Words: Rhiannon Pursall
FOOD, DRINK & AUTUMN SUPPER CLUBS
Award-winning boutique hotel Hampton Manor, near Solihull, home to the Michelin-starred Peel’s restaurant, has a whole range of delectable food and drink events this autumn. You’ll need to book well in advance for the Chefs’ Supper Club on Thurs Nov 28 with Tom Kerridge and Fri Nov 29 with Michel Roux jr with tickets £195 each (lines are now open for Michel Roux jnr – Tel: 020 3405 4289). The gloves are off for A Positively Rebellious Wine Dinner on Fri Oct 11 at 7.30pm as the hotel hosts a battle between two egos of the Birmingham wine scene over a decadent four course dinner with two paired wines per course. Sam Olive of Wine Freedom fame, curator of the Hampton Manor Wine list, takes on Tony Elvin, proprietor of The Wine Events Company and former Hotel du Vin stalwart, participate in a unique and fun wine off. Tickets £105.
As part of Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art there’s a vegan Supper Club at The Pod, Far Gosford St, Coventry (below) on Fri Oct 11, 5.30-8.30pm with produce coming from their allotment and where diners can meet artists. Tickets are £12.50, email: POD.Enquiries@coventry.gov.uk.
Other supper clubs include Oishinboy’s Asian Feasts by Lap-fai Lee, a cult hero of the Birmingham food scene, at Caneat, Stirchley, Birmingham on Oct 16 with individual Oriental appetisers to start then mains served family style. Food starts at 7.30pm and you can BYOB. The newly-launched Earlsdon Supper Club has teamed up with Proof Bakery to create a night of Middle Eastern spices with slow-roasted meats, big flavours and baked bread in Earsldon, Coventry on Fri Oct 25, 7pm-10pm.
Rich, juicy apples are one of my favourite things about autumn and the glorious Apple Day & Country Fair at Hill Close Gardens in Warwick is a fabulous way to kick off the season. Head over to the beautiful Victorian gardens on Sun 6 Oct for crafts, plants, local food and cider…not to mention the chance to sample and buy heritage apple varieties not available in supermarkets. Sweet tooth nirvana is also found at the Warwick Chocolate Festival on Sat 6 Oct.
Pick your own spuds and sweetcorn in the vegetable fields at Hatton Adventure World‘s Potato Shindig, until Oct 20 between 11am and 4pm alongside a full day of Hatton fun. And in the run up to Halloween, family-run pumpkin farm, Pumpkins R Us in Leamington Road, Kenilworth, now open with thousands of pumpkins to choose from, in all shapes, sizes and colours across 50 different varieties. For something a little naughtier book onto the first Pudding Party at The Star and Garter, Leamington Spa, on Wed 30 Oct.
Pop over to Alcester for the town’s always vibrant Food Festival on Sat 19 Oct – organisers close the high street to traffic, roll out the bunting and encourage you to eat your cares away. All the local shops, cafes, pubs and producers join the fun to serve their finest cheese, pies, chocolates, cakes…from across the region.
If all the delicious offerings inspire you to have a go yourself, check out the cookery school schedule at The Farm, Stratford-upon-Avon – from venison to bread to risotto, you’ll be the champion of the dinner party circuit and ready to tackle Christmas catering head-on. You should probably suss out the best tipple to accompany all your new Masterchef-worthy specialities, so head over to the Leamington Wine Company – October sees some delectable tasting evenings, including World of Botanicals Gin on Fri 18 Oct and Yealands Wine on Thu 24 Oct. Also in Leamington Fizzy Moon’s monthly Gin Club is a Halloween special hosted by Solway Gin from Dumfries and Galloway, with a live magician and Michael Jackson Thriller tribute act on Thurs Oct 31 (Book your ticket at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Street food fans will want to keep a close eye on the movements of Digbeth Dining Club as they tour far and wide including two weekends at Fargo Dining Club on Sat Oct 12 (12noon-10pm) and Sun Oct 13 (12noon-6pm) and returning Sat Oct 26 & Sun Oct 27 at Coventry’s Fargo Village , as well as their regular evenings every Thu, Fri, Sat & Sun in Digbeth, Birmingham.
Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art – The Twin, Fri Oct 4- Nov 24, sees a citywide takeover of art pop-ups, exhibitions and experiences, including artist led yoga (Sat Oct 12), Tea for Twins – a pop-up party to celebrate 75 years of friendship between the people of Volgograd (Russia) and Coventry (UK) (Sat Oct 26) and a talk by Sarajevo based artist Šejla Kamerić on Thur Oct 31 about her moving image artwork 1395 Days Without Red, in the Chapter House,Coventry Cathedral, which explores everyday life in Sarajevo, one of Coventry’s twin cities, during four years of siege in the 1990s.
This highly anticipated second Coventry Biennial includes an exhibition at Herbert Art Gallery & Museum remaining open until Sun 26 Jan featuring the work of 25 artists. The title this year is The Twin, exploring relationships. Coventry has 26 twin cities around the world and is known as an international city welcoming migrants and refugees. Embedded in the wider Coventry Biennial 2019 programme are opportunities to speak to or eat with the artists, to learn a new skill, to warm yourself by a fire, to dance through the night or to ease yourself into the day with a yoga session, marking this as ‘the UK’s social biennial’.
Another must-see at The Herbert is Heritage Storeys, Thu 3 Oct – 3 Nov, an intriguing prototype Virtual Reality experience for ages 13+.
You travel through time in a lift and immerse yourself in a series of compelling historical stories about exhibits such as the 175 million year journey of the Herbert’s ichthyosaur skull. Trace its route to Coventry from discovery in a quarry back to this giant marine reptile swimming around Warwickshire’s Jurassic seas. Each experience lasts around 3 minutes, and includes a survey at the end. But you don’t have to limit yourself to only one experience – return as many times as you like and choose a different storey! As the doors slide open, a fully explorable scene is revealed – from oceans to battlefields and Bronze Age settlements.
Also opening this month, Radical Drawing: Works from Coventry and the Courtauld from Fri 18 Oct, featuring remarkable drawings by artists who have pushed the boundaries of what it means to draw.
Art from the collections of The Courtauld Gallery in London, the University of Warwick and the Herbert’s own collection, includes works by George Romney, Camille Pissarro, Pablo Picasso, Art & Language, Barbara Walker and Miriam de Búrca. Also on display are objects from the gallery’s collections linked to the Courtaulds factory in Coventry.
Compton Verney is the only UK destination for Magnum Manifesto; an exhibition charting the world through the lens of some of the most iconic and influential photographers of the past 50 years, Sat 12 Oct – Sun 15 Dec.
The Magnum Photo Agency captures the influence of events and emotions on human rights and the experience of life. Rarely seen emotive images dating from 1947 through to the 21st century document the rise of the Taliban and the impact politics, war and terrorism has had on people and relationships.
When it comes to creating your own art, do you have all the gear but no idea? Mastering the Basics of Your Fancy Camera at Warwick Arts Centre on Sun 13 Oct will get you nailing shutter speeds and apertures in time to capture stunning shots (not to mention Insta-championing snaps this upcoming party season).
Wondering where to get your theatre fix this Oct? Look no further, there’s heaps of thespian action happening in our neck of the woods.
First up, The Belgrade, Coventry, has a bumper crop of autumn shows including the cleverly re imagined stage version of Hanif Kureishi’s 1985 film My Beautiful Launderette – already attracting rave reviews. With Cathy Tyson and music by The Pet Shop Boys, it’s the story of a love affair between Omar – the son of a Pakistani intellectual, played by Omar Malik – and Johnny, a rebel punk, who once took part in attacks on his lover’s family. It runs from 29 Oct-2 Nov as part of the B2 Season of Love and Belonging.
Rona Munro’s innovative new Frankenstein places its author Mary Shelley centre stage, exploring the stark realities of her life that led to the creation of her gothic masterpiece. Drawing parallels between the experiences of revolutionary women then and now, (Oct 2-12).
