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Hello social life! What’s on in May

Yes, you read that right: real life is bloody well back on. We've got exhibitions, comedy nights, movie screenings, garden snoopings, and so much more happing in Berks this May.

They’re the words we’ve been dreaming of for what feels like aeons. Yearning for them, burning for them, tossing and turning at night… and here they are: What’s on this month?

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH

ART: Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition, The Base Greenham, 17 May – 13 Jun

Wildlife photography requires patience, lightning reactions and a little bit of luck. But when they get the money shot… POW! The results are extraordinary. This year’s world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum, comes to The Base at Greenham Common. The competition receives over 49,000 entries from all over the world. This year’s award-winning images will embark on an international tour that will allow them to be seen by over a million people – and Newbury is the first stop.

SPORTS: Open Water Swimming, Bray Lake Watersports Maidenhead

Open water swimming Bray Lake

Training for a triathlon or simply want to enjoy the benefits of open water swimming, Bray Lake Watersports is not only a pretty spot to make a splash, it’s also really safe and you get ton swim with all ages and abilities. The loops range from 150m to 1km and you can grab a cuppa and a crumpet in the cafe afterwards. Early morning and evening swims available, booking is essential.

FOOD & DRINK: Market & Feast, CA Belcher & Son Reading, every Saturday

CA Belcher market

Turn the Saturday shop into a foodie event. Fruit & veg wholesaler CA Belcher & Son, host a regular fresh food market for you to grab super-fresh groceries and invite their foodie producers along to tickle your tastebuds with barista coffee, bacon rolls, cakes, street food and more. The market open 8am-2pm. Come masked up and ready to shop. They also sell veg boxes online for delivery too.

Outdoor Market, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 1-15 May

Norden Farm in Maidenhead is bringing its much-loved outdoor market back. Expect live music, local food and drink producers and plenty of handcrafted goods. We’ll be first in the queue for Como en Casa’s traditional Argentinian treats; Muddy fave Cricketer’s Gin and artisan cheese from The Marlow Cheese Co.

Hungerford Food and Artisan Market, Hungerford, 9 May

Hmm the smell of fresh bread and sizzling street food is enough to get me out of bed for a Sunday market, but the Hungerford Food and Artisan Market is much more. Think quality produce, original art, designer crafts, all mixed in with family activities, music and more… From 10am to 1pm at the Croft Field Centre, get up and mooch and grab yourself something unique from Berkshire’s finest.

FILM: Strawberry Moon Drive In Cinema, Windsor Racecourse, now – 16 May

Priscilla_QUEEN OF THE DESERT AUSTRALIA
Image: Gramercy Pictures

Cinemas have been shut for over a year and popcorn levels are dangerously. Get your film fix at the Strawberry Moon Drive-In Cinema at Windsor Racecourse. What’s in the movie reel? All hail the Queen in Bohemian Rhapsody (1 May); Jurassic Park (3 May); Bad Boys For Life, starring Will Smith, (4 May); Bridemaids (5 May); True Romance (6 May), Dirty Dancing (7 May), A Star Is Born (8 May); Back To The Future (9 May);The Greatest Showman (12 May); The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (14 May), Mamma Mia (15 May) and Grease (16 May). Wood-fired pizza, popcorn, ice cream and drinks are available to order via the app.

WELLBEING: ParkFit, Stonor Park, nr Henley, throughout May

Stonor ParkFit

Stonor’s new ParkFit programme is made up of post-lockdown, socially-distanced fitness classes aimed at cardiovascular health and overall strength, run by Cynergy personal trainers and set in the beautiful gardens and deer park. Beats staring at an unflatteringly-lit gym mirror, doesn’t it? Kick off for the one-hour sessions starts at 9.15am every Wednesday and all abilities are welcome. Each session costs £15 or you can block book 10 sessions for £120. Plus, £1 from every session goes to Patagonia Action Works, so it’s a feel-good workout in more ways than one. Book here

DRINKS: Pub In The Paddock, Newbury Racecourse, from 8 May

Missing seeing the gee gees’ thundering past at Newbury Racecourse? While the racing is happening behind closed doors, you don’t need to miss out of the social vibe. Newbury Racecourse has opened Pub In The Paddock – a socially distant pop up with big screen showing live sport. Trot on, there’s a cold glass of Champagne with your name on it in the parade ring.

ONLINE: Singing For The Sake Of It, The Watermill Bagnor, 10 May – 12 Jul

 Singing For The Sake Of It, The Watermill Bagnor online

Make some noise! Who doesn’t love breaking into song and belting out your favourite tune – regardless of the sounds that comes out. *Raises hand*. Singing can strengthen your immune system, lower stress levels and act as a natural antidepressant, so there has never been a better time to give it a go. Join Musical Director of the Watermill Theatre and actor Tom Self for an uplifting hour to connect and make some noise. Sessions are FREE and will take place online via Zoom. Go on, I will if you will.

