The Urban Guide to the Countryside

Welcome to Muddy Stilettos
The urban guide to the countryside

Now select your county and find your fun!

PS I LOVE YOU (*you, you, youuuuuu*)

6 Feb 2016

One week to go until Valentine’s Day and I urge you not to take my usual stance – a wild-eyed panic 12 hours before the big moment with nothing to show for 21 years together (you read it right people, Mr Muddy’s already served a life sentence) except an apologetic hug.

So here we go, ideas to please the ladeeeeez. Buy for your wife, mum, sister or if you’re reading this and think your other half might not pull through with anything half decent, your lovely self.

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The Muddy Guide: What’s On, Thurs 4 – Weds 10 Feb ’16

4 Feb 2016

Ready to head out and have some fun this week? Then I’ll begin!

Andy Warhol: Works from the Hall Collection, Ashmolean, Thurs 4 Feb – 15 May
Your two week window at The Ashmolean Museum to catch at a never-before-seen collection of Andy Warhol’s work from a private collection. The exhibition features over a hundred works from the Hall Collection (USA), plus loans of artist films from the Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh including iconic pieces from the Sixxties to the experimental works of Warhol’s last decade…

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Property Flirt – and I’m in *totally* gagging for this one!

3 Feb 2016


Oh. My. God. This jaw-dropper of a house is only about 5 miles from Muddy HQ – kind of like gawping at Buckingham Palace from a Hackney bedsit. This place is the real deal, an award winning, contemporary home sitting in 9½ acres of woodland. Designed by architect Niall McLaughlin, it was built in 2000/2001 and in the following year was winner of a coveted Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award.

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Michelin chef popping up at LASSCO pop up!!!

1 Feb 2016
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Native Feast, how many years I’ve longed for you to appear? And now – *sigh*  here you are, rippling your gastromomic muscles and promising evenings of 4-course ravishment. I feel like stripping down to my control pants and flashing my spare tyre.

Those of you who, like me, habitually hanker after something unique, urbane and glamorous in the region, will love the fact that the fantastic LASSCO architectural salvage treasure house, placed conveniently if not very sexily on the M40 J6 at Milton Common, is starting a series of pop up supper clubs on Fridays and Saturdays throughout March and April.

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Cool local brand in an awesome workspace. Meet ‘Of Woodstock’

29 Jan 2016

Have you ever met someone and basically just wished you were her? A terrible thing, envy, but kind of understandable when you meet Louisa, the co-owner of Of Woodstock soaps and lotions based in – nope, not Woodstock! – actually North Leigh, near Witney. Here she is, rocking a pair of very funky dungarees. If I wore them I would like like a Seventies children’s TV presenter, but Louisa has the whole look nailed (grrrrrr).

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Wouldn’t you though?

26 Jan 2016

Kitsch and cool, this TONYMOLY beauty brand from South Korea offers good quality products that don’t cost the earth. I’d pop my lip balm cherry on this little beauty for sure.

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The Muddy Guide: What’s On Thurs 21 – Weds 27 Jan

21 Jan 2016
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Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, New Theatre Oxford, Tues 26 – Sat 30 Jan

Hello The Hoff! This cheesy musical could have disaster written all over it, but if you can take the kitsch it might yet be OK. It’s pitched as Friends Meets Ibiza uncovered – yeah go on, imagine that one – and stars Hasselhoff as Ross, Ibiza’s top 80s DJ who doesn’t realize that disco is out and clubbing is in.

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Riverside delights in Bourne End

19 Jan 2016

Riverlight in Bourne End is a restaurant I’ve been trying to make it into for quite some time. Partly because I’m a big fan of its owner James, the brains behinds the very cool Coopers café in the Marlow backstreets and a guy who is throwing his energies into something new and funky and getting great results.

Reason 2 is the location – right on Bourne End marina, with a balcony running the length of the  building, looking out on the lazy launchers and boaters who cruise past or pull up for a spot of lunch.

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In it for the long haul

6 Jan 2016

Feel like booking a holiday to some sun? Er, YEAH, me too. Are you thinking about long haul? Possibly not. There’s a bit of a mental block on it isn’t there? With four years living in Sydney and Australia in my twenties, I know all about the perils of long haul. Mr Muddy (an all-out jandal-wearing kiwi) and I lived in NZ for several years in the halycon days of youth and no kids, but it’s taken eight years to get us back Down Under – prior to this year, the thought of traveling all that way with toddlers and young children has filled us with doom.

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My Favourite Places: Daphne Selfe

9 Nov 2015

The utterly gorgeous Daphne Selfe, Herts’ own supermodel, will be taking to the local catwalk this weekend at Hitchin’s Festiwool. She’s also been busy out and about talking about her new book – a fab memoir of her lifelong love of clothes and fashion, The Way We Wore. (Don’t you just love that title?)

In between all that busy-ness, I managed to catch a few minutes with Daphne to ask her about her favourite places….

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My Favourite Places: Charlie Hussey

1 Sep 2015

Charlie Hussey has spent most of his adult life in Berkhamsted, doing the all-too-familiar commute into London every day. Lucky for local music lovers, his mid-life… er… hiatus (don’t call it a crisis… it wasn’t a crisis) turned into BerkoFest – a music festival that brings some big names, and some smaller ones to the town….

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Fussy eaters? Here’s just the thing…

27 Aug 2015
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Despite the best efforts of me and Mr C – well, mostly me – our two aren’t the most adventurous of gourmets. In fact, one could quite happily live on pasta and variations on the theme of cheese-with-bread; the other would be happy with sausages and icing licked off the top of cupcakes (“do you want the rest, Mummy?”)

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My Favourite Places: Kay Burley

15 Jun 2015

I recently met Kay Burley when she was compèring a charity lunch for the Pink Ribbon Foundation – a charity supporting research to combat breast cancer – at Champneys Tring. As a news reporter and presenter, Kay has travelled all over the world, and I was curious to hear which places she remembered and loved from all those she’s visited. I don’t know how she managed to narrow it down, but she’s chosen a handful of places that she loves and that are important to her – particularly when she’s trying to relax and get away from it all….

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Indonesian Ginger at Nutmeg Spa

6 Jun 2015
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Nutmeg Spa has been tempting me over to Hemel Hempstead recently with their gorgeous oases of calm and pampering. They have two salons in Hemel Hempstead – one up at Bridens Camp, (more Gaddesden than Hemel to be honest) and one on the Old High Street…

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My Fave Places: Freya North

3 Jun 2015

Today — publication day for her 14th novel! — Freya North is sharing her favourite places with us here at Muddy Herts. Most of them are in Herts, too, where she lives out in the countryside with her two children, two dogs, and a horse…

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside