Finally – normal life can resume. Goodbye children (*grins maniacally at school gates*), hello long-lamented social life!
Flashdance, New Theatre, Mon 18 – Sat 23 Sept
Pass me my legwarmers, high leg leotard, and heavy dute welding visor – I’m ready for my Flashdance closeup. Eh, what do you mean Joanne Clifton already has the lead role? (*sigh*) Yes tis true, the current Strictly champion continues her successful foray into musicals taking on the role of Alex, tomboy building site worker by day, gyrating sweaty permahaired foxtress by night. She stars with A1’s Ben Adams in this touring production that has me more excited than I dare express.
Age guidance: 11+. Book tickets
Legally Blonde, Wycombe Swan, Mon 25 – Sat 30 Sept
I took my mum to a production of Legally Blonde last year and we both hooted our way through it, it was much funnier than I thought it would be. This new show has a celeb cast – Rita Simons (Roxy Mitchell in BBC’s EastEnders) Lucie Jones (Eurovision UK representative 2017) and the delicious Bill Ward (James Barton in Emmerdale, Charlie Stubbs in Coronation Street) as Professor Callahan. Grab a group of girlies and go have a giggle.
Windsor Fringe Festival, Sat 23 Sept – Sat 7 Oct
If you like your arts fresh out of the box and are nudging the West of Muddy Bucks/Oxon territory, head to Windsor Fringe Festival – the second oldest fringe in the UK after Edinburgh. Expect an eclectic programme of events and shows, plus the world reknowned International Windsor Fringe Award for New Drama Writing judged by Hilary Mantel, Fay Weldon and Kenneth Branagh, to name a few.
London Fashion Week, various venues, Friday 15 – Tuesday 19 Sep
LFW is a lot more democratic than it used to be – these days you don’t have to stow away in Anna Wintour’s handbag to get a taste of the action. LFW highlights that are open to the public include the Design Frontiers exhibition at Somerset House featuring work from 30 of our most pioneering creatives and giant outdoor screens showing live catwalks shows in various public spaces in London (such as Soho Square) and Birmingham. What’s more, London Fashion Week Festival comes hot on the heels of the shows – from 21-24 Sep at Store Studios on The Strand, you’ll be able to watch catwalk shows, attend talks by industry experts and, but of course, shop until your credit card catches fire.
London Design Festival, various locations, 16 – 24 Sept
This festival, now in its 15th year, is just incredible – hundreds of events taking place across the city at venues including the V&A where you can see this stunning Reflection Room, by designer Flynn Talbot, an immersive coloured light experience that will be the first London Design Festival installation to be housed in the Prince Consort Gallery.
Live Music, Lassco at The Three Pigeons, Milton Common, every Thurs & Fri night
What a cool, quirky venue for live music – the Milton Common architectural salvage yard-cum-café/bar/restaurant has launched two new weekly music nights. Thursdays are jazz (niiiiiice. Sorry, couldn’t resist), curated by Alyn Shipton, writer, BBC broadcaster and jazz guru. He’ll be roping in luminaries such as award-winning saxophonist Alan Barnes and renowned bassist/composer Alec Dankworth. Then Fridays belong to The Mellow Fellows – who I’m guessing don’t play death metal. They’re two session players and longtime Oxon music scenesters, Kevin Barrett and Robert Markham. Both nights start at 7.30pm and booking is advised.
