9 fun things, Thurs 23 March

We’re about to start the gentle slide into the weekend, and if you’re still thinking about what to give your mum on Sunday, here’s my gift guide with suggestions from some of the local and independent retailers in the Muddy Little Black Book. And if you look at my Mother’s Day guide, there are some ideas here for things to do. And here are yet more ideas for this weekend and next week. Decisions, decisions…

Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, Sat 25 March

Happy days are here again! Our one and only National Trust property in the county opens again this Saturday. Shaw’s Corner is the former home of playwright George Bernard Shaw. I have been to Shaw’s Corner several times and the volunteers are great storytellers. Make sure you find the rotating shed or summerhouse, a writing hideout that Shaw named ‘London’. This enabled whoever answered the door at the house to tell random callers that unfortunately Shaw wasn’t in, he was in London. There’s also a new shop, and for refreshments, you can walk a couple of minutes to the local village pub, the Brocket Arms.

Shaws Corner

Harriet Kelsall jewellery evaluation, Weston, Sat 25 March

I met Harriet earlier this week and was completely amazed by her and the fact that there is this wonderful creative jewellery business in a barn in Weston, just north of Stevenage and quite close to Hitchin. From the moment you walk in you feel inspired, and there are stories about the jewellery design and making process on the walls that immediately draw you in. This free event invites you to go along with any pieces of jewellery for valuation. There is a lovely cafe and you can enjoy stylish and delicious cakes with Fairtrade coffee and tea while watching the makers in the workshop. Harriet is also someone who has become a spokesperson and ambassador for sustainable and good practice in business, and she is committed to working with fairly traded gold. Well worth a visit – this is more like going to an exhibition than visiting a jewellery shop. 10am – 4pm.

Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

Photo shoot and makeover, Amelie, Berkhamsted, Sat 25 March

This is a Mother’s Day event at the chic Berko boutique Amelie, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Local photographer Mikaela Morgan is offering a photo shoot and makeover as a prize, and you can see how glammy-gloo you might look in the photos above. Tring Beauty Box will also be in the store offering mini makeovers. Prizes, sparkling drinks and a party atmosphere.


Herts jazz, Campus Welwyn Garden City, Sun 26 March

Rather than cosy up inside with homework and whatever TV drama happens to be on, the cool cats are swinging it on a Sunday night in WGC. This Sunday it’s a quintet with Alan Barnes and Gilad Atzmon. Not quite an underground smoky jazz club, but the foyer at the Campus is definitely a good place for live music with drinks – and ice creams! – on tap.  7.30pm.

Herts Jazz

Chilterns Food & Drink festival, Sat 25 March

That’s me! On an e-bike, with my friend Mary who I’ve known since primary school. We set off on an adventure with Electric Bike Tours last week and we cycled from Berkhamsted to Frithsden Vineyard. This is just one of many events on offer during the brand new Chilterns Food & Drink Festival that starts on Saturday. Go behind the scenes at local breweries and vineyards, bake your own bread and roast meat over an open fire, indulge in chocolate tasting, walk from one foodie heavenly haven to another, it’s all going on in Herts, Bucks and Beds.

Chilterns Food & Drink Festival

I Capture the Castle, Watford Palace Theatre, Fri 31 March

I’ve just been invited to the press night for the musical adaption of Dodie Smith’s masterpiece. I can’t wait and will publish the review. In the meantime, tickets have just gone on sale. It’s going to be a sell out, so be quick!


Grow your own cut flowers, Gillyflower, Frithsden Vineyard, Sunday 2 April

Bettina and Trevor grow all their own flowers and their business, Gillyflower, is one of only three in the county which specialises in British grown seasonal flowers. I met them at the beginning of the year and you can read about them here. Bettina is extremely knowledgeable and committed to natural and organic growing, and if you’d like to learn how to grow your own seasonal cutting garden, she is running a workshop, at Frithsden Vineyard. Which, I can guarantee, will come with top notch refreshments. 11am – 2pm.

Gillyflower workshops

Amy Winehouse, A Family Portrait and Street Art Trail, The Jewish Museum, Camden

Photo: Mark Okoh

I went to see this exhibition when it was staged here in 2013 and it’s just come back again to coincide with a new street art trail of work inspired by Amy Winehouse around Camden which leads back to the museum. If you haven’t been to the Jewish Museum before, you need to go.

The Jewish Museum

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