The Muddy Guide: What’s On Thurs 11 – Weds 17 feb
Follow your heart trail, Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading, now until 27 Feb
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains’. You may spot Basildon Park in cinemas this half term as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gets released on 11 Feb by Lionsgate UK. The house and parkland features in the film, as do many terrifying zombies… Look out for the house at the beginning of the official trailer (careful, it’s not for the faint hearted). Speaking of hearts, the ‘follow your heart’ trail encourages you to fall in love with Basildon Park (tenuous, I know, but A+ for effort). Find the love hearts around the property and discover the love story of the property’s restoration and conservation. The trail is on from 1-27 February, costs £2 and is suitable for all ages. No need to book. And of course, the shop and tea room will have plenty of Valentine’s goodies for sale. They’ll be a darn sight nicer than petrol station flowers I’ll bet.
Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire, RG8 9NR. www.nationaltrust.org/basildon-park
Paddington’s First Concert, Norden Farm, Maidenhead, Mon 15 Feb
Anything involving the good bear (however loosely) is going to be a winner with the kids, and this is a great way to introduce children to classical music in not-a-pushy-parent way. Classical music quintet Chamberhouse Winds are doing a special concert for families featuring stories told with music. They’ll be performing Paddington Bear’s First Concert by Herbert Chappell, the Teddy Bears Picnic and other animal related music. The quintet are all orchestra and chamber players in their own right, and between them they play flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon. The instruments will be explained and introduced throughout the performance and children will have the opportunity to ‘meet’ and try out the instruments at the end of the show. The concert kicks off a week of half term fun at Norden Farm, including performances and films, daily arts and crafts and storytelling sessions. So make sure you check out the website as there’s a *packed* schedule! It has a fab café too and loads of free parking.
11.30am. Suitable for children aged 5+. Tickets £10 (£8 under 16s). Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead SL6 4PF. Tel: 01628 788997. nordenfarm.org
Chateau Marmot pop up, Fawley woodland lodge, Henley, Fri 12 Feb
Pop-up-tastic! The awesome Chateau Marmot returns to the Woodland Lodge in Fawley for a weekend of supper clubbing. Saturday 13 Feb is already sold out but the hot Muddy news is that there are still 8 tickets left for this Friday if you’re quick-smart. Tim Yates, formerly of London’s 100 Hoxton and currently at the Southbanks’ Mondrian Hotel, promises a 7-course menu using game from the estate and local producers. It’s £65 for the 7 courses – drinks are extra but expect cocktails, wine from independent growers (chosen by my gorgeous former work colleague, ex-Decanter editor Roz Cooper), craft beers and all that jazz. It’s a very special, intimate venue with tickets strictly limited to 32 each night, so you can expect service to be brilliant. Book tickets
The white stuff! See the snowdrops bloom at Welford Park, Newbury, now until Sun 6 Mar
I know what you’re thinking… ‘I’ve seen that place somewhere before?’ and you’d be right. Welford Park is home to the Great British Bake Off – it’s that pristine lawn that hosts the famous white marquee each year while we all salivate over Paul Hollywood’s Chelsea buns *cough*. What you might not know, is that this private estate which is still very much a family home, has a long tradition of opening the grounds during the last few weeks of winter for the impressive snowdrop display – some say, the best in the country. Entry is £6 for adults, £1 for children 4-12 and a substantial chunk goes to West Berkshire charities. Dogs are welcome on leads. There’s a tea shop (Huzzah!) and a gift shop (merchandise naturally heavy on the snowdrops). All in all a fab morning or afternoon to be had, and a sure fire sign that Spring-a-ling is on its way! Word to the wise, commando rolls across the gorgeous white snowdroppy carpets are frowned upon (*ahem* sorry about that, please can you lift the restraining order, please?!)
Welford Park, Welford, Newbury, Berks RG20 8HU. Tel: 01488 608691. The park is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. www.welfordpark.co.uk
Half term kids holiday camps, Skiplex, Woodley, Mon 15 – Fri 19 Feb
If the likes of Meribel and Morzine are just a pipe dream this half term, then schuss down to Skiplex where the kids can ski in safe and comfortable surroundings using the centre’s clever magic carpet astro moving thingy… oh, just read this on how it works. The kids camps sound brilliant with activities including: skiing, snowboarding, sledging, arts & crafts, and games on and off the slopes. For children aged 6-12, the camps run every weekday from 9am to 3pm, £40 per day or £165 for the week – bargain! And there’s a 20% sibling discount so ship ’em all off while you watch from the alpine chalet lounge, or skip off trying not to look too happy about a… Whole. Day. Without. Them. *Sob* In fact, you will probably see my two mudlets there, where do I sign?! Just bring a pair of long socks, tracksuit bottoms, warm clothing and a packed lunch. The camp is running at both Reading and Basingstoke Skiplex.
Skiplex, Unit 3a, Headley Park 10, Headley Road East, Woodley, Reading, RG5 4SW. Tel: 0330 363 0033. www.skiplex.co.uk
Play in a day, Corn Exchange, New Greenham Arts, Newbury, Tues 16 & Weds 17 Feb
If your children have a passion for performance (what child doesn’t love dramatics – slamming of doors, rolling of eyes, stamping of feet…) they’re going to love this challenge of creating a play in a day. There are two dates: a junior session for 7-11 year olds on Tues 16 at 10am, and one for older children aged 12-16 on Weds 17 at 9.30am. The idea is to spend a jam packed day exploring characters, settings and plots in order to create a brand new performance, rehearsed and ready to perform to family and friends at the end of the day. Children need to bring a packed lunch, snacks and plenty of water, and come dressed in loose clothing (bright colours for juniors; dark for teens) and comfortable shoes. Family and friends to arrive at 5pm for a 5.15pm performance. Tickets £30 per child. You get to just kick back, and wait for the call from Spielberg.
Corn Exchange, New Greenham Arts, 113 Lindenmuth Way, Greenham Business Park, Newbury, Berks RG19 6HN. cornexchangenew.com
Sweeney Todd, South Hill Park, Bracknell, Weds 10 – Sat 13 Feb
How about a shave? This blood-thirsty tale of revenge, love, loss, tragedy fresh meat isn’t to everyone’s taste and ‘musical thriller’ may have you running for the door, but for sheer over the top escapism in the depths of dreary February, it’s well worth a look-see in my opinion. In case you need a recap… Benjamin Barker was a kind and dedicated father with nothing but love in his heart until a jealous judge punished him for a crime he did not commit and sent him off to Australia. Barker returns as the transformed Sweeney Todd with an insatiable hunger for revenge against those who separated him from his wife and child. Not even Mrs Lovett’s meat pies can curb his appetite! This fast-paced musical hardly pauses for breath as Sweeney Todd’s need for revenge spirals out of control. I’m afraid Muddy couldn’t make the press night for this, but I’ve heard good things so would recommend you book now.
South Hill Park, Ringmead, Bracknell, Berks RG12 7PA. Tel: 01344 484 123. www.southhillpark.org.uk
David Hockney: From the Beginning, River and Rowing Museum, Henley, Sat 13 Feb – 5 June
Can you believe the quality of the art around these parts at the moment? Here’s another one, just across the border in Oxfordshire – only flippin’ David Hockney! One of the most influential and iconic artists of the 20th century, this 30-work exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley brings together a unique selection of paintings and prints dating from the 1960s to 1978, which chart the early development of his style, interests, and sexuality. I’m going to take a gander this week so I’ll report back asap, no doubt in raptures.
River & Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, rrm.co.uk