Lassco, The Three Pigeons, London Rd, Milton Common, Oxon, lasscobar3ps.co.uk
Kanye the First, North Wall, Oxford, Weds 20 – Fri 22 Sep
No, Kanye West isn’t coming to Oxford – although I have heard that his lovely wife Kim Kardashian is a big fan of Inspector Morse. This is actually a new play inspired by the giant-egoed rapper and social media ranter and it looks pretty darn good. It’s written by award-winning, hotshot young playwright Sam Steiner and explores notions of identity in modern culture. Our heroine Annie feels her life is a bit rubbish and dull, unlike the celebrities she slavishly follows on social media. What if she could reinvent herself as someone else, someone glitzier and glossier? If you’ve got a teenager who’s constantly glued to Instagram, this should make a thought-provoking outing, and it’s suitable for children aged 14 and over.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Mon 25 – Tues 26 Sep
Giffords Circus, Fennels Farm, Stroud, Thu 21 to Sun 24 Sept
Last chance to see this candle-lit international gymnastic show with dancing horses, a live band, everyone’s favourite clown Tweedy and a side helping of psychedelic madness, as Giffords returns home to complete its 2017 tour that takes them to a 17th-century Spanish court. giffordscircus.com
Sherlock Holmes and the Crimson Cobbles, Chipping Norton Theatre, Tues 19 – Sun 24 Sep
Sherlock Holmes is one of those fictional characters with enduring appeal, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s TV turn as the tricksy detective has brought in a whole new generation of mini brainiac sleuths. This new play is family-friendly – suitable for children aged 12 and over – and especially commissioned for Chipping Norton Theatre. Holmes and Watson are called upon to investigate the Whitechapel murders but when the evidence points to only one possible conclusion about the identity of Jack the Ripper, is Holmes prepared to believe the unbelievable?
Summer Celebrations with Champagne & Raymond Blanc, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Weds 20 Sep
An evening at Le Manoir, you say? Well, if you insist. Everybody loves Raymond, after all (geddit?). The super-chef is joined by David Hesketh, from Laurent-Perrier – who sounds like someone we urgently need to network with – as the devilish duo host an evening of gastronomic delights paired with the finest fizz. The proceedings commence with canapés – well, of course – ahead of a five-course summer dinner, including coffee and petits fours, in the most beautiful, 5 star surroundings you could imagine. Of course such luxury comes at a price, with this clocking in at £235 per head. Early Christmas present perhaps?
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxon, belmondcdn.azureedge.net
The Daylesford Health & Wellness Retreat, Daylesford Cookery School, 29 -30 Sept
This two day retreat allows you to experience the best of both The Cookery School and Bamford Haybarn Spa, whilst staying in the Daylsford cottages. In collaboration with Daylesford’s resident nutritionist, Rhaya Jordan and yoga teacher Nikki Jackson, take part in deeply relaxing classes as well as restorative massages and facials. There are demos and hands on classes in The Cookery School, plus a Chef’s Table Supper on Saturday evening where the chefs create a health-giving, seasonal tasting menu right in front of you. All you have to do is relax (and, er, don’t look at your bill till you get home).
Softer – Jenny Holzer Exhibition at Blenheim Palace, Thurs 28 Sep – 31 Dec
The fourth artist to to showcase contemporary art at Blenheim Palace (my kids still talk about Ai Wei Wei back in 2015), Holzer will be creating new work directly addressing our military and political history – eeek! For this show she’s developing large-scale light projections that will transform the Formal Gardens after dark in a series of night time public events. Sound cool right? Plus visitors can also explore more meditative areas featuring examples of Holzer’s best-known work.
Potter’s Arms Comedy Night – Leo Kearse, Thurs 28 Sept
This rural pub outside Amersham continues to boggle the mind with its A-list comedy talent. Its regular last Thursday of the month comedy slot is being filled this month by Leo Kearse, with opening act Glenn Moore and regular MC Simon Clayton. Food is included in the interval as usual.
La Voix Humaine, North Wall, Oxford, Sat 30 Sep
Olivier Award-winning OperaUpClose returns to The North Wall this autumn with a new production of Poulenc and Cocteau’s La Voix Humaine. Poulenc and Cocteau had shared the perils and pleasures of early-20th-century gay life – including Nazi occupation – for decades by the time the composer tackled his friend’s hit play, and this intense 50-minute tour de force for solo soprano is the result. Performed by Sarah Minns and Richard Black on piano and directed by OperaUpClose’s Artistic Director, Robin Norton-Hale, it’s a devastating musical portrait of a human being on the brink of disintegration. Sneak in a stiff drink if it all gets too much.
Curiosity Carnival, Live Friday, The Ashmolean Museum, Fri 29 Sept
A huge festival of curiosity across the University of Oxford’s museums, libraries, gardens and woods, joining hundreds of other European cities celebrating European Researchers’ Night (er, sounds like a ball!). The Ashmolean is celebrating as it does best, with its innovative free entry Live Friday event, offering dance, art, talks, demonstrations and music to consider how researchers use time and space to think about what makes us and the universe tick. There’s the Orchestra of the Enlightenment, combining music with cutting-edge science about the rhythms of sleep; 3D virtual reality to explore DNA; FLUX dance theatre performing and basically a whole load of kind of weirdy cool stuff.
Free to enter but you do need to book a ticket in advance. Tickets
Joel Dommett, Aylesbury Waterside, Fri 29 Sep
RSC Jumble Sale, RSC Rehearsal Rooms, Stratford, Sat Sept 23
Fancy a rummage through boxes of theatrical costumes worn at the RSC over the past 20 years? Alistair McArthur, RSC Head of Costume, said: “At one of our previous sales someone found a pair of slippers worn by David Tennant when he played Hamlet here. Most pieces are labelled with the name of the actor who originally wore them, so who knows what little gems people might pick up?” More than 10,000 items including period costumes, uniforms, doublets, shoes, hats and accessories, plus uniform coats worn in 2008’s Hamlet starring David Tennant, will be available to buy from £1.
The RSC has the largest in-house costume-making department of any British theatre, employing 30 award-winning craftspeople. Funds will go towards restoring the Costume Workshop on Waterside. £3 per person (cash only). No booking required, just turn up and queue, 9am – 5pm
Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception, Compton Verney until Sun Oct 1
Don’t miss this excellent critically-acclaimed summer exhibition including the leading figures of 1960’s Op Art – Bridget Riley, Jesus Rafael Soto, and Victor Vasarely -installations, and a stunning site-specific wall painting by German abstract artist Lothar Götz. “This show fizzes with the zinging colours and eye-popping patterns of Op Art, from the Impressionists to the mind-bending Sixties experiments of Bridget Riley … a trippy, wild ride” – The Daily Telegraph. Daily tours at 12noon & 2.30pm.
Tue – Sun & bank holidays until Sun Oct 1 2017, 11am – 5pm, comptonverney.org.uk
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Tate Modern, until Oct 22
‘An exhibition that uncovers an entire lost history of American art’ is how Guardian critic Jonathan Jones describes this visual journey through the civil rights movement. Some engage with legendary figures from the period, with paintings in homage to political leaders Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Angela Davis, musician John Coltrane and sporting hero Jack Johnson. Muhammad Ali appears in Andy Warhol’s famous painting. Unmissable era-defining artworks.
BOOK NOW FOR…
Cliveden Literary Festival, Sat 14 – Sun 15 Oct
The River Café’s Ruth Rogers, novelists Robert Harris and Ian McEwan, and historian Lady Antonia Fraser are among the speakers at Cliveden’s refined gathering. The 5 star country house hotel has held literary salons since the 17th century, inspiring writers from Pope to Swift to Tennyson, so you’ll certainly be in rarefied company. And be sure to have a snoop around the exquisite grounds while you’re there.
The Muddy Literary Salon at Thame Arts & Literature Festival, Thurs 12 Oct
Did someone say girls’ night out? There are only 120 tickets available to see five frankly awesome authors at our inaugural literary event so be quick! Fashion/food blogger Sasha Wilkins (aka LibertyLondonGirl), Clover Stroud, Elizabeth Heathcote, Tamsina Perry and Alexandra Heminsley make up the line up, plus there’ll be more Prosecco than you can shake a stick at. Read all about it, or go straight for the jugular and book here for a bargainous £10.
