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The Muddy Guide: Thurs 28 April – Weds 4 May

Henley Arts Trail, various venues around Berks & Oxon, 30 Apr – 2 May

este_mcleod

I love this brilliant art trail, now in its 11th year! There are 25 free venues in Henley and surrounding villages (9 of which are in Berks) displaying over a thousand art works (such as this one above by Este MacLeod) in a wide range of media available to browse and buy in a lovely relaxed environment – either artists’ studios or intimate exhibitions. Paintings, drawings, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, glass and sculpture are all on display, artists are around to welcome you and chat about their work and it’s a really enjoyable way to immerse yourself in the county’s artistic creativity and talent. Many of the artists hold workshops and demonstrations and you can just pootle along adding a pub lunch or café pit stop along the way, naturally. Download a trail map here then simply look out for the pink HAT trail signs, banners, balloons and bunting to lead the way.

www.henleyartstrail.com

Legoland Star Wars Days, Legoland, Windsor, 30 Apr – 2 May

The force is strong at Legoland this May Bank Holiday with its hugely popular (I’ll say) Star Wars Days returning once again. Get ready to join in a galaxy of Star Wars-themed activities including a Lego Droid Building Workshop, and there will be plenty of meet and greet and selfie opportunities with Darth Vader, Chewie and the rest of the gang. New this year is the most impressive and biggest Lego Star Wars model ever created – The Death Star – a massive 2.4 metre wide, 3 metre high creation, weighing in at a hefty 860kg (that is a lorra lorra Lego). It’s all going on in the land of the little coloured plastic brick. Tickets start from £37 online for adults and children.

www.legoland.co.uk

Jongleurs Comedy Club, Corn Exchange, Newbury, Fri 29, 7.45pm

jongelurs

These monthly comedy clubs at the Corn Exchange are always a sure thing because Jongleurs guarantees the best new faces on the comedy circuit. This month’s line up includes Andy White, John forthergill, Eleanor Tiernan and Christian Reilly so you can be sure of mirthful merriment aplenty. See them here first – you never know who will end up being the next big thing. Tickets £15, age guide 18+.

Corn Exchange Newbury, Market Place, Newbury RG14 5BD. cornexchangenew.com

Mapledurham Food & Craft Festival, 30 Apr – 2 May

mapledurham

Get ready for a full-on food fest at Mapledurham House near Reading including 120 stalls and exhibitors, free workshops, kids cookery school and food lab (perfect for any little experimental Hestons out there), foraging walks and loads of free activities for kids. Plus celeb chef Simon Rimmer from C4’s Sunday Brunch and Ian Cumming from The Great British Bake Off.  Plus you get to spend time in the grounds of Mapledurham House which is a stunner and home to several film and television productions including The Eagle has Landed, Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders. Tickets available at the gate: adults £5; children (6-16) £1; family of 4 £11. Open 10am to 5pm (6pm Sat).

www.mapledurhamfestival.co.uk

Henley on Food, Shiplake College, Sat 30 April & Sun 1 May

henleyonfood

Set in the grounds of Shiplake College just outside Henley, this new food festival is punching well above its weight for a first-timer and is expected to draw crowds from all across Berks, Oxon, Bucks and beyond. There’s a seriously impressive line up of food writers, cooks and chefs including John Torode, Frances Quinn, Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, Madeleine Shaw, Anthony Worrall-Thompson, ‘Britain’s most fashionable foodies’ Terry and George, and my personal fave, Helen McGinn, author and blogger of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club (I think we all know which tent I’ll be in). There are talks, cookery demos, wine tasting, an exclusive pop-up Supper Club, a riverside Champagne tent and a load of foodie events for children, among other tasty activities and events celebrating the very best of food and drink. I’ll eat and drink to that!

www.henleyonfood.com

Comeback Special, South Street Arts, Reading, Tues 10 May, 8pm

comeback_special

Jam sessions, patter with a Southern drawl, big dance numbers, and a bit of sweat: this is a solo re-enactment of Elvis Presley’s 1968 Comeback Special. Greg Wohead is a London-based writer and performer, originally from Texas. He makes theatre shows, one-to-one performances and audio pieces. And for one night only, he welcomes Elvis fans, theatre fans and anyone who thinks this re-enactment might be fun (he certainly does). Apparently Greg’s got it all going on from the swagger to the sexy little smile. Sounds intriguing, what do you reckon? Uh huh. Tickets £12, running time 75 minutes (no interval).

South Street Arts, 21 South Street, Reading, RG1 4QU. Box Office: 0118 9606060. www.readingarts.com/southstreet

British Life Photography Award, River & Rowing, until 17 July

british-life

Worth hopping across the border into Henley, this competition for professional and amateur photographers is a showcase for the images that capture the very essence and spirit of British life in 10 categories covering everything from street life, rural life, and portraiture to a special award for the best documentary feature. Catch the Hockney exhibition while you’re there too.

River & Rowing Museum, Henley, rrm.co.uk

Book ahead!

Iver Academy Open Day, Sat 7 May, 1pm-4pm

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You must have seen that photo of the woman re-touching Aidan Turner’s abs in between takes filming Poldark last Summer (lucky cow!). Ah, the life of a hair and make-up artist…  Well now’s your chance to find out more about the industry at the Iver Academy’s Open Day at Pinewood Studios just over the border in Bucks where the Academy is based. You’ll have the chance to meet award-winning teachers and recent graduates who have gone on to work on productions such as Mr Selfrdige and Maleficent, and find out everything you need to know about their industry courses – from Advanced Certificate in Make-up and Hair Artistry to prosthetics and airbrushing. It runs from 1-4pm and you have to register here if you want to attend.

The Iver Academy, Pinewood Studios, Pinewood Road, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, SLO ONH. www.iveracademy.co.uk

Meet Marco Pierre White at MPW Steakhouse, Bar & Grill, Windsor, 12 May, 5.30pm – 10pm

marco

Join the big man himself, and enjoy a three-course meal at his newly opened restaurant in the Castle Hotel, Windsor – I popped in a few weeks ago to try it out, here’s my review. On the evening you’ll receive a signed-copy of his famous White Heat book (an updated version with new photos) and just shoot the breeze with Marco. Apparently he is an absolute charmer with the public so it should be a very special night. And all for a ridiculously reasonable £49.50 per person, WHAAAAT? Tickets will fly off the pass, so I suggest you reserve your place pronto!

MPW Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Castle Hotel, 18 High Street, Windsor SL4 1LJ. Tel: 01753 641321. www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk

Californian Wine Tasting, The Vineyard, Newbury, Sat 17 May, 11am to 5pm

vineyard

There’s no doubt that the noble grape is the raison d’être for Newbury’s iconic spa hotel and its wine events are legendary. In particular, its Californian Wine Tasting Festival held every year, which sees a selection of Californian winery owners and reps showcase the very best of their wine, with the opportunity to taste (woo hoo!) and purchase (time to stockpile for Christmas!) over 50 Californian wines throughout the day. £30 per person, call the hotel on 01635 589407 to reserve your place. Why not stay the night with breakfast from £194.50 per person (you know it makes sense!).

The Vineyard, Stockcross, Newbury RG20 8JU. www.the-vineyard.co.uk

An Audience with Nadiya Hussain, Reading Concert Hall, Sun 19 June, 5pm

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Giving you a heads up on this one as I reckon tickets are going to FLY. It was the most-watched TV broadcast of 2015 and now the winner of series six of The Great British Bake Off and all round good egg, Nadiya Hussain, is coming to Reading for a special ‘Audience with…’ appearance as part of Reading’s Year of Culture. She’ll be signing copies of her new book Nadiya’s Kitchen and no doubt revealing some saucy secrets about Mary and Paul’s shenanigans in the marquee! The event will be held at Reading Concert Hall and tickets are available from the Reading Arts website or call the Box Office: 0118 9606060. Tickets: adults £10; children £8; Family £26.

www.readingarts.com

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Berkshire