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The Muddy Guide

Blues and Burlesque, South Hill Park, Sat 24 Sept, 8pm


Do you like your theatre full of wicked humour and bare bottoms? For a bit of feisty fun check out Blues and Burlesque – a cabaret performance charting the gritty mid-life crisis of former Dexys Midnight Runners pianist Pete Saunders. Soulful smoky blues from Lady Beau Peep and tantalising, teasing burlesque from dancer Felicity Furore (above). A smart, sexy show that’s been a sell-out. Suitable for 18+ only. Tickets £12.

The Wipers Times, The Watermill, Newbury, Thurs 22 Sept – Sat 29 Oct


In a bombed out building during the First World War in the French town of Ypres, two officers discovered an old printing press and created a newspaper for the troops. The Wipers Times (so named because Ypres was mispronounced Wipers by British soldiers), far from being a sombre journal about life in the trenches, was a resolutely cheerful, subversive and hilarious newspaper designed to lift the sprits of the men. Who better to adapt the story for stage than King of Satire, Ian Hislop (editor of Private Eye for 30 years) and Nick Newman, who tell the extraordinary story of how, despite enemy bombardment, gas attacks and the disapproval of many of the top Brass, The Wipers Times rolled off the press for two years. It sounds absolutely wonderful, can’t wait. Tickets from £15.

The Watermill Theatre, Newbury RG20 8AE.

The Windsor Fringe, Fri 23 Sept – Sun 9 Oct


Started back in 1969 (by six friends who were shocked at the main Festival’s prices!) the Fringe has been passionately promoting new talent in the arts and entertainment ever since with an eclectic mix of music, drama, comedy, visual arts, film, poetry, walks, history and even gastronomy. Highlights this year include rhythm and blues singing and dancing legend Movin’ Melvin Brown, Jacqueline Wilson giving a sneak preview of her upcoming book Clover Moon, ‘Facing Eternity’ – a talk by Dr Rob Shorrock, keeper of Antiquities at Eton College, The Royal Harmonics – a fab local 50-strong male acapella group, and the 13th Kenneth Branagh Award for new drama writing will be announced. It’s an absolutely jam-packed, impressive calendar and there are plenty of event for children too, so make sure you check it out. Download the brochure here and book tickets online or call the Box Office: 01753 743570. Full details on the website.

The Brilliant Brain Show, The Lookout Discovery Centre, Bracknell, until 3 Jan 2017

child Head.Children Learn to think

What do our brains do for us? Well use your noggin’ and find out in this interactive show which looks at imagination, optical illusions, memory and senses. Children can also take part in some mind boggling brain games. Suitable for children who can sit still for half an hour (well, that rules my husband out). Shows run during school holidays and on weekends. Tickets £1.95 in addition to standard admission.

The Lookout Discovery Centre, Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 7QW.

Wild at Heart Wedding Showcase, Wasing Park, Sun 25 – Mon 26 Sept


If you’re planning your big day then make the most of some great advice and ideas from the experts and trusted suppliers of Wasing Park – a stunning exclusive-use wedding venue, set in the wilds of a 4,000-acre estate in Aldermaston. The Wild at Heart Wedding Showcase will give you the chance to look around the venue too – The Secret Walled Garden and the surrounding woodland all lend themselves to bring some natural and wild elements into their day (think Wild flowers in your hair, and pheasant feathers adding drama to your table decor!) You could even dine from a Wild Food menu with ingredients sourced from Wasing and surrounding estates. Well worth a visit to give you loads of ideas. 25 Sept 12 noon to 5pm; 26 Sept 5pm to 9pm. Reserve your free ticket here.

Further afield

Henley Literary Festival, Mon 26 Sept – 2 Oct 2016


Into its tenth year, the Henley Literary Festival is one of Oxfordshire’s most bijou literary festivals, with over 150 events this year including writers from comedy, cookery, politics and music. Catch the likes of Robert Harris, Fay Weldon and Victoria Hislop, Ben Miller and Nadiya Hussain, plus over 50 events for kids and families from Julian Clary, Tiger Who Came to Tea creator Judith Kerr, plus special Harry Potter and Roald Dahl events in the lovely surroundings of Stonor Park.

Stonor Park, Stonor, Henley-on-Thames,

Dinner at the Twits, The Vaults, London, now to 30 Oct


Can’t quite imagine the Roald Dahl Museum putting this event on, though wouldn’t it be fun? Les Enfants Terribles theatre company and ebp, the creators of the Olivier Award nominated Alice’s Adventures Underground  have created an event around The Twits specifically for adults. You can join Mr & Mrs Twit in their windowless house and revolting garden, fish the glass eye from your prickly cocktail aperatif, unt for concealed canapes and gruesome hors d’oeuvres, and then brave a baroque bird pie banquet and potentially perilous pudding, served with ½ bottle of wine or non-alcoholic drinks, all whilst experiencing 90 minutes of entertainment from the worst hosts ever. Bompas & Parr and the creative wranglers at Creature of London are also in on what The Stage calls ‘fittingly grotesque’ fun.

The Vaults, Leake St, London SE1,

Write on Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens, Thurs 22 – Sun 25 Sept


Another literary festival, we’re a nation obsessed! Four days of talks and events with over 70 events with a stellar list of speakers from Carol ann Duffy (above), Monty Don, Michael Rosen, Horrid Henry creator Francesca Simon, Rose Tremain and Marian Keyes. Plus you can catch actors Brian Blessed, Tony Robinson and Ben Miller, and politicians Nick Clegg and Alan Johnson. Better take your autograph book, you’re going to need it.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond,

Very Last Chance to See Storms, War and Shipwrecks, Ashmolean, closes Sun 25 Sept 


It’s the last few days to catch this crowd-pleasing exhibition at the Ashmolean –  interesting for adults, hands-on for kids, in depth enough to be worth the entrance fee (£11 adults, £5.50 children 12-17 years) but a very doable for children, with four rooms of artefacts brought up from the bottom of the sea around the Southern Italian island.
The premise of the exhibition is the political, geographical and cultural importance of Sicily over the last 2500 years, and the 200-strong exhibition focuses on objects rescued from the bottom of the sea over the last Sixty years, from chance finds to excavated shipwrecks including pieces from an incredible ‘flat pack’ church, prefabricated marble elements of basilica that sank en route to mainland Italy and bronze battering rams once mounted on the prows of Roman warships. Click here for the Muddy review and catch the exhibition while you can.

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Treasures from the Sicilian Sea runs until 25 Sept 2016.

Music from the time of Shakespeare, Windsor Castle, Fri 23 Sept


I know you only usually go to Windsor Castle when the royals ask you over for an afternoon cuppa, but this concert, in collaboration with The Royal College of Music sounds a bit special. Performed in the gobsmackingly beautiful St George’s Chapel, an ensemble of soprano, viol and lute will play a one hour programme of music from the age of Shakespeare. The Queen will hold a tupperware raffle during the interval.

7.30-8.3opm St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Abstract Expressionism at The Royal Academy of Arts, 24 Sept-2 Jan 2017


The first major retrospective on Abstract Expressionism in the UK for nearly 60 years, this exhibition explores an unparalleled period in American art. From Mark Rothko, to Jackson Pollock, it includes over 150 works by celebrated artists of the period. Tickets £19.

Sister Act, Milton Keynes Theatre, Mon 26 Sept – Sat 1 Oct


Alexandra Burke, last seen warbling in The Bodyguard, has swapped sequins for a habit to take the starring role in  Sister Act made famous by Whoopee Goldberg in the film version. It’s directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, and I’m guessing it sticks to the film script like a wafer on the tongue. Alexandra isn’t doing matinee performances so if you want to see La Burke, book evenings people.

Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Bucks,

Masterpiece with Alan Titchmarsh, ITV is looking for pairs of contestants


Are you an amateur enthusiast with a passion for antiques and collectibles? Could you pick out a priceless treasure hidden amongst ten-a-penny objects? ITV is looking for pairs of contestants for a new series of Masterpiece with Alan Titchmarsh. Whether you’re friends, colleagues, neighbours or family members, ITV wants to hear from you, and if you can spot the Masterpieces from the decoys you could win a cash prize (that made you sit up!). For more information or an application form email: [email protected]. Closing date 15 oct.

Book now for later

Autumn Wine Tasting, Town Hall, Maidenhead, Sat 8 Oct, 1.30pm-5pm


Whether you’re a seasoned Perfect Friday Wine customer, or new to Maidenhead’s very own online/pop-up wine merchant Jo Randell, this is your chance to taste new vintages of Perfect Friday Wine classics, plus new wines added during 2016 and some new wines introduced for Autumn. There will be over 40 wines to taste, talk and mingle over during the course of the afternoon and Jo has cleverly chosen a venue just a few minutes walk from the train station (Maidenhead Town Hall) so leave that car at home and get tasting! Tickets £12, redeemable against orders of 12+ bottles.

Hungerford Literary Festival, Thurs 20 – Sun 23 Oct


This year Arts of Hungerford and The Hungerford Bookshop have joined forces to bring an even bigger and better line-up of writers to the 5th Hungerford Literary Festival. The writers include the fantastic Jenni Murray (yes, her! Legend of R4’s Woman’s Hour!) who is headlining with her book A History of Britain in 21 Women. Roald Dahl’s official biographer, Donald Sturrock, Keggie Carew, author of Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory which has been getting amazing reviews in the broadsheets, plus social history from Sian Evans, sporting history from local writer John Rawlinson, beer tasting, events for children, a life-writing workshop, culminating in a night of poetry to round everything off. There’s also a new café in the Croft Hall and a bar at most events (hurrah!). I predict tickets are going to fly, so book yours now and don’t miss out! Programme and ticket info on the website.

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