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July 2017

Flower Power Bar, The Grove, opens Mon 24 July

I have to admit that I haven’t been to The Grove for ages but I’m going there this month. When it first opened it was described as ‘groovy grand’ and ‘London’s Country Estate’. It was unsurprisingly a Finalist in the Muddy Awards (Best Day Spa). This month it’s going back to the Sixties and celebrating The Summer of Love 1967, with this fab flower power bar. Open to non-residents, it seems like the perfect excuse to visit and be free – there are 300 acres to play in! New cocktails will be served, with some of the ingredients plucked from the Walled Garden. The Flower Power bar is open 5-9pm every day.

Flower Power Bar

An afternoon with artist Antonio Russo, Gallery 1066, Baldock, Sat 15 July

Gallery 1066 has just won Best Art Gallery in the recent Muddy Awards. On Sat 15 July, you can meet artist Antonio Russo in the gallery, ask him whether a GCSE in art is helpful if you want to become a real proper artist, and you can even discuss private commissions with him. He’s a drummer and music producer turned artist and has worked with Kanye and Pink. From 1pm. 

Gallery 1066

Brush Party, The Kings Arms, Berkhamsted, Thurs 13 July

The Brush Party craze is sweeping the county! I have been to one of these paint, drink, nibble and chat evenings and they are great fun. Fine to go on your own and fun to go with a mate or a group, and the best thing (in my opinion) is that you don’t need any experience or talent.  (Although on the evening I went to a Brush Party there were lots of talented people.) Everything is provided, from brushes and paint and an apron, to teaching and encouragement. It’s very sociable, and you start to remember the days of dabbing paint about at school without a censor and it’s very liberating! It’s also relaxing because you have to concentrate, so it’s almost meditative as the to-do list is put on hold. You go home with your very own canvas. Also great if you want to give someone a special gift. And it’s a good idea to choose someone who will love whatever you have painted, however abstract. I gave mine to my mum. Recommended. These parties do sell out, so be warned. 7 – 10pm. £29. HP4 3HJ.

Brush Party

Hitchin Festival Photography Exhibition, from Weds 12 July

Photo: Peter Goadby-Watt

More fab photos from the wonderful Hitchin-based Kasia Burke and other photographers: Cassy Paris, Peter Goadby-Watt and Rita Abreu. Opens Weds 12 July in the barn at the Victoria Pub. Preview evening: 6pm. SG51TJ.

Open Studios, Parndon Mill, Sat 15 and Sun 16 July

Over the border we go to Essex. Parndon Mill is close to Harlow and is home to fine artists, glass blowers, guitar makers and product designers. During this weekend you can visit the studios and meet people who work in glass, weaving, calligraphy, guitar making, ceramics, jewellery, printing and metalwork. There’ll be an art play tent with activities for children and adults, with a pottery throw down on Sunday. Health and safety will be paramount, nevertheless will also be possible to try your hand at glass blowing and your party bag could be a your very handmade bauble. CM20 2HP. 10am-5pm.

Open Studios

Austentatious, Wimpole History Festival, Fri 7 July 

Austentatious. Nice. See what they’ve done there? Rumour has it that Jane Austen’s market town Meryton in Pride and Prejudice was actually based on Harpenden. Or was it Hertford? This event is of course over the border in Cambridgeshire, but I always think that it’s worth the short trip to enjoy the delights of Wimpole Hall. On Friday you will see and hear an improvised and brand new Jane Austen novel based on ideas put forward by the audience. Don’t be shy now! Previous ‘lost works’ have included Sixth Sense & Sensibility and Jurassic Mansfield Park. Performed in Regency costume with live musical accompaniment. What’s not to like?


Becoming Henry Moore, Perry Green

If you haven’t yet made it to the current exhibition at the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, I implore you to put it on your list of must-see and do summer events. The gardens are gorgeous at this time of year and this exhibition is stunning. It charts Moore’s creative trajectory from 1914 until 1930 and gives an insight into his influences. There’s also a new cafe, shop and archive centre. Bliss. 

Becoming Henry Moore

Lussmanns opens in Tring, July

At last! Andrei Lussmann has been teasing his Twitter followers all year with work-in-progress snaps of the former HSBC bank in Tring. This month we’ll finally be able to enjoy the new location for this Hertfordshire chain which manages to feel like a the best local independent wherever you go. I’ve never had a less than perfect experience at Lussmanns and their sustainable ethos is award-winning yet somewhat understated. Impressive. At the time of writing, the official opening date is still under wraps but you can sign up for an email to be one of the first through the doors.

Lussmanns Tring

Open Garden, 35 Digswell Road, Welwyn Garden City, Sun 30 July

No, not The Lost Gardens of Heligan, but the gorgeous hidden garden of Adrian and Clare Baat in Welwyn Garden City. I have been to this garden a couple of times and I absolutely love it. The design has been inspired by the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf and there are borders with perennials as you might expect in a suburban garden, but you’ve also got a meadow and then the more jungly bit with palms, bananas and tree ferns. Definitely worth a visit and the cakes are always delicious. Plant sale by Daisy Roots. 2-5.30pm.

35 Digswell Road

Love Forty Hall Park day, Sat 22 July

Forty Hall is one of England’s finest historic houses and was built in 1632 by Sir Nicholas Rainton, Former Lord Mayor of London. The estate is magnificent with gardens formal and informal, lakes, lawns and meadows. The Hall is Grade 1 listed. On Saturday 22nd July, it’s Love Forty Hall Park day. All are welcome and best of all it’s free. Walks, talks, competitions, and a craft workshop based on the Mulberry tree and silk worm. There’s a barbecue and drinks stalls. Part of Love Parks WeekFree. 12-5pm.

Love Forty

Whales: Beneath the surface, British Museum, Fri 14 July

Happy days! Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum has been closed for a major refurbishment but on Fri 14 July it will open again with a mega whale exhibition. The 4.5-tonne blue whale skeleton will be the central display. You can expect to goggle at ten new display bays along the length of the hall and there will be star exhibits galore. Get on down to South Ken!  

Natural History Museum

Chez Sainlo Supper Club, Home Farm Glamping, Thurs 13 July

Who ever imagined that you could jump on the Tube to go and glamp it up for a night? But you really can at Home Farm Glamping. What is more, this glamping site hosts the most amazing events (I’m yet to experience them) and chef Sainlo is a regular with his pop up feasts. Book early, that’s all I’m saying. £50.


Jazzie B, Chilfest, Tring, Sat 8 July

Unbelievable I know, but true. Soul II Soul in Herts. And only a few sleeps to go. There are still a handful of tickets left for Chilfest, but you need to be quick. I absolutely love Jazzie B and once had the good luck to interview him for The Guardian. Keep on Movin’, Jazzie!


The Great British Food Festival, Knebworth House, Sat 22 – Sun 23 July

A chance to sip gin and meet food producers before tackling the Dino Trail and maze. And you’ve still got a whole Tudor house to explore. Perfect food-filled day for the whole family.


Valuation day, Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, Sat 8 July

If you don’t know Harriet Kelsall‘s Jewellery Centre at Fairclough Hall Farm, you really should visit. There’s a wonderful cafe on site! With gorgeous cakes! And if you have inherited jewellery or just want to know what your valuables are currently worth, you can go along and meet the experts. If you do want to have your jewellery valued on the day, you will need to make an appointment. 10am – 4pm. SG4 7DP

Game Fair, Hatfield House, Fri 28 – Sun 30 July

Gregg Wallace is but a small part of this extravaganza at Hatfield House. It’s the first time that the Game Fair has come to Hatfield House and it’s an event that is celebrating its 59th year. You can enjoy: gundog handling, clay shooting, archery, fishing, falconry and ferreting. More food and drink stalls than you’ll be able to manage and rough and tumble outdoor activities include off-road driving. 


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