights. On the menu for April is wild garlic cracked spelt risotto (yum), pressed shoulder of Oxfordshire lamb (double yum), rhubarb and ginger fool and more. There’ll also be a pop-up bar serving artisanal tipple in the form of an English wine list, seasonal cocktails and soft drinks. For something a little spicier, try Durban Spice supper club, based in Wheatley, Oxfordshire- the menu is revealed on the night but you can expect a five course seasonal menu of fragrant and authentic South African food made with top quality local produce. BYOB, Fri 5, Sat 6, Fri 12 Apr. More spring supper clubs here.

 

COMEDY: Gerrards Cross Comedy Evening, The Memorial Centre, Gerrards Cross, Fri 26 Apr  

Gerrards Cross Community Association host their popular annual comedy evening for the seventh year, bringing top quality LOLs to the area. Supplying the laughs this year are music journalist turned comedian JoJo Smith; Bennett Arron, a regular on the Brit comedy circuit; Alun Cochrane, whose creds include Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Have I Got News For You and 8 Out Of 10 Cats.

gxca.org.uk

 

COMEDY: Dara O’Briain, Aylesbury Waterside, Fri 26 Apr 

DO’B is ubiquitous in British comedy and has some mega TV creds including hosting Mock The Week, Star Gazing Live and Robot Wars. His stand-up The Voice of Reason covers all sorts from midlife hypochondria, fame and tech- top-notch intelligent comedy on offer here so grab a ticket before it sells out.

atgtickets.com

 

HISTORY: Bradwell Windmill, Milton Keynes, Sun 28 Apr

Perhaps MK’s most distinctive landmark (although that new MK gallery might just give it a run for its money) the Mill will have a rare public opening this month as well as a few more select dates over spring and summer. You can even see the Mill in action as a huge £160,000 refurb has just been completed to make the heritage site watertight and spinning again.

miltonkeynesmuseum.org.uk

 

RACE: Duck Race, River Ock, Faringdon, Sun 28 Apr 

Held on River Ock in Phoebe Woods, Faringdon Rotary Club’s annual Duck Race is some high stakes competition. Hundreds of yellow rubber ducks fight to the death to be crowned champion, with all proceeds going to The Air Ambulance and Be Free Young Carers. You can buy your own duck to race from the rotary club on 13, 14, 20. 27 and 28 Apr, plus you can snaffle £300 if you win.

milletsfarmcentre.com

 

WALK: The Great British Dog Walk, Henley on Thames, Sun 28 Apr 

This is a great way to get you, your family and your pooch out into the spring air, while raising funds for the charity Hearing Dogs For Deaf People. It takes in a 4km family route or an 7k scenic one around the stunning Culden Faw private estate, where you might just spot deer or wallabies. There are also various stalls, activities and refreshments. It’s £10 for an advance adult ticket, with children under the age of 16 free, and a free doggie bandanna to jazz up Rover.

hearingdogs.org.uk

 

THEATRE: Madagascar – The Musical, New Theatre Oxford, Tues 30 Apr –  Sat 4 May

Photo by Scott Rylander

Based on the smash hit DreamWorks movie, Madagascar – The Musical follows Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo and a troupe of pesky penguins as they escape from Central Park Zoo – a guaranteed hit with the kids (and grown ups for that matter).

Tickets here.

 

GO PUNTING 

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 (opening up soon), 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.

 

DAFFODIL DAYS 

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: 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.

rrm.co.uk

 

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

The Young Turner: Ambitions in Architecture and the Art of Perspective takes place 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.

blenheimpalace.com

 

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

Koons’ new print

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.

ashmolean.org

 

FURTHER AFIELD

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.

museumoflondon.org.uk

 

EXHIBITION: Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum, London,  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.

 

EXHIBITION: Warner Bros. Studios, Herts, from Sat 6 Apr 

Just when you think the Harry Potter hype is finally over, Warner Bros figure out another way to get us through the door. On Sat 6 Apr, the studios unveil their biggest expansion to date, Gringotts Wizarding Bank full of with crystal chandeliers, original film props and, er, a gallery of goblins. The new set will be a permanent addition to the tour.

wbstudiotour.co.uk

 

KIDS: Legoland, Windsor 

Kids rejoice! Legoland reopened last month and is launching its new ride this Easter, on Sat 13 April,  called The Haunted House Monster Party. Man of the house Lord Vampyre, Mummy and Monster Rocker will also be there for photos.

