MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
What’s In A Name, Theatre Royal Windsor, Mon 4 – Sat 9 Nov
Movember and baby with a Hitler ‘tache. It’s a match made in theatrical heaven. The Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas and Miranda’s Bo Poraj star in this comedic play about egos, childish resentment and unspoken feelings. This will be the first UK tour for the show which has been adapted from award-winning French film and stage show Le Prénom by Brit theatre director Jeremy Sams. Looks like a goodie.
Family Fireworks Spectacular, Ascot Racecourse, Sat 2 Nov
Fireworks night is so last decade, make a day of it, entertain the kids for FREE and do your bit for charity. Ascot Racecourse is offering a full day of racing, white knuckle fun fair rides, gentler ones for littlies and pop-up laser tag (free until 4pm, then £1 per ride). They’ll also be showing Toy Story, finishing with an enormous fireworks display. Under 18s go free (and can eat for free too) with a fee-paying adult – all proceeds go to local charities. Only want to ooh and aah at the fireworks? Enter at 4pm. Talk about bang for your buck. Fnar. ascot.co.uk
Other fireworks displays: Fri 1 Nov: Bricktacular Fireworks , Legoland Windsor. Sat 2 Nov: Windsor Greatest Show Fireworks Extravaganza, Royal Windsor Racecourse; Sparks In The Park, Swallowfield Park Reading; Wellington College Charity Fireworks; Lions Fireworks Spectacular 2019, Newbury Racecourse; Bricktacular Fireworks , Legoland Windsor; Upton Court Park Fireworks, Slough; Boyn Hill Cricket Club Fireworks Display, Maidenhead; Wokingham Fireworks Spectacular 2019, Cantley Park Wokingham; Sun 3 Nov: Thameside Firework Extravaganza, Mapledurham Lock, Purley On Thames.
Read about Berkshire’s biggest and best displays, here.
A Mini Midsummer Night’s Dream, Watermill Theatre Newbury, Mon 4 – Fri 8 Nov
So my lovely luvvies, Shakespeare in the beautiful Watermill Theatre in Bagnor. In true Elizabethan style, a small group of actors (3 to be precise), will juggle a variety of roles in this fast and furious version of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Like a live version of CliffsNotes but better.
NT Live: Hansard, UK live cinema broadcast, Thu 7 Nov
Timing is everything, so if you’re not sick of political fighting, Boris and Brexit, the National Theatre’s live broadcast of Hansard is a must watch. Starring two-time Olivier Award winners, Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings, it’s a play offering a witty and devastating portrait of the governing class, as the drama moves from Westminster to the marital home.
Circus of Horrors, Corn Exchange Newbury Fri 8 Nov
Circus of Horrors was the first act of its kind to make it to the Britain’s Got Talent finals and the first circus to appear in a West End Theatre for 100 years. Welcome to the Psycho Asylum is set in Victorian London in 1899, with Sword Swallowers, Fire Eaters, Cross Bow and Knife Throwing Ultra Vixens, Death Defying Aerialists, A Guinness World Record holding diva swinging solely from her hair. You get the picture. It sounds like the kind of show you’ll watch from behind your hands. Grimly compelling
The Nutcracker, Theatre Royal Windsor, Tue 12 – Sat 16 Nov
A sea of tutus, twinkly lights, sugar plum fairies… it can only be the Nurcracker – a 18thcentury prequel to Toy Story. This classic ballet is a must in the run up to Christmas. No need to schlep into London and weep at the ticket price, the Vienna Festival Ballet will be pirouetting into Windsor.
Rumpelstiltskin and the Snail of Destiny, South Street Arts Reading, Fri 1 Nov
Widdershins theatre comes to Berkshire with it’s new show Rumpelstiltskin & the Snail of Destiny (a snail dressed up in sequins with a crystal ball for a shell, perhaps?), a twist on the Grimm’s classic, performed with puppets.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Corn Exchange Newbury, Fri 1 Nov
First up is Judith Kerr’s tea-guzzling tiger, direct from its West End stint, it’s directed by children’s theatre stalwart David Wood OBE (BFG, The Witches, Meg and Mog) so bound to be brilliant.
Oliver!, South Hill Park Bracknell, Tue 5 – Sat 9 Nov
Consider yourself out out for the well known family favourite, Oliver!. If you and your fam love a toe-tapping show choon, book up for Oliver! – performed by the EBOS Musical Theatre company – and you’ll be singing and swaying in unison for weeks afterwards. Please, Sir, I want more, may wear thin after a few weeks.
