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This month

October 2019

SCIENCE: Amazing Ada talks and workshops, North Hertfordshire Museum, Hitchin, 1-14 Oct

Heard of Ada Lovelace? Born two centuries ago, she was a tech pioneer of her day and has been given her very own day (8 Oct) to recognise her work in computer science. It’s no surprise then that she’s become a bit of a role model to young women who want to get into STEM based careers – go Ada! In recognition, the North Herts Museum are putting on a series of workshops and talks, by women, naturally, covering sujects from climate change and the human microbiome to app building, as well as chemistry workshops for kids. Sounds fascinating.


MUSIC: Toyah Willcox, The Alban Arena, St Albans, 2 Oct

Ok, she might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the princess of punk has certainly become a household name over the years. Now Toyah Willcox is back and will perform live in concert to celebrate a career spanning four decades. Earlier this year she released a reimagined version of her album In The court of the Crimson Queen, and this gig will be a retrospective of her early hits, album classics and fan favourites.


BALLET: Vienna Festival Ballet, Snow White, Hertford Theatre, 4 Oct


It might seem a little early in the calendar for the tutus to be making an appearance (I love a good Chrimbo ballet, don’t you?) but so what? This Grimm Brothers’ classic promises to mesmerise audiences with its world class choreography and spellbinding score. Time to escape into fairytale land for a couple of hours…


THEATRE: Jane Eyre, Broadway Letchworth 4-5 Oct

We must have seen a gazillion adaptations of this gothic and gritty love story (and read the book just as many times), but this theatre company has got a pretty good rep so we have high hopes for this version. And (*whisper it*) we’ve got a bit of a soft spot for that brooding Mr Rochester, too.


FITNESS: Mucky Pup Fun Run, Hatfield House, 5 Oct

Take your usual dog walk up a notch and tackle the 2-mile obstacle course around the grounds of Hatfield House this month to raise money for the Animal Care Trust. Yep, you and your pooch will need to navigate the challenges to earn your Mucky Pup medal, plus there’ll be dog (and human) friendly stalls to check out afterwards.


PARTY: The Mill House’s first birthday, Hertford, 5 Oct

This month marks one year since the opening of The Mill House – a cool and quirky space dedicated to hosting community events like for workshops, craft markets, wellbeing classes and kids’ activities. They’re celebrating their anniversary by inviting you to their birthday party – there’ll be family friendly activities, scrummy street food and craft beer, as well as free face painting. Go check it out!


ARTS: Fun Palaces, various locations, 5-6 Oct

This national campaign is all about sharing creative skills in the community through free workshops, tasters, talks and special events, and there’s loads going on in Herts and Beds for adults and kids. With events are taking place in libraries, museums and galleries you can try your hand at anything from illustration, dance and knitting, to poetry, science and archaeology. Just search by area on the main site to find out what’s happening near you.


FOOD: A Taste of History, Wrest Park, Silsoe, 5-6 Oct

Step back in time and learn all about changing culinary tastes and trends through the centuries – from Roman sauces to Georgian ice cream. Food historian Annie Gray will talk about cooking in the early 20th Century while GBBO finalist Mary-Anne Boermans will discuss her new book. There’ll also be Victorian and Tudor, err.. delicacies on hand to taste from the historic traders while historical kitchenware and ingredients will be on display in the shop. But if that doesn’t whet your apetite, you can stick to food from this century, as there’ll be loads of up-to-date dishes to chow down on from local producers too. Tasty!


Muddy Book Club Live, Henley Lit Fest, Henley, until 6 Oct 

Muddy fave Henley Literary Festival (until 6 October) is in full swing – there’s simply too much going on to list but we might just find time to mention that we’re hosting the Muddy Book Club (5 Oct) at Phyllis Court – sorry, shall we shout that a bit louder? THE MUDDY BOOK CLUB, we’re back! We have amazeballs guests – Celebrity Masterchef champion Lisa Faulkner, former ELLE journo Lotte Jeffs and the inspirational Ella Dove. We will be there. There will be wine. It’s £12 well spent. 


FAMILY: Apple Day, Tewin Orchard, Welwyn, 6 Oct

‘Tis the season of apple crumbles, cider and apple sauce, and Tewin Orchard is celebrating the harvest with a special day dedicated to this most humble of English fruits. Head to the Tewin Pavillion to buy crates of the things and all manor of apple-y delights, take a tour of the orchard and ask the experts for their top tips on growing and identifying different varieties.


