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This month

June 2018


FESTIVAL: Oxford Festival of the Arts, various venues throughout Oxford, Sat 23 June – Sat 7 July

Now in its tenth year, this cultural event has grown massively and now packs a 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, have a laugh at the Cambridge Footlights, 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.


OPERA: Garsington Opera, Wormsley Estate, Stokenchurch, now – Sun 22 July

garsington exterior night

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 (and goes through until July); Strauss’ final opera, Capriccio, runs throughout June; and 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.


EXHIBITION: Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, Weston Library, Oxford, 1 June – 28 Oct

The extensive archive of artefacts from the Lord of the Rings author are on display in the biggest Tolkien exhibition in a generation. Top attractions are parts of the manuscripts for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but there are also pieces of fan mail, private letters, maps, drawings and an interactive display on the Elvish language. A third of the 200 items have never been seen before so it’s a real thrill for all you superfans out there.


ART: Bucks Arts Weeks, various locations, Sat 9 – Sun 24 June

Photo: Alexandra Buckle at Claydon Gallery

Didn’t get round to seeing any of Oxford Art Weeks? Naughty! Well, here’s your chance to redeem yourself with the launch of Bucks Art Weeks with exhibitions, events and artists’ studios open to the public. There’s the full range of artistic endeavours from linocuts (above), paintings, ceramics, jewellery, glassware, photography, textiles – and even paintings created on an iPad (check out Nancy Taylor in Naphill, High Wycombe). You can plan your visits on their website but I prefer the magical mystery tour approach and to stop off at random places when I see the sign. Being nosey and mooching around some lovely gardens and studios is half the fun.


THEATRE: Matilda, Milton Keynes Theatre, now – Sat 30 June

Be quickity quick and grab some tickets for this wonderful show whilst it tours around the UK. A touching and joyous story of loneliness and rebellion, it deserves all 85 and counting of its international awards. Writer Dennis Kelly and composer / lyricist Tim Minchin go to top of the class with their interpretation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale. Don’t miss it!


EVENT: Royal Ascot, Ascot Racecourse, Tues 19 – Sat 23 June

Grab your hat, keep the hemlines long, the fake tan light and enjoy a day of sunshine (fingers crossed), celeb spotting and apparently there are few horses running too. It’s the perfect place to people watch, just don’t overdo the bubbles for fear of making it into the Daily Mail.


ART: Nick Sharrat: Pirates, Pants & Wellyphants, River & Rowing Museum, 22 June – 16 Sept

Nick Sharrat

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 starts this month 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.


THEATRE, MUSIC, COMEDY: Offbeat Festival, The Old Fire Station, Oxford, Fri 22 – Sun 30 June

theatre old fire station

This fringe festival returns for the third year running with new performances of theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music, billed as a blind date with a show you could fall in love with, under the Offbeat Festival umbrella. Trump the Musical (comedy satire obviously!), Denim (a drag pop group), Celia’s Guide to Being a Wife (a one woman monologue on the vagaries of marriage) and Eleanor Colville’s Google Me (a sell out at Edinburgh last year) caught Muddy’s eye plus with prices this low (£10 or under), it’s a brilliant way to see up and coming stars before they hit the big time.


FESTIVAL: Chalke Valley History Festival, Church Farm Nr Salisbury, Wilts, 25 June – 1 July

If you and your kids love Horrible Histories, dressing up and a game of spot the celeb then book up for the Chalke Valley History Festival nr Salisbury in wiltshire. It is absolutely HUUUUUUGE! This 7 day summer jaunt is dedicated entirely to history in the UK, it’s set across 70 acres with enactments, sword school, a trench experience and more more more. It’s an awesome day out – A* in History almost guaranteed.


THEATRE: Mamma Mia, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Tues 26 – Sat 30 June

The super dooper trouper feel-good show finally arrives at Aylesbury Waterside and with the theatre’s spacious interior, there’s no excuse not to don your flares and platform boots and bust some mum-moves to the Abba classics, all belted out with aplomb by the talented cast (alas, Mr Brosnan not included).


COMEDY: The Great Offbeat Comedy Night, Oxford Playhouse, Thurs 28 June

As part of the Offbeat Festival, the Oxford Playhouse has ducked the fringe and gone for well-known comedians Ed Gamble (Mock The Week), Phil Wang (8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown), Sara Pascoe (Have I Got News For You, QI, W1A) and newcomer Lauren Pattison. At only £20 a pop for tickets (or £5 per comedian) it’s a bargain basement night of belly laughs in my book.


TENNIS: The Boodles, Stoke Park, Bucks, Tues 26 – Sun 30 June

wimbledon tennis summer

Sorry Wimbledon, but my heart belongs to The Boodles! I’m amazed how many locals still don’t know about this brilliant, cost-effective alternative to SW19 held at the five star Stoke Park (even more cost-effective if you’re the lucky winner of our competition for a VIP stay and tickets to the tennis!) It’s luxury all the way here, with Perrier-Jouët Champagne on ice and a gourmet lunch prepared by Stokey’s celeb chef Chris Wheeler. The stadium holds just 2000, so it’s like being in the first five rows at centre court with a real party atmosphere. Already confirmed for this year are Juan Martin del Potro, Nick Krygios, and Alexander Zverev.Stoke Park, Stoke Poges, Bucks,


EAT OUT: Back to the Vine, The Vineyard, Stockcross, nr Newbury, Mon 25 June – Sun 1 July

With a constellation of Michelin stars to their names, chefs Nathan Law, John Campbell, Matt Gillan, Shay Cooper, Daniel Galmiche, Richard Davies and Billy Reid have all worked at The Vineyard Hotel and Spa near Newbury. To celebrate the hotel’s 20th birthday, these stars of the culinary scene are returning from their current restaurants (those local to us include Calcot Manor near Tetbury, Danesfield House near Marlow and The Woodspeen in Newbury) to weave their magic at their alma mater. The Vineyard is renowned for its passion for wine (join the club) and amazing food so this really is a no brainer for a fine dining fix.

The Vineyard, Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 8JU. Tel: 01635 528 770




Well, you can’t go out every night, can you? Homebirds might like to try our latest Speedy Supper – feta and red pepper kalinte. It’s Moroccan, doncha know. And then there’s the joy of curling up in peace with a good book (just gag the children). Muddy’s pro bookworm Kerry Potter picks her June fave reads here. Telly addict? Adjourn to the sofa on Sunday nights from 10 June for the new season of Poldark (I think that field needs scything, Ross, just pop your top off). Or fire up Netflix for series 2 of hilarious ‘80s women wrestler comedy Glow, the all-female reboot of the iconic Ghostbusters movie, or Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, a documentary about the brilliantly bonkers singer who headlines at Henley Festival this year.



Ocean’s 8, nationwide, Fri 22 June 

Oceans 8 poster

A line up of Hollywood A list actresses (Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina and Rihanna), a robbery at The Met Ball and the familiar crime caper format has a Muddy girls’ night out written all over it.

On Chesil Beach, Curzon, Oxford, now until Thurs 7 June

On Chesil Beach

For a more intense and emotionally charged night out, Ian McEwan’s adaptation of his novel On Chesil Beach explores love, sex and marriage for newly weds Lady Bird star Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle (Dunkirk) before the Swinging Sixties were in full swing.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Picturehouse, Henley, now until Thurs 7 June

Guernsey Literary potato peel pie

A book club founded in Guernsey during the Nazi occupation doesn’t sound like the most exciting premise for a movie and I laugh every time I see the name of this movie – BUT an all star British cast lead by Lilly James and produced by The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel lot, is enough to lure me off my sofa to the big screen.

Jurassic World:Fallen Kingdom, The Everyman, Gerrards Cross, Sun 16 June

Jurassic world

The blockbuster franchise returns and this time the dinosaurs need saving from an erupting volcano – easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. You could go to your multiplex to see this and spend a month’s salary on drinks and snacks that will put inches on your waistline OR you could have a civilised drink and proper food at the Everyman bar and restaurant before gawping at the special effects.



EVENT: Summer by the River Festival, London Bridge, from 1 June to 1 Sept

london bridge city summer outdoor

If you’re heading for the big smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital. Outdoor cinema, big screen sporting events like Wimbledon and Tour de France, comedy from the Edinburgh Fringe, workshops and quizzes. You can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.


ART: Frida Kahlo, Making Herself Up, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Sat 16 June onwards

The iconic Mexican’s artist’s personal belongings were locked away by her husband when she died and are being exhibited outside Mexico for the first time. There are some beautifully embroidered clothes but more interesting are her cosmetics (no jokes about eyebrow tweezers please), swimsuit and brightly painted prosthetic leg (Kahlo suffered Polio as a child and had a deformed limb) in this intimate and fascinating exhibition.

V&A Museum


THEATRE: Turn of the Screw, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London, Fri 22 June

Photo: Feast Creative

Hurrah for a bit of spooky excitement courtesy of The English National Opera and the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in this reworking of Henry James’ classic novella by Benjamin Britten. The suspenseful story of a young governess trying to protect her children in a remote country house will certainly get the hairs standing up on the back of my neck at this outdoor venue.