COMEDY: Ian Ashpital and Jonty Stevens as Eric and Ern, The Hexagon Reading, 11 May

Bring me sunshine, bring me loooooove. Anyone born in the 70s lived on a staple TV diet of Morecombe and Wise. Here, Olivier Award nominated duo Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens pay homage to the legendary double act in Eric and Ern. The show’s crammed full of famous comedy sketches, from Grieg’s Piano concerto, Mr Memory…’Arsenal’, to the paper bag trick! As comforting as a pair of old slippers.

OUTDOORS: The Alfresco Theatre, Culden Faw Estate Henley, 12-17 May

From the people who brought you Pub in the Park and Drive & Dine Theatre, comes The Alfresco Theatre Drive-in. Choose nosh from five top chefs – Tom Kerridge, Rick Stein, Jason Atherton, Atul Kochhar and Paul Ainsworth – with live entertainment. Mark Watson’s Carpool Comedy Club with Dara Ó Briain and Jess Fostekews (Thu 13 May) and The Gruffalo Live on stage (Sun 16 May); movies Dirty Dancing (Wed 13 May) Grease (Sat 15 May), Bohemian Rhapsody (Sun 16 May) and more.

DAYS OUT: Stanlake Park Vineyard tour and tasting, Twyford, from 21 May

Stanlake Park Vineyard

Walking and wine… it’s practically exercise. Book up for Stanlake Park Wine Estate‘s fabulous wine tour and get the down low on Berkshire’s biggest wine producer, sample the goods and waft around the vines on this pretty estate in Hurst. You can even had a cheese tasting to the order of service. It’s a hidden gem that’s well worth a visit. Just FYI, the wine samples are generous so you’ll need a taaaaaaaxi!

DAYS OUT: Windsor Castle Reopens, Windsor, 17 May

Windsor Castle blue skies and stunning gardens Royal Collection Picture Peter Packer
Windsor Castle Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018. Photographer Peter Packer

The Queen’s home from home, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Inside, you can see a collection of WWII pantomime pictures, painted as backdrop for the shows Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret performed to raise funds for troops at the front (they’re usually covered by portraits), or outside you can take a family tour of the Castle’s secret gardens nestled below the round tower. Adult tickets £23.50, child £13.50, under 5s go FREE.

OUTSIDE: National Garden Scheme’s Open Gardens, throughout Berkshire, from May

A great opportunity to nose around gardens that rarely open. Get some inspiration for your summer planting, or just chose the ones that serve tea and cake. There are some belters in Berkshire this month, including Stubbings House in Maidenhead, newbies Thurle Grange and Wynders in Streatley, 7 The Knapp in Reading as well as Church Farm House and The Old Rectory in Lower Basildon.

EVENT: Medieval Jousting Tournament, Stonor, nr Henley, 22-23 May 

joust

Here ye, here ye! Put on your best fair maiden impression and cheer on the knights on horseback as they go head-to-head in medieval-style combat against the majestic backdrop of Stonor. Throughout the weekend there’ll also be falconry displays, foot combat, archery and the brand new Tumblestone Hollow adventure playground to enjoy. Tickets: Adult £15; Child £12.50; Under 2s FREE.

WORKSHOP: Wildlife Photography Course, The Base Greenham, 22 May – 12 Jun

Matthew-Ware-Wildlife-Photographer-of-the-Year.jpg.thumb.1920.1920.png

If you’re snap happy capturing wildlife on your phone or camera, but it’s not a patch on the pros, this is the course for you. The Base always throws in a workshop alongside its exhibitions to fan the flames of creativity. This wildlife photography course is the next step for wannabe Wildlife Photographer of the Year snappers. You never know, with a bit of expert guidance, your image could feature in next year’s best in show.

COMEDY: Andy Parsons: Healing The Nation, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 22 May

He’s the bearded hobbit you see on the likes of Mock The Week, Live at the Apollo and QI – and now’s your chance to see Andy Parson live. Brilliantly funny with a superb economy of words, in Healing The Nation he’ll anaesthetise your worries with a double dose of belly laughs. This is a warm up show, as Andy’s been rewriting to account for the many new events. Forget about Covid, Boris Johnson’s chintzy flat refurb and life in general, the only thing you’ll be worried about is how much your face hurts from laughing.

FOOD & DRINK: Sadgrove Supper Club, Upper Bucklebury, 24 May

Sadgrove Supper Club barn with exposed beams long tables sheepskins and fairy lights

Game of Thrones meets gastro heaven. Matthew Dorich’s Sadgrove Supper Club has reached culinary cult status in West Berks. Matthew’s big on seasonality, foraging and a little experimentation. The results are always phenomenal. The vibe is rustic with long trestle tables, with shearling and deer skin covered benches, fire pits and twinkly lights. Get in quick though, every night is a sell out.

COMEDY: Comedy Cellar in the Wilde, South Hill Park Bracknell, 26 May

The Comedy Cellar at South Hill Park launched the careers of many top comedians – Al Murray, Eddie Izzard, Greg Davies, Sarah Millican, Micky Flanagan, Katherine Ryan, Jack Whitehall, and Russell Howard. The list is long. It’s the longest-running comedy club in the UK outside of London and continues to showcase the best new and established acts.

