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Reader Treats Just For You!

Mon 21 – Sun 27 Aug

Kim Wilde at Goatfest, Codicote, Fri 25 – Sun 27 Aug

Well, hello Kim! Goatfest is one of those events that started in pub car park to become a three-day knees up with camping in a nearby field. Kim Wilde lives just up the road from here and naturally is headlining on Saturday night. And yes, there’s bound to be a singalong. SG4 8XE


Chilli Festival, Benington Lordship, Sat 26 – Mon 28 Aug

This has become a searingly hot annual event in the beautiful gardens of a manor house. Usually associated with winter walks and snowdrops, during the August Bank Holiday, Benington Lordship gardens sizzle, regardless of the weather. (And let’s face it, Bank Holiday Mondays can be dodgy.) Arrive hungry. It’s impossible to leave without buying a chilli plant. 10am-5pm.

Chilli festival

Hatfield House gardens, until 30 September

Formal parterres and fragrant roses in a garden that was first planted in the seventeenth century in the childhood home of Elizabeth I. Robert Cecil commissioned John Tradescant to travel all over Europe and bring back plants to England. In the West Garden, the hydrangeas are in full bloom this month. Tues – Sun, 10am-5.30pm, until 30 September.

Hatfield House

Karl Blossfeldt, Broadway Gallery, until Sun 10 Sept

This Hayward Touring exhibition, Art Forms in Nature, is fab. I went along to see this and the gallery space – light, white and bright – is the perfect setting for these stunning botanical photographs. If you don’t know Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932), and I didn’t, he developed homemade cameras and lenses in order to magnify his subjects by up to 30 times. His photographs were celebrated by early Modernists and Surrealists during the 1920s. Definitely worth a visit. Great cafe, too.

Broadway Gallery Letchworth

Booking now: Ride the Mail Train, Postal Museum, London 

Not for the claustrophobic, but if you fancy exploring the former engineering depot of Mail Rail at Mount Pleasant, the one hundred year old Post Office railway, this could be for you. Booking now for the first ride that leaves the sorting office on Monday 4 September. The trains have been built for passengers, just so that we can imagine what it was like to be a letter or a mail sack, hurtling around underground. Double tracks and loops and an utterly immersive experience for the curious. The track criss crossed the Tube lines and at one point carried more than four million letters underground every day. 

Mail Train

Book for: The Muddy Literary Salon at Thame Arts & Literature Festival, Thurs 12 Oct

Muddy Bucks/Oxon is opening a Literary Salon during the Thame Literary Festival. It’s worth a little jaunt into Bucks. Booking opens on Tues 1 August and there are only 120 tickets available to see 5 awesome authors at the inaugural literary event. Blogger/food author Sasha Wilkins (aka LibertyLondonGirl), Clover Stroud, Elizabeth Heathcote, Tamsina Perry and Alexandra Heminsley make up the line up, plus there’ll be more Prosecco than you can shake a stick at. Read all about it, or go straight for the jugular and book here now at a bargainous £10.

Bat walk, Sherrardspark Wood, Welwyn Garden City, Sat 26 Aug

One of the best hornbeam woods in the UK. If you don’t know Sherrardspark Wood you absolutely need to go and visit this month! There is a brilliant programme of guided walks, from foraging to the history of the trees. These events are incredibly popular and get booked up quickly. Dogs are welcome, but you need to keep them on a lead. The meeting point is at the Pentley Park entrance, near Templewood School. AL8 7SF. Donation £3 per person (under 15s free).

Bat walk

Plywood: Material of the Modern World, V & A – until Fri 17 November

I love a bit of ply, and I can’t wait to see this exhibition which promises layers of creativity. This is the world’s first exhibition celebrating plywood – why so long? – and it includes everything from furniture by Ray Eames to skateboards and planes. A must-see. You’ve got until November to get down (or up) to the V&A. Free.

V & A

Be Magnificent, Walthamstow School of Art, 1957 – 1967, William Morris Gallery, until 10 Sept

Just one of the highlights of this exhibition is Sir Peter Blake’s 1961 Self Portrait with BadgesWalthamstow School of Art is now part of the University of East London, and it nurtured the talent of a some amazing and influential artists. The William Morris Gallery, in collaboration with Create, are looking back at this fertile decade with film, music, photography and original work. Worth a trip. E17 4PP.

Be Magnificent

Becoming Henry Moore, Perry Green, until Sun 22 Oct

Becoming Henry Moore is a wonderful exhibition and I urge you to make the trip to Perry Green and see this before it ends. And of course this month is the perfect time to visit Henry Moore’s former home. For anyone who remembers the shop in the car park, it’s now worth going just to marvel at the new visitor centre and wondrous cafe.

Henry Moore Studios and Gardens

Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent, Somerset House – until Sun 17 Sept

An exhibition about fragrance, with workshops, talks…you name it, you’ll find all sorts of olfactory delights and challenges at Somerset House. Set design by the fab Muf. Nuff said. I once went to a perfume house in France on a jolly press junket and we were blindfolded (steady) and had to sniff things like elastic bands and lemon peel without knowing what they were. It was all to show us how the top perfume potion people train their noses. It was quite an experience, I can tell you. I think it’s safe to say that this’ll be an experiential journey. Fasten your seat belts and flare your nostrils.


The Dark Side of Liberty, until Thurs 31 Aug

For me, a visit to Liberty has always felt like a trip to a gallery. This summer, the most beautiful department store in London (discuss) is going one step further, and its summer campaign includes work from Joris Van de Moortel, who has created a working recording studio in the windows. If you’re in town this summer, I suggest you go and have a look. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will definitely be popping in. Until Thurs 31 August.



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