MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
DRINKIES: Ashmolean Museum Pop-up Bar, Weds 4 – Mon 30 July
Whoo-hoo! For 3 weeks only, you can bask in the sunshine in a deck chair on the gorgeous Ashmolean roof top lawn and enjoy a drink or two (or if you’re me, three) from the summer pop-up bar. No need to dine, just wine! Or try the new Ashmolean gin before wobbling down the stairs to America’s Cool Modernism exhibition (ends July 22).
ARTS & CULTURE: Family Museum, Libraries and Gardens Trawl, Oxford, all month
Want to encourage your kids to visit all the great museums, libraries and gardens in Oxford this summer? If they’re of an age where stickers and prizes are enough to get them through the door then take part in this family campaign. Grab a passport from the information desk at The Ashmolean, Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers, Museum of the History of Science, Harcourt Arboretum, Bodleian Library or Botanic Garden and each time you visit get a sticker. Three stickers equals prizes equals happy kids equals smug parents.
THEATRE: Swallows & Amazons, Oxford University Parks, Mon 9 Jul – Sat 11 Aug
The marvellous Creation Theatre are at it again, bringing us imaginative theatre in every sort of location other than theatres. Originally performed in Bristol’s Old Vic, this adaptation of children’s classic Swallows & Amazons is being performed in Oxford University Parks. I’m sure Arthur Ransome would approve.
THEATRE: Birdsong, Oxford Playhouse, Mon 16 – Sat 21 Jul
This stunning novel by Sebastian Faulks set in World War I is on at the Oxford Playhouse in this 100 year anniversary of the end of the War. For all you superfans out there, Mr Faulks himself will be making a special cameo appearance on Wed and Thurs’ eve in the show. Five quid to the first one to spot him.
THEATRE: Globe Theatre Players at the Bodleian Library, Mon 16 – Sun 29 Jul
So my lovely luvvies, more Shakespeare and this time set in the awe-inspiring Old Schools Quadrangle at the Bodleian. In true Elizabethan style, a small group of actors (8 to be precise), juggling a variety of roles from their extensive repertoire, have left Shakespeare’s Globe in London and headed off on tour. Traditionally the choice of play performed was left to the most powerful person in the household. So, in a first for the Globe, the audience will get the chance to choose which of three plays they should perform: The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew or Twelfth Night. Sounds unmissable.
EVENT: Giffords Circus, Stonor Park, Henley, Oxon, Thurs 19 – Mon 23 Jul
Giffords Circus is celebrating 250 years since the birth of the big top with its new summer show My Beautiful Circus. This year there’s a new handmade tent with plush red velvet seats – no more achey bum cheeks from the wooden benches! As well as the regulars such as the Cuban acrobats, Nell on horseback and Tweedy the clown, I’m liking the sound of the Russian dachshunds and a talking turkey (could be a useful skill come Christmas).
EVENT: Anglo-Saxons & Vikings weekend, Ashmolean, Fri 20 – Sun 22 Jul
This annual free event is action packed with things to see and do. Make an Anglo-Saxon ring and dagger, watch stonemasons at work, see re-enactors parading around the museum and hear stories of warriors, gods and monsters. Plenty of original objects in the collection to bring the whole period to life, then a short hop and a skip to the terrace for a reviving drink. The following Fri 27 is the monthly Ashmolean After Hours event where you can wander the galleries with live music and talks, and then enjoy a drink or supper on the Rooftop.
FESTIVAL: Milton Keynes International Festival, Fri 20 – Sun 29 Jul
This ten day festival of international theatre, film, music, art installations and events is a whopper, there’s simply loads to see and do. While we revel in balmy evenings, I rather fancy checking out For The Birds at Linford Manor Park. Wander through the woodlands in the evening transformed by light and sound installations that celebrate birdsong, movement and flight. Or pop along to The Stables Speigeltent for comedy, caberet and music at its best and most intimate. Or whilst shopping in the MK Centre, marvel at The NoFit Circus and Motionhouse performers who combine circus and acrobatics on giant Jenga-like blocks. Hats off to Milton Keynes for hosting this cutting-edge event.
MUSIC: Battleproms Picnic Concert, Blenheim Palace, Sat 21 Jul
Another nostalgic tribute to the war, Blenheim’s classical proms from the sixty piece New English Concert Orchestra includes the unique experience of Beethoven’s Battle Symphony performed as he composed it – with 193 live firing Napoleonic cannons providing a thunderous percussion. They’ll be fireworks and prom finale favs like Jerusalem, Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory! as well as a Spitfire display, parachuting Red Devils and cavalry displays. Bring your own picnic, flag and patriotic zeal.
