MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
COMEDY: Reading Fringe Festival, various locations, Fri 19 – Sun 28 Jul
No need to schlep to Edinburgh for the Fringe, some of the finest comedy shows are being performed in Reading now. One of my favourite events of the year, there’s loads of cool stuff for grown ups and kids to see. I’m liking the sound of A Very Crayola Fringe Show (above) on 27 Jul in which the Queen of Crayola will be bringing her campy, cartoonish, lady clown LOLs to the occasion. Seska’s Quack Quack Boom, super-crazy comedy magic show is a family fave on Sat 20 Jul and Eddie Summers School of Burglary will quite simply be utterly boonkers (Sat 20 Jul) Grab your chance to see our up and coming comic stars without the ridiculous price tag (many performances are just £8). Bargain!
THEATRE: The Anastasia File, Theatre Royal Windsor, Wed 3 – Sat 13 Jul
It’s a Windsor Theatre Royal exclusive! If you’re a sucker for a Russian accent, book in to see The Anastasia File – a psychological thriller that questions whether a woman found in a canal and placed in a mental asylum is, in fact, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, and heir to the Romanov fortune. Using just four actors – Jenny Seagrove, Andrew Lancel, Richard Winsor and Rose Thomson – playing 30 parts between them, in a play loaded with tension. Half time double vodka, essential.
EVENT: Royal Henley Regatta, Henley On Thames, Wed 3 – Sun 7 Jul
The biggie this month is Henley Royal Regatta, Henley– straw boaters on, eyes on the lunch box (sarnies or Lycra bulges… they’re not mutually exclusive) and watch the rowing brawn from the riverbank. There’s over 200 races to watch the smoking–hot rowers and enjoy your Champagne picnic.
EVENT: Summer Evening Racing and Gin Festival, Thu 4 Jul
The beauty of lighter evenings (sunshine or not) is that the opportunities to put on a nice shoe and totter out for the night are seemingly endless – and Newbury Racecourse does not disappoint with gin and gee gees. It’s hosting its annual Gin Festival with 30 different varieties to sample, resident DJ and great racing. Get your gang together and make yours a double.
OUTDOORS: How To Be Brave, Wasing Estate Aldermaston, Thu 4 – Fri 5 and Thu 11 Jul
The theatre company’s called Dirty Protest (cue childish sniggers), and their latest play How To Be Brave, starring Laura Dalgleish (Call The Midwife) is being performed in the extraordinary Wasing Woodland in Aldermaston, before transferring to Edinburgh Fringe. This new touching and hilarious play is about learning to be brave when your world is falling apart. Tickets: £50 inc the performance, food and three drinks or £25 for the show only.
COMEDY: Sam Avery – The Learner Parent, South Street Arts Reading, Fri 5 Jul
Parenthood is a crafty beast. You think you’ve nailed it, then the game changes and you’re back to being rubbish again. Stand-up comedian and bestselling author Sam Avery (aka the Learner Parent) started his award-winning blog when his twin boys were born. A million nappies and Peppa Pig episodes he shares all the lows, highs and hilarious in-betweens of parenthood.
EVENT: Friday night pop up bar, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, throughout July
Picture the scene: balmy summer evenings, unspoilt countryside, kids happily playing games without the need for you to referee the perpetual bickering, while you enjoy a blissful Friday night sundowner. This utopia is a reality at the Summer Pop Up Bar at Douai Pavillion in Woolhampton. Running every Friday night from 6pm, it’s a great place for the whole family to let off steam. Winner!
COMEDY: Brewery Comedy, Windsor & Eton Brewery Windsor, Sat 6 Jul
Comedy + beer – what could possibly go wrong? Head to the factory floor of Windsor & Eton Brewery for a unique night of laughs and heckling as four up and coming circuit comics take to the stage. Sean Sellers, Chris Norton Walker, Sarah Iles and
Harjeet Cheema will be bringing the craft comedy, the brewery’s got the craft beers, you just need to bring the laughs.
THEATRE: The Tempest by The HandleBards, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Wed 10 Jul
Check out the panniers on this lot! The world’s first cycling theatre company, The HandleBards, pedal from venue to venue with all the set, props and costume necessary to perform Shakespeare. They pedal into Bracknell and Newbury to perform The Tempest, a tale that sees the Milan court shipwrecked on a mysterious desert island, inhabited by magicians, sprites and monsters.
KIDS: Ministry of Science, Corn Exchange Newbury, Wed 10 Jul
KABOOOOOOOM! Strap on your safety goggles because this show goes way beyond Mentos and Coca Cola. Ministry of Science bangs, whooshes, and buils a hovercraft built on stage! Expect an explosive trip to the theatre and *cough* a new enthusiasm for science homework. Take earplugs. It gets really loud.
FESTIVAL: The Henley Festival, Henley, Weds 10 – Sun 14 Jul
Put your Daisy Dukes away, this is a strictly black tie affair. Well, it is Henley, darlings. This massive five day bash is chocka with live music, contemporary arts, comedy (Ed Byrne, Julian Clary), street theatre and food glorious food. Boy George, Jessie J, Tom Odell, Jo Whiley and Bjorn Again are among the headliners, plus there’s the massively popular Family Sunday.
SPORT: Running Miles Sundae Challenge, Dinton Pastures Wokingham, Wed 10 Jul
For me, the only thing running in this challenge would be my 99 in 30 degree heat (ankle sprain). But if you’re partial to running and ice cream, the Running Miles Sundae Challenge could be right up your street. It’s a six-hour timed test where you can run as many or as few 2.6 mile laps as you choose. Ten laps for a marathon, 5 for a half and 1 or more to get a medal and create your own sundae with all the toppings. What do you get if you watch?
EAT OUT: An Evening with Gregg Wallace, The Vineyard Stockcross, Fri 12 Jul
The Vineyard in Stockcross is playing host to a fab dinner party on Fri 12 Jul hosted by Gregg Wallace of Masterchef fame. Gregg will be bringing all the foodie chatter, you’ll tuck into four delicious courses, each one paired with a cheeky little number from The Vineyard’s legendary 30,000-bottle wine cellar.
FAMILY FUN: The Big Camp, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, Fri 12 – Sun 14 Jul
The perfect weekend away. The family sleep under canvas in the five-star gorgeous grounds. They’ll discover wildlife, play games, explore the nearby Play Trail and be taken on a bat walk through the woods before marshmallows round the campfire. You, on the hand, need to be checking in to the hotel, enjoying a nightcap and star-fishing in a giant bed. Everyone gets to have an adventure. It’s just one as a luxury bathroom and the other doesn’t. Also running: Fri 19 – Sun 21 Jul and Fri 26 – Sun 28 Jul.
KIDS: Pretty Muddy and Race For Life, Prospect Park Reading, Sat 13 – Sun 14 Jul
It’s gonna take more than Bio to get your kit clean after doing this… but it is for a great cause. The Cancer Research Pretty Muddy for kids (must be 1.2m tall) and grown ups is a hilarious series of obstacles, mud pits and dirty fun with friends and family. If you like to keep it clean (spoil sports) then the 5K and 10K Race For Life is on Sunday.
FILM: Open air cinema, Caversham Court Gardens Reading, Thu 18 – Sat 20 Jul
Another cinematic refresh in the guise of First Man. La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s biopic of Neil Armstrong, the first man in the moon, has Ryan Gosling (be still my beating heart) playing the legendary astronaut and Claire Foy, last seen as the Queen in The Crown, as his wife, Janet. If you’re longing for a cinematic cheesefest, Mammia Mia! Here We Go Again should hit the spot on Thu 18 Jul and there’s always another opportunity to see Bohemian Rhapsody on Fri 19 Jul. Doors open 7.30pm, film starts at 9.15pm.
FILM: Open Air Cinema, Ascot Racecourse, Thu 18 – Sat 20 Jul
Giddy up to Ascot for three nights of fabulous of films under the stars. The giant cinema screen will be positioned on the lawns of the racecourse with this stunning backdrop of the grandstand. The Luna Bar will be fully stocked (good job with the expected Muddy stampede, and there will be food to soak it all up). What’s being screened? All the big hitters of the last year – Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Pay your money, take you choice. Doors open at 7.45pm, film starts at 9.15pm.
KIDS: Zog – Live, The Hexagon Reading, Fri 19 – Sun 21 Jul
Written by Julia Donaldson, creator of The Gruffalo of course, Zog is a young dragon eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school. If your kids have seen Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales and Tabby McTat, it’s a dead cert as it’s the same team behind the production.
