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!)

It’s Mother’s Day: Make for The Hills

22 Mar 2017

So Mother’s Day looms once more, and you know what Muddies? You can forget the posh lunches and the spa breaks (let’s save that for next week!). No Siree, this year I’m bustin’ for the hills. This year, I’m going to escape, physically and metaphorically, into my own headspace. I’m going to learn something new, uninterrupted, for over five minutes; I’m going to get my crafty juices flowin’… because you know what?  Creativity is energising — a wonderful break from the ache-ingly mundane reality that is caring: the ferrying, the feeding, the sibling fighting.

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Mother’s Ruin: The Muddy Guide to Hampshire Gin

21 Mar 2017

“That woman’s got me drinking, look at the state I’m in/Give me 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 bottles of….

Gin. What better subject for Mother’s Day? Pull up a bar stool and let’s talk spirits. Used as medicine in the Middle Ages (erm, for kidney complaints…), then imbibed with zeal by eighteenth-century Londoners crazy for the cheap-as-chips liquor — it was flavoured with turpentine, not that anyone seemed to mind.

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Cocktail hour: Muddy goes all Mad Men

21 Mar 2017

Ahhhhhhhh, how I perceive myself having a cocktail may not necessarily translate to how I actually look having one; but nevertheless, I like cocktails, and so I shall endeavour to carry on drinking them, whether I can emulate Betty Draper or not.

There are some great cocktail bars in Northants (here’s a blog post we did last year with some Muddy faves), but they’re often a destination venue on a night out, rather than just a quick drink after work, or somewhere you can enjoy a cocktail while the kids have their tea.

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Breakfast in ‘Broadchurch’

20 Mar 2017

The first award-winning series of Broadchurch opened with a shot of distinctive honeycombed sandstone cliffs with a child’s body at the bottom. I may not have guessed who done it, even by the final episode, but I immediately recognised where

Broadchurch is largely shot in West Bay on Dorset’s Jurassic coast, a few bays down from Lyme Regis and close to Bridport.

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The Muddy Book Club: March’s best reads

20 Mar 2017

Seeking literary inspiration? Muddy’s professional bookworm Kerry Potter is here to help with her March picks. That precarious tower of tomes on your bedside table is about to getting even taller…. And if you have any recommendations of your own, we’d love to hear from you – literary musings in the comment box below please!

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NEW SERIES! Muddy’s speedy suppers for frazzled cooks

20 Mar 2017

Having one of those days when ‘make dinner’ is just one of 8 million things on your to-do list? Totally run out of ideas? Yup, us too. So with frazzled, time-poor cooks in mind, here’s the first recipe in our new series of speedy weekday suppers.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be asking our favourite cooks to inspire us with an nifty new dish. Because there’s only so much pasta and pesto a girl can eat.

First up wearing the Muddy (not literally, don’t worry) apron? Emma Collen from the brilliant The Jericho Kitchen Cookery School in Oxford…

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Review: The Catherine Wheel, Goring

17 Mar 2017

We sure get around at Muddy – in the nicest way of course! From the recent review of fantastic vegtastic restaurant GAF in Oxford, we now put the pedal to the metal on the A4074 to Goring (George Michael – RIP)  to sample the delights of The Catherine Wheel with Kerry Potter, my gluttonous editorial sidekick.

I obviously didn’t concentrate hard enough in history lessons so it wasn’t until we sat down at The Catherine Wheel in Goring, South Oxfordshire, and googled said wheels – they’re a feature of the decor – that I discovered they were a medieval torture device.

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What’s On nationally this weekend

17 Mar 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

Meet Louis Sidoli, Castle Fine Art Windsor, Sun 20 Mar

Love neon?

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6 Waterside Restaurants & Pubs

14 Mar 2017

I can always tell it’s Mothers Day. The daffodils are out, there’s warmth in the sun and my summer-long yearning to chiii-ll by water begins.

I’ve no preference over what kind of water. Riverside is heaven: a mellow stream, weeping willows and the occasional swan, but hum-huu… the sea is dreamy too, salty air blowing away those winter cobwebs, seagulls, yachts and platters of local seafood. And lucky me, because Hants is heaving with waterside eateries — be it river, estuary or crashing wave.

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Into London – Mormons, Chinatown and travel bags!

12 Mar 2017

I escaped into London last weekend – left my three children to fend for themselves (social services: this is a JOKE!) – and had a whale of a time with Mr Muddy.

A couple of things to tell you. Firstly, if you’re looking for a good value place to rest your head in the smoke, the Z Hotel is almost indecently placed in the centre of things in Soho, one minute from Chinatown, a hop and a skip from Covent Garden and bang in the middle of all the fun.

