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This week

MON 13 – SUN 18 MAY


EVENT: Ladies Day –Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 18 May

DJ Duo Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling's Richard Jones

Sound the klaxon. The summer social season starts here. Newbury Races’s Ladies Day (traditionally in August) has moved to Al Shaqab Lockinge Day on Sat 18 May. It’s first out of the fashion blocks, with Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot and Henley following –and they’re going BIG. Garden party vibes, pop up bars, an abundance of flroa and fauna, cocktails and Sophie Ellis Bextor and her hubby Richard Jones on the decks for the after party floor fillers. Go go go.


THEATRE: Tulips. South Hill Park Bracknell, Wed 15 May – Sat 18 May

White tulips held in hand with bird tattoos

Theatre is the one place where difficult subjects can been given a airing – it’s a bit like hanging out your dirty laundry without knowing who it belongs to. It can be uncomfortable and challenging to watch but it’s good to talk about the stuff that very often lurks in the shadows. Tulips tackles the thorny issue of domestic abuse and asks – is it more important to “be a man”, or to change?


SPORT: Royal Windsor Horse Show, Windsor,  now – Wed 15 May

Show jumper Carl Hester jumping Big Ben fence Royal Windsor Horse Show

Image: Kent Farrington

Giddiup! The Royal Windsor Horse Show’s one of the hottest horsey events in the UK. Her Maj and Prince Philip are almost guaranteed to make an appearance (well, it is in their backyard), and the many of the Royal famalam drop in. Expect to see top flight show jumping, dressage, fun kids events, with a bit of pomp and ceremony from the Household Cavalry. It’s a fun, family affair, so trot on and grab a ticket.


FESTIVAL: Pub in the Park, Marlow, Thu 17 – Sun 19 May

Pub in the park Tom Kerridge Giant PITP letters

Tom Kerridge has Marlow residents eating out of the palm of his hand (not literally, that would be disgusting). Pub In the Park is back with bells on. The food and music festival will see performances from the likes of Jake Bugg, Kaiser Chiefs, Scouting For Girls, David Grey and All Saints, alongside kitchen kings Pete Gray from The Hind’s Head in Bray, Dominic Chapman at The Beehive and Dom Robinson from The Blackbird in Bagnor serving up the top nosh ((and that’s just the Berkshire ones) . Saturday is sold out, but there are still some tickets available on other days.


EXHIBITION: Anthony Caro, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – Sun 10 Nov 2019

Anthony Caro Cliveden National Trust red industrial sculpture on woodland walk

If you loved Cliveden’s Lynn Chadwick sculptures last year, then the new installation Anthony Caro exhibition might get you sitting up like a meerkat. This English modernist artist, who assisted Henry Moore in the 1950s, is most famous for his abstract industrial pieces but briefly created figurative artworks too. You’ll find his pieces doted around the grounds. Take a stroll, admire and then pop into Cliveden House for afternoon tea or lunch at the Astor Grill.



THEATRE: A Belly Full, Mill at Sonning, Thu 2 May – Sat 15 Jun

It’s a world premiere of a brand new show that could be as funny and heart-warming as Calendar Girls. A Belly Full follows the lives of seven women who join a local belly dancing class. Friendships, bellies will wobble, crop tops will be revisited and we’re expecting Turkish Delight during the interval.


THEATRE: Amélie, The Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – Sat 18 May

Amelie muscial Watermill Newbury man and woman either side of wall

It has been a Broadway smash hit and now it will make its UK premiere at The Watermill Theatre. Amelie is a musical based on the award-winning 2001 rom-com starring Audrey Tautou, tells the story of an astonishing young woman who lives quietly in the world, but loudly in her imagination. A feel good musical filled to the brim with colourful observations and whimsical wonderings. A must see.


ART: Open Studios 2019, The Base Greenham Common, Sat 4 – Sat 27 May

Julie Parker artist hairy stilettos made fro human hair

From Muddy Stilettos to, er, hairy ones. We haven’t lost our minds and our luscious locks, this is the sculptural creation of Julie Parker who is taking part in Open Studios. It’s an opportunity to drop in and see artists across West Berkshire and North Hampshire throughout May – and it’s totally free Simply go to the Open Studios website, find an artist and pop along for a nose. The main exhibition is INSIGHT will be held The Base at Greenham Common.


CULTURE: Newbury Spring Festival, various locations, Sat 11 – Sat 25 May

Ballet Central dancers in tights leap and standing with full leg extensions

This whopping festival has grown over the last 41 years to now attract the very best in classical, jazz and world music acts. The events will take place this year from Sat 11 to Sat 25 May in some glorious venues, including The Base, Englefield House, Highclere Castle, Shaw House and the Corn Exchange Newbury where you can catch the elegant Ballet Central (above), the BBC Big Band, musical farce Lucky Stiff and a talk on Queen Victoria by AN Wilson.


EVENT: Smartworks Fundraising Brunch, Badgemore Park Golf Club Henley, Thu 16 May

Smartworks Reading Fundraiser event with Ginnie Chadwyck Healey Nayna McIntosh and Donna Ida

An awesome charity, supporting women back into work, with the Duchess of Sussex as patron. Meghan’s a bit busy to attend right now with the arrival of the Royal baby but, fear not, while you’re tucking into a two-course brunch, Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey (Daily Telegraph columnist and consulting stylist to the Duchess of Cambridge); Nayna McIntosh, Founder of Hope Fashion and Denim Queen Donna Ida will be speaking about the world of fashion. Great cause plus food and fashion – £55pp.


