The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Warwickshire Edition

Review: Antony and Cleopatra, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford

24 Mar 2017

I grew up watching Josette Simon as Dayna in the BBC sci-fi TV series Blake 7. She’s returned to the RSC after 17 years to play the Queen of Egypt in Iqbal Khan’s production of Antony and Cleopatra. I couldn’t believe it when the Leicester-born actor appeared from under the bedsheets with Mark Antony. She doesn’t appear to have aged in the slightest (*sniff).

Still as beautiful, the lithe-limbed and energetic Josette glides seductively across the stage as the pair cavort passionately in their coordinating cream togas. 

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Parklife! Compton Verney, Sun June 25

23 Mar 2017

Park Life! returns for the third year this summer in the beautiful grounds of Compton Verney on Sun June 25, 10.30am-5pm. This one-day family-friendly festival condenses a smorgasbord of entertainment, contemporary crafts and artisan products, including delicious food and drink, all into one day. And folk music fans are in for a real treat as headliners on the music stage are the award-winning Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, supported by Folklore and Blondes with Beards.  

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22 Mar 2017

Seeking literary inspiration? Muddy’s professional bookworm Kerry Potter is here to help with her March picks. That precarious tower of tomes on your bedside table is about to getting even taller…. And if you have any recommendations of your own, we’d love to hear from you – literary musings in the comment box below please!

How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn

Now there’s a book title after my own heart.

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A Cheeky Weekend Away? Muddy Stays: Ettington Park, Warks

12 Mar 2017

Muddy Northants ed Anna-Lou travels to neighbouring Warwickshire for a mini-break. You can read all about about her adventures at this supposedly haunted four-star hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon…

Since Bridget Jones went on her mini break with Daniel Cleaver, I’ve always loved the allure of a naughty night away (even if nothing naughty happens, its just good to get a break from the old routine)! Not as easy as it once was BC (before children), but nontheless, I still try and make it happen a couple of times a year.

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Yum: Fusca, Warwick

22 Mar 2017

I’d heard lots of great things about the inventive world cuisine-inspired menu at Warwick’s first vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Fusca, and was curious as to whether it would live up to the hype. So, did it? Three of my girl pals and I went to try it out last Thursday evening.

Fusca’s not on the high street; and doesn’t have a frontage as such. It’s in the basement of a mews house.

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Leamington-based UK Lingerie brand Bravissimo’s First Sleep Bra

11 Mar 2017

No this isn’t the latest in pointless inventions. And why you may ask??

Any larger breasted woman who dreads the doorbell ringing when lounging in PJs – without an underwired bra on underneath – you’ll know what I mean!

Firstly, it’s sold by Leamington-Spa based Bravissimo, the British lingerie brand that is a friend to big-boobed women everywhere, whose sizes go all the way up to a J cup.

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Win a £500 New Season Wardrobe

9 Mar 2017

Cotton Striped T-Shirt, £59, & Cotton A-Line Skirt, £89; Cotton Textured Polo Shirt, £79, & Cotton Milano Pencil Skirt, £79

Bored to the back teeth of being cocooned in jeans and huge jumpers? Yup, us too. Which is why we’re thrilled to announce a brand new competition to reboot your wardrobe for Spring. Fancy a whopping £500 gift voucher to spend at chic, elegant womenswear brand Winser London?

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12 Brilliant Boutique Glamping Sites in Warwickshire

9 Mar 2017

Does a floating tiny wooden house, reached only by dinghy, float your boat? An idyllic glamping utopia in a Victorian walled garden or back-to-basics camping on a peaceful car-free site? What Warwickshire lack in seaside entertainment and clifftop views it makes up for bucket loads of culture, wildlife and stunning countryside. There’s rivers and lakes for a spot of wild swimming, spades full of historic sites and Shakespeare (his family homes, the RSC and Stratford-upon-Avon).

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Book Em UP! Top 30 Quirky Stays in the UK

9 Mar 2017

Love a luxe break? A sucker for heritage holiday rentals? Or is it all about the location? They all have their place, but for pure fun value, there’s little that can beat a really quirky stay somewhere.  The Muddy editors in counties from Cornwall to Norfolk, Kent to Warwickshire, have each found two brilliant, alternative properties with which to whet your travel appetite. And if you know a fantastic quirky stay somewhere that you think should be included, please comment in the box below – let’s share the knowledge!

