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What’s On: Muddy Herts Guide 29 Apr-6 May

Kicking off the Guide a bit earlier than usual this week – and there’s plenty to do and see (especially if you’re in or near St Albans).  Have a blast, people.

Sean Lock, Radlett Centre, 6 May, 8pm 

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There are a few tickets left to see Sean Lock at – shhhh… – a secret gig at the Radlett Centre.  He’s not touring at the moment, which is why you’ve probably not seen this advertised (even on their own website!) – but I managed to twist some arms at the box office and made them tell me all about it.  (I can be quite fierce when needs be…).  Apparently, he’s out and about road-testing some ‘work in progress’ at a few choice locations.  You’ll have to phone the Radlett Centre to book, rather than booking online, as it’s all very hush-hush.  If you’ve not been there, it’s a neat little theatre – just 300 seats – which makes it a great venue for stand-up.

Radlett Centre, 1 Aldenham Avenue, Radlett, WD7 8HL, 01923 859291.

Literary Dinner, Lussmans Restaurant, St Albans, 13 May, 6.30-9.30pm

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This one is all about planning a bit ahead – tickets are selling fast, and I’d hate you to miss out if it’s your sort of thing.  Lussmanns Restaurant in St Albans has just reopened after what looks like a rather lovely refurb, and they’re hosting a Literary Dinner with Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler.  For just £35 (I know, really), you’ll enjoy a three-course dinner (and Lussmans is lush) and a signed copy of Butler’s crime thriller The Star of Istanbul.  It’s a totally amazing chance to check out the new decor, feast in style, and come away with a good read on top of it all.  I’ve peeked at the menu and it’s utterly delish – as you’d expect – and I’ve read good stuff about the novel, too.

Lussmans Fish & Grill Restaurant, Waxhouse Gate, St Albans, AL3 4EW,

Nude Tin Can Gallery opening, St Albans, 5 May

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M-Sieve was a pop-up gallery in St Albans, but are now opening a more permanent, less
pop-up, home on Hatfield Road under the new moniker Nude Tin Can.  Their first exhibition opens just after the bank holiday weekend, and they’ve got three interesting-looking international solo artists already lined up to take them through May.  It all kicks off with Russian artist Anastasia Russa, then Tengjun Yan, followed by Bizzy (aka Izolda Lautner).  All of them look intriguing, and I’m heartily in favour of interesting art right on our doorsteps rather than only in trendy London galleries.  I’m popping into the opening reception, so I’ll have a shufti and let you know.

125 Hatfield Road, St Albans, AL1 1JS,

St Albans Film Festival, 1-3 May

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St Albans Film Festival
is a big deal locally – and beyond – and if you’re into your movies, then it’s the place to be for the long weekend.  There are screenings and events all over the city, with the Georgian town hall turned into a – get this – hi-tech space hub for a celebration of all things out-of-this-world.  The most fun, though, has to be the showings of Monsters and Aliens (in the afternoon) and Aliens Resurrection (later, for grown-ups) in the pool at the Westminster Lodge fitness centre.  (But where will I put my popcorn?)  It’s not all space suits and little green monsters, though, with music videos, documentaries, animation and so on.  Bit of a film feast, I reckon, and it all kicks off officially at the Odyssey (not been? you must) on the Friday night.

Mayday Festival, Mudlarks Garden Café, Hertford, 2-4 May

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Mudlarks Garden Café
in Hertford (not tried it? do – the chocolate cake is glorious, and they do a decent scone as well) is holding its very own Mayday Festival over the bank holiday weekend.  It’s working on with the folks from Standon Calling so expect some interesting goings on and musical offerings – and a smattering of comedy, too.  There’s a beer shed, too – not a tent – which sounds much more appropriate for a garden café.

Mudlarks Garden Café, 12 Railway Street, Hertford SG14 1BG,

Hertfordshire Garden Show, Knebworth Park, 2-4 May

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I don’t think the weather forecast is great for the weekend – it is a bank holiday after all – but those gardeners are hardy souls, right?  The 22nd Hertfordshire Garden Show is on at Knebworth House, and if that’s your thing, you’ll probably love it.  Loads of nurseries (plants, not toddlers) and plant specialists will be there, so there’ll be heaps of choice and lots of people to ask if you’re having trouble telling your aster from your aspidistra.  And if you’ve got small folk to amuse, the Adventure Playground, the Dinosaur Trail and the gardens’ maze  are open too – although you’ll have to stump up a little bit extra if you want to take shelter from the rain in… er, I mean explore the delights of the house itself.

Knebworth House, SG3 6PY,

Champagne Dinner, Buntingford, 7 May, 7pm

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Fancy a serious menu, with each course paired not merely with wine but with champagne?  Of course you do.  Billings Restaurant in Buntingford is your destination of choice, then.  Locally-based champagne importers Gémeaux (who really, really know their bubbly) are joining forces with Billings Restaurant for what sounds like an utterly delicious three-course evening – starting with a cocktail and going from there.  If Buntingford wasn’t such a long walk home for us, I’d be grabbing Mr C and we’d be there.

Billings Restaurant, 35 High Street, Buntingford, SG9 9AD, 01763 272 885

The London Coffee Festival, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, 30 Apr-3 May

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If you (like me) love a cup of coffee, then the London Coffee Festival sounds like a jolly good reason to head into London this weekend.  More than 250 stalls?  Tastings?  Coffee-based cocktails?  Yes puh-lease.  And if you need a break from all that caffeinated excitement, you can check out Milk & Sugar (see what they did there?) – an exhibition which, if my quick online peek is anything to go by, looks fab.

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