The Urban Guide to the Countryside

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Search by county to find your fun, or scroll down for the latest curated regional highlights from our editors 'in the field' (no, not literally!)

On my soapbox: healthiness shouldn’t be a status symbol

18 Jan 2017

OK, it’s time to clamber back onto my soapbox. Actually, can you just bear with me while I do three sets of tricep dips off it first? As is the drill in January, I’m using this relatively quiet time of year, undistracted by mulled wine and stilton, to ramp up my health and fitness. Eating a bit less, moving a bit more, trying to jiggle into my lycra leggings that I’m sure didn’t feel like tighter than clingfilm this time last year.

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Try one of 8 great Norfolk spas

17 Jan 2017

Spas… what’s not to love? Whether it’s an hour at a day spa or a week-long relaxing retreat, having your troubles massaged away before sitting in a bubbly bath is the stuff of nectar. Why, then, do so few women factor it into their lives like they do a trip to the hygienist or a spot of retail therapy? Research suggests that time constraints and feelings of guilt (“I don’t deserve to be pampered”) are two of the main reasons cited.

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The Muddy Guide national digest

13 Jan 2017

Feel like exploring somewhere new? Muddy tenticles cover the South of England and who better to know the cool stuff that’s hard to unearth than our brilliant regional Muddy editors (all national journalists in their own right) who are constantly scouring their counties for the best arts and cultural highlights? Whether you’re day tripping or planning for longer, here are some of the treats in store for you.

MUDDY BERKSHIRE

Russell Howard Warm-up, Hexagon Reading, Wed 25 Jan

Why is January such a rubbish month?

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Muddy Eats: Perfect pizzas at the Henry VI in Eton

13 Jan 2017

Sharing your name with England’s youngest ever king (who, by the way, also founded Eton College) puts a ton of royal expectation on a pub. One doesn’t want to let the side down – or ‘orf with their heads’.  The Henry VI is back after a full refurb, creating a warm, unpretentious, family-centric experience – and I have to say they’ve nailed it. He’s a stunner, right?

Situated on the High Street in the shadow of Windsor Castle and short walk away from Eton College, this handsome establishment really stands out – demanding an audience.

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Where do you fancy going this weekend?

13 Jan 2017

Feel like exploring somewhere new? Muddy tenticles cover the South of England and who better to know the cool stuff that’s hard to unearth than our brilliant regional Muddy editors (all national journalists in their own right) who are constantly scouring their counties for the best arts and cultural highlights? Whether you’re day tripping or planning for longer, here are some of the treats in store for you.

MUDDY BERKSHIRE

Russell Howard Warm-up, Hexagon Reading, Wed 25 Jan

Why is January such a rubbish month?

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MY FAVOURITE PLACES: ANDREI LUSSMANN

12 Jan 2017

Andrei Lussmann grew up in West Africa where he first learned to drink strong espresso and fell in love with Italian food. His father worked for Impresit Bakolori, a construction company owned by Fiat, and the family lived in a version of Little Italy built by the car company in the middle of the desert, complete with a pizza oven. Andrei worked for Forte, Pizza Express and Corney and Barrow before opening his own business.

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Is your child superhuman?

10 Jan 2017

Nicola Dick-Cleland (above), Head of The Junior School at the prestigious Abbey School in Reading is a trained psychotherapist, so who better to ask about the ever-increasing pressures on children and the gnarly subject of extra-curricular activities than her? Read her thoughts below and please feel free to comment underneath the feature – it’s a fascinating subject and I’d love to know what you think.

  1. Extra curricular shouldn’t be extra

Adults tend to think about school life in two parts – academic and extra-curricular – but if you think about it in terms of developing a child’s breadth of character they’re not separate at all.

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Ready to book your escape to the coast?

9 Jan 2017

Dreary, freezing January evenings are made for summer holiday planning – I can’t be the only one already dreaming of cocktails al fresco, snoozing on sun-loungers and those days when the sun soars up beyond eye level, can I?

This year I’m planning to take the Muddy tribe to Devon or Cornwall (to avoid airport-based faffing) so have been browsing luxury self-catering letting agency Perfect Stay‘s gorgeous website, perving over their super-stylish collection of properties.

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The Golden Globes digested: your catch-up viewing

9 Jan 2017

Hollywood’s awards season kicked off last night with the Golden Globes, celebrating the best in TV and movies. I don’t know about you but when I scan the lists of nominees and winners for these things (after I’ve gawped at the red carpet frocks), I make a mental list of cultural catch-up viewing. Too much brilliant stuff to watch, not enough time, so I’ve made it easy for us all – here are my top Golden Globes picks and where to find them.

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Special Muddy deal on a Forest Holiday!

9 Jan 2017

In a dry January – yes I’m doing it *groan* – when the weather has turned totally pants and half-term break feels forever away, I take solace by gorging myself on potential holidays. Hot summer holidays in exotic climes with Rufus Sewell (if he’ll only stop moaning on and on about how he desires me),  cool city breaks with Mr Muddy, gorgeous cottages in rugged climes for walking hols with my galpals and for family time in the UK, something luxe but active, rural but not too holiday campish.

