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This weekend

FRI 10 – SUN 12 MAY


ART: Contemporary Art Fair, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 11 –Sun 12 May

London underground geometric tile iconic Mind The Gap words on floor Rebecca Coleman artist

Sick of looking at blank walls? For the first time ever, the Contemporary Art Fair will be bringing more than 160 artists, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists and independent galleries from all over the UK and Europe to Newbury Racecourse. Have a mooch, chat to artists and, if you find something you love, prices start at just 40 quid. Phew. You can read about the five artists on my lust list here..


THEATRE: Napoli, Brooklyn, Theatre Royal Windsor, now –Sat 11 May

Broadway production of Napoli, Brooklyn

A new play on me, but it’s got my attention as Napoli, Brooklyn makes a flying visit to Windsor straight from Broadway and before it opens in London. Meghan Kennedy’s drama concerns the lives of an Italian family struggling to deal with their abusive patriarch. The Muscolinos have raised three passionate daughters, each of them bonded by a fierce love for one another and harbouring a secret longing that could tear the family apart. More drama than an episode of Corrie.


EXHIBITION: Anthony Caro, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – Sun 10 Nov 2019

Anthony Caro Cliveden National Trust red industrial sculpture on woodland walk

If you loved Cliveden’s Lynn Chadwick sculptures last year, then the new installation Anthony Caro exhibition might get you sitting up like a meerkat. This English modernist artist, who assisted Henry Moore in the 1950s, is most famous for his abstract industrial pieces but briefly created figurative artworks too. You’ll find his pieces doted around the grounds. Take a stroll, admire and then pop into Cliveden House for afternoon tea or lunch at the Astor Grill.



THEATRE: A Belly Full, Mill at Sonning, now – Sat 15 Jun

It’s a world premiere of a brand new show that could be as funny and heart-warming as Calendar Girls. A Belly Full follows the lives of seven women who join a local belly dancing class. Friendships, bellies will wobble, crop tops will be revisited and we’re expecting Turkish Delight during the interval.


THEATRE: Amélie, The Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – Sat 18 May

Amelie muscial Watermill Newbury man and woman either side of wall

It has been a Broadway smash hit and now it will make its UK premiere at The Watermill Theatre. Amelie is a musical based on the award-winning 2001 rom-com starring Audrey Tautou, tells the story of an astonishing young woman who lives quietly in the world, but loudly in her imagination. A feel good musical filled to the brim with colourful observations and whimsical wonderings. A must see.


ART: Open Studios 2019, The Base Greenham Common, now – Sat 27 May

Julie Parker artist hairy stilettos made fro human hair

From Muddy Stilettos to, er, hairy ones. We haven’t lost our minds and our luscious locks, this is the sculptural creation of Julie Parker who is taking part in Open Studios. It’s an opportunity to drop in and see artists across West Berkshire and North Hampshire throughout May – and it’s totally free Simply go to the Open Studios website, find an artist and pop along for a nose. The main exhibition is INSIGHT will be held The Base at Greenham Common.


SPORT: Royal Windsor Horse Show, Windsor,  now – Wed 15 May

Show jumper Carl Hester jumping Big Ben fence Royal Windsor Horse Show

Image: Kent Farrington

Giddiup! The Royal Windsor Horse Show’s one of the hottest horsey events in the UK. Her Maj and Prince Philip are almost guaranteed to make an appearance (well, it is in their backyard), and the many of the Royal famalam drop in. Expect to see top flight show jumping, dressage, fun kids events, with a bit of pomp and ceremony from the Household Cavalry. It’s a fun, family affair, so trot on and grab a ticket.


EXHIBITION: Light in the Lens, Forbury Place Reading, Fri 10 – Sun 12 May

Life in the lend exhibition illuminated arc de triumph paris

Photo: Chris Dorney

If you’re looking to up your game on Insta in 2019, then check out how the pros do it. Light In The Lens – a brilliant exhibition from The Photographic Angle – let’s you into a little secret. It’s all about light. Know light and you’ll nail photography. Now if I could just take a selfie without gurning that would be magic.