DRINK: Gin tasting, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, 6 Oct

Foxdenton Gin are hosting a tipple tasting in the wine cellars at Waddesdon Manor – you’ll get to try six gins, including Waddesdon’s own botanical No.1 gin, and try Foxdenton’s fruit gins distilled on the estate.


THEATRE: The Exorcist, MK Theatre, Milton Keynes, 8-12 Oct

It wouldn’t be October without a few spooky shows on the run up to Halloween. The Exorcist live, based on the two-time Oscar winning film, comes direct from its West End stint with Ian McKellen voicing the Demon.


MUSIC: An evening with Lesley Garrett, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 9 Oct

Here’s a woman with a set of lungs on her and a repertoire that’s seen as many reinventions as Madonna. Lesley Garrett limbers up her vocal chords for a night of song and conversation about her career to date. You might want to bring those earplugs if you’ve got front row seats though as she can sure belt out a note or two!


COMEDY: Humble Pi, Rhodes Arts Complex, 9 Oct

‘Mathematician’ and ‘Stand-up’ aren’t necessarily two career paths you’d cross over but it seems to work for Matt Parker. His YouTube videos have had over 85 million views! Now he’s bringing his Comedy of Maths Errors to a stage audience where he’ll talk about some massive maths-based mis-haps involving planes running out of fuel, spreadsheets losing billions of dollars and genetic research gone wrong. It’s suitable for ages 12+ if you’ve got a maths-mad kid in the fam!


THEATRE: Sister Act, Hertford Theatre, 9-12 Oct

Everyone’s favourite singing nun is coming to town! Ok it’s not Whoopi, but the Hertford Dramatic and Operatic Society with their take on the musical adventures of Deloris and co. We reckon you’ll be rocking in the aisles as soon as you can say ‘curtain up’.


THEATRE: Sh*t-faced Shakespeare, A Midsumer Night’s Dream, The Alban Arena, St Albans, 10 Oct

Now here’s a title that’s piqued our interest (and they certainly look like they’d be a fun crowd, right?!) Alright, so it’s not obligatory for audience members to down their pre-show G&Ts at the speed of light, but it kind of is for one of the actors… I’m serious! This internationally acclaimed and award-winning show is a totally straight-laced adaptation of a Shakespearean classic, with one hitch. One cast member – selected at random – will be blotto throughout the performance. What could possibly go wrong?! Sounds like a blast.


COMEDY: Fatty Fat Fat, The Hat Factory, Luton, 10 Oct

Those extra holiday pounds making you reach for the diet books again? Give yourself a break and listen to the wise words of Katie Greenall, whose one-woman show tackling the idea of ‘living in a body the world tells you to hate’ will show you (and everyone else) where to shove the F-word! We like your style Katie…


FOOD: Hertford Food and Drink Festival, various venues, 11-13 Oct

Kicking off with the Street Food Heroes on the Friday and closing with the Hertford Castle Beer and World Food Festival on Sunday, this annual festival will see the town of Hertford turn into a foodie wonderland. Local cafés, pubs and restaurants will be opening their doors with pop-up events, mini festivals and special offers, while there’ll be cookery demos and comedy on the Clover Kitchen stage in Parliament Square, and a kids’ cake decorating comp. Plus loads of food stalls to peruse and drool over of course.


FITNESS: Yoga retreat weekend, De Vere Latimer Estate, Chesham, Bucks, 11-13 Oct

When was the last time you spent a whole weekend doing something for you? Now’s your chance! Book yourself on to this fab sounding yoga retreat at the rather grand De Vere Latimer Estate, just over the Herts border in Bucks, with local yogi Shelley Shine, and indulge in two whole days of me-time to relax and rebalance. Repeat after me – Ommm….


EXHIBITION: Dreams and Nightmares, The Higgins Bedford, 12 Oct – 22 March

Delve into the world of spiritual visions, fairies and witches, to the flames of hell, depicted by the likes of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Henry Moore in this exhibition of pieces from the internationally renowned Cecil Higgins Collection.


WEDDINGS: Hertfordshire Wedding Fair, Alban Arena, St Albans, 13 Oct

Need some wedding inspo? Kick start the wed-min as you mean to go on at the county’s oldest and most established wedding fair. There’ll be over 70 exhibitors to scout out, flogging everything from venue ideas and entertainment to dresses and gift lists. Plus you might just spot ‘the one’ as local and further afield bridal shops showcase their collections on the catwalk.


