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The Muddy Guide – What’s On This Week?


The Lost Words, Compton Verney, Sat Oct 21- Dec 17

A survey of British primary school children found 8-11 year-olds were “substantially better” able to identify types of Pokemon character that species of common UK wildlife.

This weekend sees the opening of an absolutely delightful family-friendly collaborative art exhibition and book by writer Robert Macfarlane, winner of the Guardian First Book Award for Mountains of the Mind (author of The Wild Places, The Old Ways and Landmarks) and Birmingham-born artist Jackie Morris (The White Fox, Tell Me a Dragon). The Lost Words is also a response to Macfarlane and Morris’s belief that nature is no longer a big part of children’s stories and imaginations. Macfarlane has created a series of 20 spell-poems – one for each lost word – while Morris, inspired by her lifelong passion for Britain’s landscapes and wildlife, has painted more than 50 beautiful watercolours – using gold leaf to take the viewer on a journey that makes the familiar appear magical once more. Families can venture out on Lost Words inspired interactive Spell Walks in the grounds via two specifically commissioned digital trails that can be downloaded straight to your smart phone.

Michael Kiwanuka, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Mon Oct 16

I was pretty excited when I saw Michael Kiwanuka was to be opening his new national tour at Symphony Hall this October. The show will feature his critically acclaimed, number one selling, Mercury Prize and BRIT Awards nominated second album Love & Hate in all its glory. If you watched Pretty Little Liars on Sky Atlantic earlier this year, wasn’t the choice of his haunting Cold Heart as the title track such a great choice?

St Vincent, O2 Academy Brixton, London & O2 Apollo, Manchester, Tues Oct 17 & Wed Oct 18

Singer Annie Clark performed the excellent New York on Jools Holland from this month’s challenging new art-pop album Masseduction, in which there are ample references to the objectification of female bodies in visual culture. One key theme of Masseduction is being scrutinised as a woman – something she experienced during her high-profile relationship with supermodel/actress Cara Delevingne. Unfortunately you’ll only be able catch her perform this week in London, Manchester or over in Dublin.


Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Warwick Arts Centre, Tues Oct 17-Sat Oct 21

Rita, Sue and Bob Too Production Photos
Photo Credit : The Other Richard

Out of Joint’s revival of Andrea Dunbar’s semi-autobiographical play and cult 80s film, Rita, Sue and Bob Too set in a Bradford council estate is brought to the stage by the play’s original director, Max Stafford-Clark. It stars Taj Atwal, James Atherton and Gemma Dobson in the title roles as the teenage babysitters groomed by seedy Bob.

Blade Runner 2049 (15) out now in cinemas across Wark & West Mids

Back to the future with Ryan Gosling in a film that wouldn’t really exist without Harrison Ford. Amazing cinematography. There’s a brilliant sequence I loved in a post-apocalyptic New York with snippets of Elvis and Frank Sinatra. A good one for older teens who like sci-fi. My 16-year-old son is worried it won’t be a box office smash!

Quentin Blake: Inside Stories, Compton Verney, Sat Oct 21-Sun Dec 17

It’s rare for an illustrator’s name to be as instantly recognisable as their work, but then Quentin Blake is no ordinary artist. Quentin Blake: Inside Stories shares insights into the origins of some of Blake’s most iconic and popular creations, ranging from his illustrations in Dahl’s The Twits and Danny the Champion of the World, to The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams. The exhibition, consisting of 140 original works, includes first roughs and storyboards – many never seen outside Blake’s studio before – along with finished artwork to demonstrate how his ideas evolved, often in close collaboration with the authors.

Godiva Rocks, Main Stage, Belgrade Theatre, Sat Oct 7–Sat 21 Oct. 


