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!)

Battle of the Bangers on St George’s Day

18 Apr 2017

The Welsh may have their leeks, the Scots their Haggis, and the Irish, er potatoes, but what do English Northamptonshire types have to celebrate on our patron saint’s day? Dragon burgers?  Nope – sausages.

I’d like to claim that the common sausage was English, and specifically – from Northants but it’s not, so bear with me dear reader. The manufacture of sausages began over two thousand years ago… The modern word “sausage” comes from Old French “saussiche”, which is derived from the Latin word “salsus” meaning “salted”.

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Muddy review: Seussical The Musical, South Hill Park

14 Apr 2017

You often wonder with a classic like Seussical whether it is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for the parents and the kids are just tagging along. But Seussical the Musical – a complex mash up of the Dr Seuss stories (mainly Horton Hears A Who, Horton Hatches The Egg and Miss Gertrude McFuzz), has you at hello.

Regardless of whether you’re familiar with the stories or not, the bold and bonkers set design and brilliant costumes bring an explosion of colour and anticipation to the Wilde Theatre stage at South Hill Park.

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Last Chance to Catch Sussex Modernism

13 Apr 2017

You’ve just a couple of weeks to catch the free London exhibition Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion on at Two Temple Place until 23 April.

I visited a few weeks ago and found it really tied together various bits and pieces I knew about the county’s cultural heritage. There were several items that were familiar to me – like the Dali lips sofa from Brighton Museum and the carved rollers from Ditchling’s Museum of Art + Craft,  alongside plenty I’d never seen before.

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Rick Stein’s Hampshire

12 Apr 2017

Think of Rick Stein and you think of Cornwall, more specifically Padstow but, make no mistake, the TV chef’s Hampshire connections run deep. From cold baths at Winchester College, to mushroom hunting in the New Forest, read on for his favourite (and not so favourite) places in this fine county.


Winchester College

“I could start with Winchester. It was not for no reason that we chose Winchester as the first restaurant to open outside of Cornwall, just simply because I’ve had a lot of family history with it because my brother was at Winchester College.

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Muddy Best Schools Guide: The Abbey School, Reading

12 Apr 2017

Abbey School was the first Berkshire school to go under the microscope for the Muddy Best Schools Guide. To make sure you are fully in the loop in terms of developments and updates, here are the latest facts, figures and insights. Obviously you’ll want to enjoy the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalism again *ahem*, but they also have a couple of open days coming up – April 28 and May 5 – so you can check them out for yourself.

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The Muddy Book Club: April’s best books

11 Apr 2017

Seeking literary inspiration? Muddy’s professional bookworm Kerry Potter is here to help with her April picks, so clear space on your Kindle or bookshelves pronto. And if you have any recommendations of your own, we’d love to hear from you – what are you reading right now? What’s been abandoned on your bedside table for months? Bookish musings in the comment box below please!

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Muddy reviews: The Glass Menagerie, London

10 Apr 2017

If you’ve ever had a relative nag you about settling down, or a friend who is an unsubtle matchmaker, you’ll get an extra layer of cringe from Tenneesse Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. There’s a great production of the play on at The Duke of York’s Theatre in  London until April 29, directed by Olivier and Tony Award-winning John Tiffany and I went to see it last week.

Set in a St Louis apartment in the late 1930s, it’s a memory play with just four actors, though three carry most of the action.

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Cornwall Weekender: A Muddy Guide to Bude

9 Apr 2017

Bude is the north coast surf town where Cornwall begins and although it’s only just a hop over the Devon border, it has everything that’s good about the Duchy in spades. With its spectacular beaches, great foodie spots, boutique hotels, contemporary holiday rentals and walking, cycling and surfing galore, Bude is a holiday destination on the up.

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Potager: The Constantine Café You’ll Never Want To Leave

6 Apr 2017

Since we ventured out to Constantine for lunch the other day, I’ve been telling everyone who’ll listen about the bucolic, foodie idyll that is The Potager Garden & Café. I nearly titled this post ‘the prettiest café in Cornwall’ but I haven’t actually been to them all and I’d hate to be accused of spreading fake news. That said, if there’s a more charming and atmospheric place to grab a bite this side of the Tamar, I’ve yet to discover it!

It’s the sort of place where time seems to run differently and if it hadn’t been for the school run, we’d have stayed all day.

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My Favourite Places: Sue Bell, Turquoise Holidays

5 Apr 2017

If you’re going to ask someone about their favourite places to stay in the world it sure as damn it should be someone who owns a luxury travel company! So it’s kia ora, bula and jambo to Sue Bell of the awesome Turquoise Holiday Company, specialists in luxury long-haul and exotic destinations, beloved of top travel editors and savvy travelers and – lucky us – local to the area in Beaconsfield…

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Our new favourite London hang-out

4 Apr 2017

Last week saw an historic gathering of power players for a day of diplomatic discussions. EU leaders discussing the terms of Brexit? Nah, I’m talking Muddy Stiletto’s national conference, obviously! With your local superblog now boasting 18 (yes flippin eighteen!) regional editions, us editors convened en masse in the smoke to um, drink quite a lot of prosecco.

Our venue for the day was The Harcourt, a chic Grade 2-listed, five-storey Georgian townhouse which is a bar, restaurant, meeting and private dining space – and is now officially our new favourite London haunt.

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Muddy reviews: Hurley House Hotel

3 Apr 2017

Kids dropped off, we were wheel spinning out of my brother’s drive, as we sped off to the Hurley House Hotel. Mr Muddy and I were just a teeny bit excited to be staying at this chic boutique stay in the outrageously picturesque riverside village of Hurley in Berkshire. It’s not that we don’t get out much, that’s simply not possible on Muddy, but a whole 24 hours of proper grown up conversation, a night of copious gins and bit of R&R is exactly what these two frazzled parents needed.

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Muddy eats: The Crown, Granborough

3 Apr 2017

Where would we be without our pubs? Great for a can’t-be-bothered-to-cook Sunday lunch, girly get-together, romantic night out, a relaxed gastro experience, or just a muddy-booter-at-the-end-of-a-dog walk. Here’s a new review of your delectation, a fantastic gastro pub that seems to tick almost every goddam box you may have…

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Joe Swift’s April garden jobs for dummies

31 Mar 2017

TV presenter, author and gardener Joe Swift can add a new string to his beanstalk – he’s now a performer, with his own one man show A Man About the Garden (catch in Somerset next week if you’re down that way). Still, let’s not encourage him to give the day job until he’s given us some April Gardening Tips for Dummies.  Off you go Joe, and no tea and biccies for you till you’ve sorted out my mossy overgrowth.

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Fash attack! 5 SS17 trends you can actually wear

29 Mar 2017

The evenings are lighter, the sun is out (intermittently, at least) and I’ve finally removed my thermal vest, wahey! Yep, spring has sprung and my thoughts have turned to my spring/summer wardrobe – which, to be frank, needs work. So here are 5 SS17 trends to spring you into the new season (no bralette or Flashdance shoulders required)…

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside