My Faves

Click the bookmark icon to save all the stuff you love.

Congratulations to the 2019 Muddy Stilettos Awards Winners!

Meet our winners here

Muddy Stilettos Awards logo
Reader Treats Just For You!

This month


So then, what’s the first month of 2018 got in store?

New Year’s Day meet, Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Mon 1 Jan, 10.30am

race horses and jockeys

What better way to round off the festive season and kick off 2018 with a bang. Delay dry January till the 2nd, have a flutter on the gee-gees and bring the kids! There’s a Family Fun Zone which Paddington Bear will visit, along with balloon artists Twistina and Twistopher, who will give the first 500 children a walking pet balloon. There will also be face-painting, pony plaiting and rosette making among other crafty fun. And ladies, dress up in a splash of colour as #ColourMeMarch Ladies Day tickets worth up to £90 will be up for grabs.


January Brewer of the Month, Corinium Ales, The Strand Pub, Cheltenham, all of Jan

This Cheltenham pub is a great supporter of local brewers and this month it’s showcasing Cirencester’s micro-brewery Corinium Ales, which will be serving up its five core beers, as well as its winter 1 AD Porter. So we’ll be forgetting about dry January this year!


Ros Koch Appellation Art Exhibition, Averys, Bristol, now until Fri 2 Mar

paintings and drawings by Ros Koch

The historical cellars and family wine merchant in Bristol’s Culver Street is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year and is kicking off with a new art show by Ros Koch, a British-born artist based in South Africa who creates beautifully delicate watercolours and drawings. Free entry and the artwork is for sale so prepare to be tempted.


Hidden Water Walk at Dyrham Park, near Bristol, Tuesdays throughout Jan, 1-2.30pm

A winter walk with a difference, this special guided tour takes you from the natural springs to hidden water chambers in the hillside to the cellars of the house to track the 17th-century mansion’s water works. No need to book, just turn up with your wellies on.


Midweek Movie Night: Girls Trip, Barnsley House, near Cirencester, Wed 3 Jan, 6.30pm

pink leather cinema armchairs

I can’t think of a nicer way to soften the blow of the first week of January than hunkering down in a two-seater pink leather armchair in Barnsley House’s deluxe cinema with a box of popcorn in front of Girls Trip, last year’s US comedy about best friends the ‘Flossy Posse’ reconnecting on a trip to New Orleans. You get a two-course supper at The Village Pub first and then it’s film night! Click here for the rest of the month’s Midweek Movie and Sunday Cinema Club nights. I’ve got my eye on quite a few…


Dracula (or A Pain in the Neck), Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Wed 3 to Fri 5 Jan

Give your stomach muscles a workout at this Gothic tale spoof by mad-as-a-hatter company Rain or Shine, hailed last year as “a delicious mirth fest”. Bonkers, Morecambe & Wise-style comedy, this is a play you’ll really be able to sink your teeth into. (Sorry.)


The Hucklebuck + Belle Day, The Marshall Rooms, Stroud, Fri 5 Jan, 8.30pm to Sat 6 Jan, 3am

Five-piece band The Hucklbuck will be serving straight-up blues from early jump blues to later Texas and Chicago material, while Bristol-based band Belle Day will be weaving deep sultry blues and heavy grooves inspired by a eclectic mix from Led Zeppelin to Sam Cooke.


Snow Mouse, Salisbury Arts Centre, 5-7 Jan

Watch two friends embark on an adventure in a magical forest full of play, puppetry, music and wonder in this enchanting tale for babies and the very young to enjoy with their families. When you enter The Pit, it’s as though winter has arrived, with woods covered in sparkly snow. A child runs outside to discover it all but soon feels lonely. Drawn by a sound, the child finds a sleeping mouse buried under the soft white flakes. Together they explore, sliding, tumbling and laughing, keeping each other safe and warm.


Dark Island live gig, Stroud Brewery, Thrupp, Stroud, Sat 6 Jan, 7.30-10pm

Folk, blues and jazz will fill the bar at Stroud Brewery courtesy of singer guitarist Scotty and singer songwriter and instrumentalist Alex. Expect powerful emotional storytelling music about love, nature and the supernatural. No need to book, just turn up and enjoy!


Nelson St. Good On Paper Party, The Marshall Rooms and Black Book Café, Stroud, Sat 6, 5pm to Sun 7 Jan, 2am

Stroud’s on-the-pulse independent culture magazine Good On Paper’s annual ‘We’re Still Here’ party is bridging two venues this year, with a heady lineup of live music, DJing, impromptu Shakespeare, puppetry and poetry. Muddy award-winning Salt Bakehouse will be providing artisan pizzas, there’l be pop-up record shops courtesy of Junkroom Records and Monobrow’s Vinyltopia and Pop & Shake organic popcorn by Mr Bobbington.


Dick Whittington, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, until Sun 7 Jan 

Join Dick and his cat as he travels from Gloucester to London to make his fortune and runs into a crazy cast of characters on his journey from zero to here. Molly McGuire plays Dick, with Ben Goffe as Tommy the Cat and, of course, expect to see Tweedy the Clown. Regulars to the Everyman panto and Gifford’s Circus will know his genius, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Tweedy, he’s like a comic book character come to life. Brilliant basically. Always a sell-out, be sure to book soon, as Everyman chief exec Mark Goucher says, “It wouldn’t be Christmas without a great family pantomime.”


Snow Globe, Colston Hall, Bristol, until Sun 7 Jan 

Kid Carpet (that’s him above) used found objects – Casio keyboards, cardboard, broken toys, sellotape – to make ‘kiddy disco punk’. Here he shakes a storyteller’s snow globe to create a musical mix up of tales, rhymes and stories for 3 to 7 year olds. colstonhall,org


Jack and the Beanstalk, Salisbury Playhouse, to Sun 7 Jan 2018

Written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Ryan McBryde (the duo behind the last two smash-hit Playhouse pantos), with spectacular designs by James Button (Little Shop of Horrors, Salisbury Playhouse), Jack and the Beanstalk is the must-see family entertainment this Christmas. The fabulous cast includes the return of Richard Ede who had audiences in stitches last year as Widow Twanky.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Theatre Royal, Bath, to Sun 7 Jan 2018

Photo: Freia Turland

Is this the fairest panto of them all?  Can’t vouch for the dame played by Nick Wilton (Mr Lister, Eastenders) but Harriet Thorpe (Carole in The Brittas Empire and Fleur in AbFab) sure is a glam evil stepmother. Whatever you do, don’t take that apple…


Aladdin, Bristol Hippodrome, to Sun 7 Jan 2018


Hop on board the flying carpet and watch a genie pop out of a lamp, etc.  You’d think Marti Pellow might be Wishee Washee (Wet Wet Wet, geddit?) but he’s the baddie Abanazar and it’s Joe Pasquale who’s WW, with Del Dingle (oops,  I mean Hayley Tamaddon) as Jasmine.


Helen Foot Textiles, The Guild at 51, Cheltenham, Tue 9 Jan to Sun 18 Feb

close up of textiles

This Shrewsbury-born textile maker handweaves stunning scarves and other goods inspired by a mix of traditional handicrafts, contemporary geometric patterns and bold colourways. Now working out of a studio in rural Herefordshire, her style has been dubbed ‘rebellious nostalgia’ and I for one love it!


Fast Love: A Tribute to George Michael, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Thu 11 Jan, 7.30pm

george michael tribute

Still missing him? Yeah, me too *sniff*, but this tribute will fill you with joy and nostalgia for the great songster as it rollicks through his glittering career. All the favourites will feature, including Careless Whisper, FaithKissing a Fool and I Want Your


January Evenings, The Malthouse Bar & Kitchen, Stroud, Thu 11, Tue 16 & Wed 17 Jan, from 6pm

Get a sneak preview of Stroud’s favourite mill restaurant’s new evening menus launching in February. From 6pm, it’s the perfect mid-week, mid-month treat to get you through the dark winter nights.


Wassail Meet-Up at The Prince Albert, Stroud, Fri 12 Jan, 9pm

This ancient ritual hails from Anglo Saxon times (‘waes hael’ means ‘good health’) when a brew of hot mulled cider was drunk to help ensure a good apple harvest. Any excuse, eh? Absolutely, so hats off to the Stroud wassailers who are reviving the tradition by touring pubs and hotels around the Five Valleys. Catch them at The Prince Albert on Friday at 9pm.


