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Things to do this week

MON 18 - SUN 24 SEP

Rules For Living, Royal & Derngate, Fri 8 – Sat 30 Sep

Everyone creates their own rules for living. But what happens when an extended family gathers for a traditional Christmas dinner and each of them rigidly follows those rules? Christmas Day will never be the same again. As the drinks flow and the obligatory games intensify, family resentments rise and relationships are pulled apart with a bang.  The Royal and Derngate welcomes back their  former Associate Director, the Evening Standard Award-winning Simon Godwin (Regeneration) to direct Sam Holcroft’s brilliant and darkly funny play. Following its critically acclaimed run at the National Theatre in 2015, Rules For Living is now brought to the stage in a brand new production in conjunction with English Touring Theatre and Rose Theatre Kingston. Tickets: £10-30 – Matinee and evening performance times vary.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Rd, Northampton NN1 1DP

Garden School Programme -Winter Work with with Susie Pasley-Tyler, Coton Manor Garden 10.15am – 1pm, Tue 19 Sep

I know, I know.  Summer holidays are only just finishing and now we’re looking ahead to winter garden prep. Though not always an inviting prospect doing jobs in the colder months can pay great dividends in the following season. Susie Pasley-Tyler is a leading advocate of this approach (partly owing to the pressures of opening the lovely Coton Manor Gardens!) and will explain the techniques and routine involved in the winter regime including cutting back the borders, soil improvement, shrub pruning, weed control as well as re-planting and division of overgrown specimens. Time will be spent outside demonstrating the practical aspects. Tickets: £85 includes lunch

Coton Manor, Coton, Northampton, NN6 8RQ. Tel. 01604 740219

The Railway Children, Royal & Derngate, Tue 19 – Sun 24 Sep

E. Nesbit’s classic novel The Railway Children is brought thrillingly to life in a stunning new stage production, adapted by Dave Simpson. This best-loved tale, made famous by the iconic 1970 movie starring Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins. When their father mysteriously disappears with two strangers one evening, the lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are turned upside down. Forced to leave the comforts of their privileged London life in exchange for a simple existence in the depths of the Yorkshire countryside, this fractured family soon discover new friendships and an unexpected secret that will change their lives forever. Tickets from £10, Matinee and evening performance times vary.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Rd, Northampton NN1 1DP

Moroccan Feast, Bay Tree cottage, 9.30am – 1pm Fri 22 Sep

Discover the rich flavours, aromas and colours of Moroccan cuisine which, having enjoyed something of a renaissance over the past few years, is one of the most recognizable flavours in the world. Few other countries have national dishes so evocative of the country itself, and with tutor Rashmita Shah extensive culinary knowledge & experience you will be taught the secrets of the oldest Moroccan recipes as you create a selection of traditional dishes, such as Pastilla, Cous cous and Tagines. Subtle blends of spices and authentic techniques are used on this day to recreate some fabulous sweet and savoury dishes from Morocco. Rashmita will show you how to blend the wonderful array of aromatic flavours and build your confidence of using spices such as cinnamon, cardamon, saffron, and the rich roasted cumin. Together you will prepare a selection of authentic dishes, and when all the cooking is complete you’ll sit down and enjoy your Moroccan feast! The number of attendees on this workshop will be limited to 8 people. Spaces are available at £55 per head.

Bay Tree Cottage, Maidford Road, Farthingstone, Towcester, Northants, NN12 8HE

The Concealed Revealed: The Magic of Shoes concealed, The Court Room at The Guildhall Northampton, 12.30 – 4pm, Fri 22 Sep

Concealed shoes in Northampton

Well I thought the only shoes that needed concealing where the ones I’ve just bought and am not quite ready to reveal to Mr Muddy.  But there are some other mysterious shoes that have been concealed down the years and this afternoon workshop tries to shed  some light as to why. Few first hand sources have been identified which explain why people concealed objects in houses, in particular shoes. Many believe that concealed objects were hidden away in the vulnerable areas of a house to prevent evil forces from entering it. But other reasons might have motivated the concealers. Explore this fascinating practice with some of the leading researchers in this field, including Professor Owen Davies and Dr Ceri Houlbrook from The University of Hertfordshire, Professor Carol van Driel-Murray from Leiden University and Jeremy Harte, curator of Bourne Hall Museum, Surrey. There will also be an opportunity to take a closer look at some of the concealed shoes from the museum’s designated shoe collection. £10 (includes light refreshments) Ring 01604 838110 to book or book online

Court Room at The Guildhall, 15 St Giles’ St, Northampton NN1 1DE

Kettering Vintage Rally & Steam Fayre, Kettering, 10.30am – 5pm, Sat 23 Sep and Sun 24 Sep

An annual celebration of the County’s transport & farming heritage, plus a Real Ale Festival to boot. It’s a really great family event in the lovely village of Cranford St John – near Kettering. Exhibits include: traction engines & rollers, model steam, tractors, stationary engines, cars, motor cycles & vintage cycles, ex military, commercial vehicles & buses, period caravans & classic campers, craft & model tent, Stan Freeman’s funfair, Thomas land train, Owls to Behold, parrots, trade & auto jumble market, Public camping is available next to the site. Adults £9, Senior citizens & unaccompanied children 5-16 years £6 Families 2 adults , up to 3 children £20 Pre paid Public Camping £48 per pitch.

