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Fun things to do this week in Berkshire

A new film from David Attenborough, one-man theatre and a book reading from Russell Brand – it's all going on this week as we hurtle towards October.

FILM: David Attenborough – A Life On Our Planet, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 1 Oct

David-Attenborough-Doc-Corn Ex New

This absolute legend (aged 94, no less) practically broke Instagram last week, when he launched his account. Yes, David Attenborough has a couple of slightly younger pals running the account but good on him. This week his new documentary premieres and you can see it at at the Corn Exchange in Newbury. Honest, revealing and urgent, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, is a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations. After the film, audiences will have the unique chance to watch a very special, exclusive conversation between Sir David Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin. This will only be available in cinemas.

DRINKS: Vermouth Masterclass, Stanlake Park Wine Estate Twyford, Thu 1 Oct

Negroni

The 70s called and they want their drink back. Vermouth (aka fortified wine) is making a comeback, but ditch the lemonade and drink this Italian classic on the rocks, or mix it up for a night of Negronis and martinis. Stanlake Park Wine Estate in Twyford has created its own bottle of vermouth and in-house mixologist Mickey Harrison will be showing us how we should be drinking it. Don’t worry, there’s food to soak up the cocktails and wine tasting. Plus you get to take home of your own homemade vermouth. Pop a couple of paracetamol before bed.

THEATRE: Simon Slater in Bloodshot, The Watermill Theatre Bagnor, now – Sat 17 Oct

Simon Slater Bloodshot Watermill Theatre Newbury

Theatres are dipping their toe into socially-distant waters, putting on shows with small audiences and often a one-man show. Case in point, The Watermill Theatre in Newbury is putting on its first indoor production – Simon Slater in Bloodshot. A thriller set in 1957 London, policeman-turned-photographer Derek Eveleigh is down on his luck, but a mysterious envelope of money arrives it looks like his fortunes are about to change. Simon’s a man of many talents – acts, plays the ukulele and sax and even throws in the odd conjuring trick!

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

princess-beatrice-WEDDING GOWN ON display

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 now that it is on display at Windsor Castle. 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.

BOOKS: Henley Literature Festival, online, Sat 26 Sept – Sun 4 Oct

Bookworms, rejoice! Henley Literary Festival is still going ahead online and the line-up is still as hot as ever. We’ll be streaming author, podcaster, Instagrammer and campaigner Giovanna Fletcher’s talk on her new, candid book on motherhood Letters on Motherhood (2 Oct). Other talks include Graham Norton (4 Oct), comedian David Baddiel (3 Oct) and Russell Brand who’ll be reading childhood favourite The Tiger Who Came To Tea as part of the free children’s and schools program (3 Oct). Who would’ve thought, eh?

EXHIBITION: Quentin Blake and John Yoeman – 50 Years of Children’s Books, The Base Greenham, now – 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.

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!

FURTHER AFIELD

EXHIBITION: Cecily Brown, Blenheim Palace, until 3 Jan

Part of the Blenheim’s Art Foundation programme, this exhibition by celebrated Brit artist Cecily Brown, is the first to be shown at the Palace to be composed of entirely new work. The series references masterpieces by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Anthony Van Dyck on view at the Palace, as well as family heraldry, armorial banners and the martial scenes of the Blenheim Tapestries that line the State Rooms.

ART: Arrivals + Departures by YARA + DAVINA, Somerset House, now – 10 Oct

A particularly poignant outdoor installation, considering the year we’ve all had, this open air interactive piece at Somerset House invites visitors to add names of those they’ve lost (or gained!) in 2020 in the form of an airport arrivals and departures board. Every Wednesday until 10 October, artist duo YARA + DAVINA will be inviting specialist speakers to take over the installation, with talks on the subject of lockdown births, grief, and race and social justice.

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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