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The Muddy Guide: What’s On 19 – 26 Feb

Whether or not you’re recovering from school holidays antics, you’ll be wanting to know the places you can have your own fun this coming week. Well, here you are – comedy, food, portrait painting and a spot of mind-reading. And don’t forget there are still some current half term ideas here.

Mark Steel, Who Do I Think I am?  Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells 19 Feb/ Clair Hall Haywards Heath 27 Feb


There’s always a buzz around certain shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Often it’s a promising newcomer but last year, old timer Mark Steel, more known for his political comedy, was impressing with Who Do I Think I am? which is based on his experience tracing his birth parents. This is no heart-warming tale with Davina McCall popping up to make him cry, Steel says the only reason he turned it into a show was because it involved so many bizarre coincidences and connections. Lord Lucan is among the unlikely candidates who feature in the story (spoiler alert, he wasn’t his dad). I’ve booked to see it in Haywards Heath on the 27th. If you’re quick you might even catch it in Tunbridge Wells.

Rye Bay Scallop Week, Feb 20 – 28

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If like me you love scallops, you’ll find there’s no better place to indulge this coming week than Rye, where the annual scallop festival is coming out of its shell. Expect restaurant promos, fabulous taster menus (like £42 for five courses at Webbes) and cooking demonstrations, with a bit of live music for extra atmosphere. There’s even a scallop shell treasure trail for the kids.

The Winter’s Tale, encore screenings, various cinemas 22 -29 Feb


A live screening of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s production of The Winter’s Tale was in cinemas before Christmas and excellent it was too. Now there’s another chance to catch it with encore screenings at certain cinemas including The Picturehouse Uckfield (Feb 22), Duke Of York’s Picturehouse Brighton (Feb 28) and Ritz Digital and Connaught Cinema, Worthing (Feb 29). See here for a great review by Pippa over at Muddy Herts, who caught it at The Garrick.

Painting Bratby, family portraits workshop, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, 27 Feb


Hastings’ own ‘ kitchen sink realist’ John Bratby often captured his family’s daily lives. He’s the subject of a current exhibition at the gallery and this artist-led workshop will help you put your, hopefully more flattering, portraits on canvas. It’s suitable for over-16s, runs 12.30pm – 4.30pm and costs £10. Booking is essential. A free Bratby-slanted still life workshop runs 12.30pm – 4.30pm on 20 Feb.

Derren Brown: Miracle, Theatre Royal Brighton, 23-27 Feb

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Derren Brown’s a frustrating so-and-so – he blends genuine psychology with magic tricks without telling us which are which. I’m alternately impressed and appauled by his methods (anyone see the recent ethically dubious Pushed to the Edge?) but there’s no doubting his cleverness and if you’re among his fans you’ll want to catch him on his run in Brighton.

Four to Eight, half prices lunches and teas, Catherine Street, London until 29 Feb

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This stylish Italian, just below Covent Garden piazza has been on my radar for a while but I’ve yet to get myself organised to give it a try. Here’s a great incentive though – on weekdays for the whole of February they’re running a half price lunch offer if you book quoting FEB50%. The food looks high quality and inventive and the prices aren’t bad even at full price so it’s also worth booking for a weekend you’re in town. Afternoon teas are new and they are also debuting at half price – and that includes weekends (booking essential).

Discovering Women in Sussex lectures, De La Warr pavilion, 23 Feb, 1 & 8 Mar


From artist Vanessa Bell to women’s rights campaigner Barbara Bodichan, Sussex has been home to many remarkable ladies throughout history. Hastings-based writer Ann Kramer will be telling us more at a series of lectures based on her book Sussex Women (Snake River Press, 2007), which is a collection of 30 biographies. The lectures cost £11 each and they run 10.30am – 1.00pm.

Green Tree Gallery, Annual Art Sale, Borde Hill Garden, 23-27 Feb

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Borde Hill Garden doesn’t reopen until next month but the on site gallery is holdings its annual contemporary art sale. Paintings and prints to ceramics, textiles, jewellery will all be available and if you drop at the opening on the 23rd, you can enjoy a drink and nibbles while you bargain hunt. The gallery is open 10.30am – 4.00pm Tuesdays to Saturdays. Look out also for the garden’s sculpture exhibition, which runs May to Sept.

Belgian Evening, The Sussex Ox, Polegate, 24 Feb

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This pub has some good credentials, not least its own organic farm. I’m checking it out soon so will let you know the Muddy verdict, in the meantime you might want to try its Belgian themed night this Wednesday. That naturally means moules frites, waffles and great beer but there is a choice of other dishes like Flemish beef stew, artichoke stuffed gnocchi, trout and steak tartare. There’ll also be suitably continental live jazz on accordion and guitar from Manush Sans Frontières to accompany your scoffing.

X Factor 2016 Live Tour, The Brighton Centre 22-23 Feb

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If you really must, if it’ll make your kids’ year, then jump on the X Factor juggernaut as it steams into Brighton with Anton Stephens, 4th Impact, Reggie ‘N’ Bollie, Louisa Johnson, Lauren Murray, Che Chesterman, Mason Noise and Seann Miley Moore.


Taylor Wessing portrait prize, National Portrait Gallery until 21 Feb

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The Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize at London’s National Portrait Gallery is a Muddy Sussex favourite. I popped in before Christmas and as always the standards are super high. There are a few celebs, including Benedict Cumberbatch and some beautiful uses of natural light. My favourite though, was a grinning schoolboy and his mates in an African classroom, a portrait so full of joy I could have sat and looked at it for half an hour.

Exotic Creatures, Royal Pavilion, Brighton until 28 Feb

Brighton Museum and art Galleries, Exotic Animal print, 2015

Paintings, sculptures, caricatures and circus bills feature in the Exotic Creatures exhibition, which looks at animals in royal collections, early zoos and travelling menageries in the 18th and 19th centuries. It includes the sad tale of Britain’s first giraffe, a diplomatic gift to the pavilion’s creator, George IV. Children can complete a creature trail by finding animals in the Pavilion décor.


Wildlife Festival, Brighton City Airport, Shoreham, 11-12 Jun


Wildlife, at what was formerly called Shoreham Airport, won best new festival at the UK Festival Awards last year. The tickets have just on sale so if you want to see the likes of Disclosure, Rudimental, Annie Mac, Ice Cube, James Bay, and Busta Rhymes you’d best get booking now.

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