Food, Days Out and Travel stories from Brighton, London and the Rest of the World


Would this be described as gallows humour?

On a recent trip to London to see the Da Vinci exhibition, which we didn't get into as a result of lack of planning, ie we didn't have tickets, J_ and I ended up in the crypt of the stunning and very ancient St Martin in the Fields.  Perusing the preserved gravestones of ladies long dead we came across one that made us laugh, maybe because we are not familiar with the conventions of gravestone inscriptions from 400 years ago, who knows.  Anyway, we found it interesting and so I have transcribed a copy for a little diversion as this year ends and another is just about to begin:

Here lies buried the body of

Miss Frances Jones daughter of Arthur

Lord Vicecount of Ranelagh, by his wife the

Lady Katherine Boyle who was daughter

To Richard Boyle Earle of Corke and Lord

High Treasurer of Ireland.

She died in the prime of her age, hav-

ing never been married, the 28th of

March in the year 1672.

Enough and leave the rest to fame.

Tis to commend her but to name.

Courtship, which living she declined

When dead to offer; were unkind.

Where never any could speak ill.

Who would officious praise spill

Nor can the truest wit or friend

Without detracting her commend.

To say she lived a virgin chaste

In this age loose? and all unlaid?

Nor was where vice is so allowed

Of virtue or ashamed or proud

That her soul was on heaven so bent

No minute but it came and went

That, ready her last debt to pay

Modest as morn, as midday bright

Gentle as evening, cool as night

Tis true but all so weakly said

Twere more significant: she’s Dead.

All there is left for me to do is wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for reading



Burning of the Clocks Wednesday 21 December 2011

The nights are closing in fast in the run up to the shortest day of the year and with it the annual winter solstice celebrations with Brighton's Burning of the Clocks 2011.



The Best of the Best Coffee in Brighton

With the proliferation of coffee shops continuing at a pace through Brighton, another one is just about to open in village Kemptown, the question of where to get the best coffee becomes an important topic.

And although there will always be a place for the cosy familiarity that comes with frequenting one of the big chains, better by far is the independent with its individuality, bonhomie and credibility that the big chains can only try to artificially create.

Redroaster Coffee House, Brighton, UK photo by Modern Bric a Brac
Redroaster Coffee House, Brighton
When I first arrived in Brighton and the town was new to me with everywhere yet to be explored I remember sitting in the best of the best independent coffee establishments, the Redroaster and lapping up the atmosphere; with tables of chattering friends, art on the walls, coffee pots along the ceiling, I drank in the general buzz of activity along with my latte.

Seven years on and it has lost none of its charm and as with any successful business it all starts at the head, so with that in mind I persuaded the owner Tim to spare me a moment and share with me the story so far.

Redroaster Coffee House, Brighton, UK photo by Modern Bric a Brac
Interior, Redroaster Coffee House
"I came into the industry with very little experience apart from dish washing experience. Just with the idea I would like to do one product really really well. I knew from one of my partners, my Canadian brother who had provided the initial impetus that in Canada in the early nineties there were a lot of really good coffee places. So we opened up in 1994 and Starbucks was a bit of an inspiration to him at the the time. I had been involved in the graphic art industry but there was an almighty recession going on then and work was becoming increasingly hard to hang on to and so I decided almost on the spur of the moment to change direction and this has been the story ever since.

What I discovered is doing coffee properly is something you can quite easily become quite fanatical about. When we opened in 1994 I think we were way ahead of the average cafe, we were using the espresso machine properly and learning how to do it even better.  At that time the quality of coffee in England was not that good. Even places run by Italians had so adapted themselves to the English market that a cappuccino would not be recognisable today. In those days you’d get a thin layer of foam. Speed is always critical in catering and particularly in a place like Brighton, a tourist destination, where the saying went you could serve them anything and it wouldn’t matter because they wouldn’t come back. It was virtually impossible to get a proper espresso in those days, anything like an Italian espresso now. It was more like a Cafe Americano, even Costa Coffee before it was taken over by Whitbread was double the length it needed to be. And that was absolutely the rule. At the time I’d never really gone into the subject of coffee so when people were saying ‘oh espresso!’ and what was being produced was poor quality I didn’t really know where the excitement was coming from. So I got a good home espresso machine, La Pavoni and started making coffee myself.  I found you could get one or two good books on the subject and I started inventing stuff for myself and that's what we used to come up with our coffee menu.

It's all in the detail, for instance our cafe lattes, I felt was just wrong served in a glass, even though that was the norm, so I started doing it in a cappuccino cup.  Then we learned you shouldn’t use the tamper stuck on the front of a machine grinder but use a hand tamper instead.  Virtually everyone I knew who had an espresso maker laughed at the idea, even an Italian I employed said, No no no we use the tamper! and I said, I don’t think you should and we enforced our rules. Through little refinements like this we got better and better. Back in 1994 I believe the coffee we were making was better than everyone else around us. We quickly found we had a following among people who came from other countries, particularly from Australia where your cafe latte is a flat white. That's when I first found out about flat whites although we didn't put it on the menu people know to ask for it.  It's basically a stronger version of cafe latte, with an extra shot in it. It’s how I personally would have a coffee in the morning.

In 1998 before we moved to our exisiting site I started experimenting with roasting coffee, reading Kenneth Davids, the American writer who put out a book about home coffee roasting and I thought, yeah I can do this. I would profile the roasts I was doing so by the time we came to set up the Redroaster I’d already decided to buy a small in-house coffee roaster and we had decided to work towards becoming a coffee roaster as well as a coffee house. First we were roasting single origin then companies in Brighton started coming to us, like Terre a Terre and later on Infinity Cafe, saying, Can you roast some coffee for us and the roasting grew from there. Finally three and half years ago we decided to invest in a larger roaster and have set up a roasterie in Kemptown for roasting not only all our own coffee but about 40 or fifty whole sale customers as well".

For a full list of blends, events and other details, visit their website, or pop in and see them and try the coffee out for yourself.

1d St James Street
Tel: 01273 686668



White Night! White Night!

Absolutely bonkers, more bonkers than Alice in Wonderland, a book inextricably linked to Brighton and also bonkers, but White Night beats it hands down. In one night to celebrate the changing of the hour seventy events themed around concepts of Utopia will take place across Brighton and Hove.

From urban golf, throwing seed balls, playing adult tag, running a half marathon, learning night digital photography to a QR code treasure hunt, peering in windows to watch film installations or standing on the rooftop of Embassy Court with headphones on, transport yourself for the night and stay up until dawn. Brighton’s never dull.


Best Vintage in Brighton

42 Vine Street,
01273 671937

It’s no wonder Brighton has become known as Brick Lane by the sea, what with girls in aran sweaters, oversized 80s glasses and their hair tied up in loosely arranged buns appearing all over Brighton you could be forgiven for thinking you’d somehow landed in the East End of London. And now I’ve found out why, it’s amazing how you can live in a place as small as Brighton and have missed out on an absolute gem like Beyond Retro for as long as I have. Visiting it for the first time I couldn’t believe what a cornucopia of clothing delights I had been missing out on for so long and with its vintage ethos it fits in perfectly with the heart of Brighton, where it’s all about re-use, recycle, reinvigorate.
Beyond Retro Brighton

Grabbing an unsuspecting member of staff, Josh, I bend his ear a little to find out more about this treasure trove I have just wandered into.

“It’s owned by a Canadian couple, Steve and Helen who come over every three or four months from Vancouver, Canada. I think it was Steve’s passion for Rock ‘n Roll that was the driving force behind it. Our flagship store is on Brick Lane (that would fit, says I, looking around at clothes that would suit any Shoreditchette or dude). It has a cult following and has become a destination shop, where people from all over the world will come over especially to visit it. Maybe as many as 40% are tourists, from places like Japan who have come over just to see the store (crazy, I say in wonder).

"The store in Brick Lane, which opened in a disused dairy and has been there for ten years, has got a really good customer base in East London, and we’ve now opened one in Soho, Great Marlborough Street, near Carnaby Street, which attracts Topshop customers and only a couple of weeks ago we opened one in Dalston, with a cafe in it. The company is growing every week it’s kind of intense.
Beyond Retro original 50s glamour

“This store in Brighton has been open for two years (Wow, I marvel, I can’t believe I’ve never even been in here, it’s ridiculous!)

“We put on student events, the one today will involve emptying out the front section and filling it with a hundred boxes of items with 50% off and we’ll have a drinks company providing beer and wine.

"We’re more than just a clothes store, we want to reach out to people by building mutually beneficial relationships with other organisations and bands, we’ve already created a good relationship with Audio.

So how do you source your items?

“We have a team of people who look at what’s on the catwalk and predict trends. They put together a list of everything they want and send it over to the team of pickers to source the items from charity shops, vendors and donations and will rifle through the stuff that other people don’t want and then we select what we think will work.

“In theory you can go into a high street store and pick up whatever is on trend, for instance this summer it was all about the seventies and then you can come in here and find the originals. We actually have jumpsuits from the seventies.

Beyond Retro clothes sorted into decades

What trends should we be looking out for this autumn / winter?

“For blokes there is a lot of work-wear like chinos and brogues, parkas are going to be really big, block colour is going to be massive. Women’s wear for next summer will be focused on leather, lace and crochet, floral and western are going to be really big as well.”

Beyond Retro skirt

Wow-ee I say and I’m loving the box of scarves. The great thing is you don’t even have to make it down to Brighton to get involved, just head to their website and you can buy a whole heap of originals right there.

Beyond Retro Box of scarves


Best Boutiques of Brighton

37 Ship Street
East Sussex
Tel: 01273 770407

Having recently travelled back along Western Road from Hove central for the first time in a while and then walking through Brighton I was struck by the number of empty premises. Even in Brighton! sunny old, tourist busy, bustling Brighton. A stark reminder of the current climate and a further inducement for me to carry on posting about my favourite independent shops, which do what Brighton does best, offer a unique experience.

In this case the business of note is one of the best boutiques in Brighton, where ladies with busy lives can drop in and find stylish everyday clothes to make them feel special from a selection of carefully chosen labels.

With over 25 years experience in the fashion industry and having run her own boutique for the last six years, Lyn knows the difference between unflattering trends and those items guaranteed to sculpt the female form.

Covet wrap dress

Driven by a desire to create a shop for women who want to look good but without letting clothes rule their lives, Lyn has realised her ambition in her beautiful Boutique, Covet. ‘A lot of my customers are writers and artists and I think what I offer is a little bit more creative, for women who want somewhere non-pretentious, where people feel comfortable with nice wearable clothes, decent sizes, decent prices, good fabrics, a bit interesting and not high trend, or fashion victim.’

Taking me round the store, Lyn’s eyes light up when she talks about each item of clothing and why she loves it, ‘for the Covet label, we’ve just done a raincoat which I was really buzzing about and we’ve already sold the prototype last Saturday.’ Clocking a leather jacket in the kind of leather you don’t even have to touch to know how soft it is, ‘this leather jacket came in this morning and I think it is absolutely gorgeous, and so I’ve just put it in the window.’

Urbancode leather jacket £225

Other labels include a recent addition from a local lady, who came in wearing one of her own designs in a butterfly print which Lyn was so taken with that she added the Hart label to her collection with great success.

And now that the last rays of summer have well and truly shone it’s time to look at autumn wardrobes and what to put in ‘em. Lyn’s tip is to look out for shift dresses to team with coloured tights and wear with a heeled shoe or boot. Holding up a perfect example, ‘although it doesn’t look much on the hanger, it is beautiful on.’ The dress, hand-designed by Mauvette Phillips has been made in a soft fabric, appealing to touch. Personally, I know it would look good on.

Mauvette Philips shift dress


Is it by John Constable?

We see nothing truly until we understand it. John Constable

Saturday morning and unable to wait any longer I head to the Pavilion bright and early so that I can study the Regency costumes on display before crowds pour in. On route I walk down along St James’ Street and there staring back at me from a shop window is a pencil sketch of a ship on Brighton beach looking every bit the antique and with a price tag of only forty quid.

Mind Charity Shop window, St James's Street
I walk on and go to the exhibition, first in, I marvel at the petite size of the costumes positioned in the rooms where two hundred years ago real people would have worn something similar in the very same space. With one eye trying to imagine the costumes walking and talking I still keep thinking about the picture in the window and wonder whether I should go back and have a look at it again in case it is still there.

Some time later and I am in the shop on St James’ Street and I am holding the picture up to try and scrutinize whether it is a copy or an original, I can’t tell and I’m standing in a charity shop so I can’t ask if I can take off the back to check. But forty quid is forty quid.

I dither, what if it's really old I think and then I buy it.

Walking home I’m not sure if I’ve been done up like a kipper or whether it’s ok to spend forty quid on a frame and print.

At home I loosen the fastenings on the back and ease out the picture, to find, it’s a copy. Oh what! I think. Oh well, I shrug. Now that my dreams of untold wealth have been dashed I carefully clean the glass and place the picture back in the frame.

The writing along the bottom of the sketch looks as if it might read, ‘Brighton 14 Oct 1825’, whether it’s a copy or not I still want to know who sketched it.

Brighton 14 Oct 1825

Some googling later reveals a picture that looks similar by John Constable, is my print by Constable I wonder?

courtesy of

Further research uncovers that it is likely that it was by Constable because he was in town on 14 October 1825 sketching an old church.

Whether it is or not, the view from my window is of the same coastline the artist of this sketch looked at and the seaside square I live in was laid out around the same time too, so it seems fitting for this picture to end up hanging above my mantelpiece one hundred and eighty five years later.



The Best Ever Brownies with a twist

Owing a huge debt to Nigella Lawson, Domestic Goddess and Culinary Sage in my eyes, this recipe is taken from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book and incorporates a welcome addition.

The first brownies I ever tasted were made using this recipe and it was as a direct result of eating too many of these that a friend of mine stayed up into the wee hours buzzing and brain-storming entrepreneurial visions.

Moreish and delicious they are a hit every time. So much so that I took a few batches to sell when mother and I went on a carbooting expedition yesterday.

Carboot Marshie Brownies


National Cup Cake Week - Let us eat cake

Strawberries and cream cupcake

In celebration of National Cup Cake Week I thought it only right I recommend the best place to buy cup cakes when in Brighton.  Situated in the Lanes the Angel Food Bakery has been providing an array of colourfully topped creations for a few years, including strawberries and cream (my favourite), red velvet (red cocoa sponge with a cream topping) and chocolate orange to name a few.  Using quality ingredients like unsalted English butter, Belgian chocolate, fresh fruit and free range eggs, their beautiful to look at and scrumptious to eat cup cakes have gained a faithful following.  Mostly priced at £1.75 mark they are best eaten directly.

Angel Food Bakery

In fact so successful has this enterprise proved to be that two weeks ago they have added another premises to their name, just around the corner and designed to offer courses in, guess what?  Cup cake baking, hurrah! 

Head to their website for more info on chocolate making, cupcake baking, buttercream toppings and old school puddings.

Angel Food Kitchen

Angel Food Bakery
20 Meeting House Lane
Brighton, BN1 1HB
Tel: 01273 208 404


Going Out for some wall art - take another look

What with the revving of engines, smell of black leather and burly looking men lugging helmets under their arms, the annual motorbike meet up, aka the Brighton Burn Up, noisily took over the Kemptown seafront for a while. 

Feeling out of place I headed north, floral-ed up to the max in a floaty skirt, flowery top and pink dripping off me as I walked....this made no odds, of course, as the testosterone count was way too high to be breached.

Even the wall art I came across in the north laine area seemed to shout out male partisanship, so in tribute to all things uncompromisingly masculine here's a bit of wall art to be found on the aptly named Regent Street.

Brighton, wall art Regent Street
Brighton, wall art Regent Street

Brighton, wall art Regent Street
Brighton, wall art Regent Street

Brighton, wall art Regent Street


Sticky Mike's Flash Lit Fict 11 Sept 11

As part of the Brighton Digital Festival, Paragraph Planet, Grit Lit and Story Studios, are collaborating on an evening that is experimental in nature and is aimed at bringing together the literary and digital worlds.  Running throughout September the Brighton Digital Festival is worth exploring in more detail, but this event in itself holds enough of a draw to warrant a post of its own.
Recommended by a friend, who is one of those people who not only has at least one novel in them, but has written it and is being published this autumn, also very exciting and deserving a post, so stay tuned.

Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, Brighton

The evening will consist of short shorts, flash writing and digital technologies, at the heart of which will be a 300-word flash fiction slam competition and an online Twitter story competition, with competitors battling it out for fame and glory.

» To enter the Twitter story competition: use #FLF11

» To enter flash fiction slam: post your name on the Facebook event wall or email

The theme is 21st century and the Twitter and slam winners will be announced on the night. Judging panels will include representatives from Grit Lit, Story Studios Paragraph Planet and Myriad Editions.

Sunday 11 September 2011, 7pm - 10pm, drinks til late

Sticky Mike's Frog Shop,
9-12 Middle Street,
Brighton BN1 1AL



Mixing it up Funk style - Soul Casserole Fri 26 August

As an established Kemptown resident I like to keep my ear to the ground for anything exciting to post about and this latest gig of Soul Casserole's is promising to be worth the fiver entry charge.

Latest Music Bar



The Great Brighton Bake Off - registration ends next Sunday 14th August

With my own commitment to cake baking beginning when I saw the iced cup cake on the front of Nigella Lawson's recipe book, which made me think, I wanna do that, I've had an enduring interest in baking ever since.  Over time I was given, bought, inherited baking paraphernalia and slowly built up a repertoire of trusted recipes, with a small amount of improvisation.  The love affair continued and I can now bake some good solid fare although I still can't bake decent cupcakes and my presentation skills are a bit lacking.  To say the least, the very least.



A Guide to summer shakes and smoothies in Brighton

With summer on its way and temperatures on the up, in UK terms, it's time to grab an ice-cold quencher at one of the smoothie making stores to suck on while you mooch about town or for chilling with on the beach.  

Smoothies in Brighton, photo by modern Bric a Brac
Moo Moo's


Soundwaves Festival 2011, 14 - 17 July

Ushering in four days dedicated to audio related new commissions, collaborations, performances and experiences, the Soundwaves Festival, is split into daily themes consisting of Comment, Move, Sing and Listen.


Great Grandad's missing cow makes page 5, sixty two years ago today

By strange coincidence my mother discovered a news article that had been kept for sixty two years on the very day the article would have gone to press.  By further coincidence the date, 4th of July also fell on a Monday sixty two years ago and relates to the story of my great grandfather's prize winning Ayrshire.

As it seemed so strange for this story to emerge on it's anniversary I thought I would share it.  What made my mum laugh when she was reading it out to me was how, apparently police across Ulster had been looking for this cow.  It may even be the cow that we had a painting of, in a big gilded frame hanging in our dining room, much to my mum's disapproval.  Perhaps this final chapter will reconcile my mother to the cow after all.

Belfast Newsletter 1949, Agnew's Ayrshire cow
Overtoun Bellflower

Missing Cow Found Alive reads the news article. Fell into a disused tank a fortnight ago. The champion Ayrshire cow, Overtoun Bellflower, for which police throughout Ulster have been searching for a fortnight, was found yesterday evening, half-submerged in a disused tank in the grounds of Garnerville House, Old Holywood Road, not fifty yards from the field from which she strayed on Saturday, June 18.

Able to Walk – Though somewhat emaciated, the cow, on being pulled out of the tank, was able to walk to the byres of its owner, Mr Norman Agnew, dairyman, Holywood Road, about three-quarters of a mile distant. The tank in which the cow was imprisoned was no bigger than five feet deep. It had been covered by planking which seemingly collapsed under the cow’s weight. The tank was hidden by a large plot of nettle also four or five feet high.

How the beast survived is a mystery. She had no food other than what nettles she could crop from the verge of the tank and no water other than what the slime contained.

Mr Agnew told a “NewsLetter” reporter: - “In a lifetime’s experience of cattle I have known nothing like it. At the time she strayed the cow was giving six gallons of milk a day, and usually when a cow is not milked it kills her. Perhaps we have the unusually hot weather to thank for saving her. It remains to be seen whether she will come to milk again.”

The discovery

The cow was discovered by Mr C Brownlee of Holland Park who was passing through the grounds. He summoned assistance and the bank was dug away to make a gradient, and with the aid of ropes around her rump the cow was able to scramble to safety. She was immediately scrubbed down and examined by a veterinary surgeon.

Overtoun Bellflower, which was purchased in Scotland for a substantial sum won first prize for Ayrshires at the recent show at Balmoral and was supreme champion in all breeds in the milking classes.

Since the disappearance of the cow many theories have been advanced, not a few people suggesting that she has been stolen for slaughter for black market meat.

Belfast Newsletter 1949, Agnew's Ayrshire cow
Belfast News-Letter Monday 4 July 1949

Belfast Newsletter 1949, Agnew's Ayrshire cow
Missing cow found alive



Fanny runs away from the King - The Burney Society go to Kew

Having just gone to Kew gardens for the annual Burney Society meet up I can't help but put up a post in celebration of this great journal and novel writer.  What I love about Fanny’s writing is the immediacy with which she recounts events, the below excerpt is a good example of where the whole scene comes to life as the drama unfolds. The other aspect I love about her retelling is the way in which personalities, in this instance the royal family are revealed, the King a likeable, vulnerable, well meaning chap and the Queen a concerned and loving wife.

Kew Palace
2nd February 1789 and the King has been gravely ill with porphyria, which no one understood at the time and it was considered that he had gone mad. Fanny Burney employed as part of the Royal Household in the capacity of Second Keeper of the Robes for the Queen kept a journal of events during this period. It is largely due to these private journals, written for private consumption by her sister and friends that we have a record of events of this period, famously dramatised in the Madness of King George.

What an adventure I had this morning, one that has occasioned me the severest personal terror I ever experienced in my life.

This morning, when I received my intelligence of the King from Dr. John Willis, I begged to know where I might walk in safety. ‘In Kew Gardens,' he said, 'as the King would be in Richmond.' Taking, therefore, the time I had most at command, I strolled into the Gardens.

I had proceeded in my quick way nearly half the round, when I suddenly perceived, through some trees, two or three figures. Relying on the instructions of Dr. John, I concluded them to be workmen and gardeners; yet tried to look sharp, and in so doing, as they were less shaded, I thought I saw the person of his Majesty. Alarmed past all possible expression, I waited not to know more, but turning back, ran off with all my might. But what was my terror to hear myself pursued, to hear the voice of the King himself loudly and hoarsely calling after me, Miss Burney! Miss Burney! '

I protest I was ready to die. I knew not in what state he might be at the time . . . and that the very action of my running away might deeply offend him. Nevertheless, on I ran, too terrified to stop, and in search of some short passage, for the garden is full of little labyrinths, by which I might escape.

The steps still pursued me, and still the poor hoarse voice rang in my ears as more and more footsteps resounded frightfully behind me with the attendants all running to catch their eager master, and the voices of the two Dr. Willises loudly exhorting him not to heat himself so unmercifully.

Heavens, how I ran . . . My feet were not sensible that they even touched the ground. Soon after I heard other voices, shriller, though less nervous, call out ' Stop ! stop ! stop ! '

I could by no means consent. ... I knew not to what I might be exposed. . . . Still, therefore, on I flew. . . . ' Doctor Willis begs you to stop ! '

I cannot, I cannot ! ' I answered, still flying on, when he called out, 'You must, ma'am; it hurts the King to run.' Then, indeed, I stopped in a state of fear really amounting to agony. I turned round; I saw the two doctors had got the King between them, and three attendants of Dr. Willis's were hovering about. They all slackened their pace as they saw me stand still. ... As they approached some little presence of mind happily came to my command; it occurred to me that to appease the wrath of my flight, I must now show some confidence. I therefore faced them as undauntedly as I was able, only charging the nearest of the attendants to stand by my side.

When they were within a few yards of me the King called out, 'Why did you run away?'

Shocked at a question impossible to answer, yet a little assured by the mild tone of his voice, I instantly forced myself forward to meet him, though . . . this step . . . was so violently combated by the tremor of my nerves, that I fairly think I may reckon it the greatest effort of personal courage I have ever made.

The effort answered; I looked up, and met all his wonted benignity of countenance, though something still of wildness in his eyes. Think, however, of my surprise to feel him put both his hands round my two shoulders and then kiss my cheek!

I wonder I did not really sink, so exquisite was my affright when I saw him spread out his arms! Involuntarily I concluded he meant to crush me; but the Willises, who have never seen him till this fatal illness, not knowing how very extraordinary an action as this was from him, simply smiled and looked pleased, supposing, perhaps, it was his customary salutation.

He now spoke in such terms of his pleasure in seeing me, that I soon lost the whole of my terror. Astonishment to find him so nearly well, and gratification to see him so pleased, removed every uneasy feeling, and the joy that succeeded in my conviction of his recovery made me ready to throw myself at his feet to express it.

What a conversation followed! When he saw me fearless, he grew more and more alive, and made me walk close by his side, away from the attendant, and even the Willises themselves, who, to indulge him, retreated. I own myself not completely composed, but alarm I could entertain no more.

Everything that came uppermost in his mind he mentioned; he seemed to have just such remains of his Mightiness as heated his imagination without deranging his reason, and robbed him of all control over his speech, though nearly in his perfect state of mind as to his opinions.

What did he not say! He opened his whole heart to me, expounded all his sentiments, and acquainted me with all his intentions.

He assured me he was quite well as well as he had ever been in his life; and then inquired how I did, and how I went on and whether I was more comfortable.

If these questions, in their implication, surprised me, imagine how that surprise must increase when he proceeded to explain them! He asked after the coadjutrix, (Fanny’s Line Manager, who bullied Fanny) laughing and saying, 'Never mind her, don't be oppressed I am your friend, don't let her cast you down, I know you have a hard time of it, but don't mind her'

Almost thunderstruck with astonishment, I merely curtsied to his kind 'I am your friend,' and said nothing.

Then presently he added, 'Stick to your father stick to your own family let them be your objects.' Again he repeated all I have just written, nearly in the same words, but ended it more seriously; he suddenly stopped, and held me to stop too, and putting his hand on his breast, in the most solemn manner he gravely and slowly said, I will protect you, I promise you that and therefore depend upon me'

He talked to me a great deal of my dear father (a celebrity at the time), and made a thousand inquiries concerning his History of Music. This brought him to his favourite theme, Handel; and he told innumerable anecdotes of him. . . . Then he ran over most of his oratorios, attempting to sing the subjects of the several airs and choruses, but so dreadfully hoarse that the sound was terrible.

Several times during the discourse, which continued much longer, Dr. Willis interposed to induce the King to cease from this unusual exertion, and to allow Miss Burney to go home; but the King always exclaimed eagerly, " No! no! no! not yet; I have something I must just mention first." At last, however, it became necessary to put an end to the conversation.

Finding we must now part, he stopped to take his leave, and renewed again his charges about the coadjutrix. . . . Then he saluted me again just as at the meeting, and suffered me to go on."

I went very soon after to the Queen to whom I was most eager to avow the meeting (the Queen and Princesses had been kept apart from the King during his madness). Her astonishment and her earnestness to hear every particular were very great. I told her almost all. Some few things relating to the distressing questions I could not repeat; nor many things said of Mrs Schwellenberg (the coadjutrix) which would much and very needlessly have hurt her.

The print room

Paean to Love


A Guide to picking up a picnic lunch in Brighton

Saturday morning in mid-June with the annual Queen's Park Picnic in the Park 26th June almost upon us I am resolutely ignoring the wind rattling unseasonably round my seaside square.  Although the air is damp and there's a spattering of rain on my windows I start to consider picnic options with unbounding enthusiasm and an unerring faith that the weather will improve.  So here is my Brighton Guide to Packing up a Picnic.

Queen's Park, Brighton



Food and Wine in an English Summer Garden

Glynde Place,
Glynde, near Lewes,
East Sussex
Tel: 01273 858224
Saturday 16th July – Sunday 17th July 2011
Doors open 10am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday

Over the last few years I've been introduced to some delicious English wine.  The first time I tried English 'champagne', courtesy of Puttock PR, the night was such a success we ended up at Buddies the all-night caf on the seafront at Brighton with some Publishers picked up at a Cuban dance-hall.  Good times, and I blame the English 'champagne' that began the night.  Couldn't tell you where the 'champagne' came from though.



A little more notice this time (only just) for this Sunday's Rockpreneurs Competition

The Haunt
10 Pool Valley
Brighton, BN1 1NJ

This Sunday 5th June, the day after the Kemptown festival (when the sun always shines), Mybandtv are hosting the semi-final of their Rockpreneurs competition at The Haunt.

