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What’s On: Muddy Herts Guide 5-11 Mar

It’s March – hoorah! – which means Spring is springing and surely it’ll have to warm up soon?  Still, there’s a whole heap of things to do and see in Herts and beyond this week, and even the chance to look forward to a little bit of summer festival fun.

Real Tennis, Hatfield House, 5 Mar, 6.30pm

mg tennis

Maybe I just got a tiny bit too into ‘Wolf Hall’ on the telly, with all that intrigue and barely raised eyebrows, but the chance to watch a ‘real tennis’ match – the sort of tennis that Henry VIII played – at Hatfield House sounds like it might be interesting.  Starts off the Hatfield professional real tennis players Jon Dawes and James Law explaining the game, then they’ll play an exhibition match.  After the best man’s won, you can have a go yourself.  And if you’re going to give it a go, the court at Hatfield House seems like the place to do it!  I’m told it’s the oldest racquet sport in the world, and was known as the ‘sport of kings,’ but what surprised me is that there’s still a thriving real tennis scene.  Tickets are £20, but there aren’t many so don’t wait to book if you do want to go.

Hatfield House, AL9 5NQ, 01707 273391, [email protected]

Free Talk with Health Coach Prabha Shiyani, Watford, 5 Mar, 7.30pm


If you’re feeling like you need a bit of a boost health-wise, health coach Prabha Shiyani of Flourish Wellbeing is giving a series of short talks in Watford, starting on tonight (so get a wiggle on!).  Tonight, she’s aiming to dispel some of the myths and fads around food that make it so tricky to figure out what’s really going to work for you.  Next week, it’s about kicking the sugar habit (one for me, for sure — biscuit, anyone?), and the week after it’s all hormones.

Multifit Training Studio, 16 Nascot Place, Watford, WD17 4QT, 07729 474 540.

Ultimate 80s Party, Alban Arena, 7 Mar, 7.30pm



Oh, the 80s: teenage angst, spots, dodgy legwarmers.  It was also, though, the decade of Pac-Man, shoulder pads (how big?), yuppies and some storming music that you know you sing along to every time it comes on the radio.  Re-live all that this weekend at the Alban Arena with their Ultimate 80s Party.  There’ll be music from Heaven 17 — oh yeah — and 80s cover band The Wildboys, as well as a DJ (if you listen to Vibe, you’ll recognise Lee Partridge from the breakfast show) to keep the sounds spinning all night long.  And if it’s all getting too serious upstairs, DJ duo Nice & Cheesy will be taking things to a whole new level in the basement.  Dig out your Relax t-shirt, slap on your Adam Ant stripes, or fasten your Bucks Fizz velcro and hit that dance floor.  Just be sure to wake me up before you go-go, won’t you?

Alban Arena, St Albans, Al1 3LD,

He Wore Dreams Around Unkind Faces, Noel Fielding, Royal Albert Hall, 7-17 Mar

mg noel

While Noel Fielding is probably best known as one half of The Mighty Boosh or a team captain on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, he trained at the Croydon School of Art and has had various solo exhibitions of this work – which includes drawing, painting collage and multimedia installation including video as well.  (Well, it was never going nice watercolours of landscapes, was it?)  His work is on show this month at the Royal Albert Hall.  If you’re going to see a performance, it’s worth a look while you’re there, and there are three open days, too – 7, 14, 15 March – where you can just go in and have a look for free.  You’ll find portraits of Elvis and the Beatles, alongside some more experimental pieces.  It’s going to be surreal, and if the bits I’ve sneaked a peek at online are anything to go by, it’s going to be weirdly brilliant.

Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP,

Vintage Fairs, St Albans, Berkhamsted, Potters Bar & Bishops Stortford, 7 & 8 Mar

mg vintage

If noodling round vintage fairs looking to snaffle a bargain is your thing, you are positively spoilt for choice this weekend.   St Albans’ Jubilee Centre is hosting The Grand Vintage Fair on Saturday, 10am-4pm, with more than 40 stands chock full of vintage bits and bobs, jewellery, upcycled furniture, art glass, china, you name it.   Same day, same time, the Hello Vintage fair will be at the Courthouse in Berkhamsted.  They’ll have pieces going back pre-1900, including home wares, textiles, furniture.  And there’ll be a vintage tea room right there serving up homemade goodies on, of course, vintage china.

On Sunday, the Pennyfarthing Fayre will be at Wyllotts Theatre in Potters Bar, 10am-4pm.  It’s a biggie – upwards of 70 stalls – and you’ll pay £2 to get in (although not for parking).  It’s been hugely popular for more than 20 years, so it’s got to be doing something right!  And, if you’re still hungry for a bargain, The Bishop’s Stortford Antiques Fair, also on Sunday, is the place to finish up your weekend.  More than 20 stalls, lots of collectables, furniture, glass and Victoriana – and just £1 to get in.  Let me know if you find something fabulous!

St Albans / Berkhamsted / Potters Bar / Bishops Stortford Fair 

Kahrizak Norouz Bazaar, Asia House, London, 7-8 Mar, 11am-6pm

mg persia

First it was New Year’s Eve, then it was Chinese New Year.  This weekend, keep it going and celebrate Persian New Year.  The 25th annual Norouz Bazaar is the oldest and the largest Persian New Year bazaar in Europe, and it’s a unique opportunity to browse traditional Persian crafts and gifts, including beautifully painted eggs, and sample delicious Persian foods – pastries, jams and pickles, herbs and spices, dried fruit and nuts, and teas – as well as snap up a cookery book to tell you what to make with everything you’ve just bought.  There’ll be a pop-up Persian cafe, too, for some authentic Persian food, whether you want to eat there or take it home.  All proceeds are going to charity, too.  Looks like an amazing way to sample a completely different culture, right close to home.  Happy New Year – Norouz Pirouz!

Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, W1G 7LP,

Frithsden Vineyard opening day, near Berkhamsted, 7 Mar, 11am-5pm

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It’s a sure sign that Spring is on its way when Frithsden Vineyard opens for the season!   There’ll be a free glasses of their new rosé 2014 when you get there, a barbeque, teas, coffees and home-baked cakes, as well as a limited stock (and some sampling…) of their new red fizz.  It’s free to get in, and if you’ve not been up there before it is well worth a visit.  The vineyard is set in some gorgeous countryside, and there’s always lots to look at up there.  And their wine is extraordinary.  If you have any lingering doubts about the deliciousness of English wines, you need to get yourself up there and put them to rest.  Look out for other goings-on up there this summer, too – there’s always lots going on, including their supper clubs and the Garden School with local plantswoman Helen Reeley.

Frithsden Vineyard, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 3DD,

All My Sons, Watford Palace, 10-14 Mar

mg sons

This new production of a 1947 classic ‘All My Sons‘ brings a whole new perspective to the play that helped establish Arthur Miller as one of the leading playwrights of his generation.  Tawala is Britain’s leading black-led theatre company, with years of experience under its belt.   The play, set just after WWII, deals with a successful all-American family whose happiness is clouded by the loss of their son – missing in action, presumed dead.  It’s been getting enthusiastic 5-star reviews, with critics using words like “electrifying” and “heartbreaking.”

Watford Palace Theatre, 20 Clarendon Road, WD17 1JZ,

Cambridge Science Festival, 9-22 Mar

mg science

If you – or someone you love – is a bit nerdy about these things, the Cambridge Science Festival looks like absolute heaven.  It’s all themed around light this year, and there are all sorts of events and talks and demos going on to illuminate (gettit?) your minds.  Robin Ince will be there to make sure that it’s not all too serious, as well as the gloriously titled ‘Festival of the Spoken Nerd‘ — how many other science festivals feature a ukulele, I ask you?  At the other end of the spectrum (sorry…), there’s Nobel laureate and theoretical physicist Prof Frank Wilczek talking about colour, new dimensions and the geometry of physics.  There’s just about everything you can possible imagine there: films, buskers, music, lectures, engineering, birds, sports, diet, etc etc – 28 pages of programme for you to choose from.  If you don’t come away from that lot a whole heap smarter, I’ll eat my hat.

Chilfest, Tring, 10-11 July

mg chilfest

Ok, I know July is a way off – and I’m not just indulging in some wishful ‘here-comes-the-sun’ thinking.  Thing is, there are just a very few days left to book your tickets for Chilfest 2015 if you want to take advantage of the early bird deal.  If you don’t book them now – like, today – then you’ll be paying full price.  And there are only a few days left because the demand has already been massive.  Chilfest is a great event – I’ve been twice now and enjoyed it both times.  So, what are you waiting for?  One night?  Or both?

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