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What’s on this week in Berkshire?

Ready to dive into the week? Virtually snoop around the Louvre at night, debate Madonna's greatest hits, a street food comp, Quentin Blake exhibition and more in my curated guide.

MUSIC: The Vinyl Frontier – The Best Of Madonna, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 17 Sep

Madame X Madonna wearing cowboy hat with veil smoking a cigar

All hail Her Madgesty – the Queen of Pop’s talent is undeniable but can you pick one all-time favourite track? From Holiday to Hung Up via La Isla Bonita and Vogue, The Vinyl Frontier (hosted by Jeff Lloyd and nine guests) will debate which of her 127 tracks is the worthy winner. Host Jeff Lloyd is joined by nine guests to play their favourite Madonna track simultaneously to live and online audiences! For me, it’s a toss up between Like A Prayer and Borderline. Join the live theatre audience or lurk online, your choice.

ARTS: A Night At The Louvre – Leonardo Da Vinci, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Wed 16 Sep and Thu 24 Sep

A night at the Louvre Leonardo da Vinci

Order in fine Champagne and French cheeses and pretend you’ve been whisked off for a naughty weekend in Paris. A Night At The Louvre is a special film shot after hours that takes you on a private guided tour of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition. The is an opportunity to see Da Vinci’s work up close and free of thousands of tourists holding their cameras and phone in front of your face. In French with English subtitles.

EXHIBITION: Quentin Blake and John Yoeman – 50 Years of Children’s Books, The Base Greenham, Fri 18 Sep – Sun 6 Dec

Just like wine and cheese, Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl trip off the tongue. But a new exhibition at The Base in Greenham Common reveals Quentin Blake’s longest collaboration was in fact with the author John Yeoman. House of Illustration’s 50 Years of Children’s Books exhibition is the first to celebrate this partnership. It features the original drawings for A Drink of Water, and 10 other projects – from picture books and short novels.

DAYS OUT: Windsor Castle, Windsor

Pantomime Paintings Windsor Castle

The Queen’s weekend hangout, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – pretty impressive, right? Inside the castle you can see a collection of WWII pantomime pictures, painted as backdrop for the shows Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret performed to raise funds for troops at the front (they’re usually covered by portraits), or outside you can take a family tour of the Castle’s secret gardens nestled below the round tower (every Thurs). Booking essential. Adult tickets £23.50, child £13.50, under 5s go FREE.

ONLINE TALK: Simon Yates: My Mountain Life, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Thu 17 Sep

Mountaineer Simon Yates climbing in Peru

He was the man who cut the rope. Mountaineer Simon Yates was climbing the remote Siula Grande in Peru in 1985, but was slowly being pulled off the mountain face by his injured partner, Joe Simpson, who was dangling on the rope 50m below. Simon’s decision to cut the rope saved both their lives, inspired their bestselling bookTouching The Void, which later became a film, stage play and turned them into household names. Apparently there’s a funny side to all this drama, and Simon’s going to tell you all about it.

FOOD: British Street Food Awards – Southern Heat, Market Place Reading, Sat 19 – Sun 20 Sep

street food sandwich with seafood and salad wrapped in paper and served in a wire basket

If you’re a Reading local, then you’ll know all about Blue Collar Street Food – they’ve organised street food markets and foodie festivals in town for years. Grab your gilded forks, because this year these guys are hosting the Southern Heat of the mahoosive British Street Food Awards on the 19 and 20 September. This is a big deal. MEATliqour won Best Sandwich at the first awards – and now has 12 restaurants worldwide. It’s life changing stuff. So channel your inner Giles Coren, stuff your face and vote. Tickets available here.

EXHIBITION: Open Air Sculpture, Shaw House Newbury, now – Sun 27 Sep

Winds of CHange Brendan Murless_1000x666
Winds of Change sculpture by Brendan Murless

Practice your arty-farty face and waft around The Orangery Lawn at Shaw House in Newbury. The postponed Altered States Sculpture exhibition opens this month and gives you the chance to discover artworks by top Uk sculptors in this lovely historic setting. Everything’s for sale so, if you find something you love, you can batter the credit card. Just make sure it’ll fit in the car boot.

