MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
THEATRE: Madagascar The Musical, Aylesbury Waterside, Aylesbury, Thurs 19 – Sun 22 Sept
I like to move it, move it! Alex the lion (played by X Factor winner Matt Terry), Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo and a troupe of pesky penguins explode onto the Aylesbury Waterside’s stage in Madagascar The Musical this month. A dead cert hit with the kids, and adults for that matter. Tickets here.
This is MAJOR. Alongside mega-hits by Tracey Emin, Hockney, Banksy and Damien Hirst, this Chris Levine portrait of Her Maj will be on display at Fresh:Art Fair at Ascot Racecourse. Some of the best galleries (Muddy Award-winning ones among them) in the UK and Ireland, will bring more than 6,000 pieces, priced from £500 to £5,000, including the likes of the Carina Haslam gallery in Great Missenden, Kingfisher Art in Woodstock and Burford’s Wren Fine Art (20 – 22 Sept). Check out 10 artists to keep an eye out for here.
Muddy readers can claim a FREE Fresh:Art Fair ticket to the Private View on Thu 19 Sep (free wine and first dibs, people) – with tIckets valid all weekend. Quote MUDDY at checkout.
And from Banksy to, erm, the bog. Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan is taking residence at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock. You may want to book a three-minute slot to see his piece ‘America’ – an 18-carat gold toilet, which will be hidden inside the palace. Over 100,000 people queued at New York’s Guggenheim to see it in 2016 (12 Sept – 27 Oct). Just don’t, erm, get caught short.
And if you’re over in Woodstock, another goodie to look out for is An Earthly Paradise: William Morris, at Oxfordshire Museum. Muddy caught the exhibit when it showed at the River and Rowing Museum and found it surprisingly good for children. Check the review here for a sneak peek (14 Sept – 10 Nov).
In central Oxford at Modern Art Oxford, you’ll find a Kiki Smith show ‘I am Wanderer’ (28 Sept – 19 Jan) which promises to take visitors on a mythological and folkloric journey in her huge tapestries to her exquisitely fashioned gold shells. Or, if beautiful, shiny objects are your thing, a trip to Waddesdon Manor might be in order as a new permanent gallery has opened dedicated to displaying the extraordinary collections of the Rothschild family, including jewellery gifted from Queen Victoria.
Rolling over from last month you can see the Ashmolean‘s current display, Last Supper in Pompeii, with 400+ exhibits from the ancient Roman site buried by the enormous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD (until 12 Jan). There’ll also be a private view, with intro by Curator Dr Paul Roberts and drinks in the lovely Rooftop Restaurant (4 Sept). Or, if you’ve got the kids in tow, check out First Animals, an interesting exploration of the first life on earth at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (until 24 Feb) and the brilliant Bears! exhibit in Henley at the River & Rowing Museum (another Muddy review right here).
If you’re a fan of books, or indeed a fan of people talking about books, there could be worse places for you to wind up than one of the region’s rather impressive literary festivals coming up over the next few months. Henley Literary Festival (28 Sept – 6 Oct) kicks off that the end of the month with a jam-packed programme plus, including US! We’re back with Muddy Book Club Live (Sat 5 Oct), talking to Celebrity Masterchef champion Lisa Faulkner, former ELLE editor Lotte Jeffs and journalist turned author Ella Dove. We will be there. There will be wine. You in?
Then there’s the Cliveden Literary Festival, just over the Berks border in Maidenhead, (28-29 Sept); the illustrious names strolling along the manicured parterre include Ian McEwan, Howard Jacobsen, Helen Fielding, Robert Harris, Tina Brown, Kate Mosse and everyone’s favourite particle physicist, Brian Cox. Or there’s The MK Literary Festival, Milton Keynes, (18-22 Sept), a smaller affair but still with an impressive line up of Carrie Gracie, the BBC China Editor who resigned over the gender pay gap, and chef Jack Monroe who’ll be discussing her new book Tin Can Cook, teaching us how to make the most of those borlotti beans gathering dust in the cupboard.