FESTIVAL: Let’s Rock The Moor, Marsh Meadow Cookham, Sat 18 May

Blue mascara? Check. Yellow eyeshadow? Check. Hair backcombed to the max? Check. (and that’s just the boys). Then you’re ready to hit the 80s love fest that is Let’s Rock the Moor in Cookham this Saturday. A little birdie (Twitter actually) told me that there are still some tickets left, and with a line-up including Marc Almond, Nik Kershaw, Jason Donovan, Shalamar, Musical Youth, Go West, Eursure’s Andy Bell and, um, Black Lace… why on why would you ever miss it?


ARTS: Caversham Arts Trail, various locations, Sat 18 – Sun 19 May

Caroline Streatfield image man with arm around woman under a house window

Image: Caroline Streatfield

Hot on the heels of the Henley Arts Trail is this one based around Caversham and Emmer Green, north of Reading. Visit the studios, workshops, homes and gardens of 27 talented local artists (including Julie Simmonds & David Pope Ceramics, above). See their latest projects, ask questions, buy their art and be inspired! 37 artists in 17 venues the trail runs across two weekends: Sat 11and Sun 12 May and Fri 18 and  Sat 19 May, 11am – 5pm.


EVENT: Supercar Sunday, Stonor Henley On Thames,  Sun 19 May 

red sports car outside historic Stonor House Supercar Sunday event

Supercar Sunday returns to Stonor House’s pristine front lawn, with race cars, super-sleek sports cars (I’ll take two please) and ultra modern hypercars. Throughout the day there’ll also be interviews with the owners, judging, prize giving and street food stalls. Heaps for kids too, including an adventure playground and treasure hunt in the Wonder Woods, traditional fair rides, laser tag and laser clay pigeon shooting.


THEATRE: Menopause The Musical, The Hexagon Reading, Sun 19 May

four middle age women sing and dance in Menopause the Musical

A cult American show celebrating the change, Menopause the Musical is packed full of one-liners about night sweats, hot flushes and memory loss, backed by an instantly recognisable soundtrack of innuendo-laden versions of 60s, 70s and 80s pop classics. Cultural nirvana this is not, but it’ll be a giggle with the girls.



FAMILY FUN: Spring Jousting Tournament, Blenheim Palace Woodstock, Sat 4 – Mon 6 May

knights on horseback charging in joust contest Blenheim Palace

Charrrrrrge! The annual Blenheim Palace ye olde joustingy thingy on the South Lawn featuring ‘The Knights of Royal England’. Falconry displays, archery, puppet shows, jesters and knights on horseback charging in the traditional tilt, and battling on foot with the mighty mace and quarter staff. Are you yawning? Well cheer up, lift your visor and head for the Champagne and Pimms tent!



Image by Varana

In need of some home inspo? There’s Clerkenwell Design Week (I’ve been a few times, it’s well worth the trip)- home to more creative businesses and architects per square mile than anywhere else on the planet, this will be the 10th annual festival, which attracts some of the best of designers in the world, including a huge range of home-grown talent (Tue 21 – Thurs 23).



Mary quant exhibition V&A Mary Quant clothes on white mannequins in front of black and white 1960s images

Must see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include the V&A’s retrospective on iconic 1960s designer and the mother of  miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). The exhibit is sold out (*boo*) but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am (from the Grand Entrance) and it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibit by purchasing a membership for the V&A (plus you get loads of added extras like sneak previews, a magazine subscription and access to the members room). Also worth checking out is the new major Van Gough exhibit at Tate Britain- over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery, London. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).


Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Beds, now – Sun 2 Jun 

More Lego! New for Easter, Whipsnade Zoo introduces its Brick Safari- there’ll be loads of LEGO brick beasts and animals around the mammoth zoo (it’s the biggest in the UK doncha know) made from over one million bricks, as well as hands-on family activities. Included in entry price.


ART: Chihuly Trail, Kew Gardens, from Sat 13 Apr 

spiky blue Glass flower surrounded by trees kew chihuly festival

Run free my pretties but watch out for the delicate glass sculptures. Iconic artist Dale Chihuly’s stunning pieces are on display at Kew Gardens from Easter weekend, but I fear it’s an accident waiting to happen. Kids smashing the place up, children skewered on a giant flower. A true test of your parenting skills… but an  Insta winner.



The Hidden Garden, Henley Royal Regatta, Wed 3 – Sun 7 Jul

If you’re heading down to Henley Regatta this July and want to escape the riff raff (not that Henley does real riff raff, of course) book now for The Hidden Garden. New to the Regatta this year, the luxe but laid-back riverside venue on the Berkshire bank offers brilliant views, VIP hospitality, musical entertainment, gourmet food and – most importantly – lashings of booze (chilled Henriot champagne and local favourite, Mr Hobbs gin to be precise). Pre-booking is a must so grab your other half, bezzies or workies and get organised pronto!


EAT OUT: An Evening with Michel Roux, Roux at Skindles Maidenhead, Wed 22 May

Chef Michel Roux senior with Brian Turner special evening in conversation in aid of Hospitality in Action

For one night only, not one but two culinary giants in the same room. The legendary Michel Roux OBE with be chatting to Brian Turner CBE for an old school evening of food, wine and live jazz (you’ll find their gongs on a bar stool near you). It’s all in aid of Hospitality In Action, so book up and witness them spill the beans. They’ve cooked for everyone, met everyone and NEVER hold back.


KIDS: The Little Welly obstacle course and festival, Henley, Sat 8 –  Sun 9 June 

This is all about getting Muddy so we are IN! A 3km hop, skip, jump and dash through 30 challenges, taking in streams, trails, mud and woodland The Little Welly’s obstacle course is the largest  in the UK for kids and is always popular so book now. There’s also an accompanying festival with – deep breath – kart racing, rope climbing, circus skills workshops, live music, helter skelter, laser tag, climbing wall, pony rides and loads more. I think it’s such a fantastic idea – get them away from screens, into the fresh air and doing some exercise.

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