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What’s on: The Muddy Guide 27 Nov – 4 Dec

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Ok, I give in.  I’ve not quite got the tinsel up yet, but it is starting to look more than a bit festive out there.  Pass the mincepies, Christmas has officially started in Muddyland!

Christmas Shopping

hanbury manor
Fancy of a bit of pre-Christmas retail therapy?   Hanbury Manor Spa in Ware is putting on its annual Christmas shopping event, complete with mulled wine (oh, go on then), lots of shopping opportunities, and reduced-price treatments while you’re there. You can book a Decleor facial for £45 (or an aromatherapy massage, or whatever), and then you can redeem what you’ve spent against two or more products, which sounds like a peachy deal to me.

If you can’t make it there, or fancy a different sort of retail experience, you could head to Buntingford for its Christmas shopping evening.  The local shops will be open – including Crazy Daisy Flowers (so pretty) and fab deli The Cheese Platehe – ready for the town turning on its lights, and lighting up the tree.  Best of all specialist importers Gemeaux will be there with their pop-up champagne bar.

Christmas Shopping at Hanbury Manor Spa, 27 Nov, 12.30 to 8pm, 01920 885 010.
Buntingford Christmas Shopping Evening 28 Nov, 4.30 to 6.45pm

Odyssey cinema opening weekend, St Alban’s, 27-30 Nov

odyessy small

The opening of the newly-renovated art deco indie cinema in St Albans is a biiiiiiiiiig deal. So big, in fact, that there are no tickets left – not even if you ask nicely (sorry!) Don’t despair, though. The cinema is opening over the weekend, and then it’s closing again for some last bits of work before it re-opens for good on 13 December – a definitely a date worth popping on the calendar as there sure to be a rush for tickets once they go on sale if the success of the Rex in Berkhamsted (renovated and run by the same team) is anything to go by.

Odyssey Cinema, St Albans.

William Blake: Apprentice & Master, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 4 Dec


The Ashmolean’s major winter exhibition focuses on the extraordinary life and work of William Blake (1757–1827), print-maker, painter and revolutionary poet of the prophetic books. I’m off to the preview early next week so I’ll report back asap, but as with most exhibitions at the Ashmolean its’ the nearest thing to a dead cert.

Runs until 1 March 2015. Tickets £9 adults, £7 concessions, £4.50 12-17 yr olds.

Clare Balding, Letchworth, 30 Nov

clare balding

Clare Balding is fast becoming a national treasure, bless her. Her first book was a big bestseller, and now she’s got another one out – although where she finds the time when she’s on the telly all the time, never mind polishing her BAFTA and her OBE is a anyone’s guess. The new book Walking Home: My Family and other Rambles is all about Clare and her brother – and the dog – getting muddy for more than 70 miles along the Wayfarers Walk. But no need to read it just yet peeps, she’s coming to Letchworth this weekend to talk about it at the Broadway Cinema. The price of the ticket includes a copy of the book, and I expect she might even sign it, too.  Christmas pressie for that awkward-to-buy for rellie?

30 Nov, 4pm, with David’s Bookshop at the Broadway Cinema, Letchworth

Christmas banquet, Hatfield House, 28 Nov & 18 Dec

hatfield house
Fancy getting in the mood for Christmas in, um, November?  Well, you could get festive Elizabethan-style at Hatfield House’s Christmas Banquet tomorrow night! There’s mulled wine when you get there, a four-course feast, and some Elizabethan entertainment to keep you amused while you’re at it, plus a DJ after dinner playing all the best lute classics (joke, I’m sure he’s brilliant!). There are just a few tickets left for this weekend’s banquet, but more available for the December one – plenty of time to get a group together.


If Elizabethan isn’t your thing, maybe opt for the Battle of the Decades instead.  It’s totally a chance to get on your retro kit and hit the dancefloor.  Sparkling wine when you arrive, a three-course Christmas dinner, and then a disco from the 70s to the noughties until you collapse in a platform-heeled heap at 1am.

Elizabethan Banquets, 28 Nov and 18 Dec, 7-11.30pm; Battle of the Decades, 6 Dec, 12 Dec, 13 Dec, 7-11.30pm. Tel: 01707 262055.


Foodies Festival Christmas, Brick Lane, 28 – 30 Nov

hattie and flora 2

If you’re a food-lover who’s venturing into London this weekend (or is looking for a reason to), there’s always the Foodies Festival Christmas at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, decorated by St Albans event design company Hattie and Flora no less! You’ve got to love an event that has a ‘Christmas Feasting Table’ centre stage, with pop-up restaurants, food stalls, Cheese Village, a Whisky Arena, a Drinks Theatre and even a Ski Bar for you to get your Alpine vibe going on.

If you’ve got little ones, there are Elf cookery classes for the under 12s – although why you would want to cook an elf, I have no idea – as well as live reindeer and enough snow to have a good old snowball fight. There’s also a grown-up quiz, photos of you in your Christmas jumper (should you have yours on), and the chance for a bit of a ceildih. Blimey.

Foodies Festival Christmas at the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane.

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