The Belgrade is one of the few venues hosting a new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer by Curve Leicester, Anthology Theatre and Simon Friend as part of a UK tour (Oct 15-19). Moving the action to 1982 against the backdrop of the Falklands War, this innovative adaptation will see Shane Richie take the lead as washed-up comic Archie Rice.
Pip Donaghy as Billy-Rice and Shane Richieas Archie Rice in THE ENTERTAINER by John Osbourne. Credit and copyright: Helen Murray
Over at the RSC in Stratford, catch one of Shakespeare’s rarely-performed works as director Eleanor Rhode makes an “engrossing” debut in the Swan Theatre with King John (until March 2020). Stirring an uneasy semblance to the present day, the tale tells of a nation in turmoil and a preening king, played by Rosie Sheehy, who will stop at nothing to keep the crown. The Guardian says the production “tingles with a tangible sense of spontaneity”.
Also at the Swan Theatre from Fri 11 Oct – Jan 25 2020, A Museum in Baghdad tells a compelling tale of two women, decades apart; Gertrude Bell is founding a museum in Iraq’s capital in 1926 and Ghalia Hussein is attempting to reopen the establishment following looting during the war. They share a goal: to create a fresh sense of unity and nationhood. But in such unstable times, questions remain. Who is the museum for? Whose culture are we preserving? And why does it matter when people are dying?
If you’re considering dabbling in directing or embarking on a fresh new career, you won’t want to miss the Big Directors’ Weekend at the RSC on Sat 19 and Sun 20 Oct. Suitable for those hungry to develop theatre directing skills, it’s a series of workshops, masterclasses and interviews to gain insight into rehearsal room processes and practices of the top-notch directors who work with the RSC.
At Warwick Arts Centre transport yourself back to 1940s London with The Night Watch, Olivier-nominated Hattie Naylor’s moving adaptation of Sarah Waters’ tragic and beautifully poignant novel (21-26 Oct).
China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz’s Status (9-10 Oct) explores themes of nationality and identity. Co-commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre, Status uses then PM Theresa May’s assertion that “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere” as a starting point.
Warwick Art Centre’s new Change Festival from Fri 18 Oct-Sun 20 Oct launches this month encourages us to ‘imagine better food, better homes, better communities and better lives’ through more than 20 inspirational events, aided by a variety of artists, speakers and performers.
Look out for stimulating panel discussions covering such topics as renewable energy, well-being, fashion, food and nature, as well as family shows, comedy, special walks, interactive theatre and film. Theatre includes The World We Made inspired by Jonathon Porritt, Cloudscapes, a free drop in performance set outdoors – creating a natural cloud-gazing arena – you lie on giant comfortable beanbags and listen on headphones to the 45-minute piece narrated by artist and creator Lorna Rees, and The People’s Palace of Possibility
Talks range from Imagine Dressing Better with Emma Lawson, manager of ethical independent brand, COW VINTAGE, in Birmingham; to Imagine Eating Better with a panel including Radio 4 food journalist Sheila Dillon; and Imagine Feeling Better.
You can also catch a NT Live screening of The Lehman Trilogy on Sun Oct 13.
As excitement builds for the opening of the RSC’s new Christmas musical, The Boy In The Dress on November 8, with songs by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, families are invited to smash stereotypes and break the rules this half-term, Sat 26 Oct – 31 Oct.
Free activities, inspired by David Walliams’ comedy about star striker and fashion lover Dennis, kick-off with a family fun day of free foootball and fashion including a freestyling workshop by footie player Rebaz Mohammed. Visual artist Megan Clark-Bagnall will be on hand in the PACCAR room to help visitors smash stereotypes by discovering and celebrating their identities through art, craft, and fashion. The week will finish with a bang with a special moment at 4pm on Thurs 31st to smash stereotypes. *Want to get your hands on cheaper tickets for the press performance at 7pm on Wed 27 Nov? Ten tickets are available at £20 each throughout October, from 10am every day, if you book in person at the Box Office.
Birmingham Stage Company are back at Coventry’s Belgrade with more guts and gore in another Horrible Histories half-term double-bill from 23-26 October.