MUSIC: Urban Folk Quartet, The Place, Bedford, 13 October

Forget your childhoold barn dances. This ain’t any old folk group, the Urban Folk Quartet embraces all genres of music from acoustic pop to funky grooves and afrobeat, with some dub, house and rock thrown in for good measure. Now in their tenth year, this award-winning fiddle-led group sounds like a high energy explosion of fun with some surprises thrown in.


KIDS: The Hungry Catepillar show, Broadway Letchworth, 13 Oct

Eric Carle’s timeless story comes to life on stage this month in celebration of its 50th birthday. Everyone’s favourite greedy minibeast is joined by a menagerie of 75 puppets from Carle’s other well-loved stories including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, and The Very Lonely Firefly.


COMEDY: Rhod Gilbert, The Book of John, Bedford Corn Exchange, 15 Oct

The award-winning Welsh comedian is back with his new tour – a brutally honest, no-nonsense show about hitting rock bottom during his six-year break from stand-up, and meeting a bloke called… you guessed it… John.


COMEDY: Live at the Alban Arena 2019, St Albans, 17 Oct

Need a good laugh? Get thee to the Alban Arena for this night of comic capers, courtesy of some of the best funny people on the circuit – Sara Pascoe, Glenn Moore, Felicity Ward and Fin Taylor.


KIDS: Horrible Histories, Hertford Theatre, 17-20 Oct

Kids love gruesome stuff, don’t ask me why, just book your tickets to see the Terrible Tudors or the Awful Egyptians and you’ll be on to a winner. The Horrible Histories team have got it down to a fine art with their combination of live acting and cool 3D effects bringing history to life in all its gory glory.


DRINK: Flagship Wines Wine Fair, St Saviours Church, St Albans, 18 Oct

Whether you like the idea of swotting up on wines so you can impress your dinner party guests, or just enjoy drinking the stuff, head to St Albans for Flagships Wines’ annual event to explore (and try, of course) nearly 80 different wines, Champagnes, ports, sherries, madeiras and gins. Meet the makers to learn the secrets of the trade and receive a 10% discount on any orders made on the night. Event highlights include new wines from Chile and Argentina, new great value wines from Bordeaux and some new orange wines, as well as a special masterclass with Gordon Russell, award winning chief winemaker at Esk Valley winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.


MUSIC: The Big 90s Festival, King George V Fields, Stevenage, 18 Oct

Do you <heart> the 90s? Re-live the glory days of crop tops and metallic mini skirts (yes you did, don’t deny it now!) at this festival dedicated to the decade. Baby D (remember Let Me Be Your Fantasy?) has been confirmed as a headliner, and Dario G (dig into that memory bank) will be performing along with plenty of other guilty pleasures to keep you dancing all night long.


THEATRE: Gutted, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 18 Oct

This black comedy gives a snapshot of the stories of three women in 1980’s Dublin working in a fish factory. The tales of their personal challenges, which are particularly poignant in light of Ireland’s recent referendum on abortion, are told through a combination of monologue, powerful language, movement and dance. Hard hitting but life affirming stuff.


THEATRE: Trade, The Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton, 19 Oct

Part of the Black History Month programme this production will transport you to the Caribbean, where three women discover they have a surprising connection. It’s been described as raucously funny (tick), intoxitating (ooh) and fresh (we’re sold), so it’s got us intrigued.


FOOD: Chocolate Afternoon Tea, The Woburn Hotel, 19 Oct – 3 Nov

Calling all chocoholics! To mark National Chocolate Week (yes, that is an excuse to eat as much as you like), The Woburn Hotel will be serving their traditional English Afternoon with a chocolatey twist. As well as a selection of bite-sized savouries, there’ll be choc chip scones, chocolate and coffee cake, raspberry and chocolate macaroons, trillionaire’s shortbread and chocolate orange cake pops. This one’s gonna book up fast so get in there now!


KIDS: Messy, Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, 22-23 Oct

Daisy’s got a messy brain and a messy bedroom (sound familiar?) In fact, ‘the mess’ just follows her around, so when it’s her turn to look after the class hamster she worries he might get lost. Join Daisy on her messy adventures in this, musical, visual production with a deaf and non-deaf cast and created in partnership with the ADHD Foundation.