THEATRE: Brave New World, Westgate Centre, Oxford, until Sat 11 Aug
Aldous Huxley with your H&M? You’ve finished your shopping, had a drink and dined on the roof terrace, but still don’t want to leave Westgate. How about a trip to the theatre? With the brand new shopping centre as the backdrop to Creation Theatre’s version of Auldous Huxley’s Brave New World, this vision of future consumerism is scary, pertinent and thought-provoking.
FOOD: Native Feasts’ Japanese Pop up Restaurant, The College Farm, Long Crendon, Sat 21 – Sun 22 Jul
Native Feasts look east to the setting sun for their latest pop-up series at The College Farm. Hopefully this balmy weather will hold and dinner will be alfresco but the main room is lovely enough if it happens to rain. Japanese style yakitori (skewers cooked over a coal grill) include duck and spring onion, prawns with ponzu and yuzu and king oyster mushroom. Ramen and salads, desserts such as Purin milk pudding, Asian inspired cocktails, artisan wine and sake are also on the tempting menu.
COMEDY: Oxford Comedy Festival, The Jam Factory, Oxford, until Thurs 26 Jul
No need to schlep to Edinburgh for the Fringe, some of the finest comedy shows are being performed in Oxford now. A huge choice of shows with 2 on each night, I’m liking the sound of BBC New Comedy Finalist 2017, Jacob Hawley, in his witty political off beat show Howl on July 19. Grab your chance to see our up and coming comic stars without the ridiculous price tag (only £5 a ticket or 2 for £8 if you book in advance). Bargain!
OUTDOOR CINEMA: Moulin Rouge, Stonor Park, Fri 27 July and Harry Potter, Sat 28 July
On Fri 27 Jul Moulin Rouge can-cans in to Stonor Park ‘come what may’ (yes, I have the soundtrack), followed by the Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone on Sat 28 July and ending with the classic of all time Casablanca on the Sunday. Hot food and a full bar will be provided but you’re welcome to bring a picnic if you can be bothered (er, nope).
THEATRE: Shakespeare Festival, Oxford Castle Quarter, until Sat 11 Aug
This 8 week Shakespeare binge kicks off with 2 hours of back-to-back abridged (me likey) Othello and Much Ado About Nothing – so one hour of each. How is this possible, I hear you cry? Well BMH Productions have cut out 500 year old jokes, politics and exposition. Shakespeare will be turning in his grave but it sure makes his work accessible to all. Both plays have similar themes and are still relevant today – jealousy, racial prejudice, love, friendship. Bring a picnic or pre-order one with your tickets and even your GCSE taking teen won’t object to this kind of cramming.
ART: Nick Sharrat: Pirates, Pants & Wellyphants, River & Rowing Museum, until Sun 16 Sept
If you’ve got kids, you’ll have a book somewhere in your house with Nick Sharrat’s fabulous illustrations. An interactive exhibition of his work is now on at this lovely venue and a drawing workshop takes place with the man himself on 14 July (book now as it’s bound to be a sell-out). This delightful, gentle museum is a great place to take kids but there’s plenty of adult amusement with all you ever wanted to know (or not know) about rowing, visiting painting and sculpture exhibitions, a cafe with posh nosh, and a short stroll to the river and shops of Henley.
LAST CHANCE TO SEE:
The Leander Club Exhibition, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, ends 16 July; America’s Cool Modernism, Ashmolean, Oxford, ends Sun 22 July; Monet & Architecture, The National Gallery, ends Jul 29, Joan Jonas, Tate Modern, ends 5 Aug.
Well, you can’t go out every night, can you? Homebirds should try our latest Speedy Supper – Aussie chef Donna Hay’s tasty veggie fritters need minimal cooking in this heat and they’re a good way of using up your garden’s courgette harvest (because you’ve all harvested your courgettes, right?) If you’re too hot and bothered to even eat (never!), you could lie in an ice bath with Muddy’s pro bookworm Kerry Potter July holiday reading round-up. Sofa calling? Well, there’s always the football – at time of writing England were still in contention. Amuse yourself at half time with our guide to the most intellectually hot players in the competition (because we would never perv over men here at Muddy obvs). There’s also Wimbledon of course – pass the Pimm’s pronto and check out our interview with local tennis hero, Tim Henman. Alternatively, the dim-witted body-beautifuls of Love Island may float your boat or you could head to Netflix for Good Girls. This new US heist drama sounds very promising – Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks stars as one of three suburban moms who flip out and hold up a local grocery store. Think Desperate Housewives crossed with Thelma & Louise.