Aladdin, Theatre Royal Windsor, Fri 29 Nov – Sat 14 Jan
Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, this year the Theatre Royal’s panto is Aladdin. Windsor’s favourite comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley are celebrating their 10th year in panto together at the Theatre Royal and fans of ’80s nostalgia will be thrilled to hear that Paul Nicholas, Marti Webb and Basil Brush are joining the cast. Booooom booooooom!
The Bear, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Tue 26 Nov – Sun 29 Dec
From the author who had us ‘Walking in the air…’ and Aled Jones reaching pre-teen musical notes, Raymond Briggs brings us The Bear – the story of a little girl who befriends a mischievous polar bear. It’s got all the warm and fuzzies to be a festive classic.
The Prince & The Pauper, Watermill Theatre Bagnor, Thu 14 Nov – Sat 4 Jan 2019
The Watermill Theatre is renowned for its high quality bookish Christmas shows – and this year it’s The Prince & The Pauper. It’s a superb alternative if you’re not a fan of panto. So don’t expect a camp, thigh slapping prince. Funny, fearless and brilliant family entertainment, it’s always a treat at Chrimbo.
The Secret Garden, Theatre Royal Windsor, Mon 18 – Sat 23 Nov
I LOVED this book as a child, but Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel, The Secret Garden, has had a theatrical reboot and it’s won all the awards. Thanks to composer Lucy Simon and the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman, this classic children’s story has been beautifully reimagined into a musical and is not to be missed.
Aladdin, South Hill Park Bracknell, Fri 30 Nov – Sat 4 Jan
Aladdin will be rubbing his lamp this year in Bracknell, while dame Brad Clapson is up to his neck in laundry (I hear you) as Widow Twankey. South Hill Park always put on a fun, a creatively staged show, so get on that magic carpet to the box office pronto..
Jools Holland 2019, The Hexagon Reading, Thu 14 Nov
If New Year’s all about getting smashed and watching Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenany, then this might just prise you off the sofa before the end of year sit in. The legendary Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are touring the UK and hitting the Hexagon in Reading this November. Plus they’ve smuggled Eddi Reader onto the tour bus to belt out a few numbers too. Room for one more?
Sing-A-Long Bohemian Rhapsody, Theatre Royal Windsor, Tue 26 Nov
Haven’t seen Bohemian Rhapsody yet? Where have you been. The film has been played on repeat in our household and when the film’s not on Alexa’s instructed to play the soundtrack. If you fancy belting out the soundtrack while watching the film again, buckle up for Rami Malek’s portrayal of the strutting showman and belt out the hits at the same time.
Scouting For Girls, The Hexagon Reading, Tue 26 Nov
Also on our musical speed dial is the number is Scouting For Girls, who are currently touring their new album The Trouble With Boys and will be performing this month at The Hexagon in Reading.
Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, Sat 17 Nov
Good news, kids, Santa’s quit the North Pole, perpetual darkness and Northern Lights, to set up shop in the UK. The big man heard post-Brexit Britain will be a tax haven. Anyhoo, they’ve only gone and set up shop in Berkshire. Journey through snowy enchanted forests, to Santa’s chalet, where he and his elves need a little assistance in preparing for the 25th December. It’s a four-hour immersive experience so pack the tramadol and Kendal Mint Cake.
Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest, Swinley Road, Ascot SL5 8BD
Where’s Wally? The Big Museum Hunt, MERL Reading, now – Sun 3 Nov
Kids driving you nuts? The Where’s Wally Big Museum Hunt should kill a few hours, and give you a break from the moaning, bickering and demands for food. Head to the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading and get your brood to play hide and seek with the bespectacled cartoon character. It’ll be as maddening as those Magic Eye 3D pictures.
The Carnival of Animals – Lantern Making Workshop, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 16, 23, 30 Nov
The Maidenhead lantern parade (Sat 7 dec) is a firm fave and a wonderful Christmas tradition. But don’t just admire the twinkly lovliness from afar, get involved. Once again Norden Farm will run its brilliant lantern making workshops so you can take part with your own illuminated animal creation. It’s a jungle out there, get creative and light em up.
