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Burns Night, The Fuzzy Duck, Armscote, nr Stratford-upon-Avon, Thurs Jan 25

Pic credit: Anthony Cullen

Head Chef Ben at his stylish revamped village pub has created a specials menu filled with traditional Scottish flavours but with a Fuzzy Duck twist and sample a selection of Scottish whisky’s.

Book your table on Tel: (0)1608 681 030 / (0)1608 682 635, fuzzyduckarmscote

Storytelling Corner, Slate Art Gallery, Oxford Street, Leamington Spa, Thurs Jan 25

Slate Art Gallery is currently showing a solo exhibition by Neil Moore called Sympathetic Magic until Thurs Feb 1

StoryTelling Corner presents Episode Three: How Did I Get Here?  It’s an evening with a difference; no loud music, no shouting and no fighting (unless it’s in the script). Celebrating women in literature, the first evening of 2018 is dedicated to an all-female cast of storytellers sharing their  ‘real life’ tales including Julie Goddard, Jo Howarth, Helena Whymnet-Lester and Stephanie Summersthat will take you on an adventurous, dramatic, mysterious and humorous journey. Tickets start at £6.


Burns Night Whisky Tasting, The Fat Pug Neighbourhood Pub & Kitchen, Leamington Spa, Fri Jan 25

Join Matt on Malt for an exclusive tasting of 5 single malt Scotch whisky’s, alongside a traditionally Scottish two-course dinner in their Private Dining Room above the pub

££: £30 all in – two-course dinner & 6 drams of Whisky! thefatpug

Burns Night Specials and Blind Whisky Tasting, The Rose & Crown, Warwick, Thurs Jan 25

Rose & Crown Warwick / refurb

This characterful town centre celebrates all things Scottish, with traditional dishes and a blind whisky tasting session from the experts at Glenfiddich to start the night! Specials on the menu include Arbroath Haddock Smokey, Brown Bread & Butter; Veggie Haggis Scotch Egg, Drambuie & Dill Hollandaise; Macsween Haggis or (Veggie), Neaps & Tatties, Wholegrain Mustard Whisky Cream and Pan-roasted Balmoral Estate Venison, plus Raspberry & Whisky fool, Toasted Oats or Bramble Eton Mess.

Book a table and quote ‘Burns Night’

Yellowstone, Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, Thurs Jan 25

Written and performed by Manchester artist Chris Thorpe this the fifth in a series of 9 new pieces commissioned for the stage as part of Theatre Absolute’s Are We Where We Are? Described as layered with allegory, laced with warning and demanding of humanity. It will be followed by Choke by Chris O’Connell the co-founder, writer and artistic director of Theatre Absolute on Tue Feb 6 – 17. Choke tells the story of lifelong friends Rob and Stu, each staring into the gap between who they thought they were, and who they are now. Tickets are £8 (full price) & £6 (concessions) available online.


Burns Night Whisky Tasting, Slurp, 121 Regent Street, Leamington Spa, Fri Jan 25

A night traditionally celebrated with haggis, poetry, dancing and most importantly – whisky!  So join in the celebration, and try a variety of whiskies from different regions of Scotland.

££: £40. Book here.

Ahir Shah: Control tour, Studio, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa,  Sat Jan 27

The 2017 Edinburgh comedy award nominee explores the current global socio-political turmoil in a show about freedom, fascism, history, hope, and resistance.

Earlybird tickets for the 39th Warwick Folk Festival, available until Sun Jan 28

Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings. Photo credit: Chris Saunders

2018 headliners include Show of Hands, Jon Boden & Remnant Kings, Korrontzi, Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys, Granny’s Attic. Tickets fro the festival which runs July 26 – 29 cost £95 for the weekend and £110 for 4 days. Early bird ticket sales will close late on Sun Jan 28 and tickets will go on sale on Mon Jan 29 at the increased price. Festival goers are therefore advised to book their tickets ASAP. Jon Boden has become the “stand out performer of his generation”  according to The Guardian of traditional folk artists, best known as the lead singer of folk act Bellowhead.


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.

Imperium Part I: Conspirator & Imperium Part II: Dictator, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, now – 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 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. A critically-acclaimed two-part, seven hour epic


Frost/Nixon, The Priory Theatre, Kenilworth,  Mon Jan 29  – Sat Feb 3

In the TV age of 1977, image is king! British talk-show host David Frost has become a lowbrow laughing-stock. Richard M. Nixon has just resigned the United States presidency in total disgrace over Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Determined to resurrect his career, Frost risks everything on a series of in-depth interviews in order to extract an apology from Nixon. The cagey Nixon, is equally bent on redeeming himself in his country’s eyes. Both men are desperate to out-talk and upstage each other as the cameras roll. The result is the interview that sealed a president’s legacy. Peter Morgan’s play – made into the 2008 Oscar nominated  film – makes it clear that the competitor who controls the camera reaps the spoils.


Clare Woods: Reality Dimmed, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, now – 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. 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 

A Christmas Carol, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now – 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.

The God of Carnage, Loft Theatre Company, Leamington Spa, now – 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.

Burns Nights Tasting Menu, The Cross, Kenilworth, Jan 25

The menu at Warwickshire’s Michelin starred restaurant includes Cock-a-Leekie Soup; -Haggis, Neeps & Tatties; Roast Fillet of Beef Savoy cabbage, onion & mushroom tart, bone marrow & Heather Ale sauce and Whisky Baba Cranachan cream with raspberry.

££: £45 per person, for bookings Tel: l 01926 853 840 (Reservations office is open 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri), thecrosskenilworth

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

 Made in the Middle, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, Rugby, now to March 10

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

An exhibition celebrating the best contemporary craft and applied art from the Midlands including 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. Free.

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

Mean Girls Brunch, The Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen, Custard Factory, Birmingham, Sat Jan 27


Who doesn’t want free-flowing Prosecco or Bloody Mary’s? Enjoy a two courses brunch with unlimited booze included!!! Dining 11am – 1pm. The film starts just after 1pm.

£29.95 plus booking fee, book heremockingbirdcinema

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group – Celebrating Carter, Town Hall, Birmingham, Sun Jan 28

Conductor Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla – the CBSO’s dynamic new music director.

The CBSO’s new musical director, Lithuanian Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla conducts Birmingham Contemporary Music Group for the first time, in a celebration of a very American genius: Elliott Carter. The group will be joined by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, one of the world’s leading interpreters of new music long been associated with Carter’s music, 4pm.


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, 


**Last week** Basquiat: Boom for Real, The Barbican, until Sun 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. 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.

Basquiat: Boom for Real

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Sadler’s Wells, London, now until Sat Jan 27 & 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

Speakers, by Nicolas Party, Modern Art Oxford, until 18 Feb 2018 

This exhibition at Modern Art Oxford has been running since late November but if you’re yet to catch it now’s your chance. The Swiss artist Nicolas Party (formerly a graffiti specialist)  has produced Speakers, a theatrical selection of five five foot female heads, complete with two hour looped soundscape that seems to speak to you as you brush past. The work is a response to the masculine architecture and institutions of Oxford, particularly the Emperors’ Heads outside the Sheldonian Theatre. Weird, and kind of wonderful.

Amadeus, the National Theatre, London from now – 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.

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.

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 Sun Feb 18 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.


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