This week’s fabulous Berkshire fun
Sofa surfing, or fancy a local jaunt? I've got both covered in my curated guide to the week handily split into outdoor and online fun.
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 THEATRE: The Hound Of The Baskervilles, The Watermill Theatre Newbury, Wed 29 Jul – Sat 8 Aug
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 al fresco performance – 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.
OUTDOOR CINEMA: Dinton Pastures Country Park, Hurst, Sat 1 – Sat 29 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 are 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.
GAMES: 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.
SUPPER CLUB: Gifford’s Circus Travelling Restaurant, Stonor Park, nr Henley, 1 – 2 Aug
Roll up, roll up for a food extravaganza worth jumping through hoops for. Gifford’s Circus will be opening its travelling restaurant – Circus Sauce – at Stonor Park nr Henley this week – and it’s the hottest ticket in town. Critics have gone nuts for it describing it as one of the most memorable and enjoyable restaurants imaginable. Better book yourself a table pronto. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings with a weekly changing menu of three-courses costing £35 adults and £25 children. Stonor’s gardens and car park are open Wed – Sun and pre-booking is essential to adhere to social distancing rules. The toilets will be open with added cleaning measures. Book here.
SHOP: Caversham Artisans and Farmers Market, Sun 2 Aug
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.
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 1 – Sun 2 Aug
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.
SPORTS: Wellington Estate Fun Ride, Wellington Riding Centre, Hook
Chaaaaaaarge! f you’re horsey mad, here’s your chance join The Wellington Estate Fun Ride on Sun 2 Aug and ride across Lord and Lady Mornington’s stunning Stratfield Saye Estate – location for one of Spielberg’s epic War Horse scenes. It’s a 10-mile charity ride (shorter routes available) in aid of BHS Coronavirus Appeal. Advance booking is essential, it starts at 9am and there are finisher rosettes for all.
OUTDOOR CINEMA: Stubbings Nursery, Maidenhead, Fri 31 Jul – Sat 1 Aug
If you enjoyed the Freddie Mercury biopic, stand by for Rocketman (1 Aug), a film about Sting… only joking, Elton John obviously, with Brit star Taron Egerton (above) donning the silly specs. It’s on the movie reel at Stubbings Nursery in Maidenhead along with Dirty Dancing (31 Jul). Doors open at 7pm. There is a bar bring your own picnic.
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.
OUTDOOR CINEMA: Shaw House, Newbury Sat 1 – Sun 2 Aug
Nobody puts Baby in the corner, so loosen your hips, carry a watermelon and get loaded on Martinis – it’s Dirty Dancing at Shaw House in Newbury (1 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 yourself down to Shaw House in Newbury. Plus last year’s Sam Mendes war epic 1917 on 2 Aug. Doors open at 7pm. Film starts at 9pm.
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.
EAT: Pick your own, various locations
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.
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
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
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.
KIDS: Messy Museum Days, West Berkshire Heritage Museum Newbury Fri 31 Jul
If there is one activity that leaves mums recoiling in horror, it’s messy play. The West Berkshire Heritage Museum contain the carnage at its gaff on Newbury Wharf, but this summer it’s gone online which means the messy bit will there for your to clear up once you have finished polishing your parental halo and downing a large gin.
FAMILY: Kite Making Workshop, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Thu 30 Jul
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.