MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
Reading Thames Festival, various locations Reading, Thu 26 – Sun 29 Sep
It’s baaaack! Reading Thames Festival has made quite a splash on Reading’s cultural scene – and this year it hopes to be even better. Using Reading’s rivers as a backdrop, you can enjoy theatre, music, cultural walks, film, writing, debate and exhibitions inspired by the local H2O. We can’t wait to see and Cirque Bijou (see above) fresh from London Lumiere and their unique mix of traditional circus skills and modern technology. Plus Turner Prize Winner Jeremy Deller’s Acid Brass performed by the Fairey Brass Band and author, Orwell Prize winner and Scottish rapper Darren McGarvey aka Loki
Uncorked, The Vineyard Stockcross, Sun 15 Sep
Kids are back to school, routine is restored and the wine consumption is stable… it’s something worth celebrating. Uncorked is a new festival, hosted by The Vineyard Hotel Stockcross, to mark the end of summer. A bit like the Ibizan closing party but for grown ups – knock back fine wines, sensational spirits, live music and feast on a Californian BBQ. See you there!
Greenfest, Hampstead Norreys, Sat 7 Sep
If you’re trying to be kinder to the planet and live more sustainable life, head to Hampstead Norreys for the first ever GreenFest. It’s big, free and has shopping, music, and talks on everything from climate change to sustainable fashion – including Berkshire’s very own Greta Thunberg, 10-year-old Freya. Oh and The Living Rainforest will on hand to entertain the kids (you can even learn to make eco-friendly festival glitter).
Cliveden Literary Festival, Cliveden House Hotel Taplow, Sat 28 – Sun 29 Sep
Politics, scandal and intelligent literary chat – kept civilised with an abundance of bubbles. Not a Boris Johnson house party but the Cliveden Literary Feswtival. Famous names this year include historian Chris Evans, Helen Fielding, Brett Easton Ellis, broadcaster Emma Maitlis, Professor Brian Cox, Jacob Ress Mogg and many more. With the sumptuous hotel as the backdrop, this promises to be a fabulous affair.
Down At The Abbey Festival, Abbey Ruins Reading, Sat 7 Sep
The opportunity to see great bands before they get too big for Berks. From the creators of the award-winning Are You Listening? Festival, this is a brand new outdoor music fest that caters for all tastes and we’re sitting up like meerkats for headliner BC Camplight, Rozi Plain whose music dominates BBC Radio 6 Music and Glastonbury veteran Rachael Dadd is also on the line-up.
Windsor Festival, various locations, Sun 15 – Sun 29 Sep
For its 50th anniversary, Windsor Festival is pulling out all the stops. The doyenne of the Great British Bake Off (and romance novelist) Prue Leith will be hosting a literary tea; the brilliant Lucy Worsley will be talking about Queen Victoria, alongside AN Wilson, Simon Heffer, Anna Pasternak and Robert Hardman. Not strictly a literary festival, there’s also a programme of music, exhibitions and tours.
Windsor Fringe, various locations, Fri 20 Sep – Sun 6 Oct
If you like your arts fresh out of the box, head to Windsor Fringe Festival – the second oldest fringe in the UK after Edinburgh. Expect an eclectic programme of comedy, music, drama, DJs, arts, and more, plus the world reknowned International Windsor Fringe Award for New Drama Writing, sponsored by the legendary Kenneth Branagh.
BalletBoyz – Them/ Us, The Hexagon Reading, Fri 6 Sep
Created by ex-Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, BalletBoyz have performed around the world, won several awards and also created many arts documentaries for telly including BalletBoyz I & II, Strictly Bolshoi and 40 short films for Channel 4’s Random Acts strand that’s dedicated to the arts. A first for BalletBoyz, this new show Them / Us has been created by the company’s in-house team, and set to a score by emerging composer Charlotte Harding.
Tangomotion, Corn Exchange Newbury, Fri 20 Sep
If you love Strictly, you’ll go nuts for Tangomotion. The tango and paso doble seem to be the dances that see the wheels fall off the celeb dancers relationships with all that latin fire and passion. Turn up the heat and see the pros in action, as Tangomotion brings Buenes Aires to Berkshire.