ALREADY GONE THIS MONTH…
The Vintage Collections LFW, The Yard, Shoreditch Sun 17 Sept
Open to industry and the style-loving public this London Fashion Week, Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair arrives at Shoreditch venue The Yard for one day of unique shopping. 50 of the best vintage traders from across the UK selling Chanel and Gucci, and vintage faves like Biba and Ossie Clark, plus original designs dating from the Victorian era to the 1980s will all blow your retro rocket sky high. A major resource for the fashion industry, the pieces sourced at the fair go on to be next season’s trends, so here’s your chance to be fashion forward.
11am until 5pm at The Yard, 89&1/2 Worship Street, London, EC2A 2BF. Entry to the fair is £4 (£2 for students) on the door.
Sarah Kendall, North Wall, Oxford, Fri 15 Sep
It’s a great time for female comedians, with women winning two out of three of Edinburgh Festival’s awards this year, despite making up only 30 percent of the performers. Here’s chance to catch a hotshot humourist – Sarah Kendall, creator of hit BBC Radio 4 series Australian Trilogy, was nominated for two awards at Edinburgh last year, and returns with new show, One-Seventeen. I’ve never seen her stand-up routine so she sounds like she has the creds. If you make it, let me know how it goes for you.
Content Provider, Stewart Lee, Oxford Playhouse, Mon 11 – Tues 12 Sept
Mr Muddy’s favourite comedian, Stewart Lee is sarcastic, acerbic, pessimistic and bitter (I mean seriously, the comparisons keep flowing) – and very very funny. Content Provider is his first full-length show since the award-winning Carpet Remnant World, a show that deserves a Perrier Award just for its name.
Daylesford Cookery School, Supper with Rose Prince, 16 Sept
Fancy a night in the Cotswolds? Food writer and best-selling author Rose Prince rocks up at Daylesford Cookery School for a four-course, seasonal tasting menu created by Rose featuring dishes and ideas from her latest book, DINNER & PARTY. Yum, yum and yum.
Chilli Festival, Sat 2 & Sun 3 Sep, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks
Spice up your life with this festival held in the grounds of Waddesdon Manor. There are 65 local exhibitors who promise to give your tastebuds a workout, with chilli sauces, jams, beer and chocolate. If it all gets too much, you can cool your tongue at the frozen yogurt stand. Not to worry if your kids haven’t yet reached a level of spice sophistication, just settle them down at the crafts table or the face-painting. From 10am-5pm,
Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Bucks, waddesdon.org.uk
Stick Man, Wycombe Swan, Sat 2 – Sun 3 Sep
Days out with Thomas, Bucks Railway Centre, Sat 2 – Sun 3 Sep
If you have nippers who are obsessed with trains, this day out will blow their tiny minds. A steam train with the Thomas livery chugs gently back and forth all day long, you get to meet the Fat Controller (and he is indeed pleasingly portly) plus there’s all sorts of face painting, kids’ shows, mini train rides and ample space to picnic. If you’ve got older children in tow it’s worth knowing you can also have a snoop around the permanent museum exhibition, where you can hang out in retro tube carriages.
Bucks Railway Centre, Quainton, bucksrailwaycentre.org
Foodies Festival, South Park, Oxford, Fri 1- Sun 3 Sep
Impeccably-lipsticked Bake Off winner Candice Brown is the star attraction at central Oxford’s South Park food festival this weekend, alongside Le Manoir’s Michelin-starred chef Gary Jones and Saturday Kitchen host Matt Tebbutt. You can roam the temptations of Street Food Avenue, or perhaps the Drinks Theatre tickles your fancy (it sure tickles ours). Reckless macho types (*cough, Mr Muddy*) may like to test their endurance in the chilli-eating-competition.
