The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Gloucestershire Edition

The Muddy Guide – Thu 2 March to Wed 8 March

2 Mar 2017

February’s over, there’s a sniff of spring in the air (just don’t look at the forecast), let’s go out and have some fun. In this week’s guide there’s singing, dancing, cycling that feels like dancing, fine dining, art, an International Women’s Day meditation (*om*) and more.

Rebel Soul Music Club, The Retreat, Cheltenham, Thu 2 March

Feeling inspired by The Voice and reckon you’ve got one on you? Well, it’s The Retreat in Cheltenham’s fortnightly open mic night on Thursday. And because The Retreat is an eternally cool hangout, it’s called Rebel Soul Music Club. Can’t promise or Sir Tom, but, hey, you never know. And even if don’t fancy exercising your lungs, the red-walled interiors of The Retreat with its long bar, bistro-style tables and raffish regulars is the perfect drinking hole. And the food is pretty special, too.
The Retreat, 10-11 Suffolk Parade, Cheltenham GL50 2AB. Tel: 01242 235436.

Masterchef Menu, Eckington Manor, Fri 3 March and Sat 4 March

Pop over the border into Worcestershire to sample a six-course tasting menu put together by Eckington Manor’s head chef and 2015 Masterchef Professionals winner Mark Stinchcombe. With dishes based on the ones he cooked on the show, you can smack your lips like Gregg (you’ll be just as qualified) over starters along the lines of scallops with roasted lemon, mains of fillet of beef and, the ex grocer’s favourite course, pudding – Stinchcombe’s panna cotta was quite literally a winner. Rooms are available if you want to make a full night of it, with brekkie in the morning included.
Eckington Manor Restaurant, Hammock Road, Eckington WR10 3BJ. Tel: 01386 751600.

Dyrham Park World Book Day weekend, Sat 4 and Sun 5 March

This 17th-century National Trust gem is hosting a World Book Day weekend with a trail, storytelling sessions and free books with your £1 book tokens. The ancient deer park with its stunning mansion house and garden is a bit of treat for grown-ups too. There are free, daily walks of the impressive deer park and gardens, and Saturday sees the spring opening of the dressed rooms in the house, which offer a flavour of life four centuries ago, with some new sensory additions such as smelling pouches and 17th-century hot chocolate. The Victorian kitchen is home to an atmospheric second-hand bookshop. And you can buy Dyrham Park venison in the gift shop.
Dyrham, near Bath SN14 8HY.

Charity spin class, Ella & Fleur Hot Yoga, Cheltenham, Sat 4 March

Kickstart the weekend and enjoy a ride through five decades of top tunes at Ella & Fleur’s charity spin class on Saturday. Held in their cool new urban ride studio (see my review here), it pedals into action at 9am with 1970s disco, switching to 1980s dance at 9.30am, rave at 10am, garage and R’n’B at 10.30am and finally a mash-up today’s hits at 11am. Got a favourite genre in there? I like the sound of them all and I reckon you won’t feel the burn as you’ll be swept along on a sweet, auditory nostalgia trip. And it’s for a good cause – there’s no charge, just a donation for your bike with all the money raised going to local children’s charity the Pied Piper Appeal. Call to book as places are going fast!
Ella & Fleur Hot Yoga, 23a Pittville Street, Cheltenham GL52 2LN. Tel: 01242 226800.

Wine, Women and Song, Sundial Theatre, Cirencester, Wed 8 March

It’s International Women’s Day on Wednesday, so why not mark the day with a wine-soaked evening of music at the Sundial Theatre in Cirencester? An all-female production, there’ll be music by women, wine by women producers and even ale from Lucy, Corinium Ales’ very own female brewer. Food and dance will help keep alcohol levels in check and you’ll be supporting the MS Society, an illness that affects three times more women than men.
Sundial Theatre, Stroud Road, Cirencester GL7 1AX.

International Women’s Day Worldwide Meditation, Chalford Yoga Studio, Stroud, Wed 8 March

If you want to plug into the global vibe in a more reflective way, thousands of women around the world will be meditating at 7pm GMT and Chalford Yoga Studio is joining in. Again, all proceeds will go to a good cause, this time Knitted Knockers, a charity which makes knitted, handmade prosthetics for women who have undergone mastectomies that are softer, more comfortable and cuter to look at than traditional breast prosthetics. And if you struggle with the lotus position, there will also be chairs to sit on.
Chalford Yoga Studio, Stroud, GL6 8DZ. Tel: 07768 973167

John James Newman Gig, Pates Grammar School, Cheltenham, Thu 9 March

Don’t miss John James Newman’s one-off gig at Pates Grammar School in Cheltenham on Thursday. The singer-songwriter, who’s written songs for the likes of Kylie Minogue and Joe Cocker and has opened for The Sugababes, Jools Holland and Bon Jovi, among others, has a voice that can fill the O2 arena, so in the intimate setting of the school hall you’re gonna really feel the force of his voice (he was actually scouted for the first series of The Voice and Sir Tom turned for him!). And it’s only £10 a ticket (£5 for students) with all proceeds going to the Pates Making £nds Meet appeal.
Pates Grammar School, Princess Elizabeth Way, Cheltenham GL51 0HG,

David Hockney, Tate Britain, now until 29 May (party on Fri 3 March)

Have you bought tickets yet? This awesome exhibition of David Hockney’s most famous works at Tate London celebrates his achievements in painting, drawing, print, photography and video across six decades. From his portraits and images of Los Angeles swimming pools, through to his drawings and photography, Yorkshire landscapes and most recent paintings – some of which have never been seen before in public – it’s the London exhibition of the year. Even better, on 3 March, there’s a massive party to coincide with the exhibition. Festival No. 6 brings its unique multi-arts programme to Tate Britain for one night only, featuring music from Blossoms, Charlotte Church, comedy from Sara Pascoe, poetry from Dr John Cooper Clarke and a closing set from DJ Greg Wilson. Guests will have after-hours access to the Paul Nash and Hockney exhibitions, plus dine with a Yorkshire theme (the mind fair boggles).
Tate Britain, Millbank, London, nearest tubes Pimlico, Vauxhall & Westminster,

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Gloucestershire Edition