Kettering Vintage Rally and Steam Fayre,  Cranford, Nr Kettering, Northants, Northamptonshire NN14 4AW

Lets go and Park Run – Locations in Corby, Daventry, Kettering and Northampton

Park Run in Northamptonshire

Mr Muddy’s recent dates with Susan Harrison, aka owner of Northamptonshire Running Mate – reviewed here– has been life transforming for him.  Running with his new buddies – all of mixed running ability – means that every Saturday he’s up and about heading  over to any of the 4 Park Runs taking place across the county at 9am.  Once again the 5k courses are run at your own pace, you can jog, walk, take kids, take dogs – in fact you can pretty much get around the courses any way you fancy.  The runs are free but you must register on line with Park Run.  The running courses are manned by the brilliant park Run volunteers – so it’s a healthy way to have a great time with good people.   Mr Muddy says if you think you can’t run – you can!

Detail of the Northamptonshire Park runs can be found here;





Animals, Colour & Light – Wildlife Art Exhibition by Amanda Drage, Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4.45pm Sat 2 – 30 Sep

Amanda’s got talent – yes indeedy, and the Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering is giving her the platform to show her stunning work.  Amanda was awarded this solo show after winning the People’s Choice award at the Alfred East Art Gallery’s own Open 16 show, along with the overall prize from the judges of the exhibition. Speaking earlier this month about the exhibition Amanda said, “I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to create a new body of work, and to be exhibiting it in such a great gallery space at the Alfred East. Since going full time as an artist a few years ago most of my work has been to commission, and I have really enjoyed this chance to get back to my artistic roots. I’m really excited to share this new collection of wildlife work”. Always in touch with it’s community “The Alfred East” hails back to the philanthropic work of the man himself and is well worth a visit.

Alfred East Art Gallery, Sheep Street, Kettering, Northamptonshire NN16 0AN

Ocean Invaders – Sea Life London Aquarium (ongoing)

The London Aquarium never disappoints. The beautiful, bonkers and plain ugly get the full point and stare treatment. This month jellyfish joins the celebrity gold fish bowl with a new permanent exhibition dedicated to Ocean Invaders’. Discover the most dangerous species and create our own digital jellyfish. It’s cheaper to book in advance, £19.50 for adults, £14.50 under 16s and under 3s for FREE!

Sea Life London Aquarium, Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth, London SE1 7PB

Robot Zoo – Horniman Museum until Sun 29 Oct

It doesn’t get much cooler than a robotic zoo. Let’s be fair it needs to be impressive to schlep deep into south east London. But it’ll be worth it to see a robotic rhino, a squid with 18-ft tentacles and a mahoosive house fly with a vacuum cleaner for a mouth at the Horniman’s Museum in Honor Oak. All the robot animals are made from everyday machines and gadgets. Through interactive games and challenges the creations will reveal how real anatomy works. Plus this museum with its quirky exhibits and large cafe and terrace is a big favourite with families at any time. Tickets: Adults £7; Kids, £4.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Rd, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ

KidZania – Westfield (ongoing)

Those who’ve been rave about this place at Westfield. A friend from overseas bought her sons for a rammed fortnight in London during which they saw pretty much every museum and attraction and this was their favourite. It’s a child-size ‘city’ where the kids are in charge (scary, no?). It provides real life role play experience for 4-14 year olds, blending learning and reality with entertainment. They can try more than 60 role-play activities (actor, doctor, police officer etc) with each  experience crafted to teach kids essential life skills like team work and independence. Younger kids can hang out in the dedicated Early Years area. And you can, you know, go shopping.

KidZania, Westfield London Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 7GA

Science Museum, Kensington, London (ongoing)

Masses on at this ever brilliant museum – spend the whole day here – including the new exhibit of  Tim Peake’s Spacecraft – Soyuz TMA-19M.  Also on is a brand new exhibition Robots, which reveals our 500-year quest to make machines human, from a 16th century mechanised monk to some of film’s most iconic robotic creations and the very latest humanoids. Finally, your kids will love Wonderlab, the newest and most spectacular interactive gallery in the world.

Science Museum, Exhibition Road, Kensington, London SW7 2DD

The Sherlock Holmes Experience Madame Tussaud’s, Mon 18 July – Fri 30 Sep

A departure for Madam Tussauds, this new Sherlock Holmes Experience (included in the normal ticket price) is live walk-through adventure. Journeying from 221B Baker Street to Dartmoor where a demon hound lurks, with plenty of stops along the way. You must help Dr. Watson find the missing Sherlock Holmes to reach a dramatic ‘watery’ conclusion. The experience is totally interactive with textured theatrical sets laden with detail, hidden clues and special effects. Bring your own deerstalker.

Madam Tussauds, Marylebone Road, Marylebone, London NW1 5LR

London Zoo, Regent’s Park London (ongoing)

Visit the amazing London Zoo and see  Land of the Lions, a new immersive exhibit with walkways from where you can explore Indian-themed areas  – including a train station, crumbling temple clearing, high street and guard hut.  No extra charge – it’s all included in entry to the Zoo.

London Zoo, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4RY

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