The Muddy guide: Thurs 25 Feb – Weds 2 March
Henley Festival, tickets go on general release today (Thurs 25 Feb) at 10am
You might not be doing the Crocodile Rock or saying Goodbye Yellow Brick Road because the headline act, Elton John, sold out eons ago (where WERE you?!). But tickets for the rest of the Henley Festival (6-10 July) floating stage acts go on general release today at 10am so have your credit card and trigger finger at the ready. A quick rundown so you have a headstart: Thurs 11 July is Elvis Costello; Friday 12 July Welsh crooner Bryn Terfel; Sat 13 July Blake with special guest Dame Shirley Bassey and the big finalé closing the whole shebang on Sun 10 July is local Berkshire boy, Will ‘what a voice’ Young. Now, get on that blower!
Tickets from £35. Box office: 01491 843404. www.henley-festival.co.uk
Romeo and Juliet, The Watermill Theatre, Newbury, 25 Feb – 2 Apr
I’m going to see this on Monday, so look out for my review next week. Given its the 400th anniversary of his death, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get my fill of the Bard this year! I have high hopes for this imaginative take on the all-time classic, billed as ‘A powerful and explosive new production of Shakespeare’s immortal tale of an all-consuming love.’ The theatre’s artistic director Paul Hart is opening his inaugural season with a play he has cast and will also direct. The casting was done in collaboration with The National Youth Theatre and the UK’s leading theatre schools assembling a company of young actor-musicians. I can’t wait to see what they can do. Plus, the theatre has been transformed into the round for especially for this production.
Tickets £26.50 to £15. The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury RG20 8AE. Box office 01635 46044. www.watermill.org.uk
Poetry in the Bookshop, Hungerford Bookshop, Hungerford, Tues 8 March, 7.30pm
I’m giving you a bit of a heads up on this one as I think it will be hugely popular and the shop is small so expect it to be cosy! Due to the success of Hungerford Bookshop’s ‘Poetry in the Bookshop evening’ as part of the Hungerford Literary Festival in October, they have decided make it a regular event. Toni Kent – described as ‘part thinking woman’s Bridget Jones, part edgy Pam Ayres’ – will read from her anthology, I Need a Wife. Toni describes herself as an ‘optimist, absurdist and relentlessly cheerful. I write, rhyme, and perform stand up as a way of escaping from the fact that I’m actually a 40 year old mother of two, and not Alison Goldfrapp.’ After listening to Toni read from her book, it’s your turn. Oh yes! Sign-up at the door to read a poem that you have brought along. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere (with plenty of wine to calm the nerves).
Tickets £4 (includes a glass or two of wine). Hungerford Bookshop, Tel: 01488 683480. www.hungerfordbookshop.co.uk
Glorious Gardens Trail, Cliveden, nr Taplow, from 25 Feb
This year more than 50,000 spring flowers have been planted in the Parterre and Long Garden at Cliveden, creating a carpet of colour and the perfect excuse to grab the mudlets and get out there for some long walks and fresh air (they may have forgotten what that tastes like having been hibernating all winter). The glorious gardens trail is a handy way to see all the blooms – a free trail to help you explore. With gentle drifts of snowdrops giving way to tens of thousands of daffodils, and later bluebells and cherry blossom alongside the formal planting, every corner of the estate is looking pretty darn stunning as spring has sprung early, lucky for us. Shove on your wellies and boot the kids out of the door. Remind them, tearooms with cake at the end for all those who don’t whine. Keep your eyes on the prize kids. The trail is free, normal admission price applies.
Cliveden, Taplow, Berkshire SL6 0JF. Tel: 01628 668561. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden
Visit Wednesdays, UK Wolf Conservation Trust, Beenham nr Reading, every Weds
Can you believe we have a pack of wolves living just down the road? No, I couldn’t either. The mudlets were hugely excited when I told them this news. The UK Wolf Conservation Trust based in Beenham just outside of Reading, works for the protection and conservation of wild wolves and their habitats and has four groups of wolves happily romping around in its grounds. About 10 in total live there at the mo, including a pack of beautiful Arctic wolves from Quebec. There are all sorts of events organised throughout the year, from wolf walks to wolf keeper days, but the centre has recently made Wednesdays dedicated visit days. The raised platform overlooking the lower enclosure enables you to get nice and close for selfies (uh, careful there folks!) and 2pm it’s feeding time (like I said, careful there folks!) There’s no café on site, but The Six Bells pub in the village has a decent menu (and you get 10 per cent off if you mention the wolves). Tickets are available at the gate – £8 for adults, £5 for children (3-12) & OAPs, under-3s are free. Opening times 11am-4pm.
The UK Wolf Conservation Trust, Butlers Farm, Beenham, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 5NT. Tel: 0118 971 3330. ukwct.org.uk
The Slime Show, Lookout Discovery Centre, Bracknell, until 2 May
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 and during school holidays. 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 a huge outside play area with adventure playground, surrounded by woods. New café has just opened too!
The Lookout Discovery Centre, Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell RG12 7QW. Tel: 01344 354 400. www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/thelookoutdiscoverycentre
Ama Bazar folk group, Norden Farm, Thurs 25 Feb at 8pm
I love that Norden Farm gets such a huge breadth of musical talent on its calendar. Ama Bazar are a group of international musicians performing folk music from around the world. From Balkan beats to Klezmer, and Manouche to Flamenco (I really need an education in folk music – I don’t suppose my Enya Orinoco Flow CD-single counts?). Ama Bazar is led by clarinettist and vocalist Alice Mary Williamson and Ulises Diaz (vocals and percussion) along with Pablo Dominguez (guitar, bass and percussion) and James Adams (guitar, bass and percussion). They have performed across the world and at the Royal Festival Hall here in the UK.
Tickets £14. Norden Farm, Altwood Road, Maidenhead SL6 4PF. Tel: 01628 788997. nordenfarm.org