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The Muddy Guide’s flirty dozen

Now that I’ve had a few days to acclimatise, I am loving the lighter evenings. Spring has sprung, I’m raring to go. So let’s hop to it and bounce into the weekend. Boiiiing… Boiiiing…

The Thing That Came From Over There, New Greenham Arts Newbury, Fri 31 March

Inspired by the Horror movies of the 1950s, The Thing That Came From Over There is a fast-paced rollicking ride, mixing paranoia, suspense and hilariously gruesome deaths. Set in 1912, Scott and Amundsen are racing across Antarctica, but the hapless explorer, Captain Reginald Cranston, has accidentally landed on the wrong side of the continent. Cranston and his motley band set up base camp, a meteor crashes nearby. What ancient evil lurks inside the crater? What is the dark secret of the slimy fungus? And what is the horrifying fate of those who encounter the parasitic space worms? It’s like the research notes for Sky’s nordic noir Fortitude. Tickets £15.


Heads Up, South Street Arts Reading, Wed 5 Apr

What would you do if the end of the world was nigh? Hit the bottle? (probably); stare at the sky as it fell in? (possibly); hope it’s a false alarm? (definitely); or take to social media with a running commentary and series of ‘apocalypse selfies’? (hmm, no time to edit them though). Award-winning writer/ performer Kieran Hurley weaves a picture of a familiar city at its moment of destruction. A teenage girl boils up in rage in a toilet cubicle. An absurd coke-addled celebrity races through town on a mission. A paranoid stoner stares blankly at the endless disasters on the TV news. All their worlds will end. Powerful story-telling, this was a mahoosive hit at the Edinburgh fringe, it’s a bit of a must-see. Tickets: £12.


Spring Family Race Day, Ascot Racecourse, Sun 2 April

Racecourses are generally kid-free zones – probably due to all-day bubbles and focus on the horses, but the Spring Family Raceday is a brilliant day with loooooads to entertain the kids –the legendary Lamb National, featuring six Herdwick sheep, infamous ‘Red Ram’, ‘Mint Sauce’ and friends will take to the Queen Anne Lawns for a race over mini fences, the Quack Pack, a petting zoo, free pony rides. Plus the Gruffalo and Peter Rabbit dropping by too. Oh and there’s some actual jump racing too, if that floats your boat. Tickets from £24, but under 18s go FREE.


Wow! Said The Owl, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sun 2 April

Looks cuuuuuute. Based on the acclaimed children’s book by writer Tim Hopgood, Wow! Said the Owl explores the world of colours with a curious little owl who’s determined to stay awake to see what daylight brings. Aimed at 2-5 years, but might be good for those with hangovers too. Just saying.


Monochrome Photographic Exchibition, Clarion House Maidenhead, Thur 29 March – Sat 2 April

Image: ©David Turnbull – Isolated

I’m a firm believer that everyone and everything looks a little classier in black and white – particularly the battered, end of the night selfies. Just to prove my point (minus the drunken snaps) Monochrome – a touring photographic exhibition – is showcasing some of the best black and white images, exploring the dramatic use of light, shade and texture. It’s FREE to get in, get some Insta inspo and get snap happy.

Make A Block Printed Lampshade, Robin’s Nest Gallery Wargrave, Sun 2 April

Let your creativity run wild and make something beautiful for your home. Or in my case, something that’ll be mocked for being artistically challenged. I’ll show you naysayers (aka Mr Muddy), there’re a couple of places left on the block printed lampshade course at Robin’s Nest Gallery. You’ll learn a new skill and take home something unique for you home. I’ll see you there peeps, I’m booked on. The course is £65 and includes lunch.


Blue Collar ‘Feastival’, Forbury Gardens Reading, Until Sat 1 April

Feastival‘ is like catnip to a greedy gal like me. The elasticated trews are definitely going to be feeling the stretch this weekend. Blue Collar Street Food is behind Reading’s latest food festival which will be taking over Forbury Gardens for the next three days. There’s also an on-site bar, a VW Camper cocktail bar, and non-stop music and entertainment. Go grab a bite and hang out on hay bale sofas.


NT Live: Twelfth Night, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Thur 6 April

In an extra layer on Shakespere’s bittersweet gender-bending comedy, Tamsin Greig plays a female Malvolio in this National Theatre production, being beamed live to cinemas  on 6 April. Viola is shipwrecked and her twin brother Sebastian is lost. Determined to survive on her own, she takes a new post disguised as a boy. Meanwhile the households of Olivia and Orsino are overrun with passion and even Olivia’s upright housekeeper Malvolio (or, in this case, Malvolia) is swept up in the madness. A tale of mistaken identity and unrequited love ensues. Numerous Berkshire cinemas are screening this, put your postcode in a search box on the website to find your nearest.


Twelfth Night, The Watermill Newbury, Thur 6 April

What are the chances? But on the very same night you can see an equally bold performance of Twelfth Night at The Watermill. This production is reimagined in the 1920s where prohibition is rife and Europe is still reeling in the wake of war. Fuelled by energetic jazz music, the young ensemble cast who brought last year’s epic Romeo + Juliet to life reunite to create a dizzying and beautiful version of Shakespeare’s perfect play. The radical spirit of Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt and Ella Fitzgerald is fused with an innovative approach to staging.


Easter Baking and Chocolate Making, The Woodspeen Cookery School, Sat 8 April

Impress your friends and fam over Easter with wonky baked, chocolately goods made your own fair hand. The kitchen is not my natural habitat, so I can do with all the help I can get. The Woodsmen Cookery School is running an Easter cookery course to teach you to temper chocolate, how to make delicious chocolates and truffles and Hot Cross Buns. The course runs from 9.30am-12.30pm and costs £110– including takeaway Hot Cross buns, 2 gift bags of chocolate truffles and 2 gifts boxes of chocolates.

Joanna Trollope Book Talk, Croft Hall Hungerford, 12 April 

They legend that is Joanna Trollope is shimmying into Hungerford in a couple of weeks to talk about her new book City Of Friends – reviewed by resident Muddy bookworm Kerry Potter in the February Book Club. Trollope has a rep for writing  ‘aga sagas’, but her new novel has younger more cosmopolitan vibe. Covering marriage problems, work/life balance, flexible working and sexism in the workplace, little white lies that take on a life of their own, and the pain and pleasure of parenting. It turns out no one else has it all worked out either. Organised by the brilliant Hungerford Bookshop, tickets: £6 and includes a glass of wine and money off the book. Whoop.


Jon Richardson: The Old Man, The Hexagon Reading, Thurs May 25

If you’re a fan of 8 Out Of 10 Cats and missed the chance to nab a ticket to Jon Richardson’s sell out show at The Hexagon, an extra date has been added. The cards-wearing comic is performing in May, but you can ow buy tickets for Tue 31 October. Jon promises to complain about the state of world – Brexit, the rise of Trump, why no one can correctly load a dishwasher – but offer no solutions. Tickets are available for £22.50.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Berkshire