What’s on this week in Berks and beyond
What’s on near you, you ask? I know, I know! Let the good times roll this week from outdoor film nights, family theatre, fashion pop ups, gorgeous gardens and more.
OUTDOOR THEATRE: Gorilla Circus, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sat 22 Aug
Newbury’s Corn Exchange is baaaaaack – flying into your social diary with a spectacular outdoor performance from the kings and queens of the swingers Gorilla Circus. This troupe of trapeze artists will deliver all the oohs and ahhs from their enormous rig on Sat 22 Aug. So banish all all thoughts of car keys in a bowl and pampas grass pronto.
OUTDOOR THEATRE: The Hound Of The Baskervilles, The Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – Sun 6 Sep
The show must go on and it helps when your theatre has a garden. The stunning Watermill Theatre in Bagnor usually puts on an immersive performance amongst its flora and fauna – and when they got the 2020 green light, they had the spooky retelling of Sherlock Holmes’ The Hound of the Baskervilles ready to go. Support the arts, book a table and get your culture fix. It’s elementary, dear Muddy readers, elementary.
DRINKS: Stanlake Wine Park Tours, Stanlake Wine Estate Hurst, various dates
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!
MUSIC: Camelot, The Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – Sat 5 Sep
A garden concert, you say? Your wish is my command, m’lady. The Watermill Theatre will be performing Camelot – a special concert of Lerner and Loewe’s music based on the legend of King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. Lose yourself in a socially distanced world of knights and chivalry, royalty and romance.
OUTDOOR CINEMA: Midnight In Paris, The Last Crumb Caversham, Sat 22 Sep
Ahh, gay Paris, the home of bohemian arty types who permanently sit in a cloud of cigarette smoke drinking coffee, absinthe or both. Midnight In Paris is essentially a time travel movie starring Owen Wilson as screenwriter and aspiring novelist Gil Pender. Sounds bonkers but you. can see this comedy in The Last Crumb garden this Saturday.
FAMILY: Wildlife Trail, Windsor Great Park, now – now – 31 Aug
Jeez… the kids have been at home for so long it’s hard to know when lockdown ended and the summer holidays started. So yup, we’re running out of steam and ideas. Head to Windsor Great Park and kill a few hours learning about the UK’s native trees, animals and birds. There’s brain teasers, puzzles and cake at the Savill Garden Kitchen. Where do I sign up?
THEATRE: Alice: A Virtual Theme Park, until 30 Aug
Don’t panic, it’s not another Zoom meeting – this is something entirely different, and altogether magical. For August, the genius team at Creation Theatre Company have put together Alice: A Virtual Theme Park, a modern take on theatre that’s totally unique and will have littlies enraptured. Think live performers, AI animals and the chance to interact with the characters (or sit back and let others do that bit). £20 per device.
WELLBEING: ParkFit, Stonor Park, nr Henley
If you’re a bit iffy about heading back to the gym, Stonor’s spotted an opportunity and, gotta say, I’m loving their work on this one. Their new Stonor 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.
OUTDOOR CINEMA: Bohemian Rhapsody, Dinton Pastures Country Park, Hurst, Sat 22 Aug
It’s been 10 years since Woody, Buzz and his other landfill-avoiding pals were handed over to young Bonnie after seeing Andy through his childhood. But the gang’s back together with newbie Forky for one last rodeo – Toy Story 4. Expect rivers of tears at Dinton Pastures on 29 Aug. Not your bag? See The Greatest Showman (1 Aug), Dirty Dancing (15 Aug) and Bohemian Rhapsody (22 Aug). You’re given a time slot to arrive. Bring a blanket, picnic and tissues.
OUTDOOR THEATRE: Wind in the Willows, Shaw House Newbury, Sun 23 Aug
Poop poop! One of my favourite children’s books ever (inspired by the riverbanks of Berkshire) pops out of the page and into grounds of Shaw House in Newbury, thanks to Immersion Theatre’s energetic production of The Wind In The Willows . Pack a picnic, it starts at 5pm so perfect timing for littlies.
FAMILY FUN: Escape Experience, Windsor
Been pulling your hair out trying to keep the kids busy during lockdown? Try sealing them in a room! We jest (sort of). Escape Experience Windsor has re-opened its doors, which means you can keep your offspring entertained for at least an hour. Take your pick from Area 51, Crown Jewels Heist or Magic Portal, an outdoor game.
DAYS OUT: Windsor Duck Tour, Windsor
I’m not sure Roger Moore would approve of this amphibious motor, but then you won’t get many passengers in his water bound Lotus Esprit. Good job we have the Duck bus to whizz around the historic streets of Windsor for dunking into the river. Rain or shine, this is fun history lesson/ sightseeing adventure.