FAMILY FUN: Maize Maze, Bucklebury Farm Park, Sat 20 Jul – 30 Sep
If you’re looking for covert and creative ways to lose your kids for a five minutes over the school holidays, there’s always Bucklebury Farm Park’s Maize Maze. New for 2019, your kids will run wild, answer clues and discover the homes of Stanley the Stag, Freddie Fox, Mary Mouse and Ola Owl. Don’t miss the grand opening on Sat 20 Jul – join the Walking Theatre Company live from the Maze, live music, family bushcraft, BBQ and Bar.
MUSIC: Wetherbys Supersprint with Tom Jones, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 20 Jul
Grab your knickers and get ready to lob them at a Welsh warbling octogenarian (OK, he’s 79, but who’s counting?). The legendary Tom Jones will be taking to the stage at Newbury Races this month’s Party In the Paddock. Following his stint on The Voice, the great man is not to be missed when he takes to the stage in Newbury. Tickets are flying out, so get your mitts sharpish.
THEATRE: Giffords Circus: Xanadu, Great Windsor Park, Thu 11 – Mon 22 July
Giffords Circus pitches up its Big Top once again at Oxford’s University Parks on its summer tour with a brand new show Xanadu– the theme this year is the Summer of Love, set in Hyde park 1973, so expect hippies, hipsters, rock stars and all-out grooviness alongside Nell Gifford’s brilliantly curated circus acts. The show then rolls up at Stonor Park Henley on Thames, 25-29 July.
DANCE: The Dreamboys, The Hexagon Reading, Thu 18 July
Take me back to the 90s and pass the baby oil. Far be it for me to objectify, but feast your eyes on this lot – it’s only The Dreamboys. I’ll just leave this image hanging here and let your minds wonder. Tickets are selling faster than these boys can get down to their pants, so be snaffle one while you can.
THEATRE: Kiss Me Kate, Watermill Theatre Newbury, Thu 25 Jul – Sat 21 Sep
Ah, the business of show, a career where onstage romances and backstage dramas are an occupational hazard. The Cole Porter classic, Kiss Me Kate – a musical comedy about the highs and lows of working in theatre – stars Olivier award-winner Rebecca Trehearn and David Ricardo. A night of showbiz shenanigans, iconic music and razor-sharp wit that’ll bring the house down.
EVENT: Qipco King George’s Day, Ascot Racecourse, Sat 27 Jul
Worship at the feet of Dermot O’Leary! TV’s Mr Safe Hands, author, DJ and all round top bloke, I’d happily sink a few jars with him as name drops his way thorough the alphabet. He’ll be cranking up the choons at Ascot after party at the prestigious Qipco King George race day. Definitely the dish of the day.
SPORT: The International Day, Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, Sat 27 Jul
Rub shoulders with royalty, rock stars and the Hollywood A list at polo’s fancy pants International Day (formerly the Cartier International) held at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club in Winkfield. Polo is actually a fun spectators sport with a large dollop of social fun thrown in for good measure. Once the competitive bit is over, swap chukkas for Mahiki and party into the small hours. You may need the stamina of a polo pony.
COMEDY: Jimmy Carr, Wycombe Swan, Thurs 4 Jul
Jimmy Carr brings his boundary-pushing comedy to Wycombe Swan with his brand new show Terribly Funny which is promising to throw PC jokes out the window… you’ve been warned.
Do you <heart> the ’80s? Get yourself down to Chilfest, now in its sixth year rolling out retro hits across the Chiltern Hills. Acts booked include Bananarama, Soul II Soul, The Selecter and Five Star – although, call me a pedant but it looks like they’re technically One Star now, with one original member and a bunch of newbies (6 July). Or if you fancy a camping festival, there’s Shambala, a small, lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly (22 – 25 Aug). Other camping weekenders include Latitude, Suffolk, the Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill (18 – 21 Jul). Or there’s Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, the kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties (25 – 28 Jul).
And if you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes- you can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.
Must-see exhibitions in London this month include a new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection above, which contrasts the designer’s work with paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement. The intimate collection has been curated by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives (until Sun 1 Sept). Or you can check out Beasts of London, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals which are brought to life using video projection mapping.
Muddy visited the Mary Quant retrospective (until 16 Feb) above at the V&Arecently and it’s definitely worth checking out- over 200 items from the iconic ’60s designer’s career, from miniskirts to her make up range, accompanying images and a strong feminist undertone (girl power!) Also at the V&A is the the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, it’s sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance, or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A (until 1 Sept). The major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain is also worth a gander, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery (until 11 Aug). And finally, if you’re heading up north, there’s the new Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.