JULY’S TOP NEW MOVIE RELEASES
Adrift , showing now at Aylesbury Odeon, Vue Oxford and Bicester, Regal Picturehouse Henley and nationwide
Based on the true story of an engaged couple’s harrowing experience of sailing in one of the worst hurricanes in recorded history, this survival drama is a real pulse-racer. It’s also refreshing in that the couple’s survival ends up in the hands of the leading lady (maybe because it’s a true story). Gripping and powerful, you’ll leave the cinema in need of a large drink.
Incredibles 2, from 13 Jul nationwide
They’re back and in a nod to modern life, Mrs Incredible (aka Elastigirl) is tasked with bringing back superheroes whilst dad stays at home and looks after the kids. Humorous, delightful and great fun for kids and adults, this is perfect for the hols.
Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again, from 20 Jul nationwide
Can’t wait for this one. The original cast plus Cher as Sophie’s grandmother, let’s hope it’s as good as the first, full of sunshine-y joyful ABBA hits, a great story and plenty of laughs.
ART: The Head and the Load, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London, Wed 11 Jul – Sun 15 Jul
Commemorating the contribution of hundreds of thousands of African porters and carriers during WW1, William Kentridge uses music, dance, shadow play and sculptures to create a dramatic show in the Turbine Hall. The composer, Philip Miller, and musical director Thuthuka Sibisi have created an original score that draws on a wide range of traditions plus there’s an international cast of singers and dancers, many from South Africa. It sounds spectacular. If you’re in the vicinity on Fri 27 Jul, don’t forget to check out Tate Late when the gallery comes alive with music, talks and workshops after hours.
EVENT: Circus Sampler, Somerset House, London, Wed 25 Jul – Tues 7 Aug
More circus celebrations with a free exhibition Circus Originals opening on 25 July plus live circus events. Dance artists Far From The Norm perform Union Black that combines humour, hip hop and circus using Chinese poles and tight-wire. Between performances, you can watch international record-breaking hula hooper extraordinaire, Marawa. She’s joined by her team of hoop performers, The Majorettes, and they’ll teach you to hula hoop after the show.
EVENT: Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace, Thurs 2 – Sun 5 Aug
Can’t get enough of Adam Henson and the Countryfile gang? Roll up, roll up, catch the show while you can at Blenheim Palace as the team showcase the best of the British countryside. Expect live arena shows where Matt Baker does a semi-naked trapeze act while John Craven tames the Fresian cows in top hat and fishnets. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a National Trust theatre, waterside activities, off-road experiences, animal displays and 700 exhibitors. This year they are also throwing a BBC Countryfile Live Summer Party on the Saturday 6-9pm, headlined by country duo The Shires (a BBC Radio 2 favourite) and supported by Newton Faulkner and Ferris & Sylvester.
THEATRE: True West, Vaudeville Theatre, London, from Fri 23 Nov
Booking is now open for the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West. Directed by Matthew Dunster, an Olivier-nominated director, playwright, actor and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe, and starring Kit Harington (of Game of Thrones fame) and Johnny Flynn (Genius) as warring brothers, this sure sounds like a goodie.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN:
FESTIVAL: Oxford Festival of the Arts, various venues throughout Oxford, until Sat 7 July
Now in its tenth year, this cultural event has grown massively and now packs a massive punch around Oxford with two weeks of full-on cultural immersion. The performances, workshops and talks around theatre, literature, art, film and music, as well as dance and sport have the theme of Journeys this year. Try your hand at traditional Chinese dancing, give rowing a go, watch a free screening of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin from Garsington Opera, do a steel band workshop, join actress Emilia Fox in conversation with screenwriter Tim Prager, or just grab a drink and raise a glass to this ram-packed celebration of Oxford’s diversity.
EVENT: Henley Royal Regatta, Henley, Weds 4 Jul – Sun 8 Jul
The steamiest regatta in existence. Straw boaters on, eyes on the lunch box (sarnies or Lycra bulges… they’re not mutually exclusive); and watch the rowing brawn from the riverbank – Henley Royal Regatta is on. There’s over 200 races to watch the smoking–hot rowers and enjoy your Champagne picnic. Even better, Chinawhite is descending on proceedings for the sixth consecutive year on Friday and Saturday, so expect Moet in droves and internationally acclaimed DJs keeping the party thumping.
