Your guide to colourful fun in Herts and further afield
WOWzers. Literally. Women of the World unite, with an explosion of creativity and colour. In this week’s guide there is fun to be had with paintings and flowers and loads of good things to inspire you to get out and celebrate life and spring. Now is the time. Give yourself permission to have a ball.
WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, South Bank Centre, Fri 10 March
Hello, look who it is. Gillian Anderson no less. She is launching at book which offers practices for happier and more productive lives. Self-discovery and spiritual awakening? Bring it on. WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere is co-authored with journo Jennifer Nadel, and this week Gillian Anderson has been speaking about her rich and varied life, from Dana Scully and the X-Files to working with Jamie Dorman in The Fall, along with her own experiences of mental health and the still-not-sorted rights for equal pay. Royal Festival Hall, 8pm. #BeBoldForChange
After Dark at Wimpole Hall, Sat 11 March
I’m treading lightly on the toes of Muddy Cambs by nipping over the border, but for any north Herts readers, this event at Wimpole is top tippety top. The last time I went to Wimpole Hall, I slathered so much clotted cream on a scone I could hardly lift it to my mouth, but I imagine this evening visit will be less greedy and more nimble. You need to book for this, and tickets include…wait for it…jazz and blues from The Accidentalists, and at least one of the following three tours: A walk through the gardens to hear storyteller Polly Howat telling a spooky Fenland tale. This is so spooky it’s not suitable for children under 12. A night walk in the parkland with forester Simon Damant – together with a fire and marshmallows, weather permitting. And possibly the spookiest of them all is a night time tour of Wimpole Hall, which is absolutely definitely not haunted. 6.30pm.
Sparkles and cream tea, Harriet Kelsall Jewellery, Sun 12 March
An event designed to go along to as a mother and daughter team, Harriet Kelsall invites you to bring along your family jewellery to show to one of the experts. Advice will be given about simple alterations or a re-design of something that might have sentimental value to create something more suitable for your style and more contemporary too. Prosecco on the house, and there is also a cafe where you can enjoy a cream tea. 10.30am – 3.30pm. Halls Green, Weston, SG4 7DP
Dishoom Holi, Bethnal Green, Sun 12 March
A powdery version of paintballing. I don’t get to Dishoom often enough but I absolutely love it. *Authentic* Bombay dining, London-style. The breakfast bacon naan with chilli jam is mouth-wateringly yum. To celebrate Holi, Dishoom is taking over York Hall, a former boxing venue that started life as a Turkish bathhouse. Dress code for this one is very definitely loose and comfortable and above all, don’t wear anything that you’re hoping to wash in time for the office on Monday. 6-10pm.
The Walk to Paradise Gardens, Dan Hays, Broadway Gallery – until Sun 11 June
I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of this exhibition last week and I’m going back soon to interview the curator. Dan Hays told me that he lives in a very suburban part of South London, but when the Broadway Gallery invited him to exhibit in Letchworth, he immersed himself in the origins of the world’s first garden city and all things utopian. The result, in this stunning white and airy space, is work that is made from combining traditional painting with digital techniques, including pixellation, as you can see here. Some people at the exhibition had fun trying to pick out their own home in the work. Definitely worth a visit. The cafe at the gallery is fab.
Easter design workshop, All in One Season, Tues 14 March
Pippa, the former editor of Muddy Herts, did one of Alice Calcasola-van der List’s workshops a while ago and here is her review. I’m actually doing this workshop on Tuesday and I can’t wait. I went to Alice’s famous Dutch Winter House before Christmas and it was a truly amazing experience. The workshop takes place in Alice’s stunning arts and crafts home in Letchworth. Dutch homemade cakes and frothy hot chocolate and coffee will be on offer. £75. All materials – flowers, greenery, pots, ribbons and bells and whistles – included. 12pm. Sollershott East, Letchworth.
Amelie’s 10th birthday party, Berkhamsted, Sat 11 March
Amelie is a very special shop in Berkhamsted that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. I popped in yesterday and found out that on Saturday, the first 25 people through the door will be presented with extra special goody bags – the word ‘luxury’ was used – so you’d better be quick. The 26th person and everyone after that will be given an Amelie tote bag. Champagne will be poured for you to slurp or sip gently while you check out the SS17 delights. 9.30am-5.30pm
Amelie, 264 High Street, Berkhamsted
Floral spring workshop, Forever Green, Nettleden, Fri 17 March and Fri 24 March
Nicky Pritchard is a talented, award-winning florist and the founder of Forever Green in Nettleden which has recently gone into the Muddy Herts Little Black Book. Nicky runs workshops with limited numbers so you can’t hide if you’re all fingers and thumbs. But she is patient and encouraging. There’s a dress code, which in my book is a first for a floral workshop. Nicky recommends warm clothes and sensible shoes. Not a muddy stiletto in sight. Spring flowers, foliage and accessories all included. You can pretty much choose what you make, from a table centre piece to a hand tied bouquet or even something on bark. Lunch, drinks and the most important thing – cake – all included. £70.
Open day, St Francis’ College, Sat 25 March
Just in case you missed it, here’s my review of St Francis College, Letchworth. I went back to the school this week, to the She Inspires Me event which did what it says on the tin and lots more! The speakers were broadcaster and human rights advocate Dr Preti Taneja; GB hockey player, Olympic double medallist and nutritionist Dr Hannah Macleod, and clinician and broadcaster Professor Tanya Byron. The overriding message at St Francis’, on the eve of International Women’s Day, was that for young girls, the most important things are to be able to get to know who you really are, and then be that true self without comparing yourself to others. Other empowering messages were: say what you really feel, speak out, fail, because mistakes are there to help us learn, and don’t worry about your thighs. All of this was delivered with such good humour, and what was extremely moving was the reaction of the St Francis’ students and parents. The speakers were so brilliant that by the end of it, it was easy to think that we could all stop counting the number of IG followers, and just relax a bit and have a bit more fun. Open day is Sat 25 March, 10-12.30pm.
Little Welly Goes Wild! St Albans, Sat 15 – Sun 16 July
The biggest children’s obstacle course in the world, well, at least in the UK, Little Welly has been going for a few years now, over the border in Bucks. This year you can catch one in Herts at the County Showground in St Albans. There will be 30 obstacles over a 3km course, with big slides, mud and water pits, tyre tangles and tired, muddy children. It’s jam-packed with outdoor challenges and spectacles, including parkour demos, pony rides, bungee trampolining and all the fun and foodie delights you’d expect from a good day out.
Sundown cinema, Top Gun, Luton Hoo, Thurs 24 Aug
I know it’s been deliciously sunny and warm this week and it’s easy for our thoughts to be peppered with dreams of picnic hampers and champers, but really, who can actually contemplate booking for a film – that let’s admit it, we’ve all seen a gazillion times – for a Thursday in August? But I was tipped off this week – thank you Maria Doyle – about ticket sales, and how the Sundown cinema nights get booked up long before the summer. Book early, then aim to arrive early and make your camp in the middle of the geese and deer in the grounds of this former stately home, now a hotel with spa. 7.30pm.