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The Muddy Guide 27 June – 3 July

Hmmm, you’ve reached an older feature - let’s get you up to date! Read our latest What's On features here.

A great week’s fun to come. Get out there and enjoy yourselves! And if you do try any of the things I suggest below, please let us know what you think in the comment box below.

Hero x


Come Draw With Me – Live Friday at the Ashmolean, Oxford, Fri 28th June 7- 10.30pm 

ashmolean - come draw with me live friday
Still loving these Live Friday nights at the Ashmolean where music, art, performance, food, philosophy and a whole load of heavy-rimmed square glasses and media beards descend on Oxford’s venerable museum for a night of urbane pleasures. This Friday’s ‘Come draw with me’ is in association with The Campaign for Drawing and aims to explore all sorts of ways people having made their mark throughout history. If the poetry recitals and atrium violin music sounds a bit heavy for you, go and check out the face and body painting, and learn how to doodle like a pro cartoonist. Best of all, do it for FREE.


Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire – Big night out Fri 29th June, 6 -10pm 

There seems to be a trend for nighttime zoo/museum/park activities and Whipsnade is all over it with its overnight stays in the Lookout Lodge, and now its Big Night Out. Highlights include lion and bear feeds, safaris, live music, face painting, a soft play area and keeper talks. Do your family-friendly duty on Friday, then spend the rest of the weekend reading the newspapers and watching Wimbledon. Bliss!

Book here. Adult tickets £21.


MAD about Waddesdon, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 29 – Sun 30 June

You wouldn't say no would you?

I’m totally in love with Waddesdon Manor – even the National Trust recognises it as the jewel in its crown – but one of the most inspiring things is how energetic the events are here. The MAD About Waddesdon Festival (Music, Arts, Dance and Drama) is a massive undertaking over 2 days, built around the local community, involving 2500 local school kids and planned with families in mind. There’s create-your-own art workshops to belly dancing and hula classes, a bungee trampoline, a 9m high climbing wall, a fire performer, Indian head massage tent, free workshops and masses more, all in acres of  stunning gardens. Frenetic, but fun.

See the full schedule here. Adults £11, Children £6.


Open gardens and woodland, various

The stunning Ashridge Estate

The stunning Ashridge Estate

It’s supposed to be lovely this weekend so if fresh air and natural beauty is your thing, stretch your legs and try one of these…

 1. Great Rollright Open Gardens, Chipping Norton, Sun 30 June 2-6pm
Four beautiful gardens to wander around and loads of family-friendly activities such as Morris dancing, face painting and dressing up. £5 adults, children free. Tel: 01608 642350. More info.

2.  Enid Blyton’s Old Thatch Gardens, Bucks Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays 2 – 5.30pm

A Muddy favourite. I spent an idyllic afternoon here last year with my two youngest children (read my post here). There’s a sweet cafe, exquisite dramatic gardens that thrill adults and children in entirely different ways, and a magical thatched cottage plopped like a fairy tale in the middle of it. Delightful.

£4 adults, £2.50 children. . Tel: 01628527518

3The Manor, Chalgrove, Oxford, Fri 28 & Sun 30 June, 2-5 pm

I’m a massive fan of the National Garden Scheme, which opens some of the nation’s most beautiful private gardens for public pleasure. This weekend, and new to the NGS, you can see The Manor in Chalgrove, a 15th century Grade I listed building that boasts a lake, wildlife areas, mixed shrub and herbaceous bed and kitchen gardens. And, oh go on then, cream teas too. £5 adults, children free. Have a gander at the excellent website here for houses and gardens near you.

 4. ‘The Hills are Alive’ Country walk at Ashridge Estate, Berkhamsted, Sat 29 June 2pm 

The 5000 acres of ancient woodlands at Ashridge are heavenly. If you love to ramble, head there for 2pm on Saturday for a butterfly-identifying bonanza and wild-flower spotting guided walk.

£7 adults, £5 children. Booking essential. Tel: 01442 851227


Riverford Supperclub, Oxfork Cafe, Oxford Thurs 27 June 7.30pm

I haven’t been to this yet but it sounds fab. Organic fruit and veg producers Riverford provide the food, the Oxfork Cafe bods provide the venue and the cooking. Add a bit of atmos alchemy and voila! For £25 you can expect welcome drinks, nibbles, three courses of delicious organic produce cooked by the Oxfork chefs, a glass of organic alcohol (I’m presuming wine)  followed by tea and coffee.  There are only 10 tickets left so live a little and snap a couple up. ‘Spontaneity’ left my vocabulary in 2002 but I have higher hopes for you!

 Oxfork Cafe, 39 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RB. Book tickets here


Henley Royal Regatta, 3rd – 7th July

Boat Race training
Last time I was was in a rowing eight my boat sank midway through a race (*the shame, the shame *), so I can’t say I have massive affection for the sport. But the Royal Henley Regatta is one of those events that appeals not only to those who enjoy rowing, but those who find pleasure in watching muscly, sweaty, superfit, tall chisell-jawed beefcakes hard at it. Yeesssss, now I think about it, I’m regaining my enthusiasm! The Regatta starts next Wednesday (3 July) so this is an early heads-up if you want to book tickets for a riverside spot from which to admire the, ahem, view.

Additional research: Alicia Roscoe


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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Bucks & Oxon