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The Muddy Guide: What’s On Thurs 10 – Weds 16 March

Meet the Artist, Jo Hall, Norden Farm, Maidenhead, Sun 13 March, 2.30-4pm


Artist Jo Hall is currently exhibiting a series of works focusing on observation and imagination at Norden Farm until 20 March. They’re all based on Jo’s sketchbook studies from a range of situations including museums, the countryside and the London Underground. On Sun 13 March from 2.30pm to 4.30pm you can rock up with the family to ‘Meet the Artist’. Jo will talk through her works and sketchbooks and there will be materials laid out so children (and grown-ups!) of all ages can join in and do some drawing themselves. Let me at that canvas!

Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead SL6 4PF. Box Office: 01628 788997.

Can we farm on Mars? Reading Film Theatre, Tues 15 March, 7.15pm


Reading Science Week, part of British Science Week which runs from 11-20 March is packed with science activities and events aimed at all ages from science quizzes and debates to star gazing and experiments in venues around the University campus and across Reading. Makes a change from an adventure playground and your kids might just learn something that doesn’t involve a Minecraft hack. One such event is on Tues 15 March at the Reading Film Theatre. There will be a screening of The Martian (starring Matt Damon, cue *completely irrelevant but rather tasty gratuitous shot of Matt’s sweaty chest*) accompanied by a talk and Q&A session led by Dr Matt Owens, Associate Professor in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading. He’ll be providing an insight into the challenges, outlined in the film, of travelling into space and setting up shop on Mars. Guest appearance by Matt? Highly unlikely I’m afraid, but one can dream.

Tickets £8. 

Henley Youth Festival, Henley-on-Thames, 12 – 20 March


Worth crossing the border for this. The first HYF took place in 1994 as a means of celebrating the talents and achievements of young people in the area and giving them a chance to have a go and get involved in a wide range of activities that they may not otherwise experience. Now well over 1,500 children and teens, ranging from under fives to 18 year olds, take part each year in about 35 different events and activities. The focus is on the performing and visual arts but there are also great opportunities for children to try new sports, and local schools get involved hosting workshops and running competitions – whether your child is a budding film maker, poet, artist or sculptor there’s a competition for them. This year’s festival theme is Carnival. I’m going to dust of my maracas and get my nipple tassles ready for the parade! What? Too much?

Coppélia, Theatre Royal Windsor, until Sat 12 March


In this comic fairytale ballet Dr Coppélius, the toymaker, has created the lifelike Coppélia doll, and is desperate to bring her to life. He thinks his dream has finally come true, but he’s merely been caught up in a lovers’ tiff. Love triumphs over all in this comedy of mistaken identity and the finale is a breathtaking celebration of the lovers’ marriage. With its sweet story, colourful costumes, lively characters and beautiful music from Delibes, this is a good ‘first ballet’ for younger children. Tickets from £14.50 to £35. Performances at 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Thurs 10; 7.30pm on Fri 11; and 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Sat 12.

Theatre Royal Windsor, Thames Street, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1PS. Box Office: 01753 853 888.

Horrible Histories: Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders, Wycombe Swan, Weds 9 – Sat 14 March


The mudlets are totally into Horrible Histories and I’m probably even more of a fan so I think it’s worth a quick whizz up the M40 to catch one of these. The live show comes to the Wycombe Swan from next week with Groovy Greeks (starting Wednesday) and Incredible Invaders (starting Thursday). Choose which one as any modern parent would – according to the school syllabus!

Wycombe Swan Theatre, St Mary St, High Wycombe, Bucks,

Treasures of the Ford Collection, Basildon Park, until Sun 24 March


The Grand Tour was a period of travel in Europe generally undertaken by wealthy young men throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. It commonly took place at the end of one’s formal education and was seen as a means of shaping the creative, intellectual and cultural sensibilities of aspiring gentleman. Hmm, the modern day equivalent of Inter-railing doesn’t seem quite so romantic does it? The scholar Sir Brinsley Ford (1908-99) was passionate about art throughout his life, a collector from the age of 11 (take note my son – your Match Attack cards and Moshi Monsters are unlikely to keep me in my old age). He became a leading authority on the Grand Tour and his collection reflected this. These are the last few weeks of 69 works from the Ford collection being displayed in the South Pavilion in Basildon Park so catch it while you can.

Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading, West Berkshire RG8 9NR.

Oxford Literary Festival early heads up, Sat 2 – Sun 10 April

The biggest event in Oxfordshire’s literary calendar is ready to find a leather sofa, curl up in the corner with a good glass of wine and shine a light on some of the most admired authors in the UK. This is an early heads up as tickets are already selling quickly for author events such as Jacqueline WilsonDavid Baddiel and this years’s Writer in Residence, Joanne Harris.

Gary Delaney, ‘There’s Something About Gary’, South Street Arts, Reading, Fri 11 March, 8pm


A regular on Mock the Week, Gary thinks a good joke should be like a drunk Glaswegian, short and punchy. His new tour show, ‘There’s something about Gary’ is not only great for people who like lots of jokes but also fun for people who enjoy getting offended by jokes too. I think that should give you a heads up for what to expect. Don’t take your mother-in-law. Tickets £16.

South Street Arts Centre, 21 South Street, Reading, RG1 4QU. Box Office: 0118 960 6060.

Fearsome knights and fair princesses day, Windsor Castle, Sat 12 March

It’s times like these I wish I was five again. Come to Windsor Castle this Saturday dressed as a princess or a knight and get a free gift! Then, there’s storytelling in the State Apartments where you’ll listen to tales of knights and princesses and learn about the myths and legends of some of the most exciting stories from Windsor Castle – of beautiful, romantic princesses and brave, chivalrous knights of the Middle Ages. I mean, awesome right? Now where’s my Rapunzel wig? Storytelling at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm (lasts about 45 minutes). Price is included in the standard admission.



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