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June 2017

Ayot St Lawrence Art Show, The Palladian Church, Fri 9 – Mon 12 June

The Ayot St Lawrence Art Show is not to be missed! Look at the venue, for one thing. The Palladian Church is a wondrously quirky building, in a delightfully rural location. (It’s basically in the middle of a field). This event, which has been going since 1974, raises record-breaking amounts for charity. The preview evening is Friday 9 June, 7pm – 9pm. £8, includes wine, canapes and a band. £1 for entry on other days and the cakes are legendary. Great fun.

Ayot Art Show

Fireside Storytelling Festival, Weds 28 June – Sat 1 July

It’s back! And it’s summer! Fireside is a winter storytelling festival that was set up in Baldock three years ago by local resident and theatre director Joanna Bowen. This year there is a mini summer celebration. It’s at Lannock Farm in Weston, and one of the venues is this Fabularium. No, I didn’t know what it was either. It’s a bespoke storytelling yurt, and the man telling the tale is Ben Haggarty, founder of the Crick Crack Club. There’s comedy from Sarah Kendall, and an extremely interesting programme, with events to delight young and older. I went to Fireside in February and was completely stunned by how good it is. Recommended.


Father’s Day cookie workshop, Sherry Hostler, Weds 14 and Thurs 15 June

Sherry Hostler is an amazingly talented cake artist based in Tring with a wonderful studio in Wilstone. She runs workshops and masterclasses and this one is ice cookies for Father’s Day. There will be a maximum of seven students for the day so one to one tuition is easily available. All ingredients, equipment and materials will be supplied, including the freshly baked vanilla cookies.  £40. Weds 14 June at  7-9pm and Thurs 15 June 10am – 12pm


Major Barbara, Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, Fri 23 June

Where better to see a George Bernard Shaw play than in the garden of his former home? There are so many people who live a few miles from Shaw’s Corner and have never been – make this the summer you visit. You’ll be amazed. The performances are staged in front of the house and sometimes actors are literally standing on the doorstep. You won’t need me to tell you that it’s best to be prepared for all weathers. Bring hampers, ice buckets and picnic in style. Oh, and the play? Major Barbara. Barbara Undershaft is a major in the Salvation Army. Her father, Andrew Undershaft, is a wealthy weapons manufacturer. Barbara is troubled by her father’s line of work, and guess what? He is looking for someone to take over the business. Perfect. Conflict and humour. Just what you want, as you sip your Pimms sitting on a picnic blanket, swifts soaring overhead. 6.30pm.


Hertfordshire Festival of Music, various Hertford locations, Fri 9 – Sun 11 June

Wowzers. This festival highlights the story of Haydn’s first visit to Hertford in 1791. Who knew? The performances are in various locations – all wonderful. Haileybury College, the Friends Meeting House (I think the oldest Quaker House in the country?) and All Saint’s Church. Above is the Carducci Quartet who will be closing the festival. One of the events is a walk through Hertford led by eight performers who guide you with stories and music. A fully charged mobile is needed. Is this just in case you get lost? Or perhaps there’ll be some whizzy sensory interactive thing going on.  Other stars include pianist Clare Hammond and there’s a masterclass by soprano Emma Kirkby and pianist Marcia Hadjimarkos at Haileybury.

Festival of Music

John Hegley, Hitchin, Fri 9 June

I love John Hegley. I once interviewed him and made the mistake of asking after John’s (puppet) dog. Disaster! For the rest of the interview I had to address all of my questions to the dog who in turn asked John. But if you enjoy potato poetry and spending time with someone who is funny and brilliantly creative, and whose mind whizzes super fast, this is an evening for you.

Club 85

Campfire and Adventure Tales, Elstree, Fri 30 June

Now then. I hope you’re sitting down, because this is HOT! Imagine, if you will, sitting by a campfire, drinking Campfire Gin (you see what they did there?) and listening to travelling tales from Sir Rannulph Fiennes and Ed Stafford. And that’s just for starters. Possibly mains. There’s pizza, music, thought-provoking narrators and all in the stunning location that is Home Farm Glamping. And this is all happening in Elstree! £65. 6pm.


La Boheme, Opera Up Close, Hertford Theatre, Thurs 29 June

I’ve never seen La Boheme without crying at the end. Opera Up Close is an Olivier award-winning company and an associate of the Soho Theatre. Their productions are refreshingly different and full of energy. And oh my goodness, writing this I can hear the music going through my head and oh, is that a tear rolling down my cheek? This will be great. 7.45pm


Hitchin Lido, Thurs 1 June – Sun 10 Sept

I admit that this is a tad misleading. Hitchin Lido doesn’t look like this, but I’m just putting it out there: outdoor swimming is liberating. You may not want to plunge into a river, but Hitchin Lido is a wonderful place, with its own retro tropical style. For inspiration, I suggest reading My Favourite Places by Lisa Montague, Hitchin resident and owner of Blackfish Swimwear.

Hitchin Lido

Fairy and Elf Festival, Audley End, Thurs 1 – Sun 4 June

A brand new sparkly festival that sounds mighty fine. Fairies and elves, miniature train rides, hair braiding, storytelling and all in beautiful grounds. I love Audley End and whether you want to unleash your inner elf or not, the plants for sale are always tip top, as is the veg, grown in the renovated walled garden. The Jacobean house is well worth a look, too! Dress code: wings.

Fairy and Elf Festival

Jenny Eclair, Wyllyots Theatre, Thurs 1 June; The Alban Arena, Sat 3 June

The professional grumpy woman (who is looking rather elfin in this photo), arrives in Herts this week. And you’ve got two days to catch her:  The Wyllyots on Thursday or the Alban Arena on Saturday. I think we can probably imagine some of the material – or perhaps not? A good laugh is as good for you as a HIIT workout – you’ll feel lighter afterwards.

Wyllyotts, Potters Bar tickets  The Alban Arena tickets

Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, summer party, Halls Green, Sat 3 Jun

Harriet Kelsall believes that if you’re going to set up shop somewhere, why not get to know your neighbours. Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery is based in a beautiful converted barn in Halls Green near Weston and she also has a shop in Cambridge. She is a great party organiser, and this Saturday is the summer event. It sounds fab and everyone is invited. You’ll be able to have a look around the studio, watch goldsmiths do demonstrations, have your jewellery cleaned for free, and there’s also a cafe on site and Pimms will be served. There are a couple of activities designed for children: a beading workshop and a cryptic treasure hunt. (£4 for both activities). 9.45am – 5pm. SG4 7DP.

Summer at Halls Green

Colourscape, Waddesdon Manor, until Sun 4 June

Hugely popular because it’s great fun. Hero at Muddy Bucks/Oxon has just been and you can read her review here. If you are on holiday this week, I would suggest going before the weekend – people have been known to queue. But it’s worth it!


The Walk to the Paradise Garden, Dan Hays, Broadway Gallery, until Sun 11 June

If you haven’t made it to this exhibition yet I urge you to do so before Sunday 11 June! Dan Hays is based in south London but spent a year working on this exhibition. The works are inspired by and named after Letchworth landmarks and are a wonderful fusion of working in oils using digital imagery. Have you been to the Broadway Gallery? No? It’s a fantastic place to hang out. If you’re in Letchworth, do pop in and try the cafe – it’s great. The whole space is uplifting and upbeat. Arty keepy-uppies for the soul.

Dan Hays

Hatfield House Food Festival, Fri 2 – Sun 4 June

Oh yes. Eat, drink and be merry, and all with the stunning backdrop of Hatfield House. Foraging walks, master classes, and the man who made the bread lion on GBBO. The ticket price includes entry to the gardens of Hatfield House. Go hungry and be prepared to feast. May the sun shine as the bubbles pop and the hot plates sizzle.


Sunday Supper club at The Fox, Sun 4 June

This is the first ever Sunday supper club at The Fox at Willian, and I bet it’ll be a blast. This destination pub has garnered loads of awards and it’s a wonderfully friendly place with delicious and imaginative food. Be first to try the new menu dishes; meet the chefs before supper in the conservatory, and settle in for a promising evening. You can even forget about your car and stay the night: The Fox has its very own boutique accommodation. £35 per person for 3 courses plus wine pairing available on the evening. B&B from £95.

Supper club

 Family volunteer day, Celtic Harmony Camp, Sat 3 June

This offers a way of rolling up your sleeves while tuning into your harmonious Celtic vibes. The camp is in Brickendon, and is popular for school trips, but why not sample its delights en famille? Kids may well put down their screens when faced with the challenge of building a roundhouse. It’s worth a try. You do need to book in advance. Archery, storytelling and generally a very different day out.

Celtic Harmony Camp

Hertford Gin Festival, Sat 3 June

This botanical festival is in its second year, founded by Hertford Gin Club in collaboration with Hertford Cricket Club. It’s in the stunning location of Balls Park. 40 gins to work your way through. Other beverages available. You even get your own gin glass to take home with you and there’s also a hog roast. The £12 ticket price includes your first gin and after that you’re on your own. Or rather, you buy tokens for £5 per drink. Take it easy. 


Ashridge House open garden, Berkhamsted, Sun 4 June

‘Tis the season of Open Gardens and from now until October you can probably always find something open close to home. This is the magnificent Ashridge House on the National Trust estate, and with 190 acres to explore, I’d set off right now! Afternoon tea, plants for sale, lollipop lupins and perfect locations for hide and seek for the younger – and older – visitor. A fine spot for a Sunday afternoon. Sun 4 June, 2-6pm.

Ashridge open garden

British Museum presents Hokusai, Broadway Cinema, Sun 4 June

You can enjoy Hokusai from the comfort of your cinema seat in the recently refurbished Broadway. (And they really are very comfortable seats). You can guarantee crowds at the British Museum exhibition Beyond the Great Wave, this way you can appreciate the work and life of Japan’s greatest artist, thanks to close ups and insights from experts. 6.30pm.


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