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May 2017

Woodland Wedding Fair, Tring, Sun 21 May

A woodland wedding is as natural and unstructured as you could hope for. After a traumatic arson attack, the Woodland Weddings team are celebrating with a wedding fair and open day. There has been huge support for them after what happened including people who knitted jumpers to cover bare trees where the bark had been damaged, and it’s brilliant that they are now able to continue. It’s free but you do need to register. 11am-3pm.

Lila’s Wood, Wick Lane, Kiln Road, Hastoe, near Tring, HP23 6LU

Tooth and Claw writing workshop, Sat 20 May

If taxidermy gets your creative juices flowing, then this workshop could be for you. There is no doubt that the museum at Tring is stuffed full of stories just waiting to be told. This is a day-long workshop led by experienced and nurturing tutors. A good variety of activities and approaches and it’s suitable for everyone from beginners to the more experienced writer. 10.30am to 4.00pm £45.

Tooth and Claw workshop

70 x 70, Magnum Light Tunnel exhibition, Kings Cross, opens Weds 17 May
I absolutely love this Underground walkway at Kings Cross with its changing light colours. Magnum photo agency is 70 this year and to mark the occasion and this is an exhibition of 70 photos by Magnum photographers displayed in the tunnel of light. Can’t wait. Free! Ends 15 June. 
Magnum 70 x 70

The Berkhamsted Walk, Sun 14 May

The annual Berkhamsted Walk, which raises money for The Children’s Society, is now in its 49th year. It’s a huge fun event for all levels of fitness, although not everyone would agree that six miles is easy. However, you get to walk in stunningly beautiful countryside and the numbers of people and common purpose will fuel your energy levels. And the three options are: Fun Walk (6 miles starting at Ashridge Management College); Bluebell Walk (12 miles) or Challenge Walk (18 miles), both starting at The Court House, Berkhamsted. Checkpoints every three miles providing refreshments. 

Berkhamsted Walk

Open garden

Launch of The Screen Stortford, Sun 14 May

The Screen at the Rhodes Theatre in Bishop’s Stortford is brand spanking new. New seating, digital everything and surround sound. And yes, now you’ll be able to see all the NT live screenings in Stortford. If you want to be the first eyes on the new screen as you sink into the new seats, book for Beauty and the Beast on Sunday afternoon. 2pm.

The Screen

Frithsden Vineyard, open day, Sat 13 May

Always a pleasure. Frithsden Vineyard is a fantastic place and a wonderful surprise if you invite someone there who doesn’t know it. You get all those ‘I can’t believe this is here and I didn’t know about it!’ comments. It’s charming and so friendly and the food is brilliant, and I haven’t even started on the wine. Go to Frithsden, you’ll love it. 11-5pm.

Frithsden open day

The Life of Birds, Quentin Blake, House of Illustration, Granary Square

I love the House of Illustration. It’s in Granary Square, one of my fave places in London, and you can always find something interesting there. It’s home to the archive of Quentin Blake’s 35,000 drawings, and the plan is that from now until forever there will be a kind of rolling celebration of his work. This is the first exhibition of Blake’s birds and he has curated it himself. As he puts it: I have always liked drawing birds. It’s a way of commenting on the people we see around us without actually drawing individuals.”  

House of Illustration

World Food Festival, Welwyn Garden City, Sat 20 May

It’s back! Hugely popular and great fun, this is now an annual event. You can’t miss it, just head for John Lewis, and before you know it, you’ll be weaving your way around the stalls dipping into your bowl of ceviche. (Other dishes on offer.) Starts at 11am – you’d be wise to skip breakfast at home.

World Food Festival

St Paul’s Walden Bury, open garden, Sun 14 May

Have you been to St Paul’s Walden Bury? This is your chance. It’s magnificent! It’s the childhood home of the late Queen Mother. I love it. Cream teas (what a surprise that I start with that), beautiful sweeping lawns, a house owned by the Bowes Lyon family and all in all a place of charm and lots of good hiding places. A fine place for a Sunday afternoon. 2-7pm.

St Paul’s Walden Bury, Whitwell, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG4 8BP

Open Garden

Making Nature Work, Wellcome Collection, Euston Road – until Sun 21 May

If you’re heading to London Town, and your train arrives at Euston or Kings Cross, why not stroll up the Euston Road to see this exhibition? If you don’t know the Wellcome Collection, it’s a wonderful place. This free exhibition, How we see animals, is part of the Wellcome Collection’s year-long exploration into our relationship with nature. Film, photography, taxidermy, and all in an inspiring building with a fab cafe.

Dog show, Chenies Manor, Mon 29 May

A dog show for Bank Holiday Monday in an extremely elegant location. Chenies Manor is a Grade I listed Tudor building with a medieval wall, dungeon and stunning gardens. And yes, a cafe with cakes and a shop. It’s just over the border in Bucks, aim for the Chorleywood exit on the M25. You can enrol your dog from 1pm and the show starts at 2pm.

Chenies Manor

Booking opens for Fireside Storytelling Festival, Sat 20 May

It’s back! It’s hardly gone away! This is a storytelling festival that I discovered for the first time earlier this year. I remember thinking that I’d have to wait until next year as I left Baldock after a fantastic evening. And now it turns out that it’s coming back in a floaty summer outfit. Weds 28 June – Sat 1 July. Book now, tickets will go fast.

Fireside Festival


California: Designing Freedom, Design Museum, London, opens Thurs 25 May

We know (or we think we know) about Italian design and Scandinavian design, but this new exhibition looks beyond Europe and asks: How did California come to have such a powerful influence on contemporary design? California: Designing Freedom explores how the ideals of the 1960s counterculture morphed into the tech culture of Silicon Valley, and how ‘Designed in California’ became a global phenomenon.

Design Museum

The Jive Aces, Broadway Theatre, Sun 28 May

Swing, jive and skiffle and all on a Sunday night! But this is the perfect Sunday evening for a bright, high energy show – no uniforms to sort; no homework to do – and with a Bank Holiday to follow and then half term! The Jive Aces have played up and down the country, in locations including Buckingham Palace and Glastonbury and now here they are in Letchworth. My prediction is that the Broadway Theatre will be jumping. Cassidy Janson is the vocalist and she is currently playing the lead in Carole King’s Beautiful. Get ready to shake your stuff and dance in the aisles.


Colourscape, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 27 May – Sun 4 June

Back for the fourth year but with a brand new structure created to exactly fit the Aviary Lawn, Colourscape brings its labyrinth of 56 interlinked chambers to Waddesdon, where you can where you can explore intense light, colour and space.Each day there will be different music and dance performances – expect Hurdy-Gurdy (I’m not joking!), panpipes, dance, music from Norway and on the final day a theatre-piece with dance and acoustic costumes. 10.30am-4.30pm, music plays from 11am-3.30pm.

Becoming Henry Moore, Perry Green

It looks as if the weather is going to be good this weekend, and I will be heading back to Perry Green for more Moore. Becoming Henry Moore is a fantastic exhibition that gives an insight into how Henry Moore first had the idea of becoming a sculptor and how his life evolved to become quite starry. The exhibits include work by the people who influenced Moore, including Rodin, Picasso and Michaelangelo. I love the gardens, and the field where spring lambs and sheep wander around the sculptures. You can also imagine the days when world leaders and Hollywood stars used to arrive here to buy work. Last month a brand new visitor centre opened, and it’s completely brilliant, with new cafe and a shop! It’s all designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and is beautifully understated, in keeping with Moore’s preference for frugality.

Henry Moore Sculpture Garden


Vintage Cinema, Natural History Museum, Tring, Weds 31 May

Photo: Chris Lopez

Officially next week, and more stuff at Tring, I know, but these film evenings are so much fun and so popular and are always sold out. Be quick! And you can also check out what’s happening over the border in Bucks. Night At The Museum, doors 17.45, starts 18.20; Jurassic Park, doors 19.30; starts 20.45

Vintage Cinema

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