MUSIC: An Enchanted Evening at the Sculpture Gallery, Woburn Abbey, 25 Oct

The Bel Canto Sopranos are coming to Woburn for this special night of entertainment while you dine on a delicious three-course dinner in the gorgeous setting of the Abbey’s Sculpture Garden. Start off with drinks and canapés before being serenaded with enchanting arias, musical theatre masterpieces and popular movie classics. It’s £75 per head and sounds like a super civilised way to spend a night out. Why not tag on a night at the Woburn Hotel too?


FAMILY: Spooky Afternoon Tea, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, 26 Oct – 3 Nov

This one’s especially for kids (althouth there’s an adult offering too, phew!), featuring ghost meringues, spooky snakes and eyeball cupcakes created by The Manor restaurant’s in-house chef.


FAMILY: Halloween at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, 26 Oct

Could you be crowned the pump-King of the jungle? Give it a go at the pumpkin carving station then watch the real kings of the jungle chow down on the leftovers. Plus get up close and personal with some creepy crawlies, and join in with the ghostly games on the Safari Stage. All kids will receive a wolf mask, too with Gift Aided tickets.


MUSIC: World Percussion Festival, Mid Herts Centre for Music and Arts, Hatfield, 26 Oct

Reckon you can hold a rhythm? Give it a bash at this dedicated festival to sound and beat, with a range of workshops on offer for all ages (8+). There’s a Family Djembe session for ages 5+, as well as Junk Percussion, Samba, Taiko or American Drum line sessions and a Percussion Ensemble.


KIDS: Oi Frog and friends, Hertford Theatre, 26-27 Oct

Kids aged 3-6 will love seeing their favourite characters from the Oi Frog!, Oi Dog! and Oi Cat! books spring to life on stage in this lively show. There’ll be songs, puppets and rhymes galore as this story about following the rule (and what happens if you don’t!) unfolds.


KIDS: I Believe in Unicorns, Rhodes Arts Complex, 29 Oct

Michael Morpurgo’s magical tale, I Believe In Unicorns, is performed by Olivier Award nominated Wizard Presents on a library set – kids can bring along a book, add it to the ‘library’, then swap it for a different one at the end, which is a really lovely interactive idea and a good way to spark their interest in reading.


MUSICAL: Kinky Boots, MK Theatre, Milton Keynes, 28 Oct – 8 Nov

We’re looking forward to the return of this Olivier award-winning production to our ‘hood (well, not far from it!), at the end of the month. It’s won every major Best Musical award (TONY, Grammy, Olivier – you name it) so a dead cert.


THEATRE: Oliver!, Hertford theatre, 31 Oct-2 Nov

Limitless Productions (the team behind Our House, Hairspray and Jesus Christ Superstar) are back with an all singing, all dancing adaptation of the literary classic, featuring the eponymous street urchin, Fagin and The Artful Dodger. It’s tipped to be a very ‘real’ performance so expect to be transported to Dickensian London in all its griminess.


MUSIC: Philharmonia, Santtu-Matias Rouvali: Swan Lake, Bedford Corn Exchange, 31 Oct

Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali is known for his balletic style, so what better fit than Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake? See him work his magic over excerpts from the well-loved ballet, Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto and Sibelius’ Lemminkäinen’s Return in this dramatic concert.



PARTY: Día de los Muertos , Copper House, Berkhamsted, 2 Nov

One of our fave local bars will be transformed into an all-out Mexican Day of the Dead themed party haunt (see what we did there?) for one night only. This is Halloween for grown-ups. There’ll be tequila cocktails (created in partnership with Don Julio), to wake the dead, Mexican canapés, finger food and a 3-hour live set from DJ Lyndsay Evans (who’s played everywhere from Ibiza to the BRIT Awards party and London and Paris Fashion Weeks). The dress code is drop dead gorgeous, so get creative and prepare to par-tay!




Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton, Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.

Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.

Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.

Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.

And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water. Blimey!


THEATRE: Lungs, Old Vic theatre, London, 14 Oct – 9 Nov

The Crown alumni Claire Foy and Matt Smith (aka The Queen and Prince Philip, of course) are reunited in Lungs at the Old Vic (14 Oct–9 Nov), playing a couple wrestling with life’s big issues, such as whether to have children, against the backdrop of a world teetering on the edge of environmental and political disaster.



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