Hamish Glen directs the first musical written about a UK city’s musical heritage, spanning many generations. It features 20 songs from Coventry artists including Frank Ifield, Vince Hill, Hazel O’Connor, The Specials, Terry Hall, King, The Primitives and The Enemy. With the result of Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 soon to be announced, Godiva Rocks revels in the city’s rich heritage and talent.

belgrade, Tel: 024 7655 3055 

Kaleidoscope: Colour & Sequence in 1960s British Art, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Thur Oct 5-Dec 9

I popped along to the private view last and this touring Arts Council Collection is definitely worth a visit. It features lots of fun brightly-coloured abstract New Generation sculpture, Op Art including paintings by Bridget Riley and Peter Sedgley and Pop art. Among the 20 artists there’s also work by David Annesley, Anthony Carol, Robyn Denny, Tess Jaray, Philip King, Kim Lim, Mary Martin, Eduardo Polozzi, Tim Scott, Richard Smith, William Tucker and William Turnbull. Free.

Dido, Queen of Carthage, until Sat Oct 28

Christopher Marlowe’s underrated first play about one of history’s great female leaders. Kimberley Sykes makes an impressively inventive and quirky RSC directorial debut and Ti Green’s stunning stage design featuring a sand covered stage and cascading waterfall. Chipo Chung gives a strong performance as Dido. A great cast also includes Nicholas Day as Jupiter, the very funny Ellie Beaven as Venus (A Mad World My Masters), Sandy Grierson, who plays Dido’s love interest, Aeneas, and Amber James as Dido’s loyal sister, Anna. You may need to do some research on the Greek gods and Virgil’s Aeneid, first to make sense of it all. Read the Muddy verdict here .

Jane Austen Celebrations: 200 years, Compton Verney, Thurs Oct 19 & Sun Oct 22

Jane Austen’s third novel Mansfield Park has inspired one of British literature’s longest-running debates – just where is the real Mansfield Park, and the nearby parsonage at Thornton Lacey? Experts are beginning to believe that Thornton Lacey is Compton Verney. 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death and Compton Verney is commemorating her life and work with a month-long series of talks, performances and concert. On Thurs Oct 19 (2:30pm) the Rocco Singers will perform songs popular during Jane Austen’s lifetime; while on Sun October 22 (2- 4.30pm) is your chance to meet some of Jane’s most memorable characters and experience a highly entertaining one woman show celebrating the wit of her writing.  

Picasso: Linocuts from the British Museum, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry until Dec 3

Image: Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), Jacqueline Reading – 2nd plate, July 1964. © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017.

Showcasing works created in the late 1950s and early 1960s, this exhibition explores the artist’s expressive and experimental works with linocut techniques and ceramics. Produced when Picasso was over eighty years old, Still Life under the Lamp, Jacqueline Reading and Nude Woman at the Spring highlight his skilful yet risky approach.


National Apple Day  Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens,  Sat Oct 21 & Sun Oct 22 

Bring the entire family and celebrate the quintessential English fruit. Make apple-y crafts, enjoy apple juice using the press and take home some recipes. Apples will be for sale from the heritage orchards, all proceeds go towards the conservation of the cottage.  Throughout half-term children should head to the spook-tacular activity tent and make a spooky spider natural bird feeder by utilising the apples in the stunning orchard. Join historical food caterer Pario Gallico on Mon Oct and watch the maestro at work.  Create your very own Pomander bags, filled with spices and herbs to protect you from “bad air” and Tudor diseases. Plus, Georgia Jeffries and the Zoolab critters will be stopping by the Cottage on Tue Oct 24.

National Apple Day Celebration & The Big Draw, Cotesbach Educational Trust, Cotesbach nr Lutterworth, Sat Oct 21

Come and try printing with vegetable dyes, drawing with vegetable inks, make a crumble or press different apple varieties and taste the juice. Take a tour of the orchard and identify different heritage apple varieties, or go on a foraging walk and discover nature’s free food. Free, 10am-4pm.