HERITAGE DAYS OUT
I love an autumn walk around a stonking heritage site (is there anything more British?) and Folly Hill, Faringdon, is a great option – four acres of woodland, plus the beautiful old Folly Tower, which boasts views over 5 counties. It’s rarely open to the public but this month you can check out the views on four dates (1, 8, 15, 22 Sept). For more heritage action there’s the 25th year of Heritage Days Out (13 – 22 Sept) with loads of events, tours and National Trust gems, open to the public across Bucks and Oxon – and the rest of the Muddy counties if you fancy a day trip. Find a full list of what’s on here.
Similarly, the Chiltern Heritage Festival (21 September – 6 October) gives you all the opportunity you could ever want to finally get a glimpse of the region’s grand private houses, local museums’ little-seen archives and beautiful ancient woodlands. In its second year, the festival encourages local businesses, tourist attractions and stately homes to open their doors and is an opportunity for locals to celebrate the area’s incredible history. We’re keen to visit the elegant Latimer House above, in Bucks (1 or 4 October), the Roald Dahl Museum’s Archive Tour, Afternoon Tea (22 September) – and put us down for the private tour and tasting at Daws Hill Vineyard (26 September).
EAT & DRINK
Calling all gluttons! There are a couple of food festivals to dig into this month. First up, MK Food Fest, on The Pavilion, (14 Sept), a free event showcasing the best local produce in Milton Keynes, with street food, farmer’s market, artisan food stalls, cooking demos, music and more. Or later in the month head over to Thame for the annual Thame Food Festival (28 – 29 Sept) – absolutely loads on the go including pop-up pubs, a botanical gin garden (you know where to find me), kiddie activities, food markets, plus baking queen and British gem Mary Berry.
For a boozier offering, check out The Oxford Wine Festival, held in the Oxford Union – 40 of the UK’s leaning wine merchants and vineyards, hundreds of award-winning and rare wines from all over the world, plus 11 wine samples included in the ticket price. There’ll also be tutored tastings, live music and food to soak it all up before you stumble home (6 – 7 Sept). And finally, it’s your last chance to gorge on scones and cake at Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden, nr Kirtlington, before it closes up for autumn (21 – 22 Sept).
I wouldn’t mind that little number for a run around! Petrol heads, car buffs and, ahem, Prosecco enthusiasts, will be flocking to Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, this month for the 14th annual Salon Privé – three days of garden parties with a mega collection of super and classic cars, as well as a luxury retail village and posh nosh (5 – 7 Sept). For more car action there’s Millets Farm‘s annual gathering of the Triumph Dolomite Club (8 Sept) with loads of the classic 70s saloon cars gathering on the lawn, or there’s the 10th anniversary of the Kop Hill Climb, Princes Risborough. It’s Bucks’ answer to Wacky Races, featuring 800 vintage, classic cars, motorbikes and hand-built karts. There’s a real festival theme to the whole thing with music, food, stalls and lashings of family fun (21 – 22 Sept).
On the comedy front this month, Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer Nominee 2018, Sindhu Vee, pops up at The North Wall, Oxford, with her critically acclaimed stand up show Sandhog (19 Sept). Sindhu hosts BBC Radio 4’s Comedy of the Week podcast, as well as doing the comedy TV rounds on the likes of QI, Have I Got News For You. Or over in Chippy at Chipping Norton Theatre funnyman and comedy circuit stalwart Andy Parsons performs Healing the Nation, his thoughts on that B-word (Brexit, shhhh!) on 27 Sept. We’re also looking forward to the return of The Potters Arms comedy nights on the last Thurs of the month. The powerhouse of a pub in Amersham is a Muddy fave and really punches above its weight with its comedy offering – first on the bill is Paul Tonkinson (29 Sept).