Windsor On Ice, Alexandra Gardens Windsor, Sat 16 Nov – Sun 5 Jan
Windsor On Ice is back for the winter and whether you’re Olympic standard or a ‘cling on’ like me, they’re great for a family day out, or a fun slippy-slidey Christmas party. There are two rinks here. The main one is under cover and there’s a smaller open-air rink. There’s also food and other attractions including an ice bar and grill. Sessions are for 45 mins. See you in A&E, I mean on the ice.
Winter Wonderland, Forbury Garden Reading, Sat 16 – Sun 5 Jan
It’s back! After a mini break, Reading’s Winter Wonderland is popping up at Forbury Gardens with more festive fun than a Mariah Carey video. There’s an ice rink, fun fair, Aprés bar, Santa’s grotto, German sausage and lots and lots of mulled wine.
Lantern Making Workshops, 101 Arts Creation Space Greenham Business Park Newbury, Sat 30 Nov – Sun 8 Dec
Oooh, sparkly lights! The annual Newbury lantern parade is a really special event. Rather than ooh and ahh on the sidelines, why not make a lantern and take part in the procession on Sun 15 Dec. Work with pros to create a traditional pyramid Lantern out of willow and paper, to carry in our Festival of Light! It takes between 1- 2 hours to make, then join the fun and light up! cornexchangenew.com
Wokingham Winter Carnival, Wokingham Town Centre, 24 Nov
A free event held in Wokingham town centre from 11am. This year it’s entitled ‘A Space Adventure’ and it is massive, with fun fair rides, over 100 food and craft stalls, non-stop free entertainment from magic shows to jugglers and clowns. Santa’s Grotto in the library from 11am to 3pm and the highlight of the day, the Carnival Procession which starts at 4pm and winds its way through the town as dusk falls, ending in carols led by the Town Mayor. .
Legoland at Christmas, Legoland Windsor, from Sat 30 Nov
Legoland is all twinkly lights and snow-dusted Christmas magic. Entry price for the Christmas season includes a visit to LEGO Santa in his magic grotto for kids who’ll receive a LEGO gift to take home. Make a Lego decoration and scavenger hunt with the elves. Think of your children’s faces lighting up and the enormous gin you’ll need the you get home.
NATIONAL TRUST & STATELY HOMES
We’re spoilt for choice in Berkshire and the surrounding counties for gorgeous National Trust sites. If you’re not a member of the NT, this is the month you can blow raspberries at everyone who’s bought an annual pass – to celebrate the National Lottery’s 25th birthday, you can enter some of the venues for free if you bring along a National Lottery ticket (plus, if you actually win the lottery you’ll be able to buy one, so it’s kind of like house hunting).
Participating venues include Cliveden in Maidenhead and Basildon Park in Lower Basildon (23 – 29 Nov), Greys Court, nr Henley (23 – 29 Nov), Hughenden Manor (23 – 29 Nov) in High Wycombe and Waddesdon Manor, nr Aylesbury (27 – 29 Nov). Love a festive display? Waddesdon is starting it’s Christmas season pretty early this year with the Manor decked out with festive accessories and a light trail around the Aviary combining light, sound colour and movement. There’ll also be two light shows performed on the facade of the Manor from 16 Nov).
Hot on the heels of Waddesdon, Blenheim (below) is also kicking off festivities this month with its annual Illuminated Light Trail – over 100,000 for the Tunnel of Light, a Laser Garden, scented Fire Garden and light finale on the Water Terrace and front of the Palace set to music. For kids there’ll be a Victorian-style fairground and Santa (from 22 Nov).
And finally, Stonor opens its doors for Christmas for the fourth time, with this year’s theme being A Candlelit Christmas (from 28 Nov). The house will be decorated with holly, mistletoe, sweet scented pine and greenery grown by the Head Gardener, plus a 20ft Victorian decorated Christmas Tree in the Gothic Hall. Stonor is also hosting a boutique-style shopping event in marquees, Country Homes & Interiors Christmas, with a selection of festive goodies, homewares and lifestyle products. See you there (21 – 24 Nov).
FOOD & DRINK
Introducing Tom Scade Supper, The Vineyard Stockcross, Fri 1 Nov
Grab your gilded fork and slip into your big pants, we have a new gastronomic guru in the Berkshire ‘hood. Chef Tom Scade turned his back on the bright light, big city vibes of The Ritz to take over The Vineyard’s fine dining kitchen. He’s worked with one of the world’s best chefs, so this week’s five course taster menu, each dish perfectly paired with one of the hotel’s 30,000 wines, is set to be a corker.
