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This week

MON 8 – SUN 14 JUL


FESTIVAL: Henley Festival, Oxon, Wed 10 – Sun 14 Jul 

Henley Festival is for people who’re too posh for festivals! The genteel shebang is a black tie event which takes place over five days with some mega headline acts this year including Boy George, Jessie J and Tom Odell. There’s also a line up of comedy, arts and loads of food stalls to soak up the Champers.


THEATRE: The Anastasia File, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – Sat 13 Jul

The Anastasia File Theatre Royal Windsor Jenny Seagrove actress kneels praying, actor in white coat stands and Romonov crest llumintaed on the wall

It’s a Windsor Theatre Royal exclusive! If you’re a sucker for a Russian accent, book in to see The Anastasia File – a psychological thriller that questions whether a woman found in a canal and placed in a mental asylum is, in fact, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, and heir to the Romanov fortune. Using just four actors – Jenny Seagrove, Andrew Lancel, Richard Winsor and Rose Thomson – playing 30 parts between them, in a play loaded with tension. Half time double vodka, essential.


EVENT: Gin Thursdays, Newbury Racecourse, Thu 11, 18 and 25 Jul

The beauty of lighter evenings (sunshine or not) is that the opportunities to put on a nice shoe and totter out for the night are seemingly endless – and Newbury Racecourse does not disappoint with gin and gee gees. It’s hosting its annual Gin Festival with 30 different varieties to sample, resident DJ and great racing. Get your gang together and make yours a double.


OUTDOORS: How To Be Brave, Wasing Estate Aldermaston, Thu 11 Jul

How To be Brave Wasing Festival of Theatre illustrated poster

The theatre company’s called Dirty Protest (cue childish sniggers), and their latest play How To Be Brave, starring Laura Dalgleish (Call The Midwife) is being performed in the extraordinary Wasing Woodland in Aldermaston, before transferring to Edinburgh Fringe. This new touching and hilarious play is about learning to be brave when your world is falling apart. Tickets: £50 inc the performance, food and three drinks or £25 for the show only.


EVENT: Friday night pop up bar, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, throughout July

Picture the scene: balmy summer evenings, unspoilt countryside, kids happily playing games without the need for you to referee the perpetual bickering, while you enjoy a blissful Friday night sundowner. This utopia is a reality at the Summer Pop Up Bar at Douai Pavillion in Woolhampton. Running every Friday night from 6pm, it’s a great place for the whole family to let off steam. Winner! 


THEATRE: The Tempest by The HandleBards, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Wed 10 Jul

The HandleBards female Troup with bicycle The tempest Norden farm Maidenhead

Check out the panniers on this lot! The world’s first cycling theatre company, The HandleBards, pedal from venue to venue with all the set, props and costume necessary to perform Shakespeare. They pedal into Bracknell and Newbury to perform The Tempest, a tale that sees the Milan court shipwrecked on a mysterious desert island, inhabited by magicians, sprites and monsters.


KIDS: Ministry of Science, Corn Exchange Newbury, Wed 10 Jul

Ministry of Science woman and man in lab coats and safety goggles doing explosive experiment on stage

KABOOOOOOOM! Strap on your safety goggles because this show goes way beyond Mentos and Coca Cola. Ministry of  Science bangs, whooshes, and buils a hovercraft built on stage! Expect an explosive trip to the theatre and *cough* a new enthusiasm for science homework. Take earplugs. It gets really loud.


SPORT: Running Miles Sundae Challenge, Dinton Pastures Wokingham, Wed 10 Jul

woman coming out of the starting blocks running

For me, the only thing running in this challenge would be my 99 in 30 degree heat (ankle sprain). But if you’re partial to running and ice cream, the Running Miles Sundae Challenge could be right up your street. It’s a six-hour timed test where you can run as many or as few 2.6 mile laps as you choose. Ten laps for a marathon, 5 for a half and 1 or more to get a medal and create your own sundae with all the toppings. What do you get if you watch?


THEATRE: Giffords Circus: Xanadu, Great Windsor Park, Thu 11 – Mon 22 July

Giffords Circus pitches up its Big Top once again at Oxford’s University Parks on its summer tour with a brand new show Xanadu– the theme this year is the Summer of Love, set in Hyde park 1973, so expect hippies, hipsters, rock stars and all-out grooviness alongside Nell Gifford’s brilliantly curated circus acts. The show then rolls up at Stonor Park Henley on Thames, 25-29 July.