South Park, Oxford, foodiesfestival.com
Tractor Ted, Stonor Park , Sun 3 Sep
If your nippers’ two favourite things in the world are Tractor Ted and bouncy castles then 3 Sep sure is their lucky day. A giant Tractor Ted bouncy castle will be popping up at Stonor Park, Bucks, ideal for letting off some end-of-the-summer-hols steam. Suitable for under 7s, the activities also include getting up close with animals at the mobile farm, a Tractor Ted driving test and a bout of welly wanging. Which always sounds a bit rude to us but we’re sure it’s good wholesome family fun.
Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, stonor.com
St Giles Fair, Oxford, Mon 4 – Tues 5 Sep
Fancy scoffing diabetes-inducing amounts of candyfloss and winning a cuddly toy that’ll fall apart before you get home? Course you do! Or at least you probably know some small people who would like that very much indeed. The St Giles Fair in central Oxford is the biggie of our region and has been going strong since Victorian times. Just head for Debenhams – the rides and stalls extend into Magdalen Street to the south and Banbury Road and Woodstock Road to the north.
Oxford Wine Festival, Oxford Union, Fri 8 – Sat 9 Sept
Did you know that Oxford Wine Festival was included in Decanter Magazine’s Top 10 Wine Festivals in the World last year? I mean, WOW. This week you can explore over 500 award-winning wines from 25 countries. Use a spittoon if you’re a pro, or make like Muddy and get merrily plastered as an enthusiastic amateur!
Rotherfield Greys village fete, Sun 3 September
Your classic family-fun village fete, complete with tombola, splat-the-rat, cakes and a pop-up pub. Except Rotherfield Greys, near Henley-on-Thames, take this tradition to a whole new level of fancy – it’s held in the gorgeous gardens of National Trust property Greys Court. There’s a Beauty & The Beast costume theme (which one I’ll go as depends on how long I have to get ready that morning) and the fun starts at 12pm.
Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court
Highclere Castle Vintage Garden Party, Sat 9 & Sun 10 Sept
If you have a Downton Abbey fan in your midst you could just about make them the happiest person alive if you splash out (or is that remortgage?) on this event. Highclere Castle is going back in time to welcome guests for a vintage weekend including tour of the castle, access to the Egyptian Exhibition, croquet, jazz music, carousels to ride, brass bands, a traditional fete, vintage cars and marquees on the lawns. Guests are encouraged to come dressed in period or vintage clothing from the Edwardian era – choose from ‘upstairs’ or ‘downstairs’ and they’ll even provide details of costume hire companies if you need help. Tickets are £120 – good grief, what would Carson say to that?
10am to 6pm. highclerecastle.co.uk
Giacometti, Tate Modern, ends Sun 10 Sep
No, that’s not me after spending too long frying on a sun-lounger on holiday, it’s the iconic work of Alberto Giacometti. It’s now or never to catch the UK’s first major retrospective of the sculptor’s work in 20 years, at the Tate Modern. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings and showcases the full evolution of Giacometti’s career across five decades and is very much worth jumping on a train to the Smoke for.
Goring & Streatley Food & Drink Festival, Sat 9 Sep
A day of legitimized over-eating and heavy drinking? Where do we sign up? We love a food festival at Muddy and this one in the Oxon villages of Goring and Streatley is free to attend. There’s street food; a kids kitchen; artisan meat, chocolate, bread and preserve tastings; chef demos (these cost £5) – starring Nick Galer, co-owner/head chef at the Miller Of Mansfield in Goring and Tom Clarke, head chef at Michelin-starred L’Ortolan in Shinfield. Plus there’s a drinks zone, serving up local ales and ciders, chilli ginger beer, wine and cognac. That’s where you’ll find us, naturally.