The Garden Café Pop-up Restaurant, Miserden Nursery, Miserden, Fri 12 & Sat 13 Jan

chef jonathan richardson cooking

The magical greenhouse setting opens its doors for another night of superlative food, this time prepared by Le Manoir-trained, Yorkshire chef Jonathan Richardson. With its cosy wood burners, table settings by The Cotswold Flower Co and convivial atmosphere, I can’t recommend this supper club enough. Go! It’s amazing!



Cookery Course, Devizes, 13 Jan

Make gluten free bread and baked products that will taste amazing (uh, yes, they can!)


Spring family trail, Lacock Abbey, to 31 Jan

Drag reluctant mudlets around the gorgeous blooms here and they may even thank you. Or not. But at least you’ve tried!


This is the Kit live gig, The Goods Shed, Stroud, Sat 13 Jan, 7.30pm

A favourite of Lauren Laverne, Mark Riley and Cerys Matthews, This is the Kit, with frontwoman Kate Stables on vocals, banjo and guitar, will be banging out alternative rock and folk at SVA’s Grade II-listed Brunel-designed Goods Shed by the, believe it or not, station.


New Year Detox Yin Yoga, Stroud Yoga Space, Stroud, Sun 14 Jan, 10.30am-12.30pm

woman doing yin yoga shoelace pose

The Yoga Glow’s Jay has special powers I reckon. I went to her pre-Christmas de-stress workshop in December and came out feeling rejuvenated. In this workshop she’ll help get your energy flowing again with asanas to clear the liver and digestive system and get you calm, clear and balanced for the new year. Book now, spaces are running out!


Twelfth Night Afternoon Tea, Aunt Martha’s, Drybrook, Forest of Dean, Sun 14 & Sun 22 Jan

Tea at this Victorian tea rooms is always a quirky day out and its Twelfth Night offering (it’s counting from the pre-Gregorian Calender Christmas Day which was 5 Jan, so is hedging its bets between 17 Jan – yes, it likes to do things differently!) promises even more quirk than usual. Festive activities will accompany the taking down of Christmas decorations and tea of soup, sandwiches, scones, sweet treats and the special Twelfth Night Cake.


Sleeping Beauty, The Theatre Chipping Norton, until Sun 14 Jan 

I got insanely drunk on my 18th birthday but Sleeping Beauty celebrated hers by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel and falling asleep for hundreds of years. Bummer, eh! This promises to be a curveball, time-travelling rendering of the classic tale, spanning from Tudor times to the flower-powered late 1960s. The Theatre Chipping Norton, 2 Spring Street, Chipping Norton, Oxon,


The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Stories, Bristol Old Vic, until Sun 14 Jan 2018

Photo: Steve Tanner

After premiering up at Shakepeare’s Globe in London, the critically acclaimed production comes to Bristol. An impoverished girl strikes a series of matches to keep warm on the icy cold streets; each time she escapes into a different Hans Christian Andersen story. Expect cockles to be warmed.


Beauty and the Beast, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, until Sun 14 Jan 2018

Photo Camilla Adams

As you can tell from the pic, not a another stage version of the Disney film. This is a quirky re-telling of the classic French fairy tale, reminding us that beauty (or beastliness) is only skin deep. Littlies can enjoy the story of family, feathers and fitting in, in The Ugly Duckling (Sun 10 Dec to Sun 14 Jan).


The Little Mermaid, The Egg, Bath, until Sun 14 Jan 2018

Mermaid in a bath tub

This is a Hans Christian Andersen and mythical Cornish Mermaid of Zennor mash up.  Morgan lives at the bottom of the ocean in a shipwrecked 1950s cruise liner and surfaces in a 1980s yacht party on the English Riviera.  A period drama-cum-rom com with a jig-along classic 1980s pop soundtrack.


Michael McIntyre: Work in Progress, Salisbury Playhouse, 15-16 Jan

You’ll be lucky to snaffle a ticket, but it’s worth a try!


Burgundy 2016 En Primeur Tasting, Averys, Bristol, until Wed 17 Jan, 6-8pm

wine cellars of Avery bristol

Although it’s celebrating its 225th anniversary, I’ve only just stumbled upon this fabulous, fifth-generation family wine merchants and cellars in Culver Street, which as you walk down into the cellars is like walking back in time. I’m already booked in for this tasting event, ready to launch the New Year with some quality tipples. Apparently 2016 is a very small vintage, so it’ll be first come first served for the en primeur.