MUSIC: The Skating Rink, Garsington Opera, Thurs 5, 8, 10, 14, 16 Jul
Calling all culture vultures, Garsington Opera continues with a gripping new work, written by leading British composer David Sawer with award-winning playwright Rory Mullarkey, and based on the novel by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. Murder on the ice is the centre of this story of a beautiful skating champion and her obsessed admirer. There’s a pre-performance talk on Sun 8 Jul at 5pm, then crack open the champers and enjoy!
MUSIC: Opera Anywhere at Waterperry Gardens, from Fri 6 Jul
For a less expensive operatic experience, the beautiful amphitheatre at Waterperry Gardens is the setting for Opera Anywhere’s offerings. The Magic Flute, Puccini’s Heroines, NMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and Patience are performed throughout the first half of July. Take a picnic and enjoy opera that’s accessible, fun and won’t break the bank.
EVENT: Alice’s Day, Oxford, Sat 7 July
This is a really fantastic day in Oxford, celebrating the first telling, in Oxford, of Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland. It’s a massive event, with more than 20 historic locations and world class venues taking part, including the Ashmolean, the Bodleian Christ Church and The Story Museum, including immersive street theatre from Curious Company, jaw dropping performances from The Grand Indian Circus, a city wide trail for families, Mad Hatter tea parties and flamingo croquet at the Queen of Hearts Day at Oxford Castle Quarter.
COMEDY: Michael Palin & Sally Phillips, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 10 Jul
Oxford Playhouse is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a series of shows and special events with all proceedings going to the Oxford Playhouse Trust. For one eve only, Michael Palin and Sally Phillips will be on stage discussing their lives and careers. They’ve both trodden the boards at the Playhouse but do they have anything else in common other than being two of the countries most popular comedians? If you go, do let us know.
FESTIVAL: The Henley Festival, Henley, Oxon, Weds 11 – Sun 15 Jul
Put your Daisy Dukes away, this is a strictly black tie affair. Well, it is Henley, darlings. This massive five day bash is chocka with live music, contemporary arts, comedy (Paul Merton, Mark Watson, Rob Brydon, Lucy Watson), street theatre and food glorious food, with 12 restaurants and nine bars. Rita Ora, Grace Jones, Nile Rodgers and The English National Opera are among the headliners, plus there’s the massively popular Family Sunday. Renowned local chef Paul Clerehugh and his team from London Street Brasserie, Reading are running a pop-up in the Spiegeltent – and even more spiffing, mention Muddy Stilettos for a free flute of champagne. Never say we don’t look after you, dear readers! Family tickets start at a reasonable £35 but this only allows you to wander around the event and hear the concerts. To see the floating concert stage you need to buy lawn (from £55 to £110) or grandstand (undercover) tickets from £70 to £130.
EVENT: Henley Garden Show, Stonor Park, Henley, Oxon, Fri 13 – Sun 15 Jul
Garden shows nowadays are so much more than displays of the best plants by the top producers around the country. The beautiful Stonor Park is the setting for an orgy of foliage, talks by experts, shopping, entertainment, food and drink. Be inspired and get those green fingers ready to transform your own patch back home.
EVENT: Great British Garden Party, Blenheim, Sat 14 Jul
This sounds as eccentric as us Brits are meant to be. Celebrate all things British with famous characters amongst the grounds, such as Mary Poppins and James Bond, listen to the string quartet or watch a vintage cricket game with live commentary from Henry Blofeld (the mind boggles). They’ll be a BBQ, cream teas, strawberries, champers, Pimms and traditional ice cream (or bring a picnic) plus a firework finale with the words of Winston Churchill and a sing-along to Land of Hope and Glory. Grab your granny and the kids, it sounds positively spiffing, old girl.
THEATRE: Jersey Boys, Aylesbury Waterside, Tues 3 – Sat 14 July
The West End phenomenon hits Aylesbury Waterside and Muddy can’t wait. The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons who came from the wrong side of New Jersey but rose to become one of the biggest bands on the planet has won a whopping 57 awards. The show’s packed full of hits like Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back To You, and Big Girls Don’t Cry plus, see that guy on the right of the photo? I’ve seen him in Legally Blonde and Dirty Dancing (just by chance, I’m not a stalker!) and he’s brilliant, so I can vouch for at least a quarter of the cast personally.