Oxford Open Doors, Oxford, Sat 9 – Sun 10 Sept
One of my favourite events in Oxford, Open Doors has been running annually since 2008, literally opening doors behind some of Oxford’s most beautiful – and private – buildings and projects. There’s an extraordinary range of buildings and spaces to choose from, but there are a couple of stand-outs for me including a visit to the Painted Room (above) in Cornmarket, visited by Shakespeare; a rare opportunity The Jesuit Hall of the University, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens with its fine architectural features including the main Chapel and Library. You can see the 16th century wall paintings Medieval Merchant’s House in Abingdon, take guided tours of Magdalen College’s delicious 15th century Old Library or even cuter, demonstrations of Real Tennis on the second oldest court in the world at Merton College, or visit the restored Osney mill and marina, and the remains of Osney Abbey built in 1410. Frankly the list goes on and on! Take a look at the list of events and make sure you’re wearing flat shoes – it’s going to be a busy weekend.
Venues across Oxford, oxfordopendoors.org.uk
Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, Blenheim Palace, 13 – 17 Sept
Tally-ho! The 27th annual Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials return this week, a three day event over four days (go figure) featuring dressage, cross country and show-jumping. It’s very horsey as you can imagine – the trade stands are rammed with tweed, leather boots and strange equine fashion, but you get great views of the competition (nearly so close you can touch in some instances), and it’s a slickly run event in stunning surrounds. This year the popular Fun ride route has been changed with more jumps and both a long and short course, plus there’s a new shopping pavilion. Horsey heaven.
The Handmade Fair, Hampton Court, Fri 15 – Sun 17 Sept
I can’t even sew labels onto school clothes so this kind of event is way out of my comfort zone. However, you may be au fait with a with needle and thread, sewing machine, knitters and fabric scissors, in which case fill your boots at this slick annual offering from everyone’ favourite Head Girl Kirsty Allsopp. Joining her are interior designer and author Sophie Conran and founder of Not On The High Street, Holly Tucker, and, of course, Kirstie Allsopp. Plus there’s the chance to try something new in the interactive workshops – from calligraphy to wirework, machine sewing to screen printing.
The Great Antique & Vintage Car Boot Fair, Stonor Park, Sun 17 Sept
I’m not sure how Stonor Park polices what qualifies as vintage and antique but this sounds like the kind of event where you could find a real bargain or two. Tickets are £7 between 7-9am (yes, you read that right – set your alarm) and only £4 from 9am onwards, so if you’re serious about snaffling that masterpiece, get there early! Otherwise meander around until 5pm at your leisure.
Stonor Park, Stonor, Henley-on-Thames, stonor.com
Charity Car Boot Sale, Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Sun 17 Sept
The Stately Car Boot Sale returns to the private grounds of Cornbury Park in aid of the ROSY charity for terminally ill children and their families. Over 100 upmarket stalls including top end bric-a-brac, furniture, indoor décor & soft furnishings, vintage & good-as-new designer clothing, refreshments. Great morning out to bag a bargain.Gates open for vendors on the day at 7am and attendees will arrive at 8.30am. £5 adults, under 16’s go free.
Kop Hill Climb, Princes Risborough, Bucks, Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sep
Calling all Penelope Pitstops! Get yourselves down to Bucks’ answer to Wacky Races, featuring 800 vintage, classic cars and motorbikes – and, um, a sofa. Yes, some lunatic will be driving a motorized sofa. More sexily, we’re also promised a cavalcade of Ferraris to celebrate the iconic sportscar’s 70th birthday. You can check out the vehicles – once they’ve come to a stop of course, health & safety fans – and chat to their owners, test your own driving skills or hang out at the retro funfair in the kids’ zone.
Marlow Carnival, Sat 16 Sep
It’s carnival time! Head down to Marlow’s Higginson Park for pony rides, classic cars, mini go-karts, fair rides, live music, BBQ food, lashings of booze and a tea tent. What’s more, gym bunnies can test their mettle on an Immortal Fitness obstacle course (*immediately hides in the bar*).