Pumpkin Week, Hatton Adventure World, Sat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

Enjoy some scary half-term fun at this Muddy award-winning family attraction. Pick your own free pumpkin from the fields, carve it in the spooky decorated Marquee and then enter the best carved pumpkin competition to win a host of prizes. Brand new for 2017 is the Mystifying Halloween Show with scary capers and ghostly antics with Zoobee, the resident entertainer. The 3-acre corn Mega Maize Maze has had a spooky facelift and transformed into a Terrifying Terror Maze with 6 new hidden spooky characters open at timed slots throughout Pumpkin Week.  Also new for this year is Haunted House and Laser Combat Game – Zombie Run for ages 8 +.

hattonworld, Tel: 01926 843411

The Haunted Castle, Warwick Castle, Sat Oct 21-Tues Oct 31

Fire jousting, dreadful dungeons, ghostly tales in Witches Tower, Horrible Histories maze and an Edinburgh Fringe sell-out  – Seance. It’s no wonder The Haunted Castle will remain open until 9pm with so much going on! Enjoy eerie escapades throughout the day and as darkness falls over the ancient towers and ramparts, the scare factor rises. New for 2017 is live entertainment on Dead Centre Stage, Dolls House and Glen Neath and David Rosenberg’s Séance, fresh from rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – an intense 15-minute sonic performance for an audience of 20 that will test just how susceptible you are to a visit from the other side. Not one for the claustrophobic!

Seance, an immersive experience direct from a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival


Sofia Hulten, Here’s the Answer, What’s the Question? Ikon Gallery, Birmingham until Nov 26

Sofia Hulten. Speculative Fiction 2016. Courtesy the…VG Bildkunst.

The most comprehensive exhibition to date by 45-year-old Berlin-based artist Sofia Hulten: scultpures, installations and films preoccupied with the material world and the way we navigate time. She uses discarded objects found on the streets encouraging the idea of looking twice at what is all-too-often taken for granted – as in Speculative Fiction (2016) where she recycles bicycle parts – locks, wheel-like hoops and frame.

Fright Nights, Kenilworth Castle, Sat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

Little horrors will be scared silly by terrifying Tudor tales and enjoy creepy crafts and spooky every day during half-term and from Thurs Oct 26 – Sat Oct 28 families with children aged 5-10 years can visit the castle after-hours, 6-7pm to meet spine-tingling storytellers and discover tales of ghostly apparitions, dastardly deeds, and ghoulish goings-on. From 7pm-10pm the event is suitable for over 10’s only and not for anyone with a nervous disposition!


What Do I Need to Do to Make it OK? Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, until Nov 4

Detail of “First One’s the Best”by Celia Pym. Photo by Douglas Atfield.

This touring exhibition curated by Liz Cooper features five international artists investigating damage and repair including work by Celia Pym, finalist in Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize 2017.

Half-term with Mad Science and Halloween at Twycross Zoo, Atherstone, Wed Oct 18-Fri Oct 20 

Mad Science at Twycross Zoo Photo: Twycross Zoo

Head over to Twycross Zoo this month for some spooky goings-ons. Enter the Mad Science Lab for some hands-on science experiments from chemical reactions to bubbling potions run by a professional team of scientists, plus a drop-in Fire and Ice Show.

Twycross, Zoo, Atherstone CV9 3PX  or Tel 0844 474 1777

All Hallows Eve celebrations, Mary Arden’s FarmSat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

Dress up in fancy dress and celebrate the feast of All Hallows and discover Tudor traditions at the home of Shakespeare’s mother – now a working Tudor farm while carving a pumpkin (small charge applies)! Watch the amazing Castle Small Theatre perform The Friendly Witch in the Great Barn on Mon Oct 23, 12pm & 2pm. On Wed Oct 25, meet and touch the animals that would have crossed Shakespeare’s paths at the ZooLab Tudor Storytelling Workshop.

National Trust Halloween Trails – Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton and Chalecote Park, Sat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

The gardeners at Packwood have also been growing an abundance of bright orange pumpkins in the Kitchen Garden ready for October half-term. So, crunch through the fallen leaves, admire the autumnal colours in the trees and don’t forget to sample a warm bowl of pumpkin soup or hot chocolate in the Garden Kitchen Cafe after you’ve finished your trail. At Baddesley Clinton there’ll also be ghost stories to share in the house – ask volunteers about a lady in grey who wanders the house at night, a ghostly portrait that appears on the wall and a dog who begs to an empty chair. Enjoy the fresh air and deer park at Charlecote Park in your wellies for the annual spooky Hallowe’en trail.;

Half-Term activities at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Sat Oct 21-Sat Oct 28

Arty Halloween-inspired crafts are on the agenda including We’re Going on a Bat Hunt, stained glass effect pumpkin art, monster masks and Paint and Glaze ceramics.

