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COMEDY: Sam Avery – The Learner Parent, South Street Arts Reading, Fri 5 Jul

Sam Avery The Learner Parent bald man holding teddies and cloud background

Parenthood is a crafty beast. You think you’ve nailed it, then the game changes and you’re back to being rubbish again. Stand-up comedian and bestselling author Sam Avery (aka the Learner Parent) started his award-winning blog when his twin boys were born. A million nappies and Peppa Pig episodes he shares all the lows, highs and hilarious in-betweens of parenthood.


OUTDOORS: How To Be Brave, Wasing Estate Aldermaston, Fri 5 Jul

How To be Brave Wasing Festival of Theatre illustrated poster

The theatre company’s called Dirty Protest (cue childish sniggers), and their latest play How To Be Brave, starring Laura Dalgleish (Call The Midwife) is being performed in the extraordinary Wasing Woodland in Aldermaston, before transferring to Edinburgh Fringe. This new touching and hilarious play is about learning to be brave when your world is falling apart. Tickets: £50 inc the performance, food and three drinks or £25 for the show only.


THEATRE: The Anastasia File, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – Sat 13 Jul

Russian aristocracy Romonov crest

It’s a Windsor Theatre Royal exclusive! If you’re a sucker for a Russian accent, book in to see The Anastasia File – a psychological thriller that questions whether a woman found in a canal and placed in a mental asylum is, in fact, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, and heir to the Romanov fortune. Using just four actors – Jenny Seagrove, Andrew Lancel, Richard Winsor and Rose Thomson – playing 30 parts between them, in a play loaded with tension. Half time double vodka, essential.


EVENT: Royal Henley Regatta, Henley On Thames, now – Sun 7 Jul

Image: Henley Royal Regatta

The biggie this month is Henley Royal Regatta, Henley– straw boaters on, eyes on the lunch box (sarnies or Lycra bulges… they’re not mutually exclusive) and watch the rowing brawn from the riverbank. There’s over 200 races to watch the smoking–hot rowers and enjoy your Champagne picnic.


EVENT: Friday night pop up bar, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, throughout July

Picture the scene: balmy summer evenings, unspoilt countryside, kids happily playing games without the need for you to referee the perpetual bickering, while you enjoy a blissful Friday night sundowner. This utopia is a reality at the Summer Pop Up Bar at Douai Pavillion in Woolhampton. Running every Friday night from 6pm, it’s a great place for the whole family to let off steam. Winner! 


COMEDY: Brewery Comedy,  Windsor & Eton Brewery Windsor, Sat 6 Jul

Brewery comedy Windsor brewing tanks barrel seats and comedian on stage

Comedy + beer – what could possibly go wrong? Head to the factory floor of Windsor & Eton Brewery for a unique night of laughs and heckling as four up and coming circuit comics take to the stage. Sean Sellers, Chris Norton Walker, Sarah Iles and Harjeet Cheema will be bringing the craft comedy, the brewery’s got the craft beers, you just need to bring the laughs.



EVENT: Qipco King George’s Day, Ascot Racecourse, Sat 27 Jul

Tv presenter and DJ Dermot O'Leary in jumper leaning on wooden counter

Worship at the feet of Dermot O’Leary! TV’s Mr Safe Hands, author, DJ and all round top bloke, I’d happily sink a few jars with him as name drops his way thorough the alphabet. He’ll be cranking up the choons at Ascot after party at the prestigious Qipco King George race day. Definitely the dish of the day.



COMEDY: Jimmy Carr, Wycombe Swan, Thurs 4 Jul 

Jimmy Carr brings his boundary-pushing comedy to Wycombe Swan with his brand new show Terribly Funny which is promising to throw PC jokes out the window… you’ve been warned.


FESTIVAL: Cornbury Music Festival, The Great Tew Park, Oxon, Fri 5 – Sun 7 Jul

festival tent sunshine

Didn’t make it to Glasto? No worries, there’s still Cornbury Music Festival, The Beach Boys and The Specials head the bill at this civilised festival that prides itself on being quintessentially English- think country fair with a rock’n’roll twist. Jovial Geordies The Hairy Bikers provide the food.


FESTIVAL: Summer Fest, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Sat 6 – Sun 7 Jul

Over in Aylesbury, at Waddesdon Manor, there’s the National Trust site’s first Summer Fest. A relaunch of the popular summer Feast event, there’ll be street performers, food, music, shopping village in the Aviary Glade and bunting for miles. Here’s a sneak preview of what’s on.


OPERA: Garsington Opera Season, Wormsley Estate, until 26 Jul

More opera this month from Garsington Opera– lovely setting, sunny weather (hopefully) and warbling of the highest form. There are loads of the performances on the bill this week including the first performance of The Turn of the Screw this season (1, 4, 7 Jul), Don Giovanni (3, 6 Jul) and Fantasio (5 Jul).


EVENT: Sun Day Sessions, Clayton’s Marlow, Marlow, Sun 7 Jul

Party at Clayton’s Marlow! Native Feasts are popping up on the outdoor terrace with a Bajan BBQ of Jerk chicken, salt beef curry and more, cooked by Michelin starred chef Chris Godfrey. There’ll also be DJs and a rum shack serving cocktails, punch and frozen Daiquiris (I’ll take two please) and limbo. How low can you go? Tickets here.




Do you <heart> the ’80s? Get yourself down to Chilfest, now in its sixth year rolling out retro hits across the Chiltern Hills. Acts booked include Bananarama, Soul II Soul, The Selecter and Five Star – although, call me a pedant but it looks like they’re technically One Star now, with one original member and a bunch of newbies (6 July). Or if you fancy a camping festival, there’s Shambala, a small, lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly (22 – 25 Aug). Other camping weekenders include LatitudeSuffolk, the Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill (18 – 21 Jul). Or there’s Camp BestivalLulworth CastleDorset, the kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties (25 – 28 Jul).

And 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 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.



Must-see exhibitions in London this month include a new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection above, which contrasts the designer’s work with paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement. The intimate collection has been curated  by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives (until Sun 1 Sept). Or you can check out Beasts of London, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals which are brought to life using video projection mapping.

Muddy visited the Mary Quant retrospective (until 16 Feb) above at the V&Arecently and it’s definitely worth checking out- over 200 items from the iconic ’60s designer’s career, from miniskirts to her make up range, accompanying images and a strong feminist undertone (girl power!) Also at the V&A is the the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, it’s sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance, or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A (until 1 Sept). The major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain is also worth a gander, 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 (until 11 Aug). And finally, if you’re heading up north, there’s the new Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.

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