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What’s on this week in Berkshire

A sizzling social scene awaits. There's a whole week of outdoor fun and air conditioned cultural loveliness to lure you away from your desk fan.

OUTDOOR THEATRE: The Wind In The Willows, South Hill Park Bracknell, Fri 14 Aug – Sun 16 Aug

Wind In The Willows South Hill Park

Parp parp. South Hill Park in Bracknell is back, baby, with an outdoor performance of the children’s classic The Wind In The Willows – and it’s a venue that that gives you the grandeur of Toad’s manor and the landscape of the Wild Wood for Mole, Ratty, Mr Badger, Mr Toad’s tale of misadventure. This is a high energy, interactive performance with lots of humour and audience participation. So no hiding at the back.  

OUTDOOR CINEMA: The Last Crumb, Caversham, Fri 14 – Sat 15 Aug

Bohemian Rapsody Live Aid Scene Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Twentieth Century Fox film
Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Dirty burgers, stone baked pizza and an outdoor cinema in a pimped up sea container. It’s got Muddy night out written all over it. Caversham’s super-cool pub, The Last Crumb, will be screening Bohemian Rhapsody on Fri 14 Aug and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on Sat 15 Aug. Reserve your seat (aka bring your own) and settle in.

SHOP: Caversham Artisans and Farmers Market, Sun 16 Aug

House plants market Stall

Hmm the smell of fresh bread and sizzling street food is enough to get me out of bed for a Sunday market, but the Caversham Artisan and Farmers Market is much more. Think quality produce, homeware, designer crafts, with a soundtrack of buskers to help you find your shopping groove. From 10am to 4pm, get up, mooch and grab yourself something from Berkshire’s finest.

OUTDOOR THEATRE: The Hound Of The Baskervilles, The Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – Sun 6 Sep

The Hound of the Baskervilles Watermill THeatre Poster

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.

POP-UP: Barefoot Chic, Bicester Village, until 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.

DRINKS: Stanlake Wine Park Tours, Stanlake Wine Estate Hurst, various dates

Stanlake park Vineyard walled garden

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!

WELLBEING: ParkFit, Stonor Park, nr Henley 

Woman in fitness gear running in woods Stonor Park 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: Dirty Dancing, Dinton Pastures Country Park, Hurst, Sat 15 Aug

Nobody puts Baby in the corner, so loosen your hips, carry a watermelon and get loaded on Martinis – it’s Dirty Dancing at Dinton Pastures Country Park in Hurst (15 Aug)! I think we’ve all watched this film a gazillion times and it does not get old. Innocent Baby, naughty Johnny and a first time sexual experience that would never happen in real life. Grab the gang and get cha cha cha to your seats, film starts at 9pm. You’re given a time slot to arrive. Bring a blanket and a boozy picnic – is there any other kind?

SHOP: Caversham Artisans and Farmers Market, Sun 16 Aug

FAMILY FUN: Escape Experience, Windsor

Windsor Outdoor Escape Experience Magic Portal

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.

SHOP: Antiques and Collectable Fair, Hungerford Town Hall, Sun 9 Aug

Let’s get ready to rummage! Antiques, collectables, vintage, clothing – it’s all here in the village of Hungerford which boasts more antiques shops than Kirsty Allsopp has shoes. Bundle into the Town Hall and you’ll find 30 to 40 dealers touting their wares. Nothing you fancy there? Pop over the road and have a mooch around Hungerford Arcade. The market is free and is open from 10am-4pm

Hungerford Town Hall, High Street, Hungerford RG17 0NF

DAYS OUT: Windsor Duck Tour, Windsor

Windsor Duck Tour

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

Newbury-Racecourse

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.

DAY TRIP: Windsor Castle, Windsor

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 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

The Vyne National Trust Victorian mansion with lake view

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.


STONOR PARK

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.

COMEDY: Open–Air Comedy, The Oxford Artisan Distillery, South Parks, Oxford, Sat 15 Aug

A hilarious night out with pals, plus lashings of gin. Sounds good to me! This open-air gig, from Jericho Comedy, will be performed overlooking South Parks and the (hopefully glorious) sunset over Oxford’s spires. There’ll be an award-winning comedy line-up, plus locally made cocktails, Tap Social beer and oven-baked pizza.

EAT: Pick your own, various locations

punnets of strawberries

Feeling fruity? Gray’s Farm, in Wokingham, is the biggie in our are for hand-picked punnets. There’s no need to book, and you only pay for what you pick. Copa’s Farm Fruit Fields, near Maidenhead, is also open but you have two hours max to grab and go.

EAT: Picnic at the Palace, Blenheim Palace Woodstock, until 16 Aug

Live music, comedy and cocktails, anyone? Blenheim has transformed its grounds into a al fresco dining space with socially distanced deck chairs and pergolas (you can book a space for two to six people) overlooking the lake. From Tuesday to Thursday, you can choose from a lunchtime hamper or indulgent afternoon tea, and on weekends you can pick up a graze box to nibble on as you watch the entertainment.

GLAMPING: Camp Hox pop-up, Eynsham Hall, Witney, throughout Aug

Camp Hox Pop Up Eynsham Hall Oxfordshire

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: International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 19 Aug 

Wanna see some pretty pictures? This outdoor exhibition features unusual earthy shots of gardens, flowers, plants and botanicals printed on large display boards next to the Rose Garden. The palace, park and gardens are now all open for visitors.

EXHIBITION: Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden, Waddesdon Manor, until 25 Oct

nick-knight-waddesdon-manor

Isn’t this just beautiful? The image was taken by legendary fashion and celebrity photographer Nick Knight (he’s photographed the Queen, you know!). 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.

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.

THEATRE: Love, Sex & Zombies, Reading Fringe Festival

Love-Sex-and-Zombies_small (1)

Combining theatre and dance, drawing together artists from four countries, Love, Sex and Zombies explores intimacy and connection in a post apocalyptic world; reminding us that even in the midst of chaos and disorder, we still have the capacity for fierce, redemptive love. Sign of times, peeps.

FAMILY: Kite Making Workshop, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Thu 13 Aug

Long line of fish aeroplane kites flying in the sky

Make like Mary Poppins and join Zoom kite-making workshop. This is your time to shine and create a kite to send into the sky. The classes usually take place to create windy wonders for Norden Farm’s annual kite-flying festival. Although we’ll all have to wait until 2021, you can still get ready for launch. Altogether now! Let’s go fly a kite… and send it soaring.

FURTHER AFIELD

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.   

DRIVE-IN CINEMA: The Drive In, North London (Troubadour Meridian Water), until 10 Aug

A 1950s nostalgia fest with great films, classic cinema refreshments and stand-up comedy. The event is fully contact-free with snacks ordered through an app and delivered to your car.

EXHIBITION: Steve McQueen, Tate Modern, London, until 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, 27 Aug

Kimono Kyoto japanese woman in blue kimono

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.

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