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Fun Things to do This Weekend


Cider Tasting & Supper with The Ciderologist, Talton Mill Supper Club, Mill Woodhouse, nr Stratford, Fri Jan 19

The countdown is on to the launch of Talton Mill’s new Supper Club in the Mill Woodhouse led by charismatic cider maker, international cider judge and global cider expert Gabe Cook to guide you through a tutored cider tasting and a short Wassail.  Supper will be home reared slow cooked Talton pork and apple casserole with baked potato and greens followed by cinnamon spiced pear cake and cream, coffee and chocolates.  Only a few tables left for their first event now so hurry and book if you are interested.

You can book tickets here or pop into the cafe to buy your tickets on a Friday or Saturday, Talton Mill, Newbold On Stour, Stratford Upon Avon, CV37 8UG.

Made in the Middle opening night, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, Fri Jan 19

John Grayson – La Brexiteuse à petits talons. Photo credit: John Grayson

Be one of the first to preview this exhibition celebrating the best contemporary craft and applied art from the Midlands at this opening night with drinks where you can meet some of the artists too. They include jeweller Dauvit Alexander Aimee Bollu, who creates beautiful minimal ceramic vessels,  John Grayson the creator of whimsical, humorous and decorative metal objects like the ones above and Karina Thompson, who pushes the boundaries of digital embroidery. 6pm-8pm, Free.

The exhibition runs Jan 20-March #madeitm30 #madeitm;

The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Birmingham Rep, until Sat Jan 18

Gloria-Onitiri-as-Cruella-De-Vil. Photo credit: Graeme-Braidwood

Your last chance to catch West End performer Gloria Onitiri as Cruella de Vil with delightful tail-wagging puppets in this enjoyable Dodie Smith stage adaptation by writer and director of the Nativity films, Debbie Isitt from Coventry. Running time: 90 mins. For ages 5+, Tel: 0121 236 4455.

Coventry Preloved Vintage Kilo, Coventry Cathedral, Sat Jan 20

Have a rummage among 6 tonnes of preloved, retro and vintage Mens & Womenswear plus Accessories including branded sportswear, jackets, coats, blazers, dresses and tweed. Entry £1.50, (£15 per kilo), 10am – 5pm.

Book in advance here.

Imperium Part I: Conspirator, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, runs until Feb 10 2018

Imperium Part I: Conspirator production photos, 2017. L-R – Jade Croot as Tullia and Siobhan Redmond playing Terentia, Photo: Ikin Yum, (c) RSC

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs Richard McCabe in the epic title role of Robert Harris’ best-selling Cicero trilogy along with Siobhan Redmond. It follows playwright Mike Poulton’s highly successful RSC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies.


Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, until April 15

More than 80 modern and contemporary artworks by internationally renowned artists including Andy Warhol, Sarah Lucas, Grayson Perry, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Steve McQueen, Derek Jarman, Sunil Gupta, Chila Kumari Burman and Gillian Wearing exploring themes of gender, sexuality and identity in art.

birminghammuseums, free

A Christmas Carol, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Feb 4 2018 


Bah humbug! The RSC’s new eagerly-awaited stage adaptation by David Edgar of Charles Dickens’ seasonal classic starring the excellent PoldarkSherlock and Quadrophenia actor Phil Davis as Scrooge. Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, who brought The Wind in the Willows to the London Palladium earlier this year, starring Rufus Hound as Toad. Review here.

Book here.


Upton House, open on weekends in January

room of paintings, heritage,

Many of the heritage estates are closed at the mo, but Upton House is pluckily resisting the trend, with the house open on weekends all through January. I’m a big fan of this place – the artworks are incredible (think Canaletto) and an inventive, child-friendly way of presenting exhibitions and the house itself. On the border near Warwickshire, dip over The Kitchen in nearby Farnborough for lunch afterwards, you’ll love it.

Clare Woods: Reality Dimmed, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Mon Jan 8 – Sat March 10

Clare Woods, Creeping Eruptions, 200 cm x 150 cm, Oil on Aluminium, 2017

Mead Gallery’s Spring exhibition will see renowned Hereford based painter, Clare Woods, exhibit a solo show of never seen before paintings in Reality Dimmed (Sat 6 Jan – Sat 10 Mar). Her work is held in many international collections and this major exhibition will see her exhibit her raw and powerful painting, which are frequently vast in scale.