Full listings here.

Mad Science and Shakespeare Aloud, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford, Sat Oct 21- Sat Oct 28

Gather round the cauldron from Thurs Oct 26–Sun Oct 29 (11am-3pm) and brew your own potions that feature in Shakespeare’s plays with the help of the fantastical Mad Science team at Shakespeare’s childhood home. Watch the show in the Marble Hall then have a go at making your own fizzing, foaming, smoking and popping potions! Throughout half term prepare for a scare with resident actors Shakespeare Aloud, as they perform some of Shakespeare’s darker works in the garden. Plus, little witches and wizards can join a hidden creature hunt.

Splat Anatomy, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Sat Oct 21

Photo – Lukasz Puczko.

Kinetic artist and sculptor Jim Bond has created a life-size operation game, Splat Anatomy, and for Halloween is bringing it to the gallery between 1.30pm-5pm. Wearing a mask and apron you have to remove the organs and bones from a life-sized anatomical model without touching the sensitive copper nerves. Like a flight simulator for surgeons this game requires a steady hand and a cool head. So far, the game has tested the squeamishness, humour and skill of children and adults and even the odd GP and surgeon at festivals such as Latitude and Green Man.  Drop-in (£2 per person). Open to all – families, children aged 7+, teenagers and adults.

See Poison Dart Frogs, a children’s book launch & Meet the Minibeasts, Stratford Butterfly Farm, Sat Oct 21-Sat Oct 28

The latest inhabitants this half-term are Golden Poison Dart Frogs, native to rainforests of the Pacific coast of Columbia. Each contain 1 milligram of poison – strong enough to kill 20 human beings! Indigenous hunters would dip their blow darts into secreted poison, hence where they get their name. Fri Oct 27 also sees the launch of ‘Leafcutter’, an new children’s book written specially for the Butterfly Farm set within a leafcutter ant colony. Author and Illustrator John Eames and Nicola Dennis will be signing copies and reading excerpts from the book throughout the day. Meet the Minibeast’ handling sessions take place twice a day.

butterflyfarm, Tel:  01789 299288.

Nocturnal Nature Trail, Upton House, nr Banbury, Sat Oct 21-Sun Oct 29

Get the kids running out-and-about following a trail through the woods where they’ll discover logs to jump over, screens to hide behind, and if they’re quiet they might even hear the rooks in the trees above. Use the trail to identify animals that come out at night and learn all about how they live and appear during the night hours. Finish in the squash court and take home a prize. Upton’s gardens cover 32 acres of woodlands, water, lawns, terraced borders and a kitchen garden. End up with afternoon tea in The Pavilion1 or Iris Team Room, 11am-5pm.


Portrait of the Artist: Kathe Kollwitz, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until Nov 26

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) – Woman with Dead Child, The British Museum

The Ikon’s new exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of Berlin artist and doctor’s wife Kathe Kollwitz’s birth, is already garnering 5* reviews. The emotional impact of her drawings of unemployment and suffering in particular, Woman With Dead Child (1903) is incredibly hard-hitting and poignant. The exhibition looks at her work through the exploration of three themes: social and political protest, self portraits and the role of an empathetic and suffering mother, resulting from the death of her youngest son Peter in 1914, shot in the First World War.

BOOK NOW: Set Your Career Compass – a one-day half-term workshop for 15-18-year-olds, The Priory, Wolston nr Brandon, Warwickshire, Tues Oct 24

Looking to the future?

Do you have a son or daughter aged 15-18-years old who is wondering what their options are for the future; whether to go to uni or apply for an apprenticeship?; or what they’re good at? Teen Direct, a team of professional career coaches based in Warwickshire, is running a one-day workshop to help teenagers discover where they fit into ‘the world of work’ based on their strengths, personality and interests. They will discuss implementing a career action plan, create a professional personal profile and learn interview skills, 9.30am-3.30pm.

For further info go to, email: or call Eva on 07901 517012.