MUSIC: Seven Drunken Nights, The Hexagon Reading, 27 May

Seven Drunken Nights – could be a footnote of Lockdown #3, but is actually a musical tribute to The Dubliners. Direct from the West End, the show brings to life the music of Ireland’s favourite sons The Dubliners. Telling the story of a career spanning 50 years and evoking the spirit of this iconic group.

COMEDY: Flo & Joan: Before The Screaming Starts, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 28-29 May

FloJoan_BeforeTheScreamingStart

Music and comedy packed in one side-splitting show, Flo and Joan are the absolute queens of observational comedy presented through the medium of song. From songs about drinking far too much to the pitfalls of dating, with their deadpan delivery and cracking lyrics, you’ll be cracking up in the best possible way..

THEATRE: On Track, The Hexagon Reading, 28-29 May

OnTrack 1000x666

On yer bike and get back to theatre. No seriously, get ready to ride. On Track is a new play drawing on true stories and using RedCape’s trademark blend of comedy and visual, physical theatre. The audience follow Kit’s journey of discovery through the history of women’s cycling. Riding at night, disguised as men, these cycling pioneers powered over Victorian ideals of the genteel, house-bound woman and opened up new worlds.

KIDS: Legoland Mythica Opens, Legoland Windsor, 29 May

Legoland lego dragons Mythica

You have to hand it to Legoland for continuing to come up with ways to sell the Lego dream to under-10s in ever-inventive new ways. This year’s newest attraction is Mythica – a brand new world in a parallel universe. There’s three new rides where LEGO creatures come to life – think dragons, unicorns and a flying lion… It doesn’t open until 29 May, so in the meantime, you’ll have to make do with Ninjago World, DUPLO Dino Coaster, Haunted House Monster Pasty, Lego Miniland (which took three years to complete) and all the other favourites.

EXHIBITION: Altered States sculpture exhibition, Shaw House Newbury, 29 May – 27 Jun

Wild Hare by Jane Shaw

Practice your arty-farty face and waft around The Orangery Lawn at Shaw House in Newbury. The postponed Altered States Sculpture exhibition opens this month and gives you the chance to discover artworks by top Uk sculptors in this lovely historic setting. Everything’s for sale so, if you find something you love, you can batter the credit card. Just make sure it’ll fit in the car boot.

DAYS OUT: Highclere Castle, Newbury, from 18-20 May

highclere-castle-spring

The biggest star of Downton Abbey? No, Carson it’s not you or the Earl of Grantham’s labradors (they come a close second though) – Highclere Castle takes the crown. The tours of the house and Capability Brown gardens resume so you can enjoy the castle’s film star good looks ahead of the second Downton Abbey movie.


NATIONAL TRUSTS

Basildon Park National Trist cream stone mansion house seen in film Pride and Prejudice
Basildon Park

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 VyneAshdown, 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.

FURTHER AFIELD

EXHIBITION: Cecil Beaton: Celebrating Celebrity, Blenheim Palace, 17 May – 1 Aug

We can’t wait to nosy through this display of over 50 iconic photographs by British fashion and portrait photographer Cecil Beaton, who was a familiar party guest at the Palace in his heyday. The images feature huge 20th century figures: from Picasso and Salvador Dali to Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn (pictured), Mick Jagger, and members of the Royal Family. It’s all set to be terribly fabulous, darling.

FILM: Luna Drive-In Cinema, Blenheim Palace Woodstock, 6-24 May

Blenheim Palace‘s ever-popular Luna Drive-In Cinema is back every night from 6 – 24 May, from £37.50 a car. Expect giant HD LED screens, gorgeous backdrops, and optional pre-ordered snack hampers or delicious hot food on-site.

FOOD: Dining Domes at Windmill Hill, Waddesdon Manor Aylesbury

Itching for some good eating? You can book yourself into Waddesdon Manor‘s shiny new Dining Domes at Windmill Hill (above) for dates from 20 May: a fine-dining experience with fabulous scenery of Aylesbury Vale. Choose between delicious lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner menus that have been designed by an award-winning culinary team. The Manor’s Artisan Food Market will also be back on the second Saturday of each month from 8 May, where you can pick up mouth-watering treats, products, and ingredients from local suppliers.

DRINK: The Bombay Sapphire Distillery, 17 May+, Whitchurch

It’s back! If you’ve never visited the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, do it now. Whether you’re a gin devotee or only partake in a very occasional tipple, the discovery experience lets you literally see, sniff and walk your way through the gin-making process. Take in the awesome architecture and take out a bag full of cocktail gear from the shop to shake up a storm with back home

KIDS: Sound Detectives at The Winchester Science Centre. Sat 22 May+

Winchester Science Centre
Pic: Harvey Mills

Let’s face it, science is much more fun when its accompanied by the odd explosion or two. Once again, the Winchester Science Centre has pulled it out of the bag with a new, free live science show. In the immersive experience, kids will discover how sound is created in nature, complete with dry ice cannon experiment. BOOM!

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