Mead Gallery, free 

The God of Carnage, Loft Theatre Company, Leamington Spa, Wed Jan 17 – Sat Jan 27

Photo credit: Richard Smith Photography

French playwright Yasmina Reza’s award-winning comedy deals with the aftermath of a playground spat between two 11-year-old boys. Christopher Hampton’s translation premiered in London in 2008 to great acclaim, winning both the Tony and Laurence Olivier Awards for best comedy the following year.

Book on loft-theatre or email, Tel: 01926 800360 (answerphone service).

Learn the Transcendental Meditation technique, Free introductory courses available in Stratford & Birmingham 

Transcendental Meditation is having a moment. After the Sixties peace ’n’ love era it largely faded from view, but now everyone from Lena Dunham to film director David Lynch is into it. Jarvis Cocker even dedicated one of his BBC 6 Music Sunday Service’s to TM last month. More than 300 scientific studies show huge health benefits including reduced anxiety and depression. Learning TM involves a free introductory talk, then personal instruction by one of 79 fully accredited, qualified UK teachers, including media lecturer Huw Meads, wife Linda and artist Claire Winteringham, who run courses in Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham., Tel: 07775 409644

Twelfth Night, RST, Stratford, now – Feb 24 2018

Dinita Gohil as Viola. Photo: Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

The RSC’s winter production Twelfth Night sees Ade Edmondson, of The Young Ones and Bottom fame, as Olivia – Kara Tointon’s dour steward Malvolio in Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, who recreated Warwickshire’s Charlecote Park on stage for the RSC’s fabulous Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing, it’s set in Victorian Britain. Also starring Birmingham’s Dinita Gohil as Viola and Michael Cochrane as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

Winter, The Stratford Gallery, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Jan 31 2018

Kate Iles, Moth Bulb, 2017

This lovely little gallery celebrates its first birthday with a Christmas exhibition welcoming back new work from artists who have helped make their first year “so wonderful” and introducing several new artists.

The Stratford Gallery, 32 Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, WarwickshireCV37 6EE.


Crafts of the Punjab, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, until Jan 21 2018

A rare opportunity to view these stunning works from the V&A’s South Asian Collection outside London. Discover the skilful art of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain sculpture, Amritsar’s delicately carved ivories, Hoshiarpur’s elaborate musical instruments and Sialkot’s gold-inlaid steel artefacts. One of the most extraordinary pieces on show will be the Golden Throne made by a Muslim craftsman in Lahore for Ranjit Singh, the first Sikh Maharaja of the Punjab.



London Art Fair, Islington, London, Weds 17 – Sun 21 Jan

Image: Rachel Ara, This Much I’m Worth, 2017.

The London Art Fair in my old stomping ground of Islington, North London, offers punters museum-quality Modern British art alongside contemporary work from today’s leading artists, covering the period from the early 20th century to the present day. Besides the main Fair, there’ll be specially curated contemporary spaces which feature the next generation of artists and collectives. A great chance to find something beautiful for your walls that doesn’t cost the earth.

Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street,  London N1,

The Vinyl Frontier 2018 Album Championships, Norden Farm, Sat 20 Jan

Stacks of vinyl records and the headphones

It’s the vinyl countdown: 8 contestants bring their fave LP to battle it out to be crowned 2018 Vinyl Frontier Album Champion. The audience chooses the winner of each round. Last year’s winner was American Idiot by Green Day. Come and have a go if you think you’re muso enough.

Basquiat: Boom for Real, The Barbican, until Jan 28


The urban brutalism of the Barbican is the perfect setting for Jean-Michael Basquiat’s ground-breaking energetic post-punk street art and stunning paintings. This is the UK’s first large scale exhibition in Britain of the New York-based artist since his tragic death in 1988 of an accidental heroin overdose – and one of 2017’s best. It not only traces the origins as graffiti artist but his love of bebop jazz, particularly Charlie Parker, primitive African art, beat writer William Boroughs and Picasso. Review here. This month it’s open until 10pm, Tues – Sat, until the exhibition closes on Jan 28.

Basquiat: Boom for Real

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Sadler’s Wells, London, now until Sat 27 Jan & Birmingham Hippodrome Tue Feb 6-Sat Feb 10

Matthew Bourne’s productions are always stunning and this is no exception. He transposes the story of Cinderella to London during the Blitz, rebooting it as a wartime romance between our heroine and an RAF pilot. The reviews have been of the rave variety, with Lez Brotherston’s sumptuous costumes and sets winning Olivier Award. Book now for Birmingham Hippodrome (Tue 6 – Sat 10 Feb) here.

