What’s on this week
Mon 21 – Sun 27 August
The Big Tree Climb, Cliveden, Tues 22 – Weds 23 Aug
I’m never organised enough to get my kids to one of these tree climbs (yup, the irony is not lost) but they seem really good fun. Two instructors are on hand to help your kids into the canopies, while you wave at them with a cappuccino down below.
Cliveden National Trust, Taplow, Berks, nationaltrust.org.uk
Storytime: Gruffalo, Mill at Sonning, Wed 23 Aug
The Gruffalo is an all time favourite in our house. I’m not sure I have met a pre-schooler who doesn’t love Julia Donaldson’s bestselling book. What better way to keep the little blighters quiet for an hour, than a trip to the Mill at Sonning for Storytime. They’re treated to stories and singing in the theatre and you get to eat cake. Booking is essential. Entry is £3.50 and includes a healthy snack and a drink.
Box Office 0118 969 8000, millatsonning.com
Wokingham Festival, Cantley Park Wokingham, Fri 25 – Sun 27 Aug
Haven’t got a ticket for Reading Festival? Meh! No problemo, Avoid the alcohol-induced oblivion and tinnitus, but enjoy a weekend of live music, street food, cocktails and family fun at Wokingham Festival, Cantley Park. You never know the sun might come out to play too.
The Secret Garden & Pride & Prejudice, Cliveden Taplow, Thurs 24 – Sat 26 Aug
Surroundings rarely come more rarefied than Cliveden House and its glorious gardens. This month, catch The Secret Garden (24 Aug), based on the children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett or a new take on Pride and Prejudice (25 & 26 Aug). Here’s hoping Mr Darcy emerges, wet of shirt, from the swimming pool.
Cliveden House, Taplow, Berks, nationaltrust.org.uk
It’s not a menu that will enhance your beach body (not that I remember the last time I had one), but who cares? The Wandering Feast returns to the Swan At Streatley on Thursday 2 August for a night of live music and seriously good nosh. Sink your gnashers into gourmet borders, topped iff with ice cream and sorbets, washed down with a glass of rose on the banks of the river Thames. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, South Hill Park Bracknell, Fri 18 – Sun 27 Aug
Who doesn’t step into their wardrobe form time to time in the hope a snowcapped fantasy world exists on the other side? Just me then. It’s certainly more appealing than engaging with the West Wing dramas in the US or the Brexit negotiation backlash. Shish. Escapism wins hands down, so don’t miss the wonderful theatrical show of CS Lewis’ The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, performed in the Wilde Theatre and the grounds of South Hill Park.
Buns On Sweets, Golden Ball Pinkneys Green, Thurs 24 Aug
There seems to be a National celebration for most things. Hang out the bunting, because it is National Burger Day. Rather than sticking to the pub classic, try the Golden Ball in Pinkneys Green’s limited edition dessert burger – doughnut bun, chocolate brownie patio, set custard slice, raspberry ketchup and sweet polenta chips. For those of you who might need a bit more persuading than the word doughnut, 10% of every dessert burger sold will go to cancer support charity Macmillan.
Reading Festival 2017, Richfield Avenue Reading, Fri 25 Aug
Are you ready to rock? Music fans will be swarming into the Richfield Avenue site to see headliners Kasabian, Eminem and Muse at Reading Festival. There will be mosh pits, warm beer, overpriced dirty burgers and the likelihood of being struck by a bottle of wee is pretty high. Music and mayhem guaranteed.
Englefield 10K, Englefield Estate Nr Theale, Sun 27 Aug
Seaside Mall’arkey Beach, Broad Street Mall Reading, until Sun 3 Sept
Why would you want to sit on the M3 to feel the sand between your toes, when you can enjoy a day at a Bit O Seaside Mall’arky while you’re in town shopping? No need to obsessively check the weather, this is Reading’s first indoor beach and the kids will love it. Plus there’s a cheeky crab hunt, face painting, arty workshops and Punch and Judy. That’s the way to do it.
Maidenhead Beach, Norden Farm, until Sun 27 Aug
This way to the beach. And no it doesn’t involve a motorway queue, windbreaker or an umbrella. Norden Farm’s sandpit of fun is open for business. Head to Maidenhead with the kids. They can enjoy the Hawaiian Elvis theme and fun activities while you say aloha to the Beachside cafe for a few minutes peace. It’s totes freeee and open from 10am-4pm.
Brian Blessed directs Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, Mill at Sonning, until 9 Sept
Gordon’s Alive! It’s only national treasure Brian Blessed in the director’s chair at The Mill at Sonning. Spider’s Web is an Agatha Christie murder-mystery classic sees Clarissa discover a dead body in her house. Do any of her house guests have anything to do with it, we wonder? Do not miss the chance to see this production. And remember, your ticket price also includes a two-course meal.
The Big Feastival, Alex James’s Farm, The Cotswolds, Fri 25 – Sun 27 Aug
This three day festival with Jamie Oliver and Alex James is a middle-class foodie fest, awash with live music performances from Olly Murs, Madness and Haçienda Classical, plus top chefs including Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw, DJ BBQ, Gizzie Erskine and Carluccio. It’s immensely family friendly so there’s a Neff Little Kitchen for small cooks, Justin Fletcher (surely the richest children’s entertainer in the UK by now?) has his own spot, there’s tree-climbing, crayons and crafts and a kids’ den.
Churchill Heath Farm, Kingham, Chipping Norton, thebigfeastival.com
BOOK NOW FOR:
Tractor Ted Little Farm Live, Stonor Park, Sun 3 Sep
If your little ones are a little wild after six weeks,throw them in with the farm animals at Tractor Ted Little Farm Live. Plus there’s a giant Tractor Ted bouncy castle? Out my way, young children, I’m all over it. TV’s favourite farm engine arrives at Stonor Park in early September, testing my legendary digger ‘scooping skills’ and welly wanging, and thrilling the Under 7s if they can get anywhere near the equipment. Don’t miss out.
Refresh Festival, Wellington Country Park, Sat 2 – Sun 3 Sept
After a summer of booze, bands and bonkers kids, you’re going to need a sanity-saver. I’ve got just the thing. The spinky spanky new Refresh Festival, hosted by Olympic legend Dame Kelly Holmes, is coming to Wellington Country Park. Fun, family friendly and focused on health, fitness and wellbeing, this is a chance to get inspired and press the reset button. After a summer with the kids, I’m in.