This year audiences can choose between Awful Egyptians and Terrible Tudors promising pre-Halloween hilarity, or book for both together and receive a 20% discount. From the horrible Henries to the end of evil Elizabeth’s reign, Terrible Tudors will lay bare the legends and lies of a dastardly dynasty. Then in Awful Egyptians, discover the power of the pyramids and meet history’s meanest mummies, learning foul facts about death and decay along the way. Ideal for history-loving kids aged 5+ these shows present history with all the gory bits left in.
Multi-award-winning theatre company Zoo Co also bring their new show Messy to Coventry during half-term.
Developed in partnership with the ADHD Foundation, this show about a girl called Daisy tasked to look after the class hamster, is performed by a mixed Deaf and hearing cast with Sign Supported English, and runs for four 50-minute performances on Fri 25 and Sat 26 Oct. All performances are relaxed. There are also Black History Month Youth Theatre Taster Sessions for budding actors in the city.
CHANGE festival at Warwick Arts Centre has two children’s shows on Sun Oct 20 – a family comedy about birds facing changes to their habitat, The Bird Show (1pm) and an Artic adventure for ages 5+ with Soonchild (2.15pm). During half-term, (Oct 27-30) Lyngo Theatre Company’s 45-minute magical retelling of Tom Thumb for ages 3+ performed entirely on and under a kitchen table!
There’s just over a month left to get energised and jog on down to the Move and Play exhibition at the Coventry Transport Museum. Celebrating Coventry’s title of European City of Sport 2019, 19 different physical challenges are presented, mostly accessible to all ages and abilities. Activities are collaborative and non-sporting (hurrah no family spats) and range from disco donuts to nostalgic tennis, thermal cameras to tightrope walking. You can also test yourself in individual pursuits such as ‘How Accurately Can You Kick?’ to discover if you have what it takes to be the next football star (maybe take off your heels for that one).
During half-term don’t miss the Lunt Roman Fort’s final open days of the year from Oct 21-25 (10am-3.30pm) Honour the spirits by making your own working Roman Lamp, in free drop-in sessions for ages 3+. All materials are provided. Younger children can enjoy the spoken word early on with Kate’s Storytree at Boston Tea Party, Stratford-Upon-Avon, every Wednesday morning. Children are kept enthralled by stories and toys – and parents’ by coffee and cake.
Pop trio Saint Etienne revisit their 1994 album Tiger Bay (16 Oct) at Warwick Arts Centre, a symphonic celebration of David Bowie (Bowie: A Rock Symphonic Spectacular, 27 Oct), and composer Ludovico Einaudi (1 Nov), with new project Seven Days Walking (now sold out). A rousing Classical series begins with conductor Yuri Botnari leading the Moscow Philharmonic (12 Oct) through Shostakovich’s mighty Symphony No.10, and is followed by appearances from Flanders Symphony Orchestra (31 Oct) featuring renowned guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, and an exploration of the works of Steve Reich and Philip Glass by London Sinfonietta (31 Oct). You can also learn the art of Kakatsitsi African Drumming on Sun Oct 27. Check out the full October line-up here.
An Evening with Guy Chambers is hosted by the RSC at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon on Sun 27 Oct and is a one-off concert by the songwriter, musician and producer behind a wealth of best-loved songs from movie, radio and the dancefloor. Famously, he’s worked with Robbie Williams on belters including Millennium, Angels and Rock DJ.
Over in Brum, the O2 Institute hosts Mercury-nominated South London performance poet Kate Tempest (Wed Oct 16), Grammy nominated Angie Stone (Thur Oct 17); Hot Chip (Fri Oct 18); actor/singer-songwriter Kiefer Sutherland (Mon Oct 21) and Charlie XCX (Sat Oct 28). And Mamma Mia 2 star Cher will be performing at Arena Birmingham on Oct 26 on her Here We Go Again tour, with Paul Young supporting.