MK Vintage Fair, centre:mk, Milton Keynes, 7 – 8 Sept
Milton Keynes is known for its high street shopping and mega brands so it’s brilliant to hear there’s something a little different on offer this month for shoppers who veer towards quirkier buys. This mammoth craft and vintage fair hosts over 130 stalls selling fashion, homewares, furniture, gifts, art, vinyl and more. You’ll find it all in that cavernous 1800 sq m space outside John Lewis. mkhandmadeandvintage.co.uk
Waterside Festival, Waterside canal basin, Aylesbury, 14 Sept
Lots going on by the canal in Aylesbury for the Waterside Festival, including a floating market selling gifts, homewares, jewellery and more, street food, canal trips, stage shows and you can even have a go at water sports like paddle boarding and kayaking. watersidefestival.org
Westgate In-Spires, Westgate Oxford, 27 – 28 Sept
This brand new free fest, Westgate In-Spires (see what they did there?), showcases all things lifestyle, food and fashion in the mega shopping hub. There will be catwalk shows showcasing AW19 collections, make-up masterclasses, styling sessions courtesy of John Lewis, cocktail-making sessions and cooking classes on the roof terrace, dance, live music and more. If you still need to nail your new season wardrobe, this is the perfect weekend to pop to the shops.
Farrow & Ball: A Day of Colour, Millets Farm, nr Abingdon, 28 Sept
In the middle of an interiors zhuzh-up and seeking inspiration? Farrow & Ball’s Oxford showroom are popping up at Millets to share tips on how to update your home with paint and wallpaper. Colour consultants will be on hand and you’ll also get to check out the brand’s new collection of funky metallic wallpaper above. milletsfarmcentre.com
Harvest Festival, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Bucks, 28 Sept
This annual fest at the Bucks-based museum explores the history of the harvest with a huge display of produce grown in the museum’s historic gardens, demonstrations of traditional skills and crafts, plus you’ll also get to see COAM’s restored 1947 threshing machine (if that’s what you’re in to). coam.org.uk
There are loads of venues in our neck of the woods celebrating all things apple-y this month for the annual Apple Day (28 – 19 Sept). Cogges Manor Farm, in Witney, is hosting a festival (29 Sept) with demos, food stalls, toffee apple making, crafts, den building and apple pressing – don’t forget a flask to take home some fresh juice. For grown-ups there’ll also be a cider bar and live folk music throughout the day. National Trust venues getting involved are Hughenden Manor, Bucks, with tastings in the apple orchard; Greys Court, in Henley, with seasonal treats in the tea-room; Stowe, in Buckingham, with pressing demos and juice tastings.
Pelvic-thrusts at the ready for the Time Warp! Strictly professional Joanne Clifton stars in Richard O’Brien’s legendary rock’n’roll fandango, Rocky Horror Show, at Wycombe Swan this month (9 – 14 Sept). My question is – who’s that guy in the leopard budgie smugglers on the right? He deserves his own show. Following on at Wycombe Swan is The Girl on the Train – it’s based on Paula Hawkins’ best-selling thriller of the same name and stars Samantha Womack (EastEnders’ Ronnie Mitchell) (17 – 21 Sept).
There’s still chance to see the brilliant War Horse (until 7 Sept) at New Theatre Oxford – Muddy checked out opening night and loved it – check our review here, and don’t forget to pack tissues. I’m also loving the idea of Creation Theatre’s production of Don Quixote – it’s an edgy choice of venue in Oxford’s Covered Market (above) and has an updated plot-line where Sam (Sancho Panza) and Dom (Don Quixote) decide to kit out an ancient motor home and head off on a road trip on the A40 from Oxford (until 28 Sept).
Over in Chippy at the charming Chipping Norton Theatre, you can see Skylight, a gritty drama set over the course of a single night that touches on themes of complex love, passion, infidelity and anger (11 – 21 Sept). On a similar vein, catch a bit of the Bard at Oxford Playhouse, with The Watermill Theatre’s new, bold production of Macbeth set to the soundtrack of Johnny Cash, The xx and The Rolling Stones played on electric guitars (17 – 21 Sept). For a more traditional Shakespeare offering, catch the last few performances of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet at Europe’s first pop up theatre, at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock (until 7 Sept).
Or if you’re looking for a feel-good show there’s 9 to 5 The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre (I mean, who doesn’t want to see Louise Redknapp knocking out some Dolly Parton classics?). It looks like it’ll be a hit with the teenage crowd as Love Island 2017 winner Amber Davis (pictured above) co-stars (24 – 28 Sept). And also at MK Theatre there’s Priscilla Queen of the Desert, starring Strictly winner Joe McFadden – loads of glitter, feathers, wicked wigs and dance-floor classics, don’t forget your singing voices (30 Sept – 5 Oct). And finally, if you didn’t snaffle tickets for Phoebe Waller Bridge’s brilliantly dark comedy Fleabag on the West End, it’s being screened to cinemas across Bucks an Oxon. Find your nearest venue here (12 Sept).