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Sleek Geek-Chic: The Drawing Board, Leamington Spa

5 Mar 2017

DB could have been teleported straight from the streets of Shoreditch, Hoxton or Brighton to Regency Leamington Spa. With owner Sam Cornwall-Jones’ slick geek-chic design bringing together flashes of neon, his old collection of 70s and 80s annuals, framed vintage comic books and games consoles mixed in with squishy retro leather sofas, mismatched dining furniture and log burners. Looks very cool, no? There’s even a bike from Sam’s garage, a jet engine cowling mirror he made himself and don’t forget to check out the toilets.

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Wowee-Zowee! We’re in the UK Blog Awards Finals 2017!

4 Mar 2017

Muddy Founder and Editor-in-Chief Hero Brown (Bucks & Oxon) wants to share something really exciting with you…

It’s been such a crazy year so far that I somehow forgot to tell you some really amazing news. Oops!

So it’s a massive and heartfelt thank you for those of you who suggested Muddy Stilettos as the UK’s Best Arts & Culture Blog before Christmas, because guess what? We’ve only gone and made the Finals, one of only eight companies in the whole of the UK.

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Review: Snow in Midsummer, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

3 Mar 2017

Hot-off-the press here’s my review for Snow in Midsummer…

What’s the price you’ll pay for happiness? This is a key question in playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s riveting re-working of 13th Century Chinese play The Injustice Done to Dou E by Guan Hanqing.

Snow in Midsummer is a poignant mother-daughter drama, with a passionate gay love story thrown in, the supernatural, Buddhist rituals and Ruth Chan’s thumping techno.

Set in New Harmony, a remote factory town in modern-day China, it opens with 23-year-old widow Dou Yi – Harry Potter actor Katie Leung – selling lucky sculptural origami Lotus tree leaves to members of the audience, before she’s framed for murder.

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Leave It To Esmie, Fargo Village, Coventry

2 Mar 2017

Not to be cliched, but with its colourful giant floor to ceiling wall mural, reggae and laid back bamboo beach hut bar vibes, Leave It To Esmie’s instantly puts a smile on your face.

It just reminds you of summer holidays, beaches by the sea and sunshine – the bright yellow, greens and reds of the cushions and seat covers are straight out of La La Land.

Immediately it put us grown-ups in the mood for one of these…(Rum Punch with Appleton’s Rum).

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So Near Yet So Far-go!

2 Mar 2017

I popped over to have a scout round Coventry’s Fargo Village over the weekend to bring you this little whistle-top tour and a snapshot of what’s to expect this spring…

Located in part of the city that’s still undergoing considerable regeneration, it’s off Far Gosford Street which used to be part of the red-light district when I first moved from Cardiff to neighbouring Stoke in Coventry with my husband many moons ago – pre-children.

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14 Beautiful Beach Houses To Rent This Summer

2 Mar 2017

One of the big benefits of Muddy tottering its way into so many counties (er, 17 since you asked!) is that we have a raft of on-the-ground experts, squirrelling out the coolest, most useful stuff for the rest of us to plunder. Case in point – beach cottages. Thought about renting one this summer? Yeah me too. So allow me to lay before you a sandy smorgasbord from the Muddy regional editors – 14 beautiful beach properties for the bucket and spade brigade.

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The Porch House, Stow On The Wold

27 Feb 2017

Fancy a day trip, lunch out or long weekend at a boutique B&B and restaurant in the Cotswolds? My neighbour Muddy Gloucestershire has just reviewed a real Cotswold Stone beauty…

If you were holding auditions for a pub-cum-sophisticated-eaterie, the kind of place that walking boots or stilettos (muddy or otherwise) would be equally welcome, where you could casually grab lunch or fine dine for a special occasion, then The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold would definitely stand out in casting.

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Take Me To The River: 16 of the Best Riverside Holiday Cottages

23 Feb 2017

Beach holidays in Britain always come with that anxious niggle at the back of your head – will it tank down for the whole week? Well, how about an inland lake or river holiday as an alternative? The Muddy editors who happen go to be landlocked (*sob**) have scoured their counties for some stonking rental properties with their own little piece of liquid heaven to tempt you throughout spring and summer. Tempted?


River Arts Club, Maidenhead

Who needs the coast when you can have the mighty Thames?

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Early-bird summer festival guide 2017: Don’t miss out!

13 Feb 2017

Glastonbury 2017 sold out within an hour last October and tickets for many of the other big ones are already selling like hotcakes. You must book super early these days if you don’t want to miss out. It may be depressingly chilly and damp now but before you know it the festival season will be upon us.  Yay!