The Nutcracker, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sat 28 Sep
No we’ve not fast forwarded to Christmas, but just as the supermarkets start selling festive goodies in August, the theares are packing in the tinsel-tastic shows before panto. In this case, The Nutcracker, performed by the Russian Ballet at the Corn Exchange. It’s a bucket list ballet, that everyone should see once… even three months before we’re mentally prepared.
The Exorcist, Theatre Royal Windsor, Wed 4 – Sat 14 Sep
The first horror film to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture (one of 10 noms) and has racked up $441million at the box office to date. The Exorcist a cultural phenomenon that is about to come to life on stage and coming to Windsor after its West End run finished last year. Inspired by true events, this devilishly thrilling tale, directed by Sean Mathias (Waiting for Godot), featuring the voice of Ian McKellen as the Demon. Would you like to play a game Regan?
NT Live: Fleabag, UK cinemas, Thu 12 sep
The Greatest Show, Hurley House Hotel Hurley, Thu 12 Sep
I am now probably the only person on the planet not to have seen The Greatest Showman, but if you’ve been watching the film and listening to the soundtrack on repeat, then Hurley’s Greatest Show has your name written all over it. Enjoy an evening full of songs from the movie and watch performers bring these popular songs to life. Go the whole hog and book in for a pre-show 3-course dinner. Who needs the West End.
Gaslight, Theatre Royal Windsor, Wed 18 – Sat 28 Sep
See it before it transfers to the West End, Gaslight is about woman on the brink of insanity who keeps losing stuff – watch, brooch, picture frame. A bit careless but standard practice in the Muddy household – but attaching a bleeping bit of tech to ensure the lost is found would not make a very exciting play. Here Martin Shaw plays detective to save Bella from madness, untangling fact from fiction.
Kiss Me Kate, The Watermill Newbury, now – Sat 21 Sep
From the BBC ballroom to the Watermill rehearsal studio, the talented Oti Mabuse is shaking her sequinned dance skills as choreographer of The Watermill’s latest production, Kiss Me Kate. Expect this Cole Porter classic to have all the razzle dazzle when its stars Olivier award-winner Rebecca Trehearn and David Ricardo take to stage this week.
Square Go, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Tue 24 Sep
School boy banter and the playground battlefield. Square Go is about two boys ducking punches and running from bullies, the boys who try to talk tough but feel scared. For the hour you live every minute with them. A raucous and hilarious new play about playground violence, myths of masculinity and the decision to step up or run.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea, The Hexagon Reading, Sun 22 – Tue 24 Sep
f a massive wild cat really did come round and vandalize your kitchen, realistically you’d scarper long before it started loutishly drinking PG Tips out of the teapot spout, right? I must take this up with legendary children’s author Judith Kerr next time I see her. Anyway, the classic kids’ bedtime story arrives at The Hexagon this month in musical form. Director David Wood has also adapted BFG, The Witches and Meg & Mog for the stage, so you’re in very safe hands. Just don’t open the door without your tranquillizer gun..
ART & EXHIBITIONS
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 (19 – 22 Sept). Check out 12 artists to keep an eye out for here.
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.
Cookham and Maidenhead Arts Trail, various locations, Sat 14 – Sun 15 Sep
Always wondered what artist’s do all day? Now’s your chance to find out. Join the Cookham and Maidenhead Arts Trail and have a nose around the studios of the talented creatives working in the area and even buy, it you like. I’m loving the work of photographer Robert Barker, textiles of Helen Jenkins and the amazing figurative artist, Harriet Brittain. While you’re in the hood, have a mooch around Cookham –the Stanley Spencer Gallery, check out The Little Bookshop, Sweet Marie’s and The Old Butcher’s Wine Shop, before grabbing a bite at the Bel & The Dragon.
The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists, The Base Greenham Common, Fri 20 Sep – 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.
Bears, Rivers and Rowing Museum Henley On Thames, now – Sun 3 Nov
The lovely River and Rowing Museum, in Henley, has a new children’s exhibition Bears! where kids can learn about history’s favourite teddies – Rupert, Winnie the Pooh and friends – as well as explore original artwork and manuscripts from We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Bear and The Piano and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Every Fri during the hols there’ll be bear-themed games and crafts in the galleries, and on 8 Aug, there’ll be a Teddy Bear’s Picnic.