So bored of your own cooking you could cry? (Yep). How about trying one of these brilliant supper clubs? Native Feasts pops up for its third round of supper clubs at the vintage greenhouses at Peterley Manor Farm, Great Missenden (27, 28 Sept); The Granary Deli in Watlington invites people in on 27 Sept; buzzy café Fego‘s Beaconsfield locale hosts a Sri Lankan feast with Prema’s Kitchen (21 Sept); Wheatley-based Durban Spice offers a five course menu of South African dishes (6, 7, 13, 14, 20 Sept); The Secret Supper Society, in north Oxfordshire, cooks up a surprise six course feast (7, 13, 21, 27, 28 Sept); veteran chef, restauranteur and food writer Mark Hix designs Blenheim Palace‘s September supper club on 12 Sept.
This month, the stunning Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, hosts 20 of the world’s leading string players from 15 different countries to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch of Peace One Day, an initiative promoting world peace, non violence and global unity. The Oxford Concert for Peace will be one of three performances world-wide to feature the orchestra in 2019 (21 Sept).
Or for an orchestra with a twist, check out the brilliant Submotion Orchestra at O2 Academy Oxford (26 Sept). The seven-piece band offer a modern, deep electronica take on orchestral music, plus your teens will think you’re cool if you name drop. Another one to impress teens with your music knowledge is Wilkinson who’ll be performing a late-night DJ set, also at the O2 Academy Oxford (28 Sept). And, if you’re milling around Westgate Oxford at the end of the month, look out for up-and-coming indie-soul singer Lots Holloway who’ll be performing on 26 and 27 Sept.
Cultural highlights this month include Taking The Stage – Women in Performing Arts at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, a collection of talks and performances that celebrate women in the theatre industry. Over the three day mini-fest you can see a new play by the first famed director at the National Theatre, ‘scratch’ pieces from emerging local talent, comic sketches and more (12 – 14 Sept). Stephen Fry rocks up at New Theatre Oxford with his new project Mythos, a trilogy of plays about Greek mythology. (19 – 21 Sept).
They may have FINALLY gone back to school (hurray!) but there’s still fun to be had at the weekends, including Once Upon A Time at Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, which follows the Grimms brothers’ sister Lotte as she travels deep into the Fairytale Kingdom (age 7+, 20 – 21 Sept). Plus there’s Zog, at MK Theatre, Milton Keynes (29 – 31 Sept), based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s book (they’re the duo behind The Gruffalo so you know it will be brilliant). And finally, there’s Bugs!! FUNomusica Family Concert at Oxford Town Hall, where invertebrates from the jungle to the garden are explored through the medium of music (29 Sept).
NEW EXHIBITION: William Blake, Tate Britain, London, 11 Sept – 2 Feb 2020
Poet, painter and printmaker William Blake has created some of the most iconic images in British art. This new exhibition, the largest of Blake’s work for almost 20 years, will feature over 300 original works, as well as an immersive recreation of the small domestic room in which Blake showed his art in 1809. Other pieces will be digitally recreated on an enormous scale. tate.org.uk
FESTIVAL: Emerge Festival, various London locations, 27 – 28 Sept
Dubbed as ‘Night at the Museum meets Glastonbury’ this new arts festival, hosted in venues across London, features 30 ‘late’ events from music, performance, poets, DJs and cocktails. The aim of the game? To visit as many as you can – a ticket gets you a wristband that gives you entry to every single event on the night. See the full line up here. emergefestival.co.uk
NEW EXHIBITION: Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, V&A Museum, London, from 21 Sept
CULTURE: Bill Bryson, New Theatre Oxford, Sat 12 Oct
Best know for his quirky travel books, Bill Bryson is heading out on a mini-tour to celebrate the publication of his new book The Body; A Guide for Occupants, out 3 Oct. There are only two dates booked (the other is Manchester) so do give it a whirl. Plus you might actually learn something, how about that? Tickets here.