No longer about hedonism and staying up all night, now it’s about entertaining the kids and the option of a luxury tent.  

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Is this Compton Verney’s very own Eden?

9 Feb 2017

Head over to Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park during Feb Half Term and you may wonder what this is…

How would you cope if you had no access to your hairdresser, power shower, Netflix, Nutri-Bullet, Facebook, Botox injections and all the other traits of modern society? This is what Brit artists Alex Hartley and Tom James are seeking to find out in new site-specific art project, The Clearing  in the grounds of beautiful Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park.

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Leamington Spa’s Awesome Coffee Architects

6 Feb 2017

My hairdresser in Leamington first tipped me off about Coffee Architects in Warwick Street, not long after it opened in the summer of 2014. A bit of a hipster, he enthused infectiously about the coffee, the cakes – “the best in Leamington” – and the amazing salads. As a coffee lover I couldn’t resist.

This small Scandi-style independent family-run cafe is always busy and the Flat White, served in a glass tumbler on a turquoise saucer, is just the best.

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Muddy Bucks/Oxon into London – Mormons, Chinatown & Travel Bags!

17 Mar 2017

Muddy Stiletto’s Editor-in-Chief Hero Brown made a run for it into London with her new Mary Poppins travel bag…

I escaped into London last weekend – left my three children to fend for themselves (social services: this is a JOKE!) – and had a whale of a time with Mr Muddy. A couple of things to tell you. Firstly, if you’re looking for a good value place to rest your head in the smoke, the Z Hotel is almost indecently placed in the centre of things in Soho, one minute from Chinatown, a hop and a skip from Covent Garden and bang in the middle of all the fun.

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What’s On Nationally This Weekend

17 Mar 2017

Feel like exploring somewhere new? Muddy tenticles cover the South of England and who better to know the cool stuff that’s hard to unearth than our brilliant regional Muddy editors (all national journalists in their own right) who are constantly scouring their counties for the best arts and cultural highlights? Whether you’re day tripping or planning for longer, here are some of the treats in store for you.


Meet Louis Sidoli, Castle Fine Art Windsor, Sun 20 Mar

Love neon?

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11 Lovely Lunch Venues for Mother’s Day Sorted!

17 Mar 2017

The countdown is on to Mother’s Day on Sunday March 26 and if you haven’t organised anything yet, allow me to me lend a hand — lest you end up in Burger King. I’ve pulled together a selection of 11 fab places across the county for a laid-back brunch or Sunday lunch guaranteed to keep you in her good books (no cooking or washing up required!).

The Bell in Alderminster

This award-wining gastropub in the centre of picturesque Alderminster, close to Stratford-upon-Avon, is part of the historic Alscot Estate.

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What’s On in Warks: The Muddy Guide (Thurs March 16-Weds March 22)

16 Mar 2017

If you like comics, photography, music, art and theatre there’s masses going on across Warwickshire this week…

Newsflash! Festival on the Close, Rugby School, Sat June 25-Thurs June 29

There’s an impressive line-up for this new arts and music festival celebrating the 450th Anniversary year of the founding of Rugby School. It includes Birmingham’s Mercury Music Award nominated  singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, Leamington-based UK contemporary dance company Motionhouse, G4 & Lesley Garrett, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis De Bernieres performing with the Bookshop Band & Caribbean poet John Agard.

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Mother’s Day 2017: 9 Sensational Spa Breaks

12 Mar 2017

Towelling robes and slippers at the ready: it’s time to find a little oasis of calm and get pampered. Relax and unwind with your mum at one of Warwickshire’s best spa retreats.



Newsflash! Elan spa, Mallory Court Country House Hotel & Spa, Leamington Spa, opens April 14 

 You and your mum could be one of the first to visit the first new Elan spa to open in the UK for more than 10 years – and it’s in Warwickshire. 

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Let Them Eat Cake! 12 Mother’s Day Afternoon Teas

12 Mar 2017

Treat your mum to a lavish spread at one of these top hotels or a quirky cuppa in a vintage Warwickshire tea room.


Hampton Manor, Hampton in Arden, near Solihull

Award-winning afternoon tea is served in the Manor’s pastel clad Parlour, a theatrical lounge where a tea sommelier explains specialist teas crafted in single-batch from various artisan family-run gardens. The Lailani & Co teas fuse the traditional with a modern twist and afternoon tea includes seasonal fresh produce with an innovative edge.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Warwickshire Edition