Sadlers Wells, Rosebery Av, London EC1, sadlerswells.combirminghamhippodrome

Amadeus, the National Theatre, London from Thurs Jan 11 – Tue April 24

Following a critically lauded sell-out run in 2016, Michael Longhurst’s production of Peter Shaffer’s play returns with the brilliant Lucian Msamati – who played Iago in the RSC’s 2015 production of Othello – as composer Antonio Salieri, who strikes a deal with God and is overtaken by a jealous vendetta against his musical rival, Mozart.

National Theatre, SE1,

Cézanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, now – 11 Feb 2018

This started just last week, Brings together over 50 of Cézanne’s portraits from collections across the world, including works which have never been on public display in the UK . Over a working life of some forty-five years, Cézanne made almost 1,000 paintings of which around 160 are portraits and this exhibition offers a fascinating insight into this central aspect of his work.

Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, now – Feb 4

Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas!  The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden,

Veganuary: new ‘Meet Feast’ menu, Comptoir V, London, until Jan 31

New London-based vegan restaurant, Comptoir V, has launched a ‘Meet Feast’ menu, available throughout January to celebrate Veganuary – a month-long campaign inspiring people to give veganism a try. This year is set to be the most successful Veganuary yet with over 100,000 people already officially signed up to the campaign, which launched on Jan 1. Comptoir V’s ‘No Meat Meet’ menu has been designed around the idea of vegan options for those who love meat. The four-course tasting menu will be available from jan 3, and includes unique treats such as Tempura ‘Shrimp’,  Barbecue Mushroom ‘Ribs’ with Vegan Mac and Cheese, and Oreo ‘Cheesecake’. All of the dishes have been inspired by traditional meat or dairy recipes to appeal to those toying with the idea of giving veganism a try and for long time vegans who want to try something new. On Jan 10, guests will also have the chance to hear from vegan head chef Michael Ninville.

Tel 0203 092 0047, 

Modigliani, Tate Modern, now – April  2 2018

The Tate Modern’s comprehensive retrospective of Modigliani’s work is quite a treat. During his brief, turbulent life Modigliani developed a unique and instantly recognisable style. His nudes that are a highlight of the exhibition – with 12 nudes on display, this is the largest group ever reunited in the UK. First shown in 1917, police closed down his only ever solo exhibition on the grounds of indecency. Also expect sculptures, and portraits of his friends, lovers and supporters, including Pablo Picasso and his partner Jeanne Hébuterne.

The RSC’s Rome MMXVII, The Barbican, London, until Jan 20

This winter the RSC transports London audiences to Shakespeare’s Rome with Angus Jackson’s thrilling London season of 4 of the playwrights most gripping plays – Coriolanus has ended its run but Julius Caesar, Antony & Cleopatra and Titus Andronicus are now showing.

More info and booking info here


North – Fashioning Identity, Somerset House, now – Feb 4 2018

Alice-Hawkins, LOVE magazine, ‘The Liver Birds’, 2012

Forget the north/south divide, London doffs its hat to Manchester, Newcastle et al in this new exhibition. Social documentary film and photography detailing life in the north of England in the mid-20th century sits alongside works by photographers, designers and artists inspired by the parts of our green and pleasant land beyond the Watford Gap. Contributors include Nottingham’s finest Paul Smith and Manchester’s Factory Records designer Peter Saville. If you visit after 15 Nov,  you can also take a twirl on Somerset House’s gorgeous outdoor ice rink.

Imagining the Divine – Art and the Rise of World Religions, Ashmolean, Oxford, now to 18 Feb 2018

Could have had a catchier title truth be told! But anyhoo, this major exhibition is the first to look at the art of the five world religions as they spread across continents in the first millennium AD. Blimey! Brand new research from a major project between The Ashmolean Museum, the British Museum and Oxford Uni, with amazing objects created when the iconography of each of the major religions was still being developed…

Codebreaker and Groundbreakers, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until Sun Feb 4

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, the Oscar-winning film about the life of Alan Turing

A pioneering exhibition to feed your mind celebrating the genius of Second World War codebreakers like Alan Turing at Bletchley Park with Michael Ventris who in the same year deciphered Linear B, the ancient Greek language.  It includes an Enigma machine, a rare loan from GCHQ, and unique archival documents held at the University of Cambridge, as well as encouraging visitors to explore ‘codebreaking’ in all its forms.


Find more ideas here

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