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REVIEW: GÄF – is this the grooviest restaurant in Oxford?

12 Mar 2017

Yup, that looks like the pre-planning stage of a Muddy Stilettos review…

So here I am in GÄF, a very cool cafe/restaurant up the Iffley Road in Oxford that describes itself enticingly as ‘veg-centric’ – veggie enough to please superfood loving clean eaters, but not so hairshirt that flaming dirty carnivores like me won’t give it a try.

It opened in June last year on the site of the former Oxfork, and is a funky addition to nice-guy-and-ninja-entrepreneur Drew Brammer’s growing portfolio of Oxford establishments in Oxford that includes The Chester pub, The Bear and the Bean cafe on  the brilliant cafe Brew on North Parade.

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Muddy eats: Oxford Blue, Old Windsor

10 Mar 2017

I literally couldn’t contain my excitement when I finally made it to the Oxford Blue, Old Windsor. Why all the girlie hysteria? Having semi-stalked the pub on social media, after a two-year renovation, chef proprietor Steven Ellis finally flung open the doors to his fine dining pub-restaurant on the last day of 2016. Is that not enough?

You’re right. Let me make the introductions. Muddy readers meet Steven Ellis. He’s a top chef caked in stardust having worked at three-michelin-star Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and Ian Pern’s Michelin starred Star Inn in North Yorkshire.

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Snoopers Bazaar Interiors: Cool, Quirky, Unmissable

8 Mar 2017

A clean, chic, airy space filled with glorious French, antique and industrial furniture and gifts — all warm wood, sheepskin and stars.

Whether you want a quiet browse or the thrill of the chase, Snoopers Bazaar is for you. Two separate creative friends of mine, both with a great eye, told me I had to go. So, armed with my trusty camera, I scooted down; an hour later, they had to drag me out so desperate was I for just one more shot.

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Muddy reviews: sexy Cinderella story – Nell Gwynn

8 Mar 2017

It’s International Women’s Day this Wednesday, so a fitting week to see a play about Nell Gwynn, which is on at Brighton’s Theatre Royal till Saturday. You may know her as the orange seller-turned actress who became Charles II’s favourite mistress. What’s also notable is that Nell was one of the first women to appear on stage at a time when female parts were traditionally played by men. She and her fellow pioneers helped inspire stronger roles and a following generation of women playwrights.

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New city spa and afternoon tea hangout

8 Mar 2017

Brighton’s lovely seafront Harbour Hotel and its Jetty Restaurant have been open a few months now but a couple of new additions have just made it a top place to hang out and enjoy a bit of pampering, even if you’re not staying – namely a spa in a grotto and a colourful afternoon tea.

Unusually, the hotel burrowed into its heritage basement to create its new spa which has some fun, quirky styling.

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13 alternative hen ‘do’ ideas

7 Mar 2017

You only have to look at the number of beautiful invitation cards lined up on the bookshelf above my TV to know that wedding season is well and truly upon us. And while Norfolk is rife with Wedding Shows and lovely shops to buy the most expensive frock you will ever own, there is a very little help out there for organising the hen do, particularly if want to avoid getting on a plane – or train.

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THE ULTIMATE COOKERY COURSE FOR SEAFOOD LOVERS

7 Mar 2017

He’s written 20 cookery books, hosted numerous TV shows and in 2000, Rick Stein opened the doors of his award-winning, Padstow cookery school. The bustling fishing village has become a destination for seafood and there is nowhere better to master the finer points of fish cookery than this.

So when I was invited to go and try out one of their courses, I scuttled there faster than a crab along the shoreline. It turned out to be one of the best days out I’ve ever had in Cornwall and here’s why I think you’ll love it too…

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The cool stuff

3 Mar 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

Seth Lakeman, The Hexagon Reading, Sat 4 Mar

The West Countrys certainly produced a few musical hotties.

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And The Winner Is…

2 Mar 2017

Happy days to one very lucky Muddy reader who is about to float off with a luxury weekend at Another Place, The Lake in Ullswater, The Lake District.

Thousands of you entered this one – I guess everyone needs a holiday! – but the winner is (*drum roll*)…

Michelle Tebbutt.

Congratulations to you lady. I’m not gritting my teeth honestly, just smiling very very hard.

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It’s World Book Day!

2 Mar 2017

It’s World Book Day, an event you may well be cursing if you have primary school-age children who’ve had to dress up as the bloody BFG and your costume-making skills are on a par with mine – ie, utterly crap.

Anywaaaaay, we don’t like to dwell on the negatives here at Muddy so instead let’s celebrate all things literary with some reading list inspiration in the form of our the Muddy Book Club (without the wine, sadly – although there’s nothing to stop you pouring yourself a glass while you peruse this.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside