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Five Good Things: what to eat, visit, do and buy this August

Amid heatwaves and hosepipe bans, we all need a little light relief. But what to do? Happily, we’re on hand with a motley muster of the month’s most refreshing cultural distractions

Five Good Things: what to eat, visit, do and buy this August

Wild Feasts at Oxmoor Farm, multiple dates

Longer days bring all sorts of joys, among them greater opportunity for sumptuous summer feasting. And while we’ve plenty of time for sunset suppers in the city, there’s certainly something to be said for more rural repasts, making the most of the countryside at its best.

And so to Buckinghamshire, where we’re making our way to Oxmoor Farm, in the middle of the Chilterns. Since June, the farm has played host to a series of supper clubs with a shining line-up of chefs at the helm, with each event designed around produce from local growers, farmers and distillers – all with a view to supporting Oxmoor’s regenerative aims.

First up was Dan Chambers (Belly in the Compton Arms), while Joe Woodhouse (Vanilla Black, Towpath Café) and Brendan Eades (Warehouse at The Conduit) followed in July. Taking up the mantle this month, our friend Xanthe Gladstone, who we visited earlier in the summer, joins forces with chef and food stylist Clare Cole to create a beautiful banquet on 6 August, while on 27 August, Root London (made up of Max Mclean and Ed Tejada, both chefs at Silo) will rustle up a feast with a focus on foraging and farm-to-fork practices. Both are sure to sell out quickly, but if you miss out on tickets, don’t fret – there are September dates too. For details, visit Oxmoor Farm’s website.

Hare’s Tail Printing’s new collection

And, speaking of friends, we were thrilled to hear the latest news from Hare’s Tail Printing. Founder Speronella Marsh, the subject of a recent Almanac feature, has in the last month released her fourth collection of sustainable limited-edition fabric designs, all of which are block-printed by hand on to antique sheets in her Shropshire studio.

“This collection is definitely more varied than my previous ones,” Speronella says. “I’m starting to explore things that I’ve never really looked at before.” Where before she drew quite directly from nature when coming up with her motifs, for this new range, Speronella has begun to explore more abstracted forms. There’s been “a bit of trial and error”, she says. Looking at the results, it’s paid off. For details, visit Hare’s Tail Printing.

Painting in the garden with Julian Le Bas, Charleston, 15 Aug

While we’re on the subject of creativity that draws upon the natural world, we’d like to direct your attention to Charleston. As any Almanac reader knows, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell’s Sussex farmhouse is Inigo’s ur-influence, something of a decorative lodestar. We’re first in line, then, to sign up to Julian Le Bas’ painting class taking place in the gorgeous garden there on 15 August.

Le Bas, a Sussex-based artist known for his landscapes, will lead students working in oil or acrylic for a whole day, encouraging exploration in and sublimation of the luscious garden, which was planted by Roger Fry and was designed to be painted. As well as refreshments, tickets include a private house tour. Easels and boards are provided, but those taking part should bring their own paints and brushes. For details, visit the Charleston website.

Twelfth Night and The Gunpowder Plot, Stourhead, multiple dates

And now for some similarly elemental (though somewhat more experimental) culture. On four dates across August, travelling drama troupe Three Inch Fools – their hats steamed, breeches ironed and lutes tuned – will be performing at Stourhead, in the wonderful open-air theatre that sits in the National Trust gardens there.

On 12 and 26 August, the merry band of Fools – known for their raucous energy and marvellous musicality – will take to the stage to present Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Expect romance and revelry, as well as some hilarious high jinks. And, as if one play weren’t enough, on 13 and 27 August, “short fuses and tall tales” come together in The Gunpowder Plot, a new family-friendly production about Guy Fawkes’ infamous political conspiracy. It’s set to be full of intrigue and false moustaches.

This stint in the south-west comes towards the tail end of Three Inch Fools’ summer-long tour, in which five actors have played more than 50 roles – and 20 instruments. When the run is over (there are more performances elsewhere, in September), they will have visited 80 venues too. Bravo! For details, click here.

Shown: The Palladian bridge and Pantheon at Stourhead, Wiltshire, NTPL Commissioned (NTPL) © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Frogmore House and Gardens, 30 Aug-1 Sep

Gardens galore, it seems, as we visit another, this time those of Frogmore House, the royal retreat within the grounds of Windsor Castle’s Home Park. Such a trip is a rare treat, as Frogmore, whose gardens still bear traces of the 18th-century Queen Charlotte’s interest in botany, isn’t usually open to the public.

Across three days this month, however, Frogmore throws wide not just its garden gates but its grand doors too, inviting visitors in for a series of charity open days, running from 30 August to 1 September, each in aid of a different charity (National Garden Scheme, Mothers’ Union, Guide Dogs). While the handsome house is worth a tour, we’ll be lavishing attention on the 35 acres of landscaping, a bewitching plot beloved of Queen Victoria for good reason. “This dear lovely garden,” she wrote in 1867, likely sitting in the tea house she had built there. “All is peace and quiet and you only hear the hum of the bees, the singing of the birds.” Sounds like just our cuppa too. For details, visit Frogmore House’s website.

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