DANCE: RSC Midsummer Party, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Sat 23 – Sun 24 June

Kinetika dancers RSC

Photo: Kinetika

Remember the scene in the Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes Romeo and Juliet where they meet at a party and fall in love? So magical and romantic with no hint of what is to befall them. The RSC have joined forces with artists from Kinetika to create a spectacular dance party for the midsummer weekend, inspired by this scene. Join in with making costumes and decorations for the party and learn dance routines so that your ARE ON IT for the climax of the weekend when the dance will be filmed.



FESTIVAL: Love Marlow Festival, Marlow, Bucks, Fri 1 – Sun 17 June 

church spire boats ducks on river

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’. Fun stuff includes 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 session. Marlow is gorgeous of course and there’s a great community spirit in the town so it’s definitely worth checking out.


EVENT: The Little Welly Goes Wild, Henley, Sat 9 – Sun 10 June

Persil at the ready? Then I’ll begin. Bigger, better and muddier than ever, the UK’s biggest children’s obstacle course returns for the fourth year to the Culden Faw Estate in Henley. We’re talking 30 obstacles over a 3km course for kids 4+ (and they’re parents – sorry about that!) braving The Big Slide, Tyre Mangle, mud and water pits, Spider’s Web and bouncing round the foam pit. Away from the race’s there’s Laser Tag, Parkour demonstrations & workshops, pony rides, den building and bungee trampolining. Seriously good fun.


FESTIVAL: Stratton Audley Festival, nr Bicester, Sat 2 June

Stratton Audley church

Photo: beer, Vicar? 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 and church hall. 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.


MUSIC: Peterley Manor Farm, 91 Nights, Fri 8 June

Ahhh, the romance of a yurt (as long as I don’t have to spend the night in one). This is how I like to indulge in my yurtygurtyness – an evening listening to local band 91 Nights whilst scoffing lamb flatbreads made in the Strawberry Cafe with pop-up brewery Mad Squirrel plus a spirits/wine bar. 91 Nights are billed as an ethereal dream up-and-coming pop band which sounds relaxing and soothing, just the ticket for a Friday night. Food is included in the price of admission (£10) plus you’ll be entered into the prize draw to win two pairs of tickets for a Mad Squirrel Brewery tour with tutored tastings and pizza (boom -Father’s Day sorted!).

THEATRE: Giffords Circus, Thurs 7 at Blenheim & Thurs 14 at University Parks Oxfordgifford Circus workers in red jackets outside big tent

Giffords Circus is celebrating 250 years since the birth of the big top with its new summer show My Beautiful Circus in 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). Plus on June 21 at Oxford Uni Parks you can question Nell Gifford herself at a special Q&A after the show. More dates to follow in our area in July.


MUSIC: David Byrne: American Utopia Tour, Oxford New Theatre, Thurs 14 June

David Byrne brings his peculiar talented self to Oxford as part of his American Utopia Tour, plugging his latest album which came out in March as well as performing classics from his Talking Heads days and solo career. He’s being joined on stage by a twelve-piece band so sounds like he’s pulling out all the stops for a seriously muso night.

New Theatre Oxford


MUSIC: Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace, Oxford, Thurs 14 – Sun 17 June

Noel Gallagher at Blenheim Palace? What would Liam say? This well-established refined live music night has a line up including Noel in his High Flying Birds incarnation, plus Nile Rodgers and Chic and Elvis Costello (headlining on different nights).With the stunning backdrop of the Great Court, one thing is certain – the mosh pit will be very civilised.


FESTIVAL: Buckingham Literary Festival, Buckingham, Thurs 14 – Sun 17 June

The big literary fests are all very well but there’s definitely a place for smaller, more locally minded ones. Smaller doesn’t mean B list guests for Bucks Literary Festival – Chris Patten in conversation with John Bercow; Antonia Fraser, historical novelist extraordinaire; Frederick Forsyth of Day of the Jackal fame, Tim Bentinck who plays David Archer on behind the scenes of the iconic radio drama and many more. There’s even a Twitter workshop if you’re struggling to know your tweets from your handles from your hashtags.