They’re also running themed holiday workshops at its brand spanking new pop-up iLab in Paddington where kids can become mini engineers for the three day sessions. The Wonders of the World camp runs Mon  8 – Wed 10 Apr whilst Planes, Trains and Automobiles runs Mon  8 – Wed 10 Apr and Mon 15 – Wed  17 Apr.

legoland.co.uk

 

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.

zsl.org

 

KIDS: The Falconers Quest & Horrible Histories Maze, Warwick Castle, from Sat 6 Apr 

It’s a jam-packed Easter over at Warwick Castle with the brand new Falconer’s Quest – the biggest birds of prey show in the UK, with 70 majestic birds taking to the skies and doing all sorts of aerial acrobatics. Plus the world’s largest siege machine fires twice a day in a brand new show as well as the first Horrible Histories adventure maze featuring fun challenges, Terrible Tudors, Vicious Vikings,  Storming’  Normals and more.

warwick-castle.com

 

THEATRE: Southbank Centre, London, Sat 6 – Mon 22 Apr 

Free fun by the bucketful if you’re heading to London this Easter with music from Camp Bestival regulars Dizney Rascal, cool folk singer London Rhymes and comedy theatre group Mrs H and the Sing-Along Band. Paid events include giant musical sandpits, an immersive colourful performance called Kaleidoscope and the brilliant Tabby McTat (Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler) Freckle Productions, the team behind Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales and Zog.

 

RACE: Oxford vs Cambridge boat race, London, Sun 7 Apr

Ahhh, I do love a bit of healthy competition –  Cambridge, you’re going down! The iconic boat race kicks off at the rather random time of 2.13pm for the women, followed by the men’s race at 3.10pm. Grab a G&T and a spot on the Thames riverbank between Putney and Mortlake to see the action live.

theboatrace.org

 

INTERIORS: Ideal Home show, Olympia London, until Sun 7 Apr

The whopper Ideal Home Show rocks up at Olympia London with hundreds of free talks, 600 companies and the latest tech. This year the theme is Best of British so expect loads of UK companies. Does anyone else feel a splurge coming on?

 

FESTIVAL: BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, London, Fri 12 – Sun 14 Apr 

Forget trashy telly (Love Island I’m looking at you), there are some mega Brit TV celebs attending this. The British Film Institute and Radio Times team up for the largest television festival in the UK with talks from the likes of Joanna Lumley, Jamie Oliver, Big Narstie (ask your teens), Suranne Jones and Dame Helen Mirren. You’ll also get an insight into what goes on behind the silver screen with The Bodyguard creator Jed Mercurio (we couldn’t get enough of this in Muddy HQ), Derry Girls doyenne Lisa McGee and more, as well as loads of showings from the BFI archives. There’s a young adult programme too (for 16 – 25 year olds) all at £5, including a Q&A with the cast of BBC 3’s university drama Clique. Full programme here.

 

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.

tate.org.uk

 

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.

vam.ac.uk

 

BOOK NOW

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.

thelittlewelly.co.uk

 

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.

chilterns-live.co.uk

 

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.

 

ALREADY GONE THIS MONTH…

COMEDY: Ed Gamble, Kenton Theatre, Henley, Fri 5 Apr 

Super posh and pretty darn funny, Ed Gamble has been a fixture on our TV screens for a few years now with guest appearances on Mock of the WeekDrunk History and Comedy Central Roast Battle. He stops off in Henley on his latest stand-up tour Blizzard.

kentontheatre.co.uk

 

THEATRE: Glengarry Glen Ross, Milton Keynes Theatre, Mon 1 Apr

Coffee is for closers! I saw this revival of David Mamet’s Olivier and Pulitzer prize-winning play/movie  during its sell-out run in the West End last year and it was fast, furious and great fun. No sexy ol’ Christian Slater out here in the ‘shires (boo!) but it does star Mark Benton (Waterloo Road) and Nigel “son of Dirty Den” Harman). Who’d have thought a drama about estate agents could be so compelling? Tickets here.

 

THEATRE: Heart of Darkness, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Thurs 4 Apr – Sat 6 Apr 

Joseph Conrad’s seminal novel about lies, greed and the lust for power gets a modern makeover at Dicot’s arts hub by digital theatre maker Imitating the Dog. Video, projections and graphic images are fused with live performance in this bold new production.

cornerstone-arts.org

 

SHOW: No Such Thing As A Fish, New Theatre Oxford, Fri 5 Apr 

The team behind multiple award-winning podcast No Such Thing As A Fish (it’s QI’s funniest writers huddled round a microphone) come to Oxford on their spring tour. The show features a performance of a live, unedited podcast as well as a brand new first half where the team discuss the bizarre things they’ve come across since their last tour which includes, er, octopus genitals- you’ll have to watch to find out what that’s about. Tickets here.

 

DRINK: Gin & Fizz Festival, Henley Rugby Club, Sat 6 Apr

This is right up our street – music, booze and muscly men running around in tiny rugby shorts (it’s Henley Hawks vs Guernsey Raiders, but the rugby bit isn’t compulsory). This free event will have 19 stalls and 10 local tipple suppliers serving up the goods including Henley-based Mr Hobbs Gin and Fairmile Vineyard, plus Oxford Artisan Distillery and Puddingstone Distillery from just over the border in Tring. There’ll also be food and live jazz. More info here.

 

SUPPER CLUB: Stargazing Dinner, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 6 Apr 

A starry night. Wycombe Astronomical Society host a star gazing supper club at Waddesdon (Sat 6 Apr) with a two course meal with wine in the Manor, a talk in the Powerhouse and stargazing on the Parterre. The best bit? No kids allowed.  Tickets here.

 

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Bucks & Oxon