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What’s On: Muddy Herts Guide 12-18 Nov 2015

There are Christmas lights being switched on all over the county this week – Herts will be visible from space, I reckon, by the time the last one’s on.  And in between all the mulled wine and reindeer, there are all sorts of other things you can be doing – some festive, some not so much.

Rrrantanory Little Stories, Coco Cafe, Croxley Green, 12 Nov, 8pm

 2805 rrrants

It’s your last chance this year to join the Rrrant-ing folks for an evening of stories – but don’t expect ‘once upon a time’ or ‘happily ever after.’  There’ll be two featured storytellers at this night of bedtime stories for grown-ups – Simon Cleary and Simon David – as well as the gloriously-named Paul Eccentric.  It’s £5 on the door, or you can book by calling 01923 510302.

Coco Cafe, Watford Road, Croxley Green. WD3 3BZ,

Festiwool, Hitchin, 14 Nov


All things woollen float your hand-crocheted boat?  If that’s the case, Festiwool is absolutely the place you need to be this weekend.  More woolly goings-on than you can shake a size, um, 14 knitting needle at.  And not only that, the world’s oldest supermodel — and Herts homegirl — Daphne Self will be taking to the catwalk.  Knit one… er… knit another one…?

Meet-the-Designer Evening, Amulet, Berkhamsted, 19 Nov, 3.30-7.30pm


Fancy some pre-Christmas shopping with added fizz?  Pop into Amulet in Berkhamsted – just down from the traffic lights – for a chance to preview the new collection from Oak (gorgeous) with a glass of wine or two, discounts and prizes.  Or, you could hang in there for their Endless preview on 26 Nov, or Chavin on 3 Dec.  Or, to be fair, you could go to all of them.

Amulet, 1B Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted, HP4 2AE,

Lamb Pre-Spring Launch, Women’s Society, Hertford, 19 Nov, 6-9pm

lamb image

And if you’re in a shopping mood, pop this one in your diary.  Join the lovelies at The Women’s Society in Hertford for the pre-Spring launch and a sneaky peek at the Christmas collections from LAMB.  Gorgeous stuff to drool over, goody bags if you get there early, fizz, canapes — it’s practically a party, kids.

The Shawshank Redemption, Milton Keynes Theatre, 16-21 Nov


Can you believe, the movie of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is 21 years old?  Yikes.  There’s a new stage adaptation the Milton Keynes theatre this week which sounds interesting.  And there’s actors from the telly in it, too – Ian Kelsey (Doctors, Casualty, Emmerdale) and Patrick Robinson (Casualty, Midsomer Murders).  There is, as you’d expect, a fair bit of swearing – so don’t take anyone too young or sensitive, ok?

Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Buckinghamshire MK9 3NZ

A Firm of Poets: The People’s Republic of Poetry, Letchworth Garden City, Sat 14 Nov, 7pm


This sounds like something a bit different for a Saturday evening. In ‘The People’s Republic of Poetry,’ four intrepid poets take turns to step up to the mic in a cross between a poetic super-group and ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’  Be prepared for lots of audience participation, too.  The show starts at 7pm, but there’s a workshop in the afternoon (4-6pm) where you can work with A Firm of Poets and help them prepare for the evening to come.  You need to book spaces for the workshop (free) and tickets for the evening (not), but you can do that here or in store.

David’s Bookshop, Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 3DE,

Ashlyns Craft Fair, Berkhamsted, 15 Nov, 11am-4pm


As craft fairs go, this is a biggie.  Ashlyns Craft Fair brings together 70 stalls bulging with local crafts and handmade gifts – as well as a café in case you’re in need of refreshment as you work your way around filling your shopping bag.  Just £2 to get in, and kids are free.  I’m going to leave mine at home, though, so I can shop (and snack) unencumbered…

Ashlyns School, Chesham Road, Berkhamsted, HP4 3AE

‘The Innocents,’ Barn Theatre, Welwyn Garden City, 13-21 Nov


Based on ‘The Turn of the Screw,’ this play ‘The Innocents’ sounds like it has all the goosebump-inducing creepiness of a fireside ghost story.  A young governess sees the ghost of the previous one – as well as her lover (think Heathcliff) –  possess the two children in her care.  Or does she?  I can feel a chill going down my spine already….

Barn Theatre, Handside Lane, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6ST,

Jools Holland, Watford Colosseum, 20 Nov


Not just Jools Holland, mind you, but his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra too – and special guest Marc Almond (remember Soft Cell?  Oh yeah….).  There’s also Ruby Turner, Louise Marshall and Gilson Davis (the original drummer from Squeeze), so there’ll be loads going on as they sing and play their way through Jools’ solo career – and he’s got a new album out, too.

