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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s animal magnetism

Well, that’s not a phrase I’d ever thought I’d write. But the TV foodie has opened the River Cottage Kitchen and Deli at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo just across the border in Beds. It has somewhat unique views – you eat overlooking the white rhino herd, while the menu is big on seasonal veg (well, might feel a bit weird eating animals while here, no?), with dishes including grilled sourdough, beetroot caponata, roast walnuts and parsley pesto. Normally the food at children’s attractions is appalling so this is welcome news indeed.

 

Spring supper club shenanigans

We do love a supper club around these parts – and they are springing up everywhere this er, Spring. Muddy’s Clover Stroud had a whale of a time at Nomada recently, run by acclaimed Cuban chef Ruben Leon Acosta –  their next dates are 20 and 21 April at Miserden Estate Garden Café, near Stroud (menu: Middle Eastern mezze), with another on 26 May in the Cotswolds at Warwick Hall, Burford. TVC in Oxford, owners of the coolest view of the spires in the city, are hosting two fantastic pop ups – a two-nighter on May 16 & 17 with Smoke & Thyme and a second in June with Mazí Mas, a fantastic roaming restaurant with a social conscience promising flavours of Iran, Costa Rica and Brazil. Where do I sign up, that sounds amazing.

The Sneaky Supper Club has a few places left for its 27 April event at Wytham Village Hall (OX2) while the super-slick Native Feasts (created by Michelin-starred chef Chris Godfrey), are back on 11/12 May at Coopers Marlow– keep an eye on their website for further announcements.Looking for something more rustic? And you’ll like the vibe at Sandy Lane Farm’s seasonal dinners, where you gather around a fire-pit before adjourning to a barn to eat. The next ones are 27/28 April and 4/5 May.

 

The wonder of Westgate

Oxford’s super-shiny shopping Mecca just gets better and better. Australian homeware hotspot, House, has chosen our manor for its first of 75 planned UK stores and has literally just opened its doors. It’s home cook foodie heaven, with a vast selection of kitchenware, gadgets and gifts. Brands include LSA, Jamie Oliver, Joseph Joseph as well as their own-label products. I’ve already been there, done that and bought the frying pan, and it really is something different – a premium home and kitchen ware where staff really know their stuff. Then there’s Victors,(pictured), a spanking new, super-glam, Hamptons-inspired restaurant and bar that’s nabbed a prime spot on the second floor roof terrace. It has a striking wisteria-clad interior and serves lashings of lobster and champagne. Naturally Team Muddy will be Great-Gatsbying down there next week for the opening night. See you there?

 

DO put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington!

 children playing make believe

If you’ve got a child with a fervent imagination or mini jazz hands, do take a look at West Oxfordshire Academy of Performing Arts. Its popular acting, singing and dancing Saturday school sessions are now starting up on a Friday afternoon too, as of this week. The performing arts school is based at the Henry Box School in Witney and takes children age 4-16. Founder Brian Conroy is an industry veteran, with 40 years of stage, TV, film and professional singing work under his belt (we were thrilled to hear he’s been in Morse!). He’s passionate about democratising the performing arts and reaching out to children who wouldn’t normally be able to join such classes – read about his brilliant scholarship programme here. If you’re going to put your child on the stage, best to do it with people who really care, right?

 

Calling all brainiacs

The King’s Arms in the centre of Oxford has just undergone a major refurbishment to spruce up the interiors. It’s well worth popping in for a pint at this academic and tourist institution with the iconic pink façade – dating from 1607, it claims to be the oldest pub in Oxford (although, to be fair, so do several others), there’s a resident ghost (does it stand its round though?) and the location is renowned for having the highest collective IQ per square foot in the world.  Hang on, surely that’s Muddy HQ?!

 

Missed out on Pub In The Park tickets?  There’s more!

That Tom Kerridge is a popular boy. The celeb chef’s Pub In The Park Festival in Marlow’s Higginson Park sold out in just 24 hours but a small number of extra tickets will be available this Friday, 20 April. The food and music shindig takes places 17-20 May before popping up in Bath, Tunbridge Wells and Knutsford.

 

The most stylish second-hand shop ever?

Sloane Street is an unlikely destination for a bargain but if you’re in the smoke this month, do take a peek at new pop-up shop, Fashion Re-Told. With all profits going to the NSPCC, this collaboration with Harrods will stock pre-loved (that’s a posh way of saying second-hand) luxury label womenswear, menswear and childrenswear. With its chic millennial pink interiors and beautifully merchandished pieces, it’s not like any other charity shop we’ve seen before. Open until 13 May at 196 Sloane Street, London.

 

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