Talk: Michael Brooks, The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook, Warwick Books, Wed Oct 18

Brooks not only has a PhD in quantum physics, he’s the author of best-selling science title 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense, a journalist and consultant at New Scientist. In his new book, The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook he resurrects Jerome Cardano, a sixteenth century Milanese mathematician, physician, and astrologer, who may have been the true inventor of probability, quantum theory, imaginary numbers, and more. The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook, is at once a biography, a history of science, an accessible explanation of quantum theory, and an engrossing story which reads like the best kind of novel. It is a science book like no other, about a scientist like no other., 7pm, tickets £5, including drinks and nibbles.


London Restaurant Festival, 1 – 31 Oct

Rack up the plates, here I come with my elasticated pants. The London Restaurant Festival takes place in 350 restaurants across the Smoke, from neighbourhood favourites to Michelin-starred fancy pants eateries, so it’s your perfect excuse to try somewhere new with chef-hosted lunches and tasting menus on offer all month.

London Literature Festival, Southbank, London, Fri 13 Oct – Weds 1 Nov

The big ticket here is Hillary Clinton, who’ll be talking about her new book, What Happened – and you probably don’t need me to spell out what that refers to. In equally exciting news, Hollywood megastar Tom Hanks (pictured) will close the festival with a reading from his book of short stories (if you’ve never listened to his Desert Island Discs, look it up – it’s a doozy). Philip Pullman and Annie Leibovitz are also in attendance at this twenty day marathon event at the Southbank Centre. Definitely worth a jaunt to the big smoke.

Half-term Halloween Hoot, Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire, Sat Oct 21-Nov 5

From face-painting in the Broomstick Barn to fright flights into the deep dark woods on a trailer ride, a visit by author Caryl Hart, storytelling, an abandoned tunnel and creepy crafts there’s frighteningly good half-term fun at the Derbyshire home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire

Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP,

Dark Arts, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios, Sun 1 Oct–Sun Nov 12

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios are brilliant at ringing the changes with their events and for this one the Great Hall will be decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, just as seen as in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Art – wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels as well as filmmaking snot, blood and drool. Er, nice!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour london, Studio Tour Dr, Watford, Leavesden,

Canons Ashby – Spooky Stories: creative writing workshop, Thu Oct 26–Fri Oct 27

Spooky story writing at Canons ashby
Let your imagination run wild writing Spooky Stories with us this Halloween. This event will encourage your children’s creativity and help them come up tales to thrill everyone this October. Then they can display their scary stories for the public to read over Halloween weekend, or take them home to scare their siblings. Aimed at children aged 8-12 years old, this will take place in a couple of atmospheric locations at Canons Ashby, and use the buildings and stories as inspiration. Booking Essential. Phone: 03442491895.  10.30am – 12pm (times vary).

Canons Ashby, Canons Ashby House, Canons Ashby, Daventry, Northamptonshire NN11 3SD

Wharf Distillery ’Apple Day’ Artisan Market, Sat 21 Oct

Apple harvest Wharf distillery
Come and join team Wharf Distillery at their regular artisan market at Wakefield Country Courtyard. Local businesses will be showcasing their food, drink and crafts – some new and some familiar. Hot street food will be available alongside a real ale and cider bar to keep your energy up!  10am – 4pm. FREE Entry, FREE Parking

Wharf Distillery, Wakefield Country Courtyard, Potterspury, Towcester, Northamptonshire NN12 7QX

Hunt for Pumpkins at Canons Ashby, nr Daventry and Rugby, Sat Oct 7–Tues Oct 31

Explore the grounds at Canons Ashby whilst seeking out pumpkins and solving the clues! Afterwards, pick up a spooky shortbread ghost or warm up with some soup in the tea room, 10am –  3pm.

Canons Ashby, near Daventry and Rugby, NN11 3SD

Brick or Treat, Legoland, Windsor, Sat Oct 14–Mon Oct 30

I’ve run out of jokes about Brick or Treat – that’s how long this Legoland event has been running! Over 55 ‘spooktacular’ rides, live shows and attractions, plus firework displays on 21, 22, 27 & 28 October. Don’t forget to read my tips on how to survive Legoland.

Find more ideas here

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