Clare Teal and her Mini Big Band, Watford Colosseum, 14 Nov, 7.30pm


Bit more music for you in Watford, with Clare Teal’s Mini Big Band.  She’s been called ‘the UK’s Queen of Swing’ (although not sure by whom) and it’s all about big band, jazz and swing.  Lots of tunes you’ll recognise, by the sounds of it.  And yes, it is her from Radio 2.

Champagne Charlie and the Bubbly Boys, Watford Colosseum, 15 Nov

champagne charlie

And even more music – staying in the jazz ‘n’ swing groove, too.  It’s an evening of music from the jazz age – Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, that sort of thing.  There’s a real speakeasy vibe, with a glass of fizz when you get there and a 2-course meal to follow.  So, you flappers, get that roaring ‘20s thing going on!

‘A Journey Round My Skull,’ The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 17 Nov, 8pm


Not sure what a journey round my skull would be like, but this one sounds amazing.  Inspired by auditory hallucinations experienced by Hungarian satirist FrigyesKarinthy (you’ve heard of him, right?) it uses headphone technology and sound design to tell a love story that will (geddit?) get right inside your head – visiting the streets of Continental Europe, scrapping over profiteroles, exploring neurosurgery and heading onto the tracks of a ghost train.  And it’s all in your head.  Or theirs.  Or hers.  I have no idea.

Andy Hamilton: Change Management, Harpenden Public Halls, 15 Nov, 8pm

andy hamilton

I loved ‘Outnumbered,’ which Andy Hamilton co-wrote, and lots of his other writing too – including ‘Drop the Dead Donkey’ from ages ago.  He’s done loads else, though, and this weekend he’s here in Herts – Harpenden Public Halls to be precise – with his latest stand-up show.  Brilliant.

Josh Widdicombe: What do I do now?  Watford Palace Theatre, 19 Nov, 8pm


Not many seats left for Josh Widdicombe’s stand-up show at the Watford Palace next week – so don’t hang around if you’re wanting to book.  He’s been doing loads of telly and radio since his last tour, and now even hosts ‘Fighting Talk’ on 5Live – you’re bound to have seen him on something.  And his tour has had some 5 star reviews, which is good to know.

Ruby Wax: Sane New World, Watford Palace Theatre, 16 Nov, 8pm, and Harpenden Public Halls, 17 Nov, 8pm


Love a bit of Ruby Wax – who I think has got a whole lot funnier as she’s got older.  Smarter, too.  Not only is she a comedian, actor and writer, but she’s just finished up a Masters at Oxford and is increasingly known as a mental health campaigner.  This tour is based on her book (which got great reviews) about how to find a bit of calm in a crazy world.

What the Ladybird Heard, Weston Auditorium, Hatfield, 14-15 Nov


I’ve seen this on stage before and it’s great.  And if you’ve got small people, you’ll probably know how neat the book is already.  One clever ladybird helps the whole farmyard outwit two crafty robbers – and everyone lives happily ever after.  Great family time.

Conceal | Reveal, Weston Auditorium, Hatfield, 17 Nov, 7.30pm

 conceal reveal

Choreographer Russell Maliphant and lighting designer Michael Hulls have been working together for 20 years now.  To mark that anniversary, the RussellMaliphant Company are taking a new show – some new work, some classics (including ‘Broken Fall’) – on tour.  The company of dancers is very talented, and there’s also a solo for former Royal Ballet dancer Dana Fouras.  The Guardian reckons ‘dancing bodies rarely look more beautiful than in the work of Russell Maliphant’ – and who am I to argue?

Christmas Fair, Knebworth, 13-15 Nov, 10am-4pm


The Christmas Fair is a huge annual event at Knebworth – it marks the start of the Christmas season almost as much as that first mincepie (which, in the interests of full disclosure, I’ve already scoffed).  Row upon row of arts, crafts, gifts, you name it.  Loads of festive food and drink, too.  There’ll be actual reindeer, barn owls, and the big old bloke in red as well.

Knebworth House, SG1 2AX,

Grand Vintage Fair, St Albans, 14 Nov, 10am-4pm

mg vintage
Love your retro relics?  Lust after kitsch collectibles?  The Jubilee Centre on Catherine Street – itself a lovely vintage find – will be crammed to the rafters with bits and bobs of old school loveliness at the Grand Vintage Fair this weekend.  More than 40 stalls in all, and there’s the chance for a cuppa and a piece of cake, too.

Jubilee Centre, Catherine Street, St Albans, AL3 5BU,

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