Mayhem at The Malthouse, Gastronomic Extravaganza, The Malthouse Bar & Kitchen, Stroud, Fri 19 Jan, 7pm

Nine chefs will be creating nine courses at this for-one-night-only fundraiser to supply water to The Success Nursery School in The Gambia. A great cause – and some great chefs will be giving their time for free, among them Michelin-starred chef Matt Weedon, Petersham Nurseries’ Mark Reid, Made By Bob’s Bob Parkinson and award-winning chocolatier Matthieu de Gottal. It’s going to be quite a feast and probably the best kind of mayhem! 


Forbidden Nights, Melksham Assembly Hall, 19 Jan

Circus just got sexy! Forbidden Nights are skilled and professionally trained performers, hand-picked from around the UK with charisma, undeniable talent, sparkling personality and honed physiques in equal measure. They can sing, they can dance and they are very easy on the eye… ticketsource


Griff Rhys Jones: Where Was I? Salisbury Playhouse, 19 Jan

Join the star of Not the Nine o’clock News, Alas Smith & Jones and Three Men In A Boat as he airs stories, anecdotes, reminiscences and outright lies – from forty years of travelling down rivers and up mountains, into Africa, out of India, and across the arid wastes of the BBC canteen. It’s a career (if you mean bouncing chaotically downhill without a map).


Brendan Cole: All Night Long, Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, 20 Jan

Brendan is joined by his sensational cast of guest dancers, captivating leading lady and superbly talented 14-piece band and singers, to whip up an extravagant mix of Latin fever and ballroom magic. From tantalising Tango to fiery Paso Doble, elegant Foxtrot to breath-taking Waltz – and with a few surprises in store – this is no ordinary dance show.



Bradford Roots Music Festival, Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, 20-21 Jan

Celebrate the very best in local musical talent with over 40 acts and activities. From folk to blues and pop to rock, experience a two-day indoor festival packed with fun and laughter to beat the January blues.


Stained Glass Landscapes Workshop, Victoria Works Studio, Chalford, Stroud, Sat 20 Jan, 10am-4pm

Get creative with this workshop led by glass artist Sarah Davi in which you’ll learn how to use traditional stained-glass techniques to make a small glass panel. Beginners welcome.


Mr Bobbington’s Popcorn Pub Quiz, The Prince Albert, Stroud, Sat 20 Jan, 8pm

A pub quiz with a difference (isn’t everything gloriously different at The Prince Albert?), this quirky test of your general knowledge comes with prizes and warm organic popcorn. Nice.


Sarah Millican: Control Enthusiast, Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, 21 Jan

Sarah Millican is not a control freak, she’s a control enthusiast. She even controls her own insults, see? Do you arrange the nights out? Are you in charge of passports on holiday? Then so are you. Whether you’re sorting the tickets for this show or turning up when you’re told to, welcome. You’ll learn about Rescue Men, farting in hospital pants, what can happen at a bra fitting, the benefits of casserole, plus tips on how to talk to shop assistants and the correct way to eat a biscuit. Funny, frank and unapologetically filthy.


A Passage to India, Salisbury Playhouse, 22-27 Jan

The advice was harsh but clear, and Aziz ignored it. Now he lies in jail on a charge of sexual assault. Forster’s masterpiece poses a question more urgent today than ever: how can we love one another in a world divided by culture and belief? Multi award-winning ensemble simple8 transport us to Imperial India, conjuring up the elephants and caves, courthouses and temples with the simplest and boldest means – including original music played live on stage by legendary composer Kuljit Bhamra.


Clear and Calm: Stress Away Mini Retreat, Chapel Spa, Cheltenham, Sun 22 Jan, 10am

A restorative retreat led by Balance Retreat’s Helen, an acupuncturist and stress management specialist, and yoga teacher and massage therapist Gemma. These two are great healers – I went to one before Christmas and left with lots of tools for reducing stress, including how to boost my qi (energy) which I’ve been putting into practice ever since. Combine it with some spa treatments and afternoon tea and you’ll float out of there ready for the week ahead.