Counterpoint, Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham, now – Fri 28 Nov
A celebration of British creativity and originality, Counterpoint is a collection of works by legendary local artist Stanley Spencer and his contemporaries. Amongst those represented are: Barnett Freedman, C.R.W. Nevinson, Edward Burra, Mark Gertler, William Roberts, Jacob Epstein and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.
WOKE by Testament, South Street Arts, Wed 25 Sep
The twin juggernauts of Hip-Hop and feminism are on a collision course – and Testament reckons he’s the guy to sort it out. A rapper and World Record Holding Beatboxer, he’s made theatre shows and had his poetry on Radio 4. Then his daughter is born and suddenly questions everything. With a dose of wit, a knack for self-deprecation and a truck-load of honesty, Testament is ready to find out. Expect beatboxing, spoken word, storytelling and hip-hop classics as you’ve never heard them before.
Acid Brass by the Fairey Brass Band, Reading Town Hall, Sun 29 Sep
The brainchild of Turner Prize winning artists Jeremy Deller, Acid Brass is the unlikely fusion of Acid House anthems with the sound of a traditional British Brass Band. But audiences around the world love it. Since its conception in 1998, Acid Brass has been performed in locations such as the Tate Modern (London), The Louvre (Paris), and music festivals all over. The legendary Stockport-based Fairey Brass Band will do the honours.
Rocketman, Hurley House Hotel Maidenhead, Tue 3 Sep
If you enjoyed the Freddie Mercury biopic, then you’ll love Rocketman, a film about Sting… only joking, Elton John obviously, with Brit star Taron Egerton (above) donning the silly specs. Throw in a two-course meal and champagne into the ticket price and the nachos and popcorn buffet suddenly feel a bit lacking. Book up.
Windsor Running Festival, Windsor Great Park, Sat 28 – Sun 29 Sep
Windsor Running Festival is a mash up of the Women’s 10K and the Windsor Half Marathon, after a ‘gooooood’ summer the idea of running up the stairs is enough the make me wheeze. If I start training now, I could be set for next year. Shall we? Team Muddy – I will, if you will.
Kite Festival, Boyn Grove Park Maidenhead, Sun 1 Sep
Find your inner Mary Poppins and go fly a kite at Boyn Grove Park for the first ever Community Kite Festival (1pm-4pm). It’s free (good job as we’re all broke by now) and join in the kit flying fun on the hill. The pros will be there to provide the wow, plus there’s pizza and beer.
TOUR: Conquer the Tower, Windsor Castle, until 30 Sep
To the tower! On this occasion you’ll keep your head. The iconic Round Tower dominates the Windsor skyline, and now you can take the 200 steps (wheeze… one too many ice creams this summer) to check out the epic view from the top. While the Queen’s holidaying in Balmoral, poke around her gaff and see St George’s Chapel, Long Walk, Windsor Great Park and the London skyline.
Maize Maze, Bucklebury Farm Park, now– 30 Sep
If you’re looking for covert and creative ways to lose your kids for a five minutes over the school holidays, there’s always Bucklebury Farm Park’s Maize Maze. New for 2019, your kids will run wild, answer clues and discover the homes of Stanley the Stag, Freddie Fox, Mary Mouse and Ola Owl.
James Acaster – Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, The Hexagon Reading, Thu 12 Sep
The 34-year-old comedian has a couple of Chortle Awards, a hefty number of Edinburgh Fringe nominations and a Netflix series under his belt. Now he’s on tour with his new show Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, showing at
Russell Howard & Friends, Theatre Royal Windsor, Sun 15 Sep
Fresh from Edinburgh Fringe, Russell Howard – a man never too far from a TV camera – is returning to the Theatre Royal Windsor to test out new material in this work-in-progress show. Some jokes will last to his tour or TV shows, some will survive just one night. Regardless, it’ll be fun. Tickets selling fast.
Ben Elton Live – Work In Progress, Corn Exchange Newbury, Mon 16 Sep
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.