Painting and Prosecco Night, Wellington Farm Shop, Thu 7 Nov
I think I do my best work when fuelled with fizz – throw painting into the mix and I think I could be Picasso. Head to Wellington Farm Shop for a fun night out with a glass in one hand and a paint brush in the other. No experience required – drinking or painting! Sound perfect to us.
Clare Balding – Women In Power Lunch, Cliveden House Hotel Taplow, Fri 8 Nov
Is there anything Clare Balding can’t do? She’s worked on every Olympic Games since 1996, every Paralympics since 2000 and she’s on speed dial for pretty much every major sporting and Royal event, including the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. If that’s not enough Clare’s a best-selling author of two memoirs and three children’s novels, with the latest The Racehorse Who Learned to Dance, published this summer. Should make for a fab Women In Power Lunch.
The Scummy Mummies, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 1 Nov
Comedians Helen Thorn and Ellie Gibson are bringing bonkers comedy show to the Norden Farm in Maidenhead. Based on the UK’s number one kids and family podcast, the Scummy Mummies celebrate everything from drinking wine at teatime to hiding from the PTA (standard Muddy behaviour). Not to be missed.
Justin Moorhouse – Northern Joker, Norden Farm, Fri 1 Nov
He’s no Joaquin Phoenix, but comedian Justin Moorhouse is stepping out from the Hollywood star’s shadow to play the Joker. Well sort of, but a lot less dark. Justin, who you may recognise under all that slap from Phoenix Nights, brings his show to Maidenhead to tackle all the important issues… not Brexit, the Cold War reboot or ISIS… he’s starting to feel redundant as a parent.
Ben Elton Live, The Hexagon Reading, Wed 13 Nov
Ben Elton was a thorn in Maggie Thatcher’s side, co-author of comedies The Young Ones and Blackadder, brought us the We Will Rock You musical and was a lover of a shiny suit. He defined the UK comedy scene of the 1980s and after a 15 year absence, he’s back with an all new stand-up show. Ben promises to try and make sense of a world which appears to have gone stark raving mad. Don’t miss this Work in Progress performance ahead of his UK tour.
Griff Rhys Jones – All Over The Place, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 14 Nov
The chance to to get up close and personal with Griff Rhys Jones – but not so close he’ll need a restraining order. Griff is coming to the Corn Exchange Newbury, a smallish theatre perfect for comedy, with his brand new full-length stand-up show packed with wicked insights into the pains of celebrity, the vicissitudes of parenthood and encounters with the great, the good and the royal.
Ed Byrne – If I’m Honest, The Hexagon Reading, Fri 15 Nov
Ed Byrne is one of the most successful comedians performing in the UK, regularly appearing on TV and touring to sold-out theatres. Originally from Ireland, he now lives in Essex with his wife and two children, but comes to The Hexagon Reading with his new show If I’m Honest – when he’ll be taking along hard look at himself to work out if he has ANY traits that are worth passing on to his children.
Jack Dee – Off The Telly, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sat 16 Nov
Comedy’s Mr Misery, Jack Dee is on the roud with his grumpy old man tour. It’s hard to tell if that’s just how he is or part of the comedy act, or just the way he is. But at the age of, ahem, 58, it’s fit him like a glove. o.
Rob Beckett – Wollop, The Hexagon Reading, Thu 21 – Fri 22 Nov
Rob Beckett, or the Mouth from the South as he’s so charmingly known, is also doing the rounds with a set entitled Wallop at The Hexagon Reading.
Enter The Dragons, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 29 Nov
Enter the Dragons is a hilarious, surreal odyssey through the challenges of growing older, which explodes myths about beauty, sex and femininity. Expect fantastical characters, ridiculous puppetry, extreme wigs and delightfully dark humour. Sixty minutes of laugh-out-loud joy.
Christmas Fair, St Andrew’s School Pangbourne, Sat 2 Nov
Not on the high street? You’re nowhere near one and and I’m loving it. No expensive parking, plenty of little people to carry your bags (err, maybe not) but there will be over 50 stalls popping up at St Andrew’s School near Pangbourne for a shopping frenzy. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find it here: arty-crafty bits, homewares, bling, cards, clothing, toys, decs, food and drink, skincare and many more! If only they had a wrapping station… I’d be in nirvana.
