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This weekend

FRI 21 – SUN 23 JUN


EVENT: Royal Ascot 2019, Ascot Racecourse, Fri 21 – Sat 22 Jun

Royal Ascot Fashion floral jumpsuit headpiece village enclosure

Royal Ascot has come around again, so grab your hat, keep the hemlines long, the fake tan light and enjoy a day of celeb spotting and apparently there are few horses running too. It’s the perfect place to people watch, just don’t overdo the bubbles for fear of making it on the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame.



EXHIBITION: Matisse – Drawing With Scissors, The Base Greenham Common, now – Sun 30 Jun

A Hayward Gallery touring exhibition from London’s Southbank Centre, 35 lithographic reproductions of Henri Matisse’s famous cut-outs will go on display at this year’s Muddy Award-winning Art Gallery, The Base in Greenham Common. A brilliant opportunity to see the French painter, sculptor and designer’s vibrant works.


THEATRE: The Importance of Being Earnest, Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – Sat 29 Jun

CAst of The Importance of being Earnest Watermill Theatre Newbury

Image: Philip Tull

Kate Budgen’s production of Oscar Wilde’s social satire The Importance Of Being Earnest is a play about (Victorian) 24-hour party people with loose morals, bad manners and a rather low opinion of marriage. Take two bachelors, add two love interests and watch the car crash as they struggle to keep up with their lies. God only knows what these boys would have said and done if they had Tinder in their lives?


OUTDOORS: Pop up cinema, Abbey Ruins Reading, Thu 20 – Sat 22 June

Olivia Colman’s Oscar-winning performance in The Favourite (with the most creative use of the C word that I have ever heard) is my pick of the pop up movies – Thu 20 Jun at Reading’s Abbey Ruins. Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone star in this love-triangle / power battle that looks wonderfully bitchy. If that doesn’t float your boat, hotties Tom Cruise, Christian Slater and Brad Pitt will give you a nasty love bite in Interview With The Vampire. Oh, and Bohemian Rhapsody is being shown on the Saturday.


DAYS OUT: Natioanl Treasure – The Search For Sancy Diamond, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – Sun 1 Sep

italianate garde 1 list mansion Cliveden House Hoteal and parterre lawn

Play detective at Cliveden, you say? I’ll be there clutching my pearls in a Miss Marple stylee. Following last year’s crime caper, there’s a brand new outdoor mystery to solve. The Sancy diamond from Nancy Astor’s bejewelled tiara was stolen and hidden in Cliveden’s woodland, with instructions for an accomplice to collect it at a later date – it never was. It’s your chance to bling it on and crack the clues.

CULTURE: Offbeat Festival, Oxford, Mon 17 June – Sat 29 Jun

The brainchild of Oxford arts venues Oxford Playhouse and Old Fire Station, Offbeat Festival, kicks off this month with a cultural extravaganza of never seen before productions. Started three years ago, the festival is like a mini Edinburgh Fringe and only showcases brand new material with a jam packed programme of theatre, comedy, dance, family shows and music. Full line up here.


MUSIC: Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace Oxford, Thu 20 – Sun 23 June

The big festival this month within striking distance of Berkshire is Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock. A festival for people who are too posh for festivals! This is more a series of chichi al fresco concerts in ridiculously elegant surroundings, with Gladys KnightMs Lauryn HillTears for Fears and Kylie (sadly sold out) on consecutive summer nights. Having once waited many, many hours for a Ms Hill gig back in the day, I wish all attendees good luck on that front (Thurs 20 – Sun 23).


FOOD & DRINK: Soltice Party – Gin and Sushi, GrapeSmith Hungerford, Fri 21 Jun

137 Gin Lumber's Bartholomew Country Garden wooden block limes stripy straw

If you don’t fancy dancing naked round Stonehenge for the Summer Soltice, I think a large G&T, sunshine and, er, sushi, should tickle your fancy. Thanks to my weather app and GrapeSmith in Hungerford, you’re getting the ultimate summer soiree with artisan gins on tap, the chance to meet the makers and Japanese finger food from the chefs at Taiko.


THEATRE: The Hundred Watt Club, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 21 Jun

Burlesque dancer white feather plume The Hundred Watt Club

Fancy something naughty but nice? The fabulous guys and gals from the Hundred Watt Club return to Norden Farm with a glittering and ridiculous evening of good old fashioned saucy entertainment. Featuring show girl Athena Beauvoir; award-winning comedy magician Christian Lee; neo-drag burlesque Queen Lilly Snatchdragon; and obscene vodka-addled acrobat Velma Von Bon Bon. Hosting your evening is the outrageously funny Chastity Belt.


FILM: Toy Story 4, UK cinema release, Fri 21 Jun

Toy Story 4 animated film Woody Bo Peep Buzz Forky and pals

It’s been nine years since Woody, Buzz and his other landfill-avoiding pals were handed over to young Bonnie after seeing Andy through his childhood. I sobbed in the cinema that day. My kids were mortified. But the gang are back together with newbie Forky for one last rodeo, before forever being confined to cinematic history. It’s going to be emotional.


FESTIVAL: Cheese and Chilli Festival, Maidenhead Town Moor, Sat 22 – Sun 23 Jun
BOX OF RED Orange AND YELLOW chillies

Spice up your life with a brand new Cheese and Chilli Festival held in Maidenhead. There are 100 exhibitors who promise to give your tastebuds a workout, plus a man v food challenge, chilli eating contest and moree. If it all gets too much, you can cool your tongue in the beer tent. Not to worry if your kids haven’t yet reached a level of cheese and spice sophistication, there’s magic show, giant bubbl show, human table football, crazy golf – the list is endless. From 10am-5pm


EVENT: Downton Abbey Live, Highclere Castle Newbury, Sat 22 Jun 

As we hotly anticipate Downton Abbey The Movie (out 20 Sept), channel your inner Lady Grantham (with a naughty dalliance with Lord Gillingham in the staff quarters – oh just me?!) head down to the stunning grounds of Highclere Castle where the Chamber Orchestra of London will be performing with the television show’s composer John Lunn on piano. The al fresco concert will be hosted by actor Jim Carter in character as Mr Carson.


EVENT: Box Kart Bash, Burghfield, Sun 23 Jun

BURGHfield Box Kart silver jaws kart racing on road

I feel the need, the need for speed – ow! It’s not Top Gun, but it is a charity soapbox challenge. And you are NEVER too old to build a go kart and hurtle down at speed. Put your engineering and driving skills to the test and let gravity do the rest. Alternatively, watch from the sidelines and enjoy all the race day action.


EVENT: Classic Vehicle Day, Yattendon, Sunday 23 June

A slick of red lipstick, retro shades and embrace the vintage vibes for Yattendon’s annual Classic Vehicle Day. See the coolest cars, check out the vintage stalls and hit the vintage teas hard. I can only pray for a French Fancy a slice of Battenberg.


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.



EVENT: Flower Show, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Fri 21 – Sun 23 Jun

What could make Blenheim Palace‘s grounds even more lovely you ask? Hundreds of gorgeous flowers and Mr George Clark off the telly (The Home Show, The Restoration Man and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces). I’m a sucker for baby blues, sorry Mr M. Blenheim hosts its seventh Flower Show with a Grand Floral Marquee featuring flower art created by international artists, show gardens, shopping village and talks from professional gardeners. Chelsea who?


CULTURE: WizzFizzFest, Aylesbury, Sat 22 Jun

WizzFizzFest, now in its 17th year, is a family friendly arts festival that takes place in Aylesbury town centre with talks, events and activities. Headlining the literary line up this year are Cressida Cowell, author of the incredible How to Train Your Dragon series and Nick Butterworth, the award-winning author and illustrator of the Percy the Park Keeper series. The festival will also be celebrating the life and work of Judith Kerr OBE, author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, plus Strictly’sDarcey Bussell will be hosting a dance competition.



If you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema including a HAWT Jason Momoa in Aquaman (4 Jun), a live screening of Royal Ballet’s Romeo + Juliet (11 Jun) as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes. You can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing. Or if you’re heading to Covent Garden, there’s Covent Garden in Bloom (until Sat 15 Jun), with floral artists Fleurs de Villes returning Covent Garden to its roots as the original (or OG, as the kids say) flower market in London. All the retailers and restaurants muck in with botanical window displays, it’s super pretty.

Also this month is the first ever Chilterns Live festival, just over the border in Herts (Sat 29 Jun). Held in Pendley Meadow, Tring, it has a stellar pop line-up of Busted, above, (this got a few squeals in Muddy HQ), Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling. And history buffs, we’ve got you covered too with Chalke Valley History Festival, nr Salisbury an extensive programme of talks, debates and interactive events and a mega-impressive list of speakers from Dan Snow to Mariella Frostrup, with a jaunt through Al Murray, Harry Enfield, Niall Ferguson and Antonia Fraser in between. Oh, and there’s camping too (24 – 30 Jun).

KIDS: New Children’s Garden, Kew Gardens, London 

As if it wasn’t already a prime spot for day tripping, the clever sausages at Kew Gardens have added a brand new Children’s Garden. Two years in the making, the interactive garden (aimed at ages 2 – 12) has over 100 varieties of mature trees, bamboo tunnels, hammocks and in-ground trampolines all under the cover of a huge 200 year old oak tree.



Must-see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include Beasts of London, above, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the beasts, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals. Or you can check out the V&A‘s retrospective of 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). It is sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance – it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A. Also worth checking out is the major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery. 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).



The Hidden Garden, Henley Royal Regatta, Wed 3 – Sun 7 Jul

If you’re heading down to Henley Regatta this July and want to escape the riff raff (not that Henley does real riff raff, of course) book now for The Hidden Garden. New to the Regatta this year, the luxe but laid-back riverside venue on the Berkshire bank offers brilliant views, VIP hospitality, musical entertainment, gourmet food and – most importantly – lashings of booze (chilled Henriot champagne and local favourite, Mr Hobbs gin to be precise). Pre-booking is a must so grab your other half, bezzies or workies and get organised pronto!

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