Romesh Ranganathan – The Cynics’s Mixtape, The Hexagon Reading, Fri 27 Sep
Said to be his most brutally honest show yet, Romesh talks about all the things he has found unacceptable since the last tour, including why trying to save the environment is a scam, why none of us are truly free, and his suspicion that his wife is using gluten intolerance to avoid sleeping with him. Laughs are guaranteed, I’d say.
EAT & DRINK
Festival of Food and Wine, Ascot Racecourse, Fri 6 – Sat 7 Sep
Food glorious food… the diet will have to wait because Ascot’s Festival of Food and Wine is back and it requires a Phyllis Fogg approach to eating – a culinary world tour washed down with artisan spirits, craft beers and fine wines. Plus kitchen demos from Raymond Blanc OBE, James Tanner and Master Patissier Eric Lanlard. Enjoy a full day of racing and stuff your face.
Beer Tasting Evening, Donnington Valley Hotel Newbury, Fri 13 Sep
Indulge in a beer tasting with a difference. West Berkshire Brewery and Donnington Valley head chef, Darren Booker-Wilson will be tickling your tastebuds with craft bees r(or gin) paired with food. Goggles on, belt loosened and book up.
Gin & Rum Festival, Great Hall Reading, Fri 13 – Sat 14 Sep
Has gin had its day? (Not judging by Muddy consumption) Is rum the next big thing? Hedge your bets and head for the UK’s largest Gin and Rum Festival, making its Reading debut this month. With over 60 gins and 60 rums to sample in an amazing venue, plus DJ, boozy masterclasses and a goodie bag, a taxi is essential and a hangover almost certainly guaranteed. Hic.
Wine Club, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 13 Sep
If you’ve been enjoying a world tour of wines this summer, then perhaps it’s time to find out a bit more about your liquid diet rather than simply knocking back with gay abandon (OK, so that bit’s non negotiable), but The Wine Women are popping corks and unscrewing tops on wines that you love – so that you can know more about it than what colour it is.
Reading Vegan Festival, St Laurence Church Reading, Sat 21 Sep
Go the vegans! It feels forever ago when vegans were the weirdy beardies of society – now they’re hip, happening and with excellent digestive tracts. To celebrate the victory of the vegetable, head to the St Laurence Church Reading for this festival with stalls, demos and children’s entertainment.
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
DAYS OUT: Salon Privé, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon until Thu 5 – Sat 7 Sep
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).
POP-UP: The Modist, Bicester Village, Bicester, now – 24 Sept
Dubai-based luxury online brand The Modest pops up in Bicester Village this summer with its first European boutique (I need that pink dress, like, immediately). The brand will have pieces from contemporary labels as well as from its own brand LAYEUR. bicestervillage.com
NEW EXHIBITION: Sweet Harmony: Rave exhibition, Saatchi Gallery, West London, until 14 Sept
Photo by Dave Swindells
Rave on! This new photo exhibition explores the new world that emerged from the acid house movement in the ’80s and ’90s and the beginnings of rave culture. Photographers Tom Hunter, Vinca Petersen and Dave Swindells will be on hand at the Saatchi Gallery to explain the stories behind their iconic shots.
FAMILY FUN: Zip Now London, Archbishops Park, Lambeth, until Sun 15 Sep
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope it’s a human torpedo whizzing down a 738ft wire, 100ft (9 double decker buses!) above Archbishop’s Park at 50mph. Beats the tube any day of the week. What we’ll do to avoid our faces been wedged in someone’s sweaty armpit. Get yourself down to South Bank, climb to the top the tower and wheeeeeeee. Suitable from 8+.
CULTURE: Henley Literary Festival – featuring Muddy Stilettos Book Club Live, Phyllis Court, Henley, Sat 5 Oct
It’s back, baby! We’re returning to Henley Lit Fest (28 Sept – 6 Oct) this year with lashings of wine, plenty of pizzazz and a panel of brilliant authors: actor, Celebrity Master Chef winner and Meant to Be author Lisa Faulkner, former deputy editor of ELLE and How to be a Gentlewoman author Lotte Jeffs, and Five Steps to Happy debut novelist Ella Dove. More info here. Get your tickets pronto, last year was a sell out.