TALK: Women In Power Lunch with Anne Widdicombe, Cliveden House Taplow, Fri 10 May

Politician Anne Widdecombe grey short hair surrounded by books on shelf

Image by Poppy Berry

Anne Widdecombe and Nigel Farage are unlikely bedfellows, but then we are in unchartered political waters. While Anne and Nige admire their new matching Brexit Party PJs and slippers, we get to hear from the great lady herself at Cliveden’s new Women In Power lunches, celebrating the centenary of Nancy Astor being the first female MP. Never without an opinion, we get all the goss from Parliament to Strictly. Not to be missed.


WEDDINGS: Wedfest, Forest Edge Tipis Hampstead Marshall, Sat 11 and Sun 12 May

FOREST EDGE TIPIS woodland wedding venue

Getting hitched? Before you say ‘I Do’ to a wedding venue, head to Wedfest. Not a festival for a mass wedding ceremony, but Forest Edge Tipis’ wedding fair with a difference. This brand new wedding venue is for brides who want to take it outside. Surrounded by woodland, permanent tipi for the reception and all the boring stuff taken care of like electricity, loos, and stuff. See the location, mets the guys who can make the magic happen – it’s guaranteed to be love at first sight.


CULTURE: Newbury Spring Festival, various locations, Sat 11 – Sat 25 May

Ballet Central dancers in tights leap and standing with full leg extensions

This whopping festival has grown over the last 41 years to now attract the very best in classical, jazz and world music acts. The events will take place this year from Sat 11 to Sat 25 May in some glorious venues, including The Base, Englefield House, Highclere Castle, Shaw House and the Corn Exchange Newbury where you can catch the elegant Ballet Central (above), the BBC Big Band, musical farce Lucky Stiff and a talk on Queen Victoria by AN Wilson.


BOOKS: Poetry reading by Eoghan Walls, The Little Bookshop Cookham, Sat 11 May

Pigeon flying off the cobble street at sunset

Love books or just want to pretend you’re Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle? I can’t promise Tom Hanks but I can give you an award-winning poet. Eoghan Walls will be reading from his book Pigeon Songs – his second collection of poems richly steeped in themes of love and loss. Hear his work, just as it was intended at The Little Bookshop in Cookham at 2pm.

WELLBEING: Earth Living Festival, Caversham Court Gardens, Sat 11 May

Swap you daisy dukes and pear cider for a pair of yoga pants and wheatgrass shot, the Earth Living Festival is the antithesis of hedonistic oblivion. This fest is al relaxing, recharging, and feeding your mind, body and soul. What can you expect? Yoga, bootcamps, Bollywood dancing, essential oils, talks,, wild workouts, live music and so much more. It says family friendly, but leave them at home and max out on me time.


ARTS: Caversham Arts Trail, various locations, Sat 11 – Sun 12 and Sat 18 – Sun 19 May

Caroline Streatfield image man with arm around woman under a house window

Image: Caroline Streatfield

Hot on the heels of the Henley Arts Trail is this one based around Caversham and Emmer Green, north of Reading. Visit the studios, workshops, homes and gardens of 27 talented local artists (including Julie Simmonds & David Pope Ceramics, above). See their latest projects, ask questions, buy their art and be inspired! 37 artists in 17 venues the trail runs across two weekends: Sat 11and Sun 12 May and Fri 18 and  Sat 19 May, 11am – 5pm.



FAMILY FUN: Spring Jousting Tournament, Blenheim Palace Woodstock, Sat 4 – Mon 6 May

knights on horseback charging in joust contest Blenheim Palace

Charrrrrrge! The annual Blenheim Palace ye olde joustingy thingy on the South Lawn featuring ‘The Knights of Royal England’. Falconry displays, archery, puppet shows, jesters and knights on horseback charging in the traditional tilt, and battling on foot with the mighty mace and quarter staff. Are you yawning? Well cheer up, lift your visor and head for the Champagne and Pimms tent!



Image by Varana

In need of some home inspo? Award winning event, Grand Designs Live, lands at London’s ExCeL (Sat 4 – Sun 12) with loads of exhibitors, product launches and expert advice on how to pimp your pad whether you’re planning a self-build, renovation or are adding the finishing touches. Kevin McCloud will be on hand for a natter, too. Or, there’s Clerkenwell Design Week (I’ve been a few times, it’s well worth the trip)- home to more creative businesses and architects per square mile than anywhere else on the planet, this will be the 10th annual festival, which attracts some of the best of designers in the world, including a huge range of home-grown talent (Tue 21 – Thurs 23). Finally, feeling crafty? London Craft Week (Wed 8 – Sun 12) showcases exceptional craftsmanship in London with a programme of workshops by both unknown makers and celebrated masters held in famous studios, galleries and shops. This year London’s hippest new hangout Coal Drops Yard is getting involved for the first time with loads of cool workshops and installations.



Mary quant exhibition V&A Mary Quant clothes on white mannequins in front of black and white 1960s images

Must see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include the V&A’s retrospective on iconic 1960s designer and the mother of  miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). The exhibit is sold out (*boo*) but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am (from the Grand Entrance) and it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibit by purchasing a membership for the V&A (plus you get loads of added extras like sneak previews, a magazine subscription and access to the members room). Also worth checking out is the new major Van Gough exhibit at Tate Britain- over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery, London. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).


Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Beds, now – Sun 2 Jun 

More Lego! New for Easter, Whipsnade Zoo introduces its Brick Safari- there’ll be loads of LEGO brick beasts and animals around the mammoth zoo (it’s the biggest in the UK doncha know) made from over one million bricks, as well as hands-on family activities. Included in entry price.


ART: Chihuly Trail, Kew Gardens, from Sat 13 Apr 

spiky blue Glass flower surrounded by trees kew chihuly festival

Run free my pretties but watch out for the delicate glass sculptures. Iconic artist Dale Chihuly’s stunning pieces are on display at Kew Gardens from Easter weekend, but I fear it’s an accident waiting to happen. Kids smashing the place up, children skewered on a giant flower. A true test of your parenting skills… but an  Insta winner.



EVENT: Ladies Day –Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 18 May

Ladies Day flooral arch and parkway garden deckchairs Newbury racecourse 2018

Sound the klaxon. The summer social season starts here. Newbury Races’s Ladies Day (traditionally in August) has moved to Al Shaqab Lockinge Day on Sat 18 May. It’s first out of the fashion blocks, with Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot and Henley following –and they’re going BIG. Garden party vibes, pop up bars, an abundance of flroa and fauna, cocktails and Sophie Ellis Bextor and her hubby Richard Jones on the decks for the after party floor fillers. Go go go.


EVENT: Supercar Sunday, Stonor Henley On Thames,  Sun 19 May 

red sports car outside historic Stonor House Supercar Sunday event

Supercar Sunday returns to Stonor House’s pristine front lawn, with race cars, super-sleek sports cars (I’ll take two please) and ultra modern hypercars. Throughout the day there’ll also be interviews with the owners, judging, prize giving and street food stalls. Heaps for kids too, including an adventure playground and treasure hunt in the Wonder Woods, traditional fair rides, laser tag and laser clay pigeon shooting.


EAT OUT: An Evening with Michel Roux, Roux at Skindles Maidenhead, Wed 22 May

Chef Michel Roux senior with Brian Turner special evening in conversation in aid of Hospitality in Action

For one night only, not one but two culinary giants in the same room. The legendary Michel Roux OBE with be chatting to Brian Turner CBE for an old school evening of food, wine and live jazz (you’ll find their gongs on a bar stool near you). It’s all in aid of Hospitality In Action, so book up and witness them spill the beans. They’ve cooked for everyone, met everyone and NEVER hold back.

Find more ideas here

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