Created to provide new bands with a showcase for their talent, the top ten semi-finalists nominated via public voting will be given the opportunity to perform three tracks live, which will be filmed for further voting after the event. Once the final three have been chosen they will be taken on a lemon bus to meet the Rockpreneurs who will decide on the winner. 

The winners will receive an amazing prize, consisting of the chance to produce a single professionally, digital distribution, production of a promo video, radio play and interviews with Juice FM, Brighton and Hove Community radio and Radio Reverb, a professional photo shoot from Studio 27 and free specialist business and legal advice from Independent Label Scheme.

The bands that have made it through to this Sunday are: Birdeatsbaby, Echo Rain, Liquid Fuse, The Beautiful Word, Justice Force Five, The Doppler Shift, Imma, Subliminals, The Rumours, Killing Vegas.

The show will be presented by the Juice FM breakfast team Guy and Andrea while a DJ collective will be bringing their brand of modern and classic soul and funk to the decks to keep the party buzzing.

Watch out for the videos of the bands, which will be posted on mybandtv website for public voting from Mon 20th June – Sun 7th August 2011.   The final three will be announced Mon 8th Aug.

Door entry £4

Doors open 6.30pm til late



Short Notice I know but worth a mention, FRINGE FESTIVAL SHARING EVENT

There's a great free sharing event happening today from midday til three, if you can make it

Brighton Youth Centre
64 Edward Street
Brighton, BN2 0JR
Phone: 01273 681368

Thanks to an email I’ve just opened from Cat at GreenCycleSussex, the free cycle service for Brighton and surrounding area (including Hove), I’ve just found out about a FRINGE FESTIVAL SHARING EVENT happening today.



Going Out for a Pop-up Restaurant

The Fringe Pop-up Restaurant
Whitecross Street BN1 4FA
Tel: 07553 819342

There's nothing like falling out with the person you were planning to have a jolly evening with to start the night on a wrong footing.  So with a begrudging companion, slightly late, a little harassed and regretting my choice of £7 fuchsia wedges from New Look (my own nod to the seventies), the pair of us arrive.



Brighton Festival Guide

Hurrah! the Brighton Festival and Fringe are only days away. This is definitely the best month of the year in Brighton and has provided me with some of the funniest, weirdest and most spectacular nights out.  And that's only a few reasons why the Festivals in May are so great.

Some of the quirkiest highlights for me have included watching a kooky woman on stage, dressed and singing like a soprano while baking a cake interspersed with funny anecdotes (she was such an amazing singer she made the man in front of us cry).

Then there was a play written and performed by sixth formers on the edge of an enormous fish tank with live sharks swimming about in the waters below.

Attending a talk and evening walk through woodland to hear nightingale birdsong.

Following a group of performers crouching, hanging and holding on to buildings in urban spaces around Brighton.......seriously the list goes on.

But what I don't like is missing out and with the amount of different Festivals all taking place in the month of May the options become a bit bewildering.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Brighton Festival
So, to help you navigate your way through, please have a look at my guide of what's on offer.

The Brighton Festival 2011

Dates  7 – 29 May

What’s that about?
A cultural festival, this year guest directed by Aung San Suu Kyi the Burmese Human Rights campaigner and Nobel Prize winner, covering visual & physical art, film, books, theatre, music and debate. The programmed events are carefully chosen, including many one-off events and worth booking in advance.

What’s the deal?
Billed as Three weeks of unrivalled arts celebration, the themes for this year are freedom and exile, explored in various ways.  Most poignantly expressed by Aung San Suu Kyi, 'we all think of the Brighton Festival as an occasion, a time for festivity, for diversity, for creativity, for expression, for freedom of expression. This is especially important to us in Burma who have been deprived of this right of freedom for very many years'.

Thanks to a number of street performances, art exhibitions, live music and a children’s parade there are opportunities throughout the three weeks to join in the jollity, challenge your perception or be stimulated and inspired without paying a penny. In addition to that, there are also over 100 performances for £10 or less, standby tickets and other deals to look out for.

What’s not to miss?
Last year the outdoor performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Globe on Tour was the best Shakespearean production I’d ever seen, which means this year we’re back for more of the bard, hoping As You Like It will be just as impressive.  Due to many others having the same idea the performance we are attending is already sold out but get in there if you can.

Brighton Festival Fringe
Brighton Fringe Festival 2011

Dates  7 – 30 May

What’s that about?
Whereas you could say the Brighton Festival came up with a good idea, you could add the Fringe has well and truly run with it. And if festivals were members of a family, then the Brighton Festival would be the older brother, doing everything right, sensible, successful, ordered. By contrast the Fringe would be the youngest, sometimes funny, sometimes annoying, a bit of an upstart but refreshingly new. Enough of the analogies, I’m not even going there with the middle child, can of worms, can of worms.

What’s the deal?
There are three dates 7, 21 and 28 where New Road in the centre of Brighton will be buzzing with performances between 1 – 4 pm including an acrobat suspended from a helium balloon, comedians, musicians and dance demonstrations all for free.

