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Reader Treats Just For You!

This week

Mon 12 - Sun 18 Aug

DRINK: Wild Gin Tasting and Formal Gardens Tour, The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, 12 Aug

Gin you say? You don’t have to ask us twice! You don’t just get to neck it though – meet the Grove hotel’s head gardener for a guided tour of the formal gardens before learning about the history of gin and how local tipple, Campfire Gin is made, from Ben Marston, founder of Puddingstone Distillery. Then you can try a couple of cocktails for yourself, served up with canapés too. Sounds like a dreamy way to spend an evening.


FAMILY: Falconry display, Standalone Farm, Letchworth Garden City, 12-16 August

See these majestic birds swoop and soar at this impressive show, with the chance to take part and try your hand at this ancient skill yourself. It’s a good chance to try out your wildlife photography skills, too.


FAMILY: Hitchin Beach Week, Hitchin Market Place, 13-18 August

Hitchin Market Place will be transformed into a beachy paradise with cool tunes, buckets and spades and loads of kid-friendly activities to check out. While you sit back in your deckchair and imagine the waves lapping your feet, the little ones can enjoy face painting, children’s workshops and performances by the Imajica Theatre Company on the Sunday.


ART: Workshop Wednesdays, The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Herts, from 14 Aug

The summer holiday workshop Wednesdays kick off with Wax Resist Wonders on 14th, where you’ll be invited to create an atmospheric artwork inspired by Moore’s famous Shelter Drawings, which documented the World War II air raid shelters which were created in the London Underground network. You’ll learn the techniques that Moore used to create silhouettes and depth with wax crayons and colour washes. Then, on the 21st you can make your own Moore-esqe sculpture taking inspiration from the natural form of a flint pebble. Suitable for all ages.


KIDS: Peppa Pig: My First Concert, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 16 Aug

Take your tot to their first concert – if anyone can persuade them, it’s Peppa Pig! This fun and interactive introduction to live orchestra is designed for 18 months+. Follow Peppa, George and family as they learn about the different sounds instruments make when played together, listen to music from the TV show played live, and discover some more kid-friendly orchestral pieces, too.


FAMILY: Big Beach, Watford Town Centre, 16-30 August 

More seaside fun is coming to Watford this year – time to dust off the deckchairs once again. Activities are TBC but last year there were kids’ craft activities, sand castle building, entertainment, beach games, go-karts and more, so watch this space for more info.


FAMILY: Overnight bushcraft, Rushmere Country Park, 17 Aug

Fancy yourselves a bit of a Swiss Family Robinson? Book on to this wild bushcraft experience where you’ll spend a full day and night in the wilds of Rushmere Country Park, learning how to light fires, build dens (best make sure it’s watertight as that’ll be your home for the night!), and make unleavened bread over the campfire. You’ll also pick up some natural navigation know-how and go on night bat walks to learn more about Rushmere’s nocturnal wildlife.


KIDS: Pirates and Princesses Trails, Hertford Town Centre, 17 August – 7 September

Pick up a trail map from the Tourist Information Centre and go hunting for knitted pirates and princesses hiding in the shop windows around Hertford Town Centre. And if you enter the raffle (just £1 a ticket) you might even win one of the knitted dolls to take home!


CONCERT: Flying proms, The Shuttleworth Estate, Old Warden, 17 Aug

During the day, vintage aircraft will take to the skies doing all sorts of impressive loop-the-loop tricks to live musical accompaniment by the National Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy entertainment from Perfect Vintage, who will be performing songs from the 40s, 50s and 60s, and bring a picnic so you can settle in for the evening, before the grand finale firework display.


KIDS: Space Chase Summer Reading Challenge, Various locations, with Luton Libraries, until 28 Aug

Luton Libraries are running loads of otherworldly activities throughout the month as part of the Summer Reading Challenge inspired by the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. There’s space-themed storytelling, craft workshops where kids can turn junk into their own space crafts and aliens, comic book workshops and the chance to meet the creatures who have ventured into space.


KIDS: Ashridge Adventurers, Ashridge Estate, until 29 August 

In search of some summer summer holiday activities to keep the little darlings out of trouble? Check out the fun outdoor sessions going on at the Ashridge estate where they can try pond dipping, den building and minibeast hunting with the estate’s education team (yep, they’ll learn something too!) while exploring the plants and animals that make the woodlands their home. Recommended for ages 4-10.


SPORT: Summer of Sport, Waddesdon Manor, until 30 Aug (Wed – Sun)

Waddesdon’s gorgeous grounds above will play host to a variety of sporting activities over the summer break including three sporty-themed trails, workouts, orienteering, football, badminton, table tennis and the National Trust venue is even putting on its own  Tour de Waddesdon!


FILM: Secret Garden pop-up cinema at The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, 1-31 August

Enjoy the first ever cinema under the stars at The Grove this month, as a pop-up screen comes to the magical Walled Garden. You don’t have to be a hotel resident to enjoy it, there are some great Supper and Cinema packages, where you can dine at one of the amazing restaurants – the newly refurbished Glasshouse, or the more informal Stables – before settling in for a movie in the surroundings of the hotel’s urban beach and pool – I can vouch for the fact that it’s just gorgeous! Pop on some headphones, snuggle into a comfy beanbag and enjoy the show. Snacks and drinks will be available too. Front row seats please!


KIDS: Willows Farm Summer Spectacular, Willows Activity Farm, St Albans, until 1 September

Throughout the summer hols there’s loads of Peter Rabbit themed fun going on at Willows, from the amazing maize maze, live shows starring all the favourite characters from the TV programme, animal encounters, tractor rides and a whole programme of special events, including circus skills workshops and goat racing.


KIDS: Family Summer Trail: Nature pirates, RSPB Rye Meads Nature Reserve, Stanstead Abbotts, until 1 Sept. 

Mini swashbucklers can really get into the role on one of these summer trails at Rye Meads. Captain Swift-Tyde has sent out a message in a bottle calling all nature pirates to help her discover the treasure. It’s all aboard the Sea Raven to help her explore the reserve, collect some natural treasures, walk the plank, build a treasure chest and a crow’s nest. Those lucky enough might even catch a glimpse of the ellusive ‘blue flash’, but look out for the Kraken! There’s also a photo comp for whoever takes the best snap. Pirate attire encouraged. It’s just £2 per child and there’s no need to book, just drop in. Ooh argh, me ‘earties!


EXHIBITION: 100 years of the Hertfordshire Women’s Institute, until 8 Sept

It’s not all jam and Jerusalem you know, the WI has come a long way in the last century – yep 100 years since it started in Hertfordshire. Delve into the history of the Herts federation at this exhibition…


THEATRE: Theatre in the park, Hatfield House, 14 and 21 August

Hatfield House’s Elephant Dell will stage a series of al fresco productions this month, kicking off with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed by all-male company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, on 11th. Then on 14, Chapterhouse Theatre will present Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling adventure, Treasure Island. Finally a musical version of family favourite Alice in Wonderland by Immersion Theatre will bring fun and high energy to audiences of all ages – there’ll even be the chance for little ones to meet the characters in costume afterwards at this one, and audience fancy dress is encouraged.




CULTURE: Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, 2 – 26 Aug 

Edinburgh’s cultural fandango kicks off this month and is well worth the trip way (way, way) up north with the whole city buzzing with creativity, comedy and theatre, arts, crafts and street performances. Far too many shows to list in detail (over 1,200 groups perform across the city each day!) but highlights include Ian Stirling (of Love Island voiceover fame), Russell Howard, Frank Skinner, plus loads more familiar faces. Full programme here.


NEW EXHIBITION: Sweet Harmony: Rave exhibition, Saatchi Gallery, West London, until 14 Sept 

Photo by Dave Swindells

Rave on! This new photo exhibition explores the new world that emerged from the acid house movement in the ’80s and ’90s and the beginnings of rave culture. Photographers Tom Hunter, Vinca Petersen and Dave Swindells will be on hand at the Saatchi Gallery to explain the stories behind their iconic shots.



Exhibitions still on the go this month include a collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s work curated by the iconic shoe designer himself at The Wallace Collection (until Sun 1 Sept). Also on the fashion front is the Mary Quant retrospective at the V&A (Muddy’s been, it’s really cool), featuring over 200 of the seminal ’60s designer’s pieces (until 16 Feb). Or, also at the V&A is the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, a handful of tickets for evening slots have been added so snaffle quick if you want to go as it’s super popular (until 1 Sept).

Keith Haring

Other exhibitions include the family-friendly 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; the major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain with over 45 of the artist’s famous works including Starry Night on the Rhône and Sunflowers; if you’re heading up north, check out the  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.



CULTURE: Muddy Stilettos Book Club Live, Phyllis Court, Henley, Sat 5 Oct 

It’s back, baby! The Muddy team are returning to Henley Lit Fest (28 Sept – 6 Oct) this year with lashings of Prosecco, plenty of pizzazz and a panel of brilliant authors: actress, Celebrity Master Chef winner and Meant to Be author Lisa Faulkner, former deputy editor of Elle and How to be a Gentlewoman author Lotte Jeffs, and Five Steps to Happy debut novelist Ella Dove. Get your tickets pronto, last year was a sell out!

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