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The Muddy Guide: Thurs 14 April – Weds 20 April

An Audience with George The Poet, Thurs 21 April, RYND, Reading, 7.30pm

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He’ll never get that off you know. Those bloody Sharpies are the bane of my life. Anyway, George the Poet published his first collection of poetry, Search Party, last year. At just 25 he has taken his unique brand of spoken word performance and poetry to packed audiences everywhere from the Royal Albert Hall to the Cheltenham Literature Festival. In this ‘Audience With…’ he’ll be performing, talking about his career and taking questions from the audience, as part of Reading 2016 Year of Culture. I have just watched a few videos on his website and he looks and sounds pretty darn slick – and flippin’ sparky too (he did Politics, Psychology and Sociology at Cambridge). Tickets cost £12 and can be booked at www.readingarts.com. More info on all Reading 2016 events at www.reading2016.org.uk

RYND, 11 Castle Street, Reading RG1 7SB. ryndreading.com

An evening with author Janet Ellis, Waterstones, Reading, Weds 20 April, 7.30pm

Another event courtesy of Reading’s 2016 Year of Culture. Yes, I know you remember her from Blue Peter – busily sticking loo rolls together with Shep lolling on the sofa. But this woman has many many talents – actress, presenter and now debut author. Janet recently graduated from the Curtis Brown Creative writing school and will be talking about her brilliantly dark debut novel The Butchers Hook – a vivid tale set in Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a young bloody-minded girl, determined to take life in her hands at any cost. Janet will be in conversation with journalist Francesca Perryman, followed by a book signing. Tickets are £5, available in store or online at www.waterstones.com. The Butcher’s Hook is published by Two Roads Books and is out now in HB, £14.99.

www.waterstones.com

Record Store Day, Sat 16 April

Record-Store-Day

Did you know there’s a three year wait on pressing vinyl in the UK because it’s become so popular? And the 50th Anniversary Technics turntable released earlier this week, sold out in just 30 minutes?! If you’re a vinyl lover then you’ll know all about Record Store Day, supported by BBC Music and held every year in celebration and support of the UK’s independent record shops. Local indie store The Sound Machine in Reading has a massive selection of exclusive Record Store Day releases, and the ultimate sale – 50% off the entire shop and 20% off new sealed vinyl. They’re also running a competition on their FB page. Doors open at 8.15am. What do you mean you haven’t got a turntable? Here’s one on the Muddy Boutique – see, we’ve thought of everything. Find your closest participating store here.

The Sound Machine, 24 Harris Arcade, RG1 1DN. www.thesoundmachine.uk.com

The Mayor’s Dance Showcase, Thurs 14 April, 6.30pm

A fantastic programme of dance featuring local dance schools and groups showcasing a diverse range of dance styles from across the world. Tickets £9.50, family £21. All profits from the show will go directly to The Mayor of Reading’s Charity Fund.

The Hexagon, Queens Walk, Reading RG1 7UA. Tel: 0118 960 6060. www.readingarts.com/hexagon

Los Pacaminos, South Street Arts, Sat 16 April, 7pm

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Oh my God it’s him! Who? HIM! Paul Young! You know, Wherever I Lay My Hat, 80s heartthrob! These days however, Wherever I Lay My Stetson would be more fitting, because he’s now part of Los Pacaminos, playing the best in Tex Mex Border music. Tex-Mex or Tejano music is roots music, similar to blues or country, which began on the farms of Texas and New Mexico. This is a tequila-fuelled Tex Mex party night as South Street becomes the perfect cantina setting for a great night’s rocking with this cactus-sharp band. Looks like a whole heap of fun so dig out your cowboy boots and stetson (please not that pink diamond-encrusted thing you wore for Jude’s hen party) and saddle up for one hell of a night! Standing room only. Tickets £19.50.

South Street, 21 South Street, Reading, RG1 4QU. Tel: 0118 9606060. www.readingarts.com/south-street

An evening with Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, The Hexagon, Reading, Sat 16 April, 8pm

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More dancing! If you’re a Strictly Superfan (me, me, ME!) then slap on your fake tan, slip into something resplendent in chiffon and sequins and cha-cha-CHAAA darling over to The Hexagon for a showcase of Latin and Ballroom dancing performed by Strictly’s most popular pairing. Local boy Ian Waite (Tom Hiddleston’s dopplegänger) and his partner Natalie Lowe (she of never-ending legs) are also doing a meet and greet before the show *Squeal*! I checked the website and although all the Stalls tickets have gone, there’s still availability in the Balcony. Tickets from £26; Meet & Greet £10 for photos and autographs.

The Hexagon, Queens Walk, Reading RG1 7UA. Tel: 0118 960 6060. www.readingarts.com/hexagon

The Cat in the Hat, South Hill Park, Sun 17 April, 2pm & 4pm

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When in doubt I always turned to the story of the cat that transformed a dull, rainy afternoon into a magical and just-messy-enough adventure. And it really did help the Mudlets (the littlest in particular who is mischief personified) to read. Based on the much loved book by Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat is a lively and engaging first theatre experience for young children aged 3+ (and I’d suggest probably up to about aged 7). Expect towering hats, mischief and fun that is funny! Tickets £12, children £8, family £32.

Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, Ringmead, Bracknell RG12 7PA. Tel: 01344 484 123. www.southhillpark.org.uk

Small World Big Book, Norden Farm, Maidenhead, Tues 19 April, 7.30pm

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Must be something about Spring that gives all these dance events added bounce, but here’s another one! An evening to promote and celebrate female emerging choreographers (woo hoo! Big up sisters!). Produced by Charlie Dixon, Co-director of LAOWAI Collab Dance. Her new work Small World, Big Book delves into the ideas of what it means to be a foreigner. Lots of varied female choreographers on the bill and Norden Farm’s Youth Dance group will also be performing. Tickets £8.

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The Slime Show, Lookout Discovery Centre, Bracknell, until 2 May

The Lookout Discovery Centre is celebrating 25 years this year – amazing! You have just three more weekends to catch it’s popular Slime Show. Why are slugs and snails so slimy? Can you really cut, bounce or stretch slime? All utterly repulsive and your kids will love it! Suitable for children aged 3 and above (and who can sit down for half an hour) shows run at weekends until 2 May. Show times at 11am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3.15pm. Tickets £1.85 per person in addition to the main entrance price to the hands-on science and nature exhibition. No need to pre-book tickets you can buy them at reception on the day. This is a brilliant place where my children were very happy as once we’d covered the indoor stuff, there was also a huge outside play area with adventure playground, surrounded by woods. New café has recently opened too.

The Lookout Discovery Centre, Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell RG12 7QW. Tel: 01344 354 400. www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/thelookoutdiscoverycentre

Book ahead!

The Jungle Book, Windsor Royal Theatre, Thurs 21–Sat 23 April

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The new live action version of The Jungle Book is in cinemas from tomorrow – see the trailer here. But this new stage production from the award-winning Metta Theatre brings Kipling’s classic tale crashing into the 21st Century with breathtaking street dance and circus. Mowgli is finding her way in the urban jungle. With a beat-boxing bin man Baloo, graffiti artist Bagheera and a skateboarding Wolf crew and featuring jaw-dropping tricks from an extraordinary cast of performers from Zoo Nation and Cirque du Soleil, this is going to be a corker! I’m going to the press night so will report back. Performances: Thurs 7pm; Fri 1.30pm, 7pm; Sat 3pm, 7pm. Tickets: Family (1 adult, 2 children) £39.00; (2 adults, 2 children) £52.00.

Theatre Royal Windsor, Thames Street, Windsor SL4 1PS. Tel: 01753 853 888. www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

Big Tree Climbing Company, Greys Court, Sun 17 April, plus further dates and venues

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Both my kids have done this a couple of times at different venues and absolutely loved it. They get booked up pretty fast, hence you might just be lucky to get the last few tickets for this Sun 17 at Greys Court. If not, there are plenty more tree climbs coming up at The Vyne in Basingstoke on Sat 23, Greys Court on Sun 15 May, The Vyne on Sat 21 May and Cliveden on Mon 30 and Tues 31 May. Here’s the full calendar of events. Minimum age is 6 years old, sessions are one hour and cost £20 per person.

www.bigtreeclimbing.co.uk/home/

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