EAT OUT: An Evening with Gregg Wallace, The Vineyard Stockcross, Fri 12 Jul

TV star Gregg Wallace wooden building green plants

The Vineyard in Stockcross is playing host to a fab dinner party on Fri 12 Jul hosted by Gregg Wallace of Masterchef fame. Gregg will be bringing all the foodie chatter, you’ll tuck into four delicious courses, each one paired with a cheeky little number from The Vineyard’s legendary 30,000-bottle wine cellar.


FAMILY FUN: The Big Camp, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, Fri 12 – Sun 14 Jul

The Big Camp Cliveden Natioanl Trust taplow Canvas bell tent

The perfect weekend away. The family sleep under canvas in the five-star gorgeous grounds. They’ll discover wildlife, play games, explore the nearby Play Trail and be taken on a bat walk through the woods before marshmallows round the campfire. You, on the hand, need to be checking in to the hotel, enjoying a nightcap and star-fishing in a giant bed. Everyone gets to have an adventure. It’s just one as a luxury bathroom and the other doesn’t. Also running: Fri 19 – Sun 21 Jul and Fri 26 – Sun 28 Jul.


KIDS: Pretty Muddy and Race For Life, Prospect Park Reading, Sat 13 – Sun 14 Jul

Pretty Muddy Kids 5k 10K Race for Life Cancer Research Reading Berkshire

It’s gonna take more than Bio to get your kit clean after doing this… but it is for a great cause. The Cancer Research Pretty Muddy for kids (must be 1.2m tall) and grown ups is a hilarious series of obstacles, mud pits and dirty fun with friends and family. If you like to keep it clean (spoil sports) then the 5K and 10K Race For Life is on Sunday.




COMEDY: Reading Fringe Festival, various locations, Fri 24 – Wed 29 Jul

Reading Frindge Festival 2019 Crayola the queen head to toe greeN and green background

No need to schlep to Edinburgh for the Fringe, some of the finest comedy shows are being performed in Reading now. One of my favourite events of the year, there’s loads of cool stuff for grown ups and kids to see. I’m liking the sound of A Very Crayola Fringe Show (above) on 27 Jul in which the Queen of Crayola will be bringing her campy, cartoonish, lady clown LOLs to the occasion. Seska’s Quack Quack Boom, super-crazy comedy magic show is a family fave on Sat 20 Jul and Eddie Summers School of Burglary will quite simply be utterly boonkers (Sat 20 Jul) Grab your chance to see our up and coming comic stars without the ridiculous price tag (many performances are just £8). Bargain!


EVENT: Qipco King George’s Day, Ascot Racecourse, Sat 27 Jul

Tv presenter and DJ Dermot O'Leary in jumper leaning on wooden counter

Worship at the feet of Dermot O’Leary! TV’s Mr Safe Hands, author, DJ and all round top bloke, I’d happily sink a few jars with him as name drops his way thorough the alphabet. He’ll be cranking up the choons at Ascot after party at the prestigious Qipco King George race day. Definitely the dish of the day.



THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 8 Jul – 7 Sept 

Tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action so grab your rug, brolly and, of course, a sneaky hipflask as Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre is pitching up at Blenheim Palace with Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet– the 13-sided scaffolding theatre, with three tiers of covered seating and open courtyard for ‘groundlings’, will be accompanied by a Shakespearean Village selling local ales, ice cream and side shows.


COMEDY: James Acaster, Wycombe Swan, Wycombe, Wed 10 Jul

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 Wycombe Swan.


OPERA: Garsington Opera Season, Wormsley Estate, until 26 Jul

More opera this month from Garsington Opera– lovely setting, sunny weather (hopefully) and warbling of the highest form. There are loads of the performances on the bill this week including Fantasio (8, 11 Jul), Don Giovanni (12, 14 Jul) and The Turn of the Screw (13 Jul).




If you fancy a camping festival, there’s Shambala, a small, lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly (22 – 25 Aug). Other camping weekenders include LatitudeSuffolk, the Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill (18 – 21 Jul). Or there’s Camp BestivalLulworth CastleDorset, the kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties (25 – 28 Jul).

And if you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes- you can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.



Must-see exhibitions in London this month include a new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection above, which contrasts the designer’s work with paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement. The intimate collection has been curated  by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives (until Sun 1 Sept). Or you can check out Beasts of London, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals which are brought to life using video projection mapping.

Muddy visited the Mary Quant retrospective (until 16 Feb) above at the V&Arecently and it’s definitely worth checking out- over 200 items from the iconic ’60s designer’s career, from miniskirts to her make up range, accompanying images and a strong feminist undertone (girl power!) Also at the V&A is the the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, it’s sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance, or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A (until 1 Sept). The major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain is also worth a gander, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery (until 11 Aug). And finally, if you’re heading up north, there’s the new Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.

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