Private Lives, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Tue 23 to Sat 27 Jan, 7.30pm, 2pm Sat matinée

man and woman in private lives

Don’t miss Noël Coward’s brilliant comedy of manners brought superbly to life by London Classic Theatre. Following two honeymooning couples in adjoining suites, sparks fly in this classic battle of the sexes.


Lifting the Blues: Aynsley Lister, Bacon Theatre, Cheltenham, Wed 24 Jan, 7.30pm

Showcasing his new album Home, the man whose “guitar playing is a fire hazard” according to Mojo is going to set the stage alight and blast away any winter blues with this explosive concert in which he’s supported by The Black Feathers who mix things up with Americana, folk and acoustic indie rock. bacontheatre


Burns Night Supper, The Green Room, Whatley Manor, Easton Grey, Wilts, Thu 25 Jan, 7pm

chef cooking

Take your Burns Night Supper to the next level this year at Whatley Manor’s new Green Room, a low-key, traditional hug of a space with ostrich leather walls and bar, and über-talented chefs cooking topnotch Scottish fare in the round. And, of course, there’ll be a few wee drams on offer too, namely Arran Single Malt, the only single malt officially endorsed by the World Burns Federation.


Fairport Convention, The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, Thu 25 Jan

Fifty years on and the band credited with originating British folk-rock music is still going strong. Catch them on their winter tour when they’ll be playing a mix of their old favourites and new material from their latest Golden anniversary studio album


Let’s Get Quizzical: The Scottish Quiz, Stroud Brewery, Thrupp, Stroud, Thu 25 Jan, 8pm

This month’s Stroud Brewery quiz night celebrates Burns Night with a Scottish-themed quiz, so start cramming your Scottish history, och aye.


Soushi at The Garden Café Pop-up Restaurant, Miserden Nursery, Miserden, Fri 26 Jan


Following last year’s resounding success, Soushi’s Brett Mills is popping up at Miserden’s greenhouse garden café for one night only – expect the Cirencester outfit’s trademark, melt-in-the-mouth sushi and don’t forget to bring your own to wash it down with. Japanese rice wine anyone?


Circus of Horrors, Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, 28 Jan

After taking to the road over 22 years ago and touring all over the world, the phenomenon returns with its latest brand new incarnation Voodoo. This spectacular features an amazing amalgamation of bizarre & fantastic circus acts act’s all woven into a sensational shock / horror storey and the darkest of magic – taking the show to a whole new level, it’s driven by a mainly original soundscape & performed with a forked tongue firmly in each cheek, you’ll certainly Die Laughing.


Healthy Mind and Healthy Body, Unicorn House, Cirencester, Sun 28 Jan, 10.30am-1pm

Make 2018 your healthiest year ever with a bit of a kickstart from this workshop at Muddy’s favourite co-working space Unicorn House. It’ll look at how hypnosis can support you, how the brain works, what you can do to reduce stress and feel happier, how food can support your mood and how to make healthy eating choices.


Circomedia: Cut the Mustard, The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, Sun 28 Jan, 7.30pm

woman's leg balancing mustard and lemon

Who knew, but you don’t run away to the circus these days, you go to college! Join the 2018 graduating class of Circomedia, Bristol as they show off everything they’ve learned on after three years of falling, catching, dropping, laughing, injury, endurance and dedication. Laugh, I nearly cried!


Winter Watch at Sherborne Park Estate, near Northleach, Mon 29 Jan to Thu 1 Feb

robin in winter winter scene

After successfully hosting Autumn Watch, the BBC are back at the gorgeous Cotswold estate to film Winter Watch. With woodlands, open farm fields and ancient trees and water meadows, the estate is the perfect place for wildlife hunting (the BBC knows what it’s about) and is also lovely for a winter walk.


Nine Below Zero Duo, The Prince Albert, Stroud, Wed 31 Jan, 8pm

Live acoustic tunes from the blues band who first made waves in the early 1980s and are still releasing albums three decades on.


Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Leavesden, near London, until Sun 4 Feb

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.

Twelfth Night, RST, Stratford, until Sat 24 Feb 2018

Photo by Paul Stuart (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. rsc

Find more ideas here

Things To DoThis MonthThis Month

Tell us what you think

Your email address will not be published.

* Required
* Required

Little Black Book

The Little Black Book

Our A-Z of the grooviest local businesses to help make your life easier

View the businesses
Home icon Back Home

The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Wiltshire