EVENT: The Gap Festival, Streatley & Goring, Oxon, Thurs 14 – Sun 16 June

Mica Paris

Take a peek at this 4 days of fabulousness combining live music, comedy, art workshops, talks and family activities. Check out well-know celebs like Joe Swift on how to make a Chelsea Gold garden on Fri 14 (tickets £20) and soul queen Mica Paris on Sat 15 (tickets £33) both in the Festival Marquee. Or you could trot along to see talented 2016 Funny Women Award winner Harriet Braine giving her comic history of art lesson in song, amble round the open gardens or try a drumming workshop. If you can’t wait till then, check out the fringe festival from Sat Jun 9 to Wed Jun 13 – think live music in local pubs, art workshops, kids’ drama club and a Wind in the Willows day at Withymead Nature Reserve. Lots of these are free or a snip at £5.


EVENT: Waddesdon Feast, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, Sat 16 – Sun 17 June

Waddesdon feast

Nosh up! The Waddesdon Manor Feast Weekend returns with its celebration of food, drink and performance in prime position at the front of the Manor. There’s a huge decorated outdoor dining table running the length of the North Avenue for picnics or trying the 70 handpicked artisan food and wine stalls, but the bit that really lifts it from just another foodie event is the performances –  from comedy gardeners, a mechanical elephant and short sighted celebrity crazed photographers to street bands, acrobats and a life-sized interactive game zone. Plenty for adults and kids so a deffo for the weekend. Entrance to Feast is £5 with a grounds ticket (£17 for adults, £8.50 for children) and as it’s understandably a popular event, best get booking now!


FILM: Peterley Manor Farm, Pop-up Food & Film, Great Missenden, Bucks, Fri 15 – Sat 16 June

Wondering what the hell to do for a Father’s Day treat? Peasy – take him to Top Gun at Great Missenden’s lovely Peterley Manor Farm so he can watch the fighter planes while you ogle a young Tom Cruise in his pretty aviators. Billed as a Father’s Day special, expect local street food, café goodies, straw bales, blankets and fire pits on Sat 16 June. Other films on offer are Hot Fuzz (Fri 15 June) or the family-friendly The Greatest Showman (Sat 21 July) where there’ll be tractor and trailer rides round the farm, giant games, pop-up food, drinks, and a sweet shop in the mini yurt.


EVENT: Stonor Park Food Festival, Stonor, Henley, Sat 16 – Sun 17 June

The beautiful grounds at Stonor will be groaning with food and drink stalls over the Father’s Day weekend (dads go free before midday on the Saturday) for the first ever Stonor Food Festival. Keep dad happy with the crafts beers and BBQ plus there’s talks, tastings and demos along with the large selection of local and specialist produce. Guests include the doyen of cookery, Mary Berry, and the Bake Off finalist Steven Carter-Bailey. Tickets are £10 for adults and £6.50 for kids (under 2s go free) and include entrance to the house, gardens and Wonder Woods Adventure playground.


FESTIVAL: Marlow Town Regatta and Festival, Marlow, Oxon, Sat 16 – Sun 17 June

Back to Marlow we go for a weekend of oogling the muscle, I mean messing about on the river, with competitive rowing on the Saturday and family fun with the Dragon Boat Festival, live entertainment, and food and drink and craft stalls on the Sunday. Pass the Pimms!


EVENT: Father’s Day BBQ, Bletchley Park, Bucks, Sun 17 June

No dad dancing please at this Father’s Day event at Bletchley Park with BBQ, live music, dancing from JiveSwing and a specially crafted beer from The Concrete Cow Brewery, named Station X after Bletchley’s code name in the Second World War.


ART: Conserving Michelangelo, Christchurch Picture Gallery, Oxford, now until 18 June

Looking for serenity? A trip to the very special Christchurch Picture Gallery will soothe the soul and broaden the mind. The only college in Oxford or Cambridge to possess a unique collection of Old Masters is displaying a Michelangelo drawing from its vaults, recently restored by The Met in New York. The design for a facade on one side and sketches of angles and shadows on the reverse – it’s a beautiful piece of art history right there. The exhibition gives insight into how the restoration was done which is fascinating but take your time and view the whole stonking collection whilst you’re there. 


Lillibroke Manor, Cox Green, Maidenhead, Weds 20 June

Your glass of Pimms may have to be replaced with a something a little less alcoholic (dammit) for this after school screening of the family fave Paddington 2, but an afternoon spent in the stunning Great Barn at Lillibrooke Manor, kids’ tea and entertainment sorted. You’ll be winning at life, right there. Doors open at 4pm, film starts at 4.30pm, then straight to bed. *Pours wine at 7.17pm*. Tickets: adults £8.80; kids, £5.50; family tickets from £16.50. Not your bag? It’s only freaking 40 years since it was released (dear god!) Grease Sing A Long, Wed 20 June, 8pm; Victoria & Abdul, Thu 21 June, 12.30pm and The Greatest Showman, Thu 21 June, 8pm.


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