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The Urban Guide to the Countryside

Welcome to Muddy Stilettos
The urban guide to the countryside

Now select your county and find your fun!

Muddy eats: The Garibaldi – Northampton

2 Dec 2016
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Driving into a chilly Northampton today I was reminded of our first ever Pub review…

In the Garibaldi blurb it says where the pub stands (on the corner of Ash Street and Bailiff Street) was a renowned meeting point for women of the night, blaggards and general wrongdoers of all persuasions. It seemed appropriate then, to find me and my partner in crime (on this occasion, my mate Stephanie), one cold and dark Wednesday evening, standing on the street corner wondering how to get in.

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The Muddy Ultimate Panto Guide 2016 – Oxon, Bucks and beyond!

23 Nov 2016
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Usually I bring my panto guide out at the beginning of December, but this year some pantos have actually started – yeah, in mid November, people!

So I’ve forced Widow Twanky to sit me down well in advance and tell me exactly what’s going on the world of Dick double-entredres, thigh-slapping and he’s-behind-yous. This is a definitive list for Bucks & Oxon with a smattering of the best from neighbouring counties and into London because, if you’re like me, one panto might not be enough!

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Hurrahs for bras! Just make sure you get the right size.

23 Nov 2016
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Squished together, hoicked up trophy bosoms are so last year! The more natural ’70s boob’ is in, but unless you’re a nubile teenager, you’ll probably still want to wear a bra to stop you from falling out. But will it be the right bra? Incredibly, about 80 percent of us are wearing the wrong sized bra – are you? If so, help is at hand…

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Vegas, Baby! New flights from Gatwick

21 Nov 2016
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When I travel I love to experience another culture. I prefer boutique hotels and if there’s great local food as well then I’m one happy bunny. So Vegas with its crass fakery, giant accommodation and all-you-can-eat buffets should be my idea of holiday hell… yet somehow it isn’t.

I’ve been there a couple of times and found it’s so over-the-top in its vulgarity (a bright blue Grand Canal with motorised gondalas through a shopping mall – classy!

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Fashion that plays to your strengths!

15 Nov 2016
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Got a part of you that you’d rather downplay (err, yes!), or an attribute you’re happier to flaunt? Check out the-bias-cut.com, an online fashion boutique I discovered recently with a clever filter system that helps women play to their strengths.

What’s more it’s aimed at over 40s not by patronising us with safe styles but by curating some lovely pieces from across a range of labels that tick the boxes of what real women have told the founder they’re looking for.

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9 brilliant local pop up supper clubs

15 Nov 2016
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If you didn’t manage to get tickets for Native Feast’s pop up supper club return to LASSCO in December (*sob*) you’re not the only one. The tickets lasted a nano-second before selling out, indicative not only of chef Chris Godfrey’s Michelin-starre credentials but also our increasing collective appetite for trying something a bit different.

I’ve done a bit of digging around and lo! – turns out there are quite a few cool foodie nights coming up.

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Read me: top 10 fiction books for Christmas

12 Nov 2016
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There are some Muddy features that I just love editing and this is one of them. The Christmas book guides, created by the best local bookshops, give a really good steer on the must-buy gifts for Chrimbo.

We’ll be covering kids’ books, young adult books and coffee table books over the next few weeks but let’s kick off with the Top ten fiction titles, compiled by Alexander Ballinger and Claire Brooker from the fantabulous Bailey Hill Bookshop in Castle Cary.

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Christmas comes to Cotehele this weekend!

10 Nov 2016
Volunteers put the finishing touches to the National Trusts annual tradition of building a 60ft Cotehele Christmas garland made up of thousands of flowers grown on the estate is turning 60 years old, and the team at the National Trust House and garden are celebrating.

Cotehele is my go to National Trust estate, because its right on my door step and there’s something for everyone, from the historic quay and river, miles of doggy walks, the water mill, vast well-kept grounds and the treasures of the house itself.

For those of you who haven’t been to Cotehele before or haven’t visited for a while, there’s a lovely barn restaurant for lunch at the top of the grounds (best for adults or well-behaved kids), a relaxed tea room on the quay and a shop and gallery.

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Muddy Eats: The Green Welly, Ditchling

10 Nov 2016
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Handily situated for post walk or cycle refuelling this new family-friendly cafe sits at the crossroads in dinky Ditchling, just down from the Beacon (and if you’re about to tackle that in the upward direction you’re really going to need to fill your boots here first!).

It’s been up and running a few months and I first went in just after it opened but the wait time was so long on that occasion I thought it best to wait to tell you good people about it once it had hit its stride.

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The cosiest bookshop in Sussex?

10 Nov 2016
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By the time I got round to visiting Much Ado Books for the first time the other week it was like meeting an old friend. I’d been following this fabulous Alfriston bookshop online for a while, flagging up some of its author meets and craft workshops in my what’s ons and being impressed by some of its rare acquisitions, but so far on the occasions I’d been near the village either it had been closed or I was on my way elsewhere.

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It’s Christmas advert time…

10 Nov 2016
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The countdown to Christmas is officially on. Today’s release of the John Lewis advert – and the release of several others last week including the super-stylish Burberry advert – made that certain. Christmas is coming for you, as the House of Fraser advert trills out.

There are hundreds of Christmas adverts out there – some better than others – all designed to get us into the festive spirit, and part with some cash along the way.

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Muddy tries: Clinic on the Green

10 Nov 2016
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If I were to start a competition to find the cutest, quirkiest alternative therapy centre in rural England, I think the Clinic on the Green would have a good stab at winning it. Sitting on the green (well, what did you expect?) in Bletchington, a sleepy, pretty village 2 miles north of Kidlington, 5 miles east of Woodstock and 6 miles south of Bicester is a small, stone building, warm and welcoming in the sunlight, that offers a range of treatments from osteopathy, podiatry and sports massage to the more unusual offerings like Reiki, Maya Abdominal Massage and Emotional Freedom Techniques.

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Get your skates on!

9 Nov 2016
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Time to polish up your double toe loops and triple Salchows – or maybe just try and stay upright? Outdoor ice rinks are starting to pop up all over the place. Here’s a round-up of the best places to skate in the West Country and beyond.  So put on your bobble hats and mittens and head out onto the ice.

Rinks usually have seal or penguin skating aids or bob skates (which fit over the shoes) for younger skaters; some offer dedicated sessions with ice marshalls to build up confidence; and I discovered (‘scuse my ignorance) many ice rinks have wheelchair sessions, too.

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New beauty salon in Bude to make you Blush!

9 Nov 2016
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From the outside an industrial estate might not be the first place you’d expect to find a exclusive beauty salon (with its own training academy) is it Muddies? But after successfully gaining a loyal client base operating out of her converted garage, demand for master lash technician Mel’s services required she get her own premises.

Mel has had a varied career – before moving to Cornwall from Hertfordshire a few years ago, she was an IT geek!

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Muddy Herts Schools Guide #3: Bishop’s Stortford College

8 Nov 2016
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Right over at the far east side of the county, teetering on the Essex border, you’ll find Bishop’s Stortford College. You can’t miss it — it’s a vast site with roads and footpaths running through it, more college campus than school site, and there’s loads going on that’s worth knowing about…

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Muddy theatre review: The Mousetrap

7 Nov 2016
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You’ve probably heard of murder mystery The Mousetrap – the world’s biggest theatrical success to date, currently celebrating it’s staggering 60th anniversary year. But have you, like me, ever wondered how it has maintained this massive pulling power – packing in the audiences night after night and still retaining its air of intrigue? Well, now I’ve been to the opening night of the tour’s 6-day run at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, I’ve finally learnt the answer.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside