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This month

NOV 2017

Hannah Ryggen, Modern Art Oxford, 11 Nov – 18 Feb 2018I’m always excited when Modern Art Oxford introduces a new exhibition and this one is going to be a corker. Hannah Ryggen was one of Scandinavia’s most outstanding artistic figures of the 20th century, an impassioned artist responding to the socio-political events of her time, from the the rise of fascism and the Nazi occupation of Norway, to nuclear power and media coverage of the Vietnam War. This is the first major presentation of the artist’s work in the UK and surveys her career from early portraiture through to the intricate tapestries that characterised her career from the 1920s onward. Don’t forget that Modern Art Oxford is free entry, and there’s a corker of a cafe on site too.


Son of a Preacher Man, Wycombe Swan, Tues 28 Nov – Sat 2 Dec

Ever wondered what happened to Diana Vickers of X-Factor? She went the way of all good finalists and got herself a career in musical theatre. She stars in this touring production of Son of a Preacher Man along with Debra Stephenson (The Impressions Show, Bad Girls) about Preacher Man, a swinging Soho joint where the owner used to offer advice to lonely hearts. When three strangers all in need of help with their hopeless love lives are drawn to the venue, it’s cue a whole load of  Dusty Springfield greatest hits. Choreography is by – who else? – Craig Revel Horwood – owner of the busiest jazzhands in the west End.

Wycombe Swan, St Mary St, High Wycombe,


Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival, Fri 17 – Sun 19 Nov

Oooh, sparkly lights! This free festival will be taking over the city’s streets and open spaces for three days, with the newly opened Westgate Oxford (let us worship) as one of the main venues, along with Oxford Castle quarter, Gloucester Green and Broad Street. The Westgate will be hosting art installations, and will also form part of the route taken through the city as part of the popular lantern parade. Expect street artists, outdoor exhibitions, markets, music and dance throughout the weekend.

Christmas at Waddesdon, Waddesdon Manor, Weds – Sun 11 Nov – 2 Jan

No Bruce Munro light installations this year at Waddesdon Manor  (he’s up the road on the approach to Bicester Village) but instead there are several light shows to enjoy as dusk falls. Waddesdon Imaginarium is a light and sound show projected onto the Manor’s façade including roaming porcelain animals, dancing musical clocks, cascades of flowers, and 18th-century portraits, accompanied by an original score composed by students at the Guildhall School of Music. Also worth checking out is is Electric Menagerie, light-based artworks throughout the grounds by American artist Lauren Booth, inspired by the real and fantastical animals associated with Waddesdon (Baron Ferdinand collected a ‘zoo’ of animals and birds to amuse his weekend party guests, including antelopes, kiwis and even kangaroos). Check out Dylan, Rolo and Murphy (2017), three Neon Goats placed on the rockwork, and her neon Parrot, Bleeding Heart Dove and Rothschild Mynahs created in response to the 1889 Aviary.

Finnish Rooftop Sauna, Queen Elizabeth Roof Terrace, South Bank, Fri 10 Nov – Sat 30 Dec

woman sauna finnish

And now for something completely different. Why not warm up and unwind in a one-of-a-kind Finnish sauna experience in the heart of London? There’s a specially designed Nordic sauna that on the Queen Elizabeth Roof Terrace, combining beautiful Nordic design with a bespoke artistic commission. If 90 degrees celsius is a bit sweaty for you, cool down in the open air (or with cold water buckets – go on, dare you!), while enjoying some stonking views of the Thames


Bah! Humbug! The Old Fire Station, Tues Nov 21

A comedy fundraiser The Old Fire Station featuring three-time Edinburgh comedy award-nominee Josie Long, British Comedy Award nominees Jonny & The Baptists, Funny Women Finalist Bisha K Ali, New Act of the Year nominee Stuart Goldwmith, and returning from last year’s sell-out show, MC Tiernan Douieb. A dead cert.

Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford,


Back to the 90s, Clayton’s, Marlow, Sat 25 Nov

I’m so there! Hang on, I’m just digging out my combat, crop top and trainers here…alrighty then, let’s head to Clayton’s Marlow for the best of Nineties music. Starts at 9pm, and it’s free entry until 10pm, at which point you’ll have to hand over a fiver. Ends 2pm.


Jon Richardson: Old Man, Aylesbury Waterside, Thurs 16 Nov

Hard to recommend comedians sometimes as it’s such a personal thing, but I do think Jon Richardson, British Comedy Award nominee and star of Live At The Apollo and 8 Out Of 10 Cats is particularly funny with his moany, pedantic delivery.
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange St, Aylesbury, atgticketscom


Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Sat  18 Nov – 4 Feb

Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas!  The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden,


Alison Moyet, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Mon 27 Nov

Gawd bless Alison Moyet and her teflon tonsils. The Eighties icon comes to the Waterside to launch her new album Other. and promises ‘special guests’ though I do tell her she’d stop talking about me like that all the time.
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange St, Aylesbury,


Germaine Greer, Women for Life on Earth, Kenton Theatre, Henley, Mon 27 Nov

Author of the groundbreaking bestseller The Female Eunuch and outspoken feminist and commmentator, Germaine Greer comes to the Kenton with her latest talk Women for Life on Earth: The Inevitability of Ecofeminism. Er, catchy! Her basic premise is that the action women can’t be moved to take on their own behalf, they take on behalf of the planet and if the planet is to survive, we have to unleash our female energy. Roarrrrrr!

Kenton Theatre, Henley-on Thames,


Peter and the Wolf, Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, Sat 18 Nov

Featuring animal antics of singing birds, waddling ducks, sneaky cats, and a rocking wolf this production features new music lovingly inspired by Prokofiev’s classic – including real musical vegetables (the mind boggles) plus puppetry and physical comedy for kids 4+.

The Mill Arts Centre, Spiceball Park, Spiceball Park Rd, Banbury,


Tudor Cookery Workshop, Sulgrave Manor, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Nov

Ever wondered what treats the Tudors enjoyed at Christmas time? What do you mean no?! Create and take home your own Tudor sweet, make sweetmeats and your own bottle of spiced Hippocras (go on look it up, I had to). All with course leaders in 16th century costume.

Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, Banbury,


Terry Alderton – All Crazy Now!, Potter’s Arms Comedy Night, Thurs 23 Nov

Terry Alderton’s tour is over, except for this one off show tonight at this rural comedy powerhouse pub.  Food is included in the interval and we’re told to expect the unexpected. I think this means that Rufus Sewell is set to arrive at half time and take me on a romantic weekend but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.The Potters Arms, Fagnall Lane, Winchmore Hill, Bucks,


Leaf by Niggle, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sat 25 Nov

In 1939 J.R.R Tolkien was despairing of ever bringing The Lord of the Rings to a conclusion. One morning he woke up with Leaf by Niggle complete in his mind and wrote it down. Surrounded by ladders, bicycles and heirlooms, Richard Medrington recounts Tolkien’s miniature masterpiece, with soundtrack by Karine Polwart and MJ McCarthy. An enchanting family show based on Tolkien’s book about an artist Niggle whose painting of a tree keeps getting bigger and bigger until he realises he has to go on a journey…

Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Rd, Didcot,


Christmas Artisanal Craft Fair, Henley Town Hall, Weds 29 Nov

girl with pig tails in pink dress

As tasteful and elegant as a town artisan craft fair can get – this is Henley after all –  the brands include a real mix of national and local inlcuding Neal’s Yard, Elliot and Powell portraiture (pictured, head to them for free fizz!) , and a massive range of jewellery, food hampers and candles.


Christmas at Stonor, Stonor Park, Weds 29 Nov – Sun 10 Dec

Yeah, my fireplace looks just like this one. If you want to see a manor house beautifully decorated (and get a sense of how the other half live – the Stonor family are still in situ) then head to Stonor Park. No I’m not jealous at all. *gnashes teeth*

Stonor Park, Stonor, Henley-on-Thames,


Bingo Bongo Spoken Word Cabaret, The Jericho Tavern, Oxford, Weds 29 Nov

Black and White man nail varnish feathers

A brand new quarterly event at the revamped Oxford music venue The Jericho Tavern. Guests for the first quarterly Bingo Bongo Spoken Word Cabaret include comedian and broadcaster, Elvis McGonagall,  stack-heeled duo, The Antipoet, and 2016 Saboteur Award Winner, Emily Harrison. Hosts and owners Tina Sederholm and Neil Spokes are also the hosts of Hammer & Tongue, Oxford’s long running and sellout Open Poetry Slam so they know what they’re doing. Go along and see what you think!


Cézanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, 26 Oct – 11 Feb 2018

This started just last week, Brings together over 50 of Cézanne’s portraits from collections across the world, including works which have never been on public display in the UK . Over a working life of some forty-five years, Cézanne made almost 1,000 paintings of which around 160 are portraits and this exhibition offers a fascinating insight into this central aspect of his work.


Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, London, Weds 22 Nov –  1 Jan 2018

Such a brilliant time to visit Kew as they do the Crimbo thing so well with it one mile sparkling path winding its way through the world-famous Gardens. This year they promise a million twinkling lights, Singing Trees, ribbons of light and a flickering Fire Garden, plus Father C and his elves at the North Pole Village, vintage fairground rides (a fee for that one) and shopping. Worth going with the fam.


Modigliani, Tate Modern, 23 Nov 2017 – 2 April 2018

The Tate Modern’s comprehensive retrospective of Modigliani’s work is going to be a treat. During his brief, turbulent life Modigliani developed a unique and instantly recognisable style. His nudes that are a highlight of the exhibition – with 12 nudes on display, this is the largest group ever reunited in the UK. First shown in 1917, police closed down his only ever solo exhibition on the grounds of indecency. Also expect sculptures, and portraits of his friends, lovers and supporters, including Pablo Picasso and his partner Jeanne Hébuterne.

Ghost Tours, Hampton Court, selected dates from 5 Nov – Jan 2018

Want to petrify your kids? Course you do! There are Family Tours on 5 Nov at 6.30 (and also 7 Jan 2018, but seriously I’m not even thinking next year yet!).  It’s a 75-90 minute  walking tour hearing stories of ghostly apparitions and paranormal activity Minimum age is 8 years and a maximum of 3 children per accompanying adult.

Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, East Molesey,



Native Feasts pop up supper clubs, College Farm, Long Crendon, throughout Dec 

The Native Feasts dynamic duo of Chris Godfrey (ex Michelin star chef of The Sir Charles Napier in Chinnor) and Greg Jones continue to create gastro evenings in cool locations. Long Crendon is a chocolate box village just on the Bucks/Oxon border (close to Thame), and the lodge is set to be decked out with fairy lights, holly and misteltoe. They’re promising a ‘minc pie martini’ which sounds franklly perilous but I dare say will hit the spot, plus artisan wines and beers.  Some of the evenings are already sold out but there’s availability at the time of writing this for Dec 2, 8, 9 and 15 December,  plus a New Year’s bash at the cool Coopers industrial cafe space in Marlow. Tickets for the supper clubs are £45 for four courses, complimentary  ‘winter warmer’ shooters on arrival and ‘pass the Christmas present’. What more do you want, table service by the elves?



Kwaidan, Pegasus, Oxford, Fri 3 Nov

I’m not a fan of anything too scary but this sounds good – an atmospheric piece for teenagers and adults inspired by Japanese ghost stories and horror movies featuring life-sized puppets, humanettes, shadows, acting and videos. Set in Japan in the early 1980s, Kwaidan tells the story of Haru, a young woman who comes back to her abandoned childhood home that seems to be inhabited by spirits and ghosts from the past.

The performance will be followed by a post show discussion. Suitable for 12+. Pegasus, Magdalen Rd, Oxford,


15 Years at Oxford – Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, The Sheldonian, Weds 1 Nov

In 2002 the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra was appointed Orchestra in Residence at the University of Oxford, in a partnership unique amongst British orchestras. This concert celebrates its 15th year with a varied programme including Handel’s Zadok the Priest, Faure, Handel and Mendelssohn, plus The Choirs of Merton College and The Queen’s College. There’s a pre-concert talk (free admission)  at 6.30 with conductor Marios Papadopoulos in conversation with Edward Seckson.

The Sheldonian Theatre, Broad St, Oxford,


Imbalance, Cornerstone Arts, Thurs 2 Nov

A dance, circus & acrobatic fusion exploring our chaotic, digitally-obsessed lives, combining acrobatics and dance to ask whether our lives are out of balance, and how we separate ourselves from the virtual chaos surrounding us. Take your kids!

Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Rd, Didcot,


Joan, Cornerstone, Didcot, Sat 4 Nov
Anarchic Cabaret from drag king Lucy Jane Parkinson – drag king rather than a drag queen  because there’s no sequins or false lashes in sight, and she’s on stage with a whopping beard wearing Joan of Arc’s breastplate, defying the men in her path. A fearless solo show, with songs and mayhem, exploring what it means to stand out. You’re doing that Lucy, no doubt about that!

Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Rd, Didcot,


James Wong – How to Eat Better, Oxford University, Mon 6 Nov

I featured one of James Wong’s recipes a while back – this one pot cheese macaroni with oodles of veggies, above – and now you can meet scientist, TV presenter and author of How To Eat Better in the flesh as he gives a straight-talking scientist’s guide to making everyday foods healthier and tastier simply by changing the way you select, store and cook them, based on the latest scientific evidence. James will be signing his book in Waterstones.

Mathematical Institute Andrew Wiles Building, University of Oxford, Woodstock Rd, Oxford,


50th Oxford Round Table Fireworks , South Park Oxford, Sat 4 Nov

Grab your sparklers! This year Oxford’s Round Table Fireworks celebrates its 50th anniversary with a 50 metre bonfire on which to melt your marshmallows or singe your eyebrows. It’s the fizzwizzling fireworks event  in Oxford and this is the year to make the most of it.

South Park, Oxford,


Metamorphosen, Holywell Music Room, Sat 11 Nov

A treat for classical music lovers. The string players of the Oxford Philharmonic come together for an evening of impassioned music spanning the close of the Romantic era to the mid-20th century. Brahms’s String Sextet features exotic and unusual chord structures and innovative contrasts. This is followed by Webern’s charged and emotive Langsamer Satz, inspired by a hiking holiday and rooted in post-Brahmsian tonality. To conclude, a condensed version of Strauss’s Metamorphosen, originally scored for 23 strings, and composed during the closing months of the Second World War.

Holywell Music Room, Holywell St, Oxford,


Shami Chakrabarti: ‘Of Women’, Sheldonian, Oxford, Fri 10 Nov

Wow, we women are in the middle of a hell of a movement aren’t we? Shami Chakrabarti’s book ‘Of Women’ is a powerful polemic on why women still need equality and how to get there, and she’s coming to the Sheldonian to spread the word.The talk will be introduced by Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam.

Shami Chakrabarti is Britain’s leading human rights campaigner, Labour’s Shadow Attorney General  member of the House of Lords. Chakrabarti was the Director of Liberty, the National Council for Civil Liberties from 2003 to 2016. Her bestselling book On Liberty, an impassioned defence of human rights, was published in 2014.

Sheldonian, Broad St, Oxford,


Rambert Revealed, South Bank, London, Mon 6 – Sun 12 Nov

Rambert is one of my favourite dance companies so I’m excited about this week-long programme opening up the work of the company through performances, tours and workshops at their studios on London’s South Bank. New additions to this year’s programme include a live drawing session of company rehearsals and a residency from ERRATICA, who will spend a month at Rambert developing a prototype for a new interactive dance film installation. Can’t quite be bothered to go into London for the experience? Rambert Live will livestream of a day in the life of the company, so you can wear your leg warmers and langorously stretch out from the comfort of your sofa.

Rambert, 99 Upper Ground, London SE1, 


Pirates, Ahoy! – FUNomusica Family Concert, Oxford Town Hall, Sun 12 Nov

Fantastic concerts for kids 4-8, with The Oxford Philharmonic, with Alasdair Malloy presenting. Pre-concert activities start at 2pm, and the concert ends at 4pm.

Oxford Town Hall,


Messiah at the Tower of London, 10 Nov

A slightly strange combination, but kind of intriguing. First performed in 1742 Handel’s Messiah is one of the most famous works of classical music ever written, and er, The Tower of London is well famous too! Actually, the concert takes place in the intimate Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower, a similar sized venue to when the original was performed.


As You Like It, Oxford Playhouse, Tue 14 – Sat 18 Nov

Shakespeare is for life, not just jaunty summer productions. Former Oxford Playhouse resident company Shared Experience bring Shakespeare’s much-loved romantic comedy to the theatre. It’s a modern setting for this production, just in case that sways you either way.

Oxford Playhouse, 11-12 Beaumont St, Oxford, 


Gautier Capuçon, Sheldonian, Oxford, Thurs 16 Nov

I feel a sudden urge to listen to cello recitals… This frankly gorgeous French musician Gautier Capuçon (he could only be called Gaultier) is very good with his hands by all accounts, caressing Mozart’s Divertimento in D major  and Symphony No 29 in A major (written, remarkably, when Wolfgang was 16 and 18 respectively) and Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major and Symphony No. 22 in E flat major. The Sheldonian Theatre is the venue, Marios Papadopoulos conducts and the crowd will be set to sigh as Capuçon exhibits his Gallic virtuosity.


London Jazz Festival, Fri 10 – Sun 19 Nov

One of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, with ten jam-packed days of international talent. This year the numbers are dizzying – more than 350 performances in 60 venues with many of the events free.


Living Crafts for Christmas, Blenheim Palace,  16 – 19 Nov

The first of the big crafty events that we’re about to bombarded with over the next 6 weeks. This one is more pleasurable than most – more than 150 British designer-makers showcasing their craft in the Churchill and Marlborough Pavilions in the Great Court. Millinery, ceramics, studio glass, leather work, sculpture, textile crafts, photography, toys and puzzles and all that jazz. If you’re looking for a good pub afterwards, head into Woodstock to The Woodstock Arms or The Crown, I’ve eaten in both and can totally recommend.

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon,


Peppa Pig’s Adventure, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Sat 18 – Sun 19 Nov

A brand new live show starring everyone’s favourite cochon. Muddy puddles, tents, animal friends and no doubt a large array of Peppa Pig merchandise to plunder.
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange St, Aylesbury,


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