For something quirky and experimental, Orchestra of the Swan presents Mozart in Cuba. No, in case you were wondering, there is no real connection between Mozart and Cuba; but the melting pot of sound that oozes from the extraordinarily diverse country – including jazz, mambo, classical and salsa – make unexpected diversions into Mozart’s repertoire during this concert. And why not!
We could definitely do with a laugh right now – and as luck would have it, Leamington Spa Comedy Festival brings bucket-loads of them from 6 Oct-Sat 12 Oct. Sarcastic side-splitter James Acaster comes to town (sadly sold out!); Gary Delaney fires ‘expertly crafted gaggery’; improv troupe The Noise Next Door bring their off-the-cuff quick wit; plus The Horne Section (Oct 7), Matthew Parker (Oct 8), Josh Pugh (Oct 9), Justin Moorhouse, George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of GB (Oct 11) and the Comedy Club 4 Kids (Oct 12).
Stand-up fave Ben Elton is on hand to try and make sense of a world that appears to have gone stark-raving mad at Warwick Arts Centre on Wed 23 Oct; Birmingham Town Hall on Tue 22 Oct and Birmingham Hippodrome on Thu 14 Nov.
Also at Warwick Arts Centre, Romesh Ranganathan (5, 15 & 16 Nov) may have sold out, but there’s still plenty of laughs lined-up this season thanks to Daliso Chaponda’s Blah Blah Blacklist (Sat Oct 12), parenting podcasters The Scummy Mummies (17 Oct) and Rob Beckett (17-18 Oct). Book ahead for Josh Widdicombe (7 Nov) and John Robins (14 Nov) as well as new shows by big-hitting West Midlands comedians – Shazia Mirza (17 Nov), Lenny Henry (17 Nov), Frank Skinner (19 Nov), and rising star Darren Harriott (29 Nov).
Comedy Of Black Origin comes to the Belgrade for a Black History Month special on Fri Oct 18 bringing some of the best urban comedians on the circuit – Kat B, Maureen Younger, Smash & Kane Brown – for an evening of laughter.
If you’re more of a bookworm, check out the amazing literary events going on this autumn across Warwickshire and beyond. Birmingham Literature Festival, Thu 3 Oct-Sun 13 Oct, is guest curated this year by BBC 6 presenter and music journalist Stuart Maconie, who lives in the Midlands. Just a few of the highlights across the city include An evening with Carol Ann Duffy and Friends (Thur Oct 3) on National Poetry Day; poet Simon Armitage: In Conversation and Billy Bragg, Paul Mason and Selina Todd discussing politics in Understanding the Past, Building our Future (Sun Oct 13).
Book now for Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival Winter Weekend, Fri 1 Nov-Sun 3 Nov, with captivating talks from the likes of Sir Trevor McDonald, Jess Philips MP, Ben Miller, Jenny Eclair and John Humphrys.
Children certainly don’t miss out on the fun either, with half-term events including the chance to make the biggest hungriest caterpillar. award-winning Andy Seed dishing out some gross tales, Arty Splatz sensory play, the Really Big Pants Theatre Company and comedian/writer Ben Miller revealing his latest book, The Night I Met Father Christmas. Explore the schedule here.
Further afield don’t overlook Thame Arts and Literature Festival (17-20 Oct) where Muddy’s books editor Kerry Potter is hosting two events Modern Motherhood Unpicked: The Good, The Bad & The Smugly (17 Oct) where she’ll be chatting with acclaimed Oxon author Clover Stroud, Helen Whitaker (author of The School Run) and Jo Middleton, aka parenting blogger Slummy Single Mummy. She’ll also be interviewing author of How Was It For You?, Virginia Nicholson (20 Oct). Tickets here.
Time for your big coat to come out! Ryton Pools Country Park treats the whole family to a Wild Autumn Evening Out on Sat 12 Oct. Who doesn’t love a lark around a campfire? Discover nature’s nocturnal side, feast on jacket potatoes and toasted marshmallows and test your nerves (and silliness) with tracking and stalking games in the dark. Charlecote Park offer some spectacular sights and photo opportunities with Deer at Dusk; on various dates throughout the month.