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The Muddy Guide: Thurs 21 April – Weds 27 April

The Muddy Stilettos Awards 2016, Berkshire, Weds 4 May, start your engines!Award buttons 2016 Master - Berkshire_winner

The Muddies are coming! Yes folks, your award-winning super-blog Muddy Stilettos is holding its very first Awards in Berkshire from Weds 4 May – I can feel the vibrations of a million pairs of feet around the county doing a little jig. The Awards – designed to support, encourage and celebrate the very best lifestyle businesses in the county – have been running in Bucks & Oxon since 2012 and in Hertfordshire since 2014, and now it’s our turn to join in the fun good people of Berkshire! The Awards boast 28 Award Categories, ranging from Best Art Gallery to best Fitness Instructor to Best Destination Pub, and they are totally FREE to enter.  Public nominations open on Weds 4 May so for now, start thinking about your favourite independent lifestyle businesses in Berkshire… who would you like to nominate?

The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations, Windsor, Thurs 21 April, 12 noon onwards

On Thurs 21 (her actual birthday) The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh will be doing a walkabout in Windsor. The couple will be walking from the Henry VIII Gate of Windsor Castle from noon, towards the Statue of Queen Victoria at the foot of Castle Hill, but turn up early if you want to get a good view. In the evening, The Queen will light the principal beacon which will set off a series of more than 1,000 beacons across the country and worldwide (good luck to the minion overseeing that logistical nightmare!). It should be a very jolly day as the the band of the Coldstream Guards will be entertaining the crowds and loads of special events are going on around the town. Full details here.

Reading Contemporary Art Fair, Rivermead, Reading, Sat 23 & Sun 24 April


Keeping Busy, by Sarah Berry Art

This is my kind of art fair. An eclectic mix of over 100 artists, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists and selected galleries offering a tremendous range of affordable, contemporary art with prices from £40 to £4000. The Reading Contemporary Art Fair is deservedly popular for its relaxed and friendly atmosphere where you can chat to the artists and pick up a stunning piece of modern art, without having to sell a kidney. Tickets £7; children 5-16 £5; under 5s free.

Rivermead Leisure Complex, Richfield Avenue, Reading RG1 8EQ.

Martin Hulbert, Coworth Park, Ascot, Weds 27 April, 12 noon


Another of Coworth Park’s popular guest speaker lunches and it’s a goodie. Martin Hulbert is one of the UK’s top interior designers and creator of the stunning interiors at Coworth Park, which won the 2011 House & Garden Pineapple Award for hotel design. Martin’s talk offers an insider view of the creation of Coworth Park and other design projects – and a fab opportunity to get some design tips from a pro! Tickets from £50 per person, including a glass of champagne on arrival and a three-course lunch in Restaurant Coworth Park with a glass of wine, coffee and chocolates.

Open auditions for Doctor Dolittle the Musical, Wycombe Swan, Sun 24 April


The Wycombe Swan’s Summer Youth Project this year is Doctor Dolittle – the classic story of kindness to animals in a big Broadway-sized family musical. The theatre is looking for aspiring young performers and technicians aged 9 -21 to audition to be the cast and crew for the show. Working with a professional creative team this will be the theatrical experience of a lifetime. Visit the website for more details and to download an audition pack. Audition date: Sun 24 April, 10am; Project dates: Sun 24 July – Sun 7 August 2016.

Wycombe Swan, St. Mary Street, High Wycombe, HP11 2XE. Tel: 01494 512 000.

Lambing weekend, Amners Farm, Burghfield, Sat 23 & Sun 24 April

Two weekends a year Amners, a working farm, opens its doors to the public for their very popular lambing days, and the time has finally come! This weekend (and also Sat 30 April, Sunday 1 May and Mon 2 May) families will be able to go along and not just see lambs being born, but also take part in loads of other things including pony rides, archery, miniature railway rides, tractor rides and more. There will be lots of craft stalls and you can either take a picnic or there’s a café on site. Basically a day of much cuteness. Opening hours 11am to 6pm. Tickets on the door: £7.50 adults; £5 children; Family £23 (but they’re cheaper if you book in advance online here).

Amners Farm , Amners Farm Road, Burghfield, Reading RG30 3UE. Tel: 0118 9833437.

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


I’m going to see this on Friday, and can’t wait! I shall report back. It’s a 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! 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.

Bladebone Inn, Grand Garden Opening, Sat 23, from 12 noon


I had a great meal at The Bladebone Inn last week (review coming soon). The pub recently changed hands and underwent a big refurbishment. Fans of the original pub can rest easy though, as it’s in safe hands under new chef patron Richie Sanderson. It was dark when I visited, so I’m afraid I can’t vouch for the garden, but regulars tell me it’s a great space and there’s a Grand Opening this weekend to celebrate the garden opening for the Summer season. The celebrations kick off from 12 noon and includes the West Berkshire Beer Festival, a GIANT Paella, Moroccan slow-roasted lamb, live music and a chance to try the pub’s new wines and cocktails. Uh, there is nothing on that list that displeases me. Plus, it’s in Bucklebury, so you have Bucklebury Farm Park just down the road if you want to make a day of it with the kids.

The Bladebone Inn, Chapel Row, Bucklebury RG7 6PD. Tel: 0118 9714000. 

Tap Factory, The Hexagon, Reading, Sat 23 April, 7.30pm


Music! Dance! Chesticles! Tap Factory (or let’s be honest, ‘Hunks on Tap’) is coming to The Hexagon in Reading for one night only, this Saturday, and features some of the world’s best tap dancers and international musicians in a cool and dynamic show blending art, dance, percussion, comedy, and cirque acrobatics. It features live percussion, and some easy-on-the-eye male dancers and acrobats. With urban, tap dance, hip hop, comedy, and aerial acrobatics it really is a fun, high octane show that would be perfect to see with a gaggle of girlfriends, and has had sell out tours across Europe and the States. Tickets from £22.

The Hexagon, Queen’s Walk, Reading RG1 7UA. Box office: 0118 9606060.


Book ahead!

My Dining Hell, an evening with Jay Rayner, Corn Exchange, Newbury, Fri 6 May, 7.45pm


Jay Rayner has been The Observer’s restaurant critic for over 12 years and if there is one thing he’s learnt it is that people like reviews of bad restaurants. No, scratch that. They adore them, feast upon them like starving vultures who have spotted fly-blown carrion out in the bush. So tuck in with glee as he reads from accounts of some of the most excruciating nights out he’s ever had in My Dining Hell, and looks at the worst reviews his own work has ever received. Tickets £20 includes a book signing after the show. Not one for the kiddies – ‘contains infrequent strong language’.

Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury RG14 5BD. Tel: 0845 5218218.

A Taste of the Hinds Head, Bray, Thurs 26 May, 7pm


I very much doubt Jay Rayner could find fault here. A Taste of The Hinds Head is a journey through the classic dishes of days gone by in Heston Blumenthal’s 15th Century British pub. The team will pay homage to signature dishes of the past and present, as well as showcasing some brand new dishes from the menu. Tickets £100 per person including drinks and canapés on arrival and a 3-course meal with paired wines. To book call: 01628 626151. And if you fancy a little amuse bouche to whet your appetite, Hero from Muddy Bucks & Oxon nipped in recently, here’s her review.

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