Christmas Shopping Evening, Camp Hopson Newbury, Thu 7 Nov
I’m calling it, it’s November and we can officially start the Christmas countdown. To get this party started, Camp Hopson are pulling out all the stops to get shake their jingle bells. On Thursday 7 November from 9am to 9pm, head to Camps for fun, fizz and an awesome 20% off almost everything. There’s a demos, lucky dip, Santa will make a guest appearance– and you work your way through that gift list like someone pulled by Prosecco.
Muddy + Bicester Village shopping & styling spectacular!, Bicester Village, 14 Nov
We hate to use the C word just yet but here at Muddy this is the year when we’re finally getting organised with our Christmas shopping and planning. No more dashing around shops on 23 Dec, no sirree! With this in mind, we’ve concocted an amazing Christmas shopping and styling event with Bicester Village for Muddy readers. A ticket will include a talk from Muddy founder Hero Brown on how to buy the perfect gifts, a guide to tablescaping and bringing festive chic to your home by renowned interior designer/florist Willow Crossley (google her gorgeous Cotswolds pubs), expert styling advice from Muddy’s Kerry Potter, brunch/ afternoon tea provided by Soho House, 10% discount for all participating Bicester Village stores throughout the day and a luxury goodie bag. Because self-gifting is a valid part of Christmas, right?! Tickets here
Windsor Christmas Fair, Windsor Racecourse, Sat 16 – Sun 17 Nov
Did someone say samples? Cue a Muddy stampede. Christmas foodie and drinkie delights with lots of tasters to get you in the mood. There’s also gifts galore.
The Country Homes & Interiors Christmas Show, Stonor Park Henley, Thu 21 – Sun 24 Nov
The Country Homes & Interiors Christmas Show at Stonor Park, Henley is a surefire way to sort out your Crimbo shopping. I’ll be at the mulled wine stand from Thu 21-2Sun 4 Nov (with small sleep breaks, obvs).
The Christmas Fair, Ascot Racecourse, Thu 28 Nov – Sat 1 Dec
Giddee up to Ascot and nail your Crimbo shopping in one go. Loads of indie pop ups offering seasonal goodies not available on the high street. a staggering 150 pop-up boutiques selling gifts, homewares, toys, Xmas decs, fashion, stocking fillers, foodie treats and more. Shop hit the bubbles and relax. Well it is Christmas.
ART & EXHIBITIONS
The Contemporary Art Fair, Windsor Racecourse, Fri 8 – Sun 10 Nov
How cool is this? It makes a bold statement but perhaps not one for the kids’ bedrooms. Sculptor Steve Yeates’ fabulous figurative works will be on display at The Contemporary Art Fair, alongside more than 160 artists, printmakers, photographers, ceramicists and independent galleries from all over the UK and Europe. Have a mooch, chat to artists and, if you find something you love, prices start at just 40 quid.
En Vogue, Basildon Park Lower Basildon, now – Mon 18 Nov
Strike a pose there’s nothing to it and saunter up to Basildon Park for a fabulous fashion exhibition. Lady Iliffe graced the glossy pages of Vogue in 1966, with the mansion as the backdrop to Henry Clarke’s stylish portraits. Bringing that shoot to life, you can rifle through her wardrobe and drool over the Dior, Valentino and Chanel. If you missed out on the V&A’s Dior exhibition, this will scratch that fashion itch.
The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists, The Base Greenham Common, now – Sun 15 Dec
Fancy a literary trip down memory lane? Immerse yourself in the nostalgic world of Ladybird Books told through original artwork, books and objects. We all had them, and bring back the same childhood fuzzies as Space Invader crisps and Willow The Wisp. Explore an unparalleled collection of books, original artwork and artefacts, dating back to the WW2, at The Base. thebasegreenham.co.uk
Anthony Caro, Cliveden House Taplow, until 10 Nov
If you’re heading over the Berks border, this sculpture trail at National Trust site Cliveden is well worth a peek. Around the Grade I listed grounds you’ll find 16 of the iconic ’60s sculptural artist’s famous steel structures.
INTERIORS: Country Living Christmas Fair, Business Design Centre, London, 13 – 17 Nov
It’s Christmaaaaas! Well, not just yet, but head London’s Business Design Centre this month and you’ll find heaps of festive stalls from hundreds of British designers, makers, food artisans and crafters. As well as shopping there’ll also be live workshops and talks, plus Prue Leith will be chatting to Country Living’s Editor about all things food at Christmas time on Wed 13.
ART & EXHIBITIONS
Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton (below), Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.
Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.
Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.
Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.
And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water.
Excuse me, after writing that lot I think I need to lie down until December.