CARS: Stonor Breakfast Club, Stonor Park, 20 Sept

Supercar Sunday at Stonor retro red sports car outside the tudor country manor Stonor Park

Vroooom! Head to Stonor Park on the morning of 20 September for bacon rolls and an eclectic collection of motors, from supercars and sports cars to GTs.

EXHIBITIONS: Reading Museum reopens, Reading

bayeux-Tapstry Reading Museum

Courtesy of President Macron, the Bayeux Tapestry will be on loan to the British Museum in 2022. Jeez, who wants to wait two years? No one in Berkshire because we have Britain’s full-size Victorian replica of the Tapestry on display in Reading Museum – which reopens this week and it’s absolutely FREE to visit. It was created in 1885 by the Leek Embroidery Society who went to great efforts to make it as accurate as possible, with one teeny tiny difference. The French embroidery has several ‘ding dong’ naked men, while the British version will spare your blushes, popping on a pair of pants!


EXHIBITION: HRH Princess Beatrice Wedding Dress, Windsor Castle, Thu 24 Sep – Sun 22 Nov


No fuss, no pomp or ceremony, on the 17 Jul 2020 Princess Beatrice quietly married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor wearing her ‘something borrowed’ vintage Norman Hartnell borrowed from Granny. It helps she’s the Queen. Now we get to see this masterclass in craftsmanship up close when it does on display at Windsor Castle later this month. The queen famously wore this gown to the premiere of Lawrence Arabia at the Oden Leicester Square in 1962. It was nothing short of perfection.

WORKSHOP: Creativity On Slate, Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Twyford, Thu 24 Sep

Calligraphy on slate Stanlake Park Wine Estate workshop

Find your creative groove (and nail thoughtful Christmas/ wedding gift giving this year) by designing a personalised cheese/charcuterie slate platter. This two-hour creative workshop explores the art of lettering using faux calligraphy, taught by Michelle from Mint Lettering. Plus, you’ll get to sample Stanlake’s delicious English sparking wine, learn a bit about the estate and its award-winning wine. The slate platter you create is yours to take home and do not pass GO without buying a bottle of vino from the Cellar Shop. All that effort deserves a reward. £60pp.


MUSIC: Fidelio in Concert, Garsington Opera,  Wormsley Estate, Bucks, 14, 16, 18 & 20 Sept 

The bucolic Wormsley Estate is back in action once again with a series of performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio, last performed by Garsington Opera to great critical acclaim at the Philharmonie in Paris in 2016. With themes of oppression, isolation and hope, it’s perfect for the times. 

WALK: Sunrise Walk, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 20 Sept 

Always wanted to see the sun rise over Blenheim’s impressive Baroque facade? Of course you have and here’s your chance. For its 20th anniversary, children’s charity SeeSaw is leading an exclusive early morning walk around the grounds. You can take you pick from a shorter 1.5 mile circular around the Queen Pool, or a longer 4.6 mile ramble along the park perimeter. You’ll need to be present and correct by 6.15am though so set that alarm clock!

FESTIVAL: London Design Festival, various locations, 12 – 20 Sept

Now in its 18th year, this cool festival features commissions and installations across the city, including The Hothouse, located in the newly coined International Quarter (Stratford). The glasshouse installation provides a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow within the UK’s climate. 

EXHIBITION: Aubrey Beardsley, Tate Britain, until 20 Sept

Aubrey Beardsley

Here’s the last call to see this awesome retrospective exhibition of Aubrey Beardsley’s work, from his early medievalist and mythological subjects to his bold illustrations covering themes of sex, death and humour.

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, until 24 May 2021

Ai Weiwei imperial war museum

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.   

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