What’s not to miss?
So many options, it's difficult to choose.  The local newspaper the Argus awards Argus Angels for the best shows, which is a good way of jumping on a bandwaggon.  Or just go for a category you know you like, for instance comedy or cabaret and head for the one that appeals the most.  If you end up going to a real dud, don't be put off as there will be so many others that will leave you buzzing.
My first foray will be to head to the pop-up restaurant, a 70's themed restaurant with artists at work on the premises, open from 7th -28th.

Artists Open Houses (AOH) May Festival
Artists Open House, Brighton 2011

Dates  Weekends 7- 8, 14-15, 21-22 and 28-29 May

What’s that about?
With over 250 venues taking part, the best way to experience the Open Houses is to pick up a brochure and choose an area, then follow the trail of exhibitions within that area. The trails in the past have led me into mews I didn’t know existed, converted buildings and private homes which have benefited from having an artist’s eye creating stunning hidden gardens and interiors that are as unique as the art exhibited.

What’s the deal?
The brochures are free and can be picked up from various locations listed on their website including The Dome box office, Brighton and Hove libraries and stations, and at all Artists Open Houses.  There are no entry fees and you can often buy tea and cake and sit for a while to enjoy your surroundings.

What’s not to miss?
The Bungeroosh Gallery at 25 Marine Square is always full of a mixture of jewellery, art and crafts as well as a very warm welcome.  In Hove there is a hidden mews called Lansdowne Mews where many artists have studios, viewing art within the space where it is created somehow has the effect of making it feel more raw, adding an extra dimension, which is a delight in itself.

The Great Escape
The Great Escape, Brighton 2011

Dates  12 – 14 May

What’s that about?
Billed as Europe’s leading festival for new music, this is an amazing platform for all the talent that is out there, a fair amount nourished locally and a great chance to see bands on their way up.

What’s the deal?
You can buy a three day ticket for £49.50.  The trick is to be massively organised, with 30 venues and over 300 artists if you don't already know where the venues are then look them up in advance and plan to stay in a couple rather spend your whole night in queues or right at the back.

What’s not to miss?
Honestly, I couldn't tell you.  Never heard of any of them.  I'll have to ask my many knowledgable musos to give me a heads up on this one.

Charleston Festival

Charleston Festival, 2011
Dates  20 – 29 May

What’s that about?
Billed as Where books, ideas and creativity bloom, Charleston covers the most talked about books to emerge in the last year from celebrated writers and personalities.

What’s the deal?
This year two events I would love to be going to are already sold out, Mark Logue, Lionel’s grandson and custodian of the family archive, discusses how true the film is to reality with Peter Conradi, co-author of the book, The King’s Speech.  While the youngest of the Mitford siblings, Deborah Devonshire gives her take on her family's aristocratic life, sisterly gossip, elopements, affairs, extreme politics, a cast of writers, artists and politicians.  That said, I am going to hear Amanda Vickery talk about Behind Closed Doors, At Home in Georgian England, revelling in the details of domestic life and offering a new way of seeing objects and characters.  As I'm pretty fascinated by the 1790s and Vickery is a very intelligent and eloquent speaker, then it's Happy days.


Going Out for some wall art

Going Out for some wall art

With May upon us, how quickly did that happen?  Visitors to Brighton will be bombarded with art and culture literally from every angle, in every form and a great deal of it for free.  This is all good and with so much to look out for I thought I'd bring you some new wall art that has recently sprung up to look upwards at.  The latter I watched develop over a series of days, in part de-mystifying the impressive nature of art on such a large scale, in part further adding to its appeal.

Wentworth Street wall art, off St James' Street, Kemptown

Wentworth Street, off St James' Street, Kemptown

Alice Dreams wall art, Middle Street, Brighton

"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--

And why the sea is boiling hot--

And whether pigs have wings."



The Borlotti Bean Wedding Brunch

The Borlotti Bean
 Wedding Brunch

~  When it comes to Royal Weddings, I find it best to enjoy with family.  As my sister, heavily pregnant at the time had an inexplicable urge to re-decorate, we headed to Caroline and Ben's.  Ben is a fantastic cook and inspired by a picture he once saw he decided to create his own version and provide us with a great brunch munch.  Not knowing how it would turn out, but rather fancying our chances that it would be good I followed my brother in law around faithfully recording progress with photos, while Caroline and Judy painted.  It seems rather apt that this should be a photo-based recipe as my brother in law was initially inspired by a picture.  Although this is called a Wedding Brunch, this can be enjoyed with family and friends on any weekend.

Soak a pack of borlotti beans overnight and simmer for an hour in the morning, then drain

Soften onions slowly, add garlic and bell pepper


Roughly chop tomatoes and add along with borlotti beans
fresh thyme
smoked chilli flakes

crack eggs on the top
Serve with bolly and lollies
Add crispy bacon and toast to finish
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