MON 23 – SUN 29 SEP
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEK
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
COMEDY: Lenny Henry – Who Am I Again?, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Mon 23 Sep
Sir Lenny Henry is heading out on tour, and Berkshire’s playing guinea pig. This ‘work in progress’ show is a jam session covering puberty, school, friendship, family secrets and unashamed racism. After the gags, Lenny will be interviewed by author, co-writer and friend Jon Canter. Some material will last to his tour, some will survive just one night. Book up, the Sir Lenny isn’t currently booked to perform the polished show in Berks. Other dates: Tue 24 Sep at South Hill Park Bracknell and back at Norden Farm on Mon 14 and Tues 15 Oct.
KIDS: The Tiger Who Came To Tea, The Hexagon Reading, Mon 23 – 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..
SHOPPING: Clearance sale, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, Mon 23 – Tue 24 Sept
On your marks, get set… go! The Corner Shop in Woolhampton, Beaver’s Pots, Polka Dot Parsley and Newbury fashion boutique Fifi & Moose are clearing stock to make way for (whisper it, Christmas). Sharpen your elbows and get yourself down to Douai Pavillion RG7 5TG from 8am. Loads of beautiful things for an absolute steal (shhh, up to 75% off). Don’t worry, I’ll leave plenty of goodies for you. For more info email: firstname.lastname@example.org
THEATRE: 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.
THEATRE: 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.
FOOD: Sipsmith Supper, Bel & The Dragon, Wed 25 and Thu 26 Sep
Fancy gin with your supper? Always! The Bel & The Dragon Country Inns have partnered with Sipsmith for a series of supper clubs at their locales in Cookham(25 Sept) and Reading (26 Sept) in Berkshire and Churt (2 Oct) in Surrey. The three-course menu will offer beef tartare, spiced monkfish and roasted fig tart, with each course paired with a gin cocktail for the super reasonable price of £50pp.
ARTS: Windsor Festival, various locations, now – 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 has hosted a literary tea; the brilliant Lucy Worsley has talked about Queen Victoria and this week Simon Heffer, Anna Pasternak and Robert Hardman will all be in action. Music more your bag? How about the world premiere of a brand new work – Fred and the Fantastic Tub Tub – by EMI TV composer James Marangone.
FESTIVAL: Windsor Fringe, various locations, now – 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, saucy burlesque and more, plus the world reknowned International Windsor Fringe Award for New Drama Writing, sponsored by the legendary Kenneth Branagh.
COMEDY: Andy Parsons – Healing The Nation, South Hill Bracknell, Thu 26 Sep
He’s the bearded hobbit you see on the likes of Mock The Week, Live at the Apollo and QI– and now’s you’re 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. Forget about Brexit, life in general, the only thing you’ll be worried about is how much your face hurts from laughing.
SHOPPING: Autumn Gift Fair, RDA Hillfields Farm RG8, Thu 26 Sep
Can I mention the C word? There’s less than 100 days until the big gift giving frenzy. Before then anxiety kicks in, get a head start early birders, by popping along to the Autumn Gift Fair in aid of Newbury Riding for the Disabled. There will be 50n fab stalls of food, clothing and homewares. Giddy up, it’s for an awesome charity and your can polish your Crimbo halo.
Hillfields Farm, Park Wall Lane, Upper Basildon, RG8 9PE (9.30am–4pm)
ART: The Blackbird Cafe Chapel Row, Bucklebury, Fri 27 Sep
Whether you’ve got blank walls to fill, want to discover local talent or you only go for the free fizz and nibbles, don’t miss this new art exhibition at The Blackbird Cafe in Chapel Row. The super-skilled Ella Rule of Art For Sunday will be showing her stunning figurative art, alongside Caroline Eccles, Wendy Doolin of Doolin Designs and more. Fun starts at 6.30pm-10pm.
EVENT: Charity Fashion Show and Afternoon Tea, Monkey Island Estate, Fri 27 Sep
COMEDY: 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.
CULTURE: 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.
DANCE: 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.
THEATRE: Gaslight, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 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.
SPORT: 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.
EXHIBITION: 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.
MUSIC: 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.
EXHIBITION: 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.
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.
XHIBITION: Anthony Caro, Cliveden House, Berks, 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. nationaltrust.org.uk
NEW EXHIBITION: William Blake, Tate Britain, London, now – 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
THEATRE: Amelie, The Hexagon Reading, Tue 8 – Sat 12 Oct
It’s been a Broadway smash hit and now Amelie is coming to The Hexagon Reading. Based on the award-winning 2001 rom-com starring Audrey Tautou, it’s a feel-good musical about a young girl with a big imagination. Get tickets here.
EVENT: Autumn Racing weekend and Beer Festival, Ascot Racecourse, Fri 4 – Sat 5 Oct
Even a vino stalwart like myself will sink a pint of the amber nectar during Oktoberfest! Ascot Racecourse will be transforming the Grandstand concourse into a very special local with a weekend of racing, Oompah music, traditional German grub and, of course, loads of beers. Race you to the finish line – there’s 200 beers, ciders and perries on offer plus 80 gins. Lederhosen optional.
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 Chefwinner and Meant to Be author Lisa Faulkner, former deputy editor of ELLE andHow 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.