DRINKS: Pub In The Paddock, Newbury Racecourse, Sat and Sun, throughout August
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.
POP-UP: Barefoot Chic, Bicester Village, until Fri 21 Aug
If you’re looking to expand your summer wardrobe, make sure you hotfoot it over to Bicester Village’s latest luxe pop-up Barefoot Chic. The boutique features sartorial stunners and accessories from over 20 luxury designers including super-cool (and actually really affordable) eyewear brand Cubbits, high-performance plant-powered skincare brand Votary and Fashion Week favourites Erdem and Mary Katranzou with gorgeous summery prints.
MUSIC: Readipop Virtual Festival
Festival season 2020 has been cancelled. Before you cry into your pint of pear cider and pack away your sequin playsuit, host your own at home courtesy of Caversham’s Readipop, featuring Badly Drawn Boy, Beardyman, Musical Youth, Nigel Clark (Dodgy), Hannah Williams and Freya Beer.
DAY TRIP: Windsor Castle, Windsor
The Queen’s off on her Balmoral holiday, so Windsor Castle‘s flung open its doors to visitors. The world’s largest and oldest occupied castle and Royal Wedding venue du jour. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs, so practice your curtsey, keep the kids away from the priceless antiques and look through the gilded keyhole.
DAYS OUT: National Trust
Fingers on buzzers! Slots sell like hotcakes for National Trust day trips these days, but if you’re lucky enough to get tickets, here are some of my local favourites: Cliveden, Berks, where the gardens and woodland estate are open; the rolling parkland and woodland of Basildon Park nr Pangbourne, Tudor powerhouse The Vyne nr Basingstoke; Hughenden, High Wycombe; and the picturesque Greys Court, nr Henley.
If you haven’t managed to score tickets to your favourite National Trust gardens we have the perfect alternative. You’ll find historic country estate Stonor Park (the manor dates back more than 850 years) about four miles north of Henley-on-Thames, and it’s just opened its car park and gardens to the public again. Just in time too – the gardens are at their best this time of year with irises, alliums, peonies and roses all in bloom.
GLAMPING: Camp Hox pop-up, Eynsham Hall, Witney, throughout Aug
Run by the same lot behind London’s Hoxton hotels, this chic take on a camp site features 12 lotus tents decked out with all the necessities (actual beds, electricity, Roberts radios and tea and coffee-making facilities, etc.), and you’ll get access to your own private hot showers and toilets, a bottle of wine on arrival and a Hoxton breakfast bag delivered every morning. Best of all, there’s an outdoor pour-your-own Graham’s white port and tonic bar. Prices start at £185 per night, and you’ll also get a free night at any of Hoxton’s London hotels thrown into the mix.
EXHIBITION: Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden, Waddesdon Manor, until 25 Oct
Isn’t this just beautiful? The image was taken by legendary fashion (Jil Sander) and celebrity (The Queen, Lady Gaga) photographer Nick Knight. He’s coming up roses with an exhibition at Waddesdon Manor, which features manipulated photographs of roses inspired by the work of 16th- and 17th-century still life painters like Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan van Huysum. Read our interview with Nick here.
EXHIBITION: Electronic: From Kraftwerk to the Chemical Brothers, The Design Museum, London, until 14 Feb
From underground raves to the pioneering sounds used in Dr Who, this exhibition explores the history and culture of electronic music throughout the ages.
EXHIBITION: Ai Weiwei: History of Bombs, Imperial War Museum, London, 1 Aug – 24 May 2021
Part of Refugees, a free season of exhibitions, artistic commissions and immersive events taking place across IWM London and IWM North, this exhibition draws on renowned artist Ai Weiwei’s ongoing investigation into politics and power.
EXHIBITION: Steve McQueen, Tate Modern, London, now – 6 Sept
I love this shot! This solo exhibition of London-born artist and director of Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s portfolio features 14 major works spanning his extensive career in film, photography and sculpture and is the first major UK exhibition since he received the Turner Prize in 1999. So, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal! The display will cover the last 25 years of McQueen’s career, including personal and intimate works such as his early film on a Super 8 camera and this awesome aerial depiction of the Statue of Liberty (above).
EXHIBITION: Kimono to Catwalk, V&A Museum, London, now – 27 Aug
The V&A is reopening on 6 August (with free entry!), but its major exhibition will be opening towards the latter end of the month. ‘Kimono to Catwalk’ charts the journey of the traditional Japanese garment as an evolving fashion icon, from its origins in the 1660s to its modern-day iteration.