What’s on outdoors (yes, really!)
The time has finally come to put on some real clothes (joggers don't count, sorry) and have some fun in the fresh air – at a social distance, of course.
Going out is the new staying in! Yep, it’s finally time to emerge from your cocoon, put on some actual shoes and head out into the world. Stay safe of course but we think it’s time to get out there and support your local events, stores and experiences.
There ain’t no party like a car park party. New lyrics for S Club 7 in 2020. I’ll await the royalties on that one. Over at Newbury Racecourse, they’ve got the bit between their teeth and launched the Car Park Party LIVE! And it’s gonna be huuuuge! On 24 and 25 July drive in and experience comedy from The Comedy Store, 80s karaoke (Cindy Lauper’s True Colours tortured by yours truly) and the Horrible Histories clan will be performing in an American Drive-In stylee. A whole lot of socially distant fun for all ages. Simply pre-order drinks and snacks via the app and you’re out out with a guaranteed seat for the night too. If you’re closer to Henley, book up for 9-11 Jul.
DRIVE IN CINEMA
Tell me about it, Stud! Get ready to channel your inner Sandy (or Zuko) – the retro drive-in is here. With social distancing as de rigueur as a pair of stilettos for the summer, we’ve cherry-picked 5 of the coolest outdoor cinema experiences in Berkshire and a couple worth travelling a bit further.
Drive In Cinema Club: Swap your sofa for the backseat of your motor, when the Drive In Cinema Club pops up in Reading (20 Jul – 2 Aug) and Ascot (31 Jul – 13 Aug), with a whopping 17 films being screened. Take you pick from Rocket Man, The Greatest Showman and Bohemian Rhapsody, plus Avengers: End Game, Joker, Moana, Despicable Me and more. Then popcorn (you’ll be finding that down the side of the seats for years), non-alcoholic beers, mocktails, fizzy pop and street food. Gates open at 6pm and you’ll be on the road home at 11pm.
Summernights Drive In: Newbury Rugby Club has teamed up with Red Sky Festival – and they’re on a mission to reclaim summer with a socially distant, outdoor movie experience in Mortimer (3-4 Jul), Padworth (5 Jul) and Newbury (10-12 Jul). There will be six screenings – showing La La Land, Jaws, Lion King, Back To The Future and Mamma Mia – plus an in-car silent disco and themed food to order from our app to your bonnet. Think themed costumes, gorgeous grub and movie classics. It’s so modern, it’s like blade running into 2049.
Luna Cinema @ Blenheim Palace: The ever-popular Luna Cinema is back with a drive-in makeover. Expect giant HD LED screens, state-of-the-art digital in-car speakers and stunning backdrops. We love the sound of the Luna Bar – order food and drink from your car by scanning the QR code on the front of the in-car speaker you’re given and hey presto, they’ll roller-skate it over to you. Toilets and medics are on site too (just in case you get overwhelm from a 30ft Ryan Gosling). The 18th century stunner is hosting 14 fabulous films from Rocketman (10 July) to Pretty Woman (12 July) and JoJo Rabbit (13 July) and A Star Is Born (16 July). Doors open at 8.30pm and the party starts at 9.30pm.
Tom Kerridge’s Drive & Dine Theatre @ Henley Showground: With Pub in the Park cancelled this year, the Michelin-starred Marlow marvel chef has instead organised a drive-in cinema experience, complete with a top-notch foodie offering (we wouldn’t expect anything less). Expect classic 80s flicks and family faves as well as a comedy set from Mark Watson’s Carpool Comedy Club (18 July only). There are 11 films on the movie reel including La La Land (14 Jul), 1917 (16 Jul), Back To The Future (19 Jul), plus it wouldn’t be a drive-in without Grease (16 Jul)! Tickets are on sale now and are sure to sell like hot chocolate-glazed choux buns (well we are talking Michelin star quality here!). Snap a parking spot pronto.
Cool off and let off some lockdown steam. Liquid Leisure is reopening some of its facilities from the 13 Jun. Home to Europe’s largest aqua park. the first Ninja Warrior UK Aqua Park and the Aqua Mini Jungle, Liquid Leisure in Datchet, has long been the place to slide, bounce, jump, climb and get dumped into the water. Things will be a bit different – maximum of six per group booking, the course will be split into sections and time limits will be imposed on each section of course.
Anyone else gagging for an alcoholic bevvy outside the homestead? *Me me me*. From 10 July (government green light pending) to the end of August the Douai Pavilion’s Friday Night bar will reopen. The outside space here is vast, so no problem social distancing and you’ll be able to order food and drink via an app. Simply grab a table or bring a picnic rug and enjoy sundowners in an idyllic countryside spot. Expect live music, BBQ night, bubbly afternoon tea and cocktail night. Friday night fun is looking up.
PICK YOUR OWN STRAWBERRIES
Feeling fruity? Gray’s Farm in Wokingham is the biggie in our ‘hood for hand picked punnets. There’s no need to book, and you only pay for what you pick which will, no doubt, be less than what you eat as you do the rounds. Over in Cookham, raspberries, strawberries and red cherries are grown for your picking pleasure at Lower Mount Farm. Max 5 in a group and 2m queuing in the shop.
Fingers on buzzers! Slots sell like hotcakes for National Trust trips these days, but if you’re lucky enough to get tickets here are some of my local favourites: Basildon Park, West Berks with its timeless landscaped gardens and woodland walks; Cliveden, on the Berks/Bucks border, where the gardens and woodland estate are open; picturesque Greys Court, nr Henley or hop over the Hants border and roam the grounds of Tudor powerhouse The Vyne. Ashdown, the National Trust’s under the radar Dutch-style country near Lambourn, has woodland you can explore, but the house remains closed to the public.
If you haven’t managed to score tickets to your favourite National Trust gardens we have the perfect alternative. You’ll find historic country estate Stonor Park (the manor dates back more than 850 years) about four miles north of Henley-on-Thames, and it’s just opened its car park and gardens to the public again. Just in time too – the gardens are at their best this time of year with irises, alliums, peonies and roses all in bloom.
SHOP (AT A SOCIAL DISTANCE)
Shopaholics rejoice! Shopping centres are now open which includes The Oracle Reading, The Lexicon Bracknell and the Royal Arcade Windsor that’ll be opening with a limited capacity, hand sanitiser stations and enhanced cleaning regimes to be as safe as possible. There will also be a one way system (warning: this could be dangerous from your credit card if you keep passing Zara!).
Designer shopping mecca Bicester Village is now open (the village looks lovely this time of year with summer flowers, plants and trees) with new regulations. Visitors will have a temperature scan on arrival, plus you can book a virtual queue spot for your favourite boutiques using the app.