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Is this the new Girl On The Train?

8 Jan 2017

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life‘ so begins The Girl Before, a psychological thriller by J.P. Delaney, out this month and already destined for the silver screen in a film directed by Ron Howard.

I was given an advance copy by Nash at the lovely Much Ado Books which has a shelf full of such things for members of its friends’ club. 

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Win a Heston dinner for two & a sleepover!

5 Jan 2017

I think it’s only right and proper to begin 2017 with a Heston nosh up and a night away, don’t you?

I reviewed The Crown in Bray last summer and absolutely loved it. A Heston eaterie (part of his Fat Duck group), The Crown is a gorgeously atmospheric 16th century building with all the requisite nooks, crannies, fireplaces and higgledy-piggledy spaces, with food that’s awesome, as you’d expect.

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Let’s get physical! (um, not like that)

5 Jan 2017

 

Really need to do something to counteract those 8,000 mince pies? Us too. But breaking out that neglected Lycra (or in Hillary Swank’s case, that itty bitty bikini) is flippin’ hard, especially when it’s cold and dark outside and Netflix is emiting its siren call. But look people, there are ways of eassssing yourself, Muddy style, into a non-terrifying new year fitness regime. Steve Carvey,  triathlete and superstar PT at the awesome  David Lloyd Oxford gym, has some properly helpful, insightful tips for Muddy readers whether we’re gym bunnies,  freeformers, or morning-dodgers (hit the snooze button, I’ll get up when I’m good and ready). 

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Chic sleeps and Sunday roasts at Rathfinny Wine Estate

3 Jan 2017

Ever keeled over on a settee hugging a bottle of Pinot Noir? No, me neither <cough>. Anyway, here’s a much more sophisticated way to sleep with wine. Rathfinny vineyard perched in the South Downs has some gorgeous cosy-yet-stylish accommodation in the Flint Barns on site. It’s perfect for either a house party, or a rejuvinating break with country walks. You can simply make a day of it if you prefer, building a visit round the regular Sunday roast on offer.

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Funky new Brighton cafe

1 Jan 2017

I’m not saying I’m a jinx but my two favourite Brighton & Hove cafes have closed in the last year. Farm just down from Wagamama did the BEST carrot cake (and believe me I’ve done extensive research) while little Pic-nics up an alley off the Hove seafront was my go-to place for a big breakfast with fluffy scrambled eggs and delish seasoned mushrooms – OK that one’s just changed – now the Hove Beach Cafe, but has lost something of its cute beach hut style.

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First Hippo On The Moon

20 Dec 2016

Like a good poo joke? Bet you know a child who does.

The stage production of David Walliam’s The First Hippo on the Moon blasted off at, appropriately enough, the Royal Hippodrome Eastbourne last week and there were poo jokes – not to mention gross sound effects – aplenty.

It’s the story of two hippos – one who’s rich and arrogant since he found fame in a city zoo, and another, jungle-based, hippo whose dream he stole – the dream of getting to the moon.

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Up close and personal

19 Dec 2016

I mentioned this exhibition at Henley’s River & Rowing Museum by the British modernist artist John Piper in my Muddy Guide last week, but I’ve since visited myself it’s so fab I want to flag it up properly to you.

 

I have to admit that I wasn’t massively familiar with John Piper’s work, despite his high profile collaborations with the likes of Henry Moore, WH Auden and Geoffrey Eastop.

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High Five Northants – Cocktail Bars

17 Dec 2016

Top Five Cocktail Bars

It’s that time of year where it’s ok to apply as much sparkle as you want, get dolled up to the nines and head out to a fancy cocktail bar with your friends; and we’ve got a fair few goodies to choose from! Muddy Stilettos contributor Maddie Morgan, has rounded up her top 5 places to spend a brilliant night quaffing cocktails!

Haycock and Tailbar

Calling themselves a ‘cocktail and supper room’ Haycock and Tailbar is the perfect mix of good food and marvellous drinky poos (Muddy Ed has been trying to get in for a while, maybe 2017 will be her lucky year ; )

With a large selection of cocktails, this is a great place to try something new and enjoy a fantastic steak if you fancy.

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Muddy Reviews: Sunny Afternoon, Theatre Royal, Brighton

14 Dec 2016

I once got chatting to a British expat who had lived in Australia for nearly three decades. She told me that for the first few homesick years she would burst into tears whenever she heard The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset.

It may seem strange that a song with the opening lyric ‘Dirty old river…’ could have that effect on someone who could now spend her weekends on Bondi Beach but I wasn’t surprised; Waterloo Sunset is one of my own Desert Island Discs (I just know I’ll get the call from the BBC any day now…) and Ray Davies who penned it is a genius songwriter.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside