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


The Art of Alberto Martinez

Hailing from the Cuban countryside outside Havana, Alberto Martinez began his artistic sensibilities by drawing the sugar cane trucks as they trundled past. From there he studied sculpture in Trinidad, the third most popular tourist destination in Cuba, before turning his attention to painting on canvas.

Brighton Pavilion, Alberto Martinez

Inspired by the architecture around him, his surrealist vision subverts the familiar with animals in place of humans and objects in place of structure. After choosing to live in Brighton for the last seven years, his work has naturally been inspired by the wealth of his local surroundings, producing artwork representing Brighton Pavilion, Brighton station and the pier to name a few.


Whalefest this weekend, 27 - 28 October 2012

A Whalefest weekend of events 2012

Back in 1982 at a conference in Brighton 39 governments voted to suspend the hunting of whales. Thirty years on, WhaleFest 2012 will take place in the very same building where that momentous vote was taken – the Hilton Brighton Metropole. The event is an opportunity to reflect on this success as well as raise awareness and find solutions to the number of threats that exist for whales and dolphins worldwide today. Hundreds of thousands are caught and drown in fishing nets, and millions are affected by pollution, over fishing, habitat loss, climate change, and continuing demand for marine attractions. In fact since the ban an entire dolphin species, the Yangtze River Dolphin has become extinct and nine of the remaining 87 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise remain endangered or critically endangered.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday there will be a series of fascinating and inspiring films to watch, talks to listen to and activities especially designed to appeal to kids.  There will be an opportunity to see a life-size Blue Whale, a mammal so vast that their tongue alone can weigh as much as an elephant and so loud they produce sounds more powerful than a jet engine.

Co-founded by two deeply passionate and committed colleagues their goal is to raise awareness and help save whales and dolphins from the threats they face using events like Whalefest to gain exposure,  raise support and funds that can be used to make significant changes worldwide.



Walk of the Dead - Brighton Zombie Walk 2012

Walk of the Dead - Brighton Zombie Walk 2012

Saturday 20th October witnessed the sixth annual zombie walk through the heart of Brighton.

It's a weird, funny and very curious spectacle that some people take very seriously.  There were zombie brides, a zombie hen party, surgeons, nurses, staff (the NHS were well represented), kids carrying torn off limbs, a few tennis accidents and some other really inventive costumes.  
Some of the zombies hobbled, others groaned, a few set out to terrify, while others chatted to each other or were making plans for later on their mobiles.

The event is run by Katie Amer who needs donations for the event to keep going.  White Night has already been cancelled due to lack of funding, click here to find out more about donating.

Here are some of the highlights:

Zombie Walk 2012
Zombie Walk 2012

Brighton Zombie Walk 2012

Zombie Walk 2012


Days Out in Brighton: Making Hen Plans

There are definitely people who like to plan, itineraries are the thing and no event would go on without one. 

While others, like myself who are more fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants types and have rather less well developed organisational skills as a result.

There are however times when a bit of forward planning even for the most unstructured bridesmaid is a must. A Hen weekend is one such occasion. So I went online, asked the other hens and picked up a few ideas from friends about how to make a Hen weekend really special and this is what I came up with.

Brighton hen weekend, photo by modern bric a brac
Hen itinerary


The Olympic Torch travels through Lancing

Olympic Torch 2012, Lancing


A Guide to watching the Olympics with Baby

From 27 July – 12 August the UK will be hosting the 2012 Olympics and with July fast approaching it is a good idea to find out how you can join in the Olympic fever when you have a baby to consider.

My niece helping me research for the post
There are certainly a great many options right across the UK as large scale events have been planned to take place at 22 locations up and down the country, including Belfast, Edinburgh and Portsmouth, all for free. Huge screens will be set up to broadcast the Olympic events live and will feature a broad range of UK-wide as well as local content in partnership with community, arts and media organisations. Welcome news, as it means that many parents will be able to take their babe-in-arms somewhere close-by to share in this historic occasion.

Brighton will see continuous coverage of the games broadcast on a 100 square ft LED screen from the lower promenade next to the West Pier on a giant outdoor screen throughout the Olympic period from 27 July to 12 August 2012.  Organised by Murray Media the largest, free, outdoor cinema on the south coast will provide coverage of the Olympics’ main sporting events during the day and a selection of blockbuster movies, comedy and music events during the evening.  With capacity for 3,500 people and a fully licensed refreshment area this will be a popular event.



An Olympic Connection and torch dates for Guildford and Brighton

Although indirectly (for me), Olympic fever is definitely reaching out to all of us encouraging physical expression and activity, and in Surrey this is manifesting itself on 23 June at G Live in the Surrey Schools Have Talent! Live Final.

Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and as a result of Surrey-wide auditions and thousands of online votes 14 performances from Surrey’s most talented school children have been short-listed to take part in the live final at the G Live venue in Guildford.

One of the schools to successfully win a place at this event is The Vale Primary School, Langley Vale, who will be performing a Billy Elliot-inspired song and dance to Shine, taken from the movie. Jennai Alberts the organiser explains “we felt it linked perfectly to the Olympic ethos, and as the song is all about being yourself and trying your best, we thought this fitted well. The performers are Inigo Alberts, Affrika Alberts, Abbie Kitson, Sophie Cox, Erin Costello, Saffron Waterworth, Ffion Waterworth, Cerys Timothy and Ellie Kibble. All the girls are 8, and Inigo, the only boy, is 10. For our performance all the children will be in red, white and blue.”

The Olympic torch itself will be travelling through Shere and Guildford on 20th July, finishing at a free ticketed celebratory event at Stoke Park in Guildford. Starting at 2pm there will be a stage show with locally based music and other performances including Rizzle Kicks and cauldron lighting from the Olympic flame.

Arriving even sooner than that in Brighton, the torch will enter the city on 16th and 17th July, Day 59 of the Olympic Torch Relay. Having begun its journey on 19 May at Lands End in Cornwall the torch will eventually make it to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on 27th July.

Before that however on 16th July torchbearers will run through Hove with the Olympic flame to the main Olympic torch Relay evening celebration at Sussex County Cricket Club and will emerge the next day from Brighton Pavilion at 7.20 am to continue its route through Brighton.



Celebrations in Brighton for the Queen's Jubilee

Impossible to avoid, the build up to the Queen's big day has seen a whole host of household objects receiving a very patriotic red white and blue makeover.  £1 paper cups with Union Jacks on them, bath mats, sofas, umbrellas and women's tights have all got involved as well as houses having bunting draped across them and flags flying all over the place - there is no doubt the Queen's Jubilee is imminent.

Union Jack, plastic
Across the land people are preparing to celebrate the Queen's coronation of 1953 in a variety of ways with the most spectacular events of all taking place in the heart of London.  On Sunday a pageant of 1,000 boats will sail up the River Thames in convoy travelling through the heart of the city for the entertainment of millions. Then on Monday after night fall thousands of beacons will be lit across the UK and around the world to create a moving spectacle.

Across Brighton, in tandem with the rest of the country there will also be events to mark the occasion with picnics in parks, bands playing, beacon lighting, beer drinking, face painting and a whole load of flag waving to boot.

Highlighting a few of these free events is the list below with links to websites for more information, however wherever the weekend takes you I hope it is spent having lots of fun.


Last Day of the Hanging Gardens of Brighton, dress up and get in for a tenner!

Now on its final day the Hanging Gardens of Brighton is well under way beneath cloudless skies and with so many great acts performing today I thought it best to bring you a line up with times so you don't miss out.



Verse and Versus, a Poetry Slam at Brighton Fringe

Well attended by poets and fans alike, Hendrick’s Library full of an assorted collection of antique wooden tables, chairs, bookcases and leather bound books was the perfect setting for this literary event. With nineteen contestants competing for £100 prize money a three minute rule was set to ensure that each poet was given the same chance to impress and the night's proceedings were presided over by poet Chris Parkinson.

Having slipped from a central role in the literary canon poetry has become sadly side-lined to that of a minority sport, which is a great shame as it offers a unique mirror to our lives with every word, line and space carefully chosen to create an impact. The quality of poems in the slam was impressive and ranged from witty observations to poignant storytelling.

Four judges deliberated over the contributions before eventually deciding on Lisa Jayne as a worthy winner.

Lisa Jayne, winner of Verse and Versus

Jayne has kindly allowed me to transcribe the winning poem below. Her partner Ben Graham also received a mention for his fantastic poem and both of them will be reading more poems at The Midsummer Poetry Ball, Friday 15 June at Westhill Hall, Compton Ave. For more details check out

Without more ado here is the winning poem:

Rape Carriage

The end of the line

misfit carriage brought out of the sidings

off-peak hour to travel

for personal reasons.

My carriage, doors slam, whistle,

you've missed the train now.

I drop my bag on the seat

sagging under invisible weight

dust glamour on the air.

One long seat facing another

door left and right, no corridor.

My carriage with a word of mouth

warning – rape carriage.

Seven stops before my station,

seven chances to get out and get in again.

Core, pips and skin smells

out of reach of

the long handle broom

are disturbed.

Picking up, faster, faster

electrical lightning on overhead lines,

I couldn't be more alone

if I was using the toilet.

Maybe someone is back to back with me

in the compartment in front,

leaning back to go to sleep.

Sure I heard some people singing

The Ace of Spades,

I sing Lisa Says all to myself.

Till a station approaching, slow

platform standing,

ticket holding faces, opening doors,

will anyone, would anyone

get in here with me,

Pussy Willow blending with the brillo seat.

Blue denim turning the handle,

see right through and out the window,

no, turning away,

and we're moving again

re-arranging myself.

It's not like it's night time.

It's not like I'm hitch-hiking.

It's not like I'm wearing a short skirt.

I'm wearing boots for running away,

if there was an away.

Sharp objects in my possession

it could be me, the predator

in flower buckle, matelot under velvet.

Wheels going motorik.

Just a partition but no communication

between me and

I don't know if I'd hear them shouting.

Windows open.

Tendrils come loose.

Rape of the lock.

Yellow fields

oil seed rape, crop rotation

over said and again, bored with the word.

Stubble scratch seating prickles me

through my tassel skirt.

I could get out next station


If I opened the door

Levi blue didn't or couldn't

open the door, jammed one side,

if the platform's that side,

I'll try if the platform's that side

if I can get out I'll go.

Tracks cross before a station.

Platform slope, this side,

ready at the door,

blazer, bike jacket, hair in ribbons.

If someone comes to get in

I might wait and see,

non-stopping train

meet with eyes, till we're moving too fast.

My compartment for ten people

I count one.


Two doors out to electrocution

and wrapped round the wheels.

Sun following me

caught on the overhead racks,

rolling down and over me

down and again, flash on the rack,

overtaking myself

with whoever they are

if he gets in,

and who he'll be

to easy meat,

some are already dead

when a uniform opens the cage.

Another station,

nothing, no one.

The next stop is mine.

Window shivers the door,

I close it then my eyes

I try to remember what

the carriage remembers,

can't even remember me, it's too old.

Thirteen minutes,

that's what it was last week.

Someone in here, pin stripe.

Didn't look at me tying my shoe lace,

looked out of the window all the time,

for thirteen minutes.

Roulette, dragging, slowing, breaking.

My station.

All my personal possessions

to the door.

No one coming.

I stay on.

Thirty minutes just the carriage

and me fast to the city.


Lights, Camera Jemuru – Adventures of Film-Maker Bob Maddams in Ethiopia

In the last week Bob Maddams, the accomplished film maker and travel writer has had a lot to celebrate. Gem tv the Ethiopian film school, which he became involved in over ten years ago, empowering under-privileged kids to become independent film makers has received the Special Award at the One World Media Awards 2012. Working as a volunteer for this charity led Maddams to travel extensively throughout Ethiopia, experiencing life few outsiders ever see. Now based in Brighton Maddams has spent two years writing the story of his adventures about teaching at a back-street community film school, in Addis Ababa. His ebook Lights, Camera Jemuru, was also published this week through Apostrophe Books and costs £3.29.

Gem tv, filming in Ethiopia

When in 2000 Maddams was initially approached to volunteer on a three month project in Ethiopia he did not imagine it would lead to a ten year involvement with Gem tv. ‘Life puts opportunities in front of you for a reason and you have to go and do it, I had never been to Africa before, and then Ethiopia came along. Live Aid had defined my image of Ethiopia, I’d watched it live with 400 million other people across the world and what I discovered in Ethiopia was very very different and far more positive than I had expected.’

‘The Ethiopian people are amazingly cultured, amazingly resourceful, they have to cope with problems we can’t even imagine, they triumph over them on a daily basis. Ethiopia itself is geographically a very spectacular country with a biblical history that goes back to the Queen of Sheba. It’s a fascinating country, very spiritual and to a certain extent we’ve lost those traditions in the west.’

‘The Gem tv film makers themselves were teenagers written off by society, poorly educated, some of them living on the street and when Gem tv started a lot of people said, this is never going to work ,they will never be able to become film makers and master technology and of course they did triumph, they did achieve it. It’s like Britain’s Got Talent times a hundred what they have achieved and I think it shows what talent there is throughout the developing world when they are given training resources and encouragement they can achieve remarkable things. If the developing world is going to have any future at all it is going to have to come from the development of the children.’

Gem tv, Ethiopia

‘I travelled quite widely, the filming took me to many remote places including the source of the Nile, Medieval churches in a place called Gondar as well as a small town in the north called Lalibela where there are eleven churches carved out of the mountain side, UNESCO calls them the unofficial eighth wonder of the world. There are some amazing sights to see. As a result of filming I ended up in very remote communities well off the beaten track, like refugee communities on the Sudan border, living with them to make a film about them. I would be living in completely alternative ways, literally I was the only westerner for hundreds and hundreds of miles in what are still some of the remotest parts of Africa.’

Lalibela, Ethiopia

‘What I found is that experiences like that turn out to be a psychological gymnasium, I don’t think it gives you any qualities you don’t already possess, I think it gives a thorough work out of the qualities you have and develops them further, qualities like patience, sense of humour and tolerance. What was interesting to me coming from a communications background and going out to Ethiopia was that a lot of the cultural things I took for granted in the west did not apply in Ethiopia, for instance when I was working on HIV and I’d be talking to Ethiopians and say, we’ve got to take HIV very seriously, if you don’t and you get it you could be dead within ten years. They would laugh at me because that’s nothing to them. They would come back with, I could be dead in two years with TB, malaria or conscripted into the army or any host of things we just don’t consider as life threatening here in the UK. Everything I’d learnt or was going to use in these communications projects I had to completely rethink because the culture out there is completely different.’

As well as receiving the Special Award at the One World Media Awards this year, Gem TV’s films have won awards at the Addis Ababa Film Festival and have been shown at film festivals in Berlin, New York and the UK.

Standing alongside nominees including the BBC, ITN and other leading international media organizations, Gem TV Film Director, Adanech Admassu, received the award from Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow saying that she hoped it would raise the profile of Gem TV’s work in Ethiopia where they have made films for Unicef, UNDP, Oxfam, Water Aid and Womankind amongst others.

Adanech Admassu

These films have addressed girls’ education, health and sanitation, HIV/AIDS, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and many other developing world issues.



Private Lives at The Grand Hotel for the Fringe, so good it might be sold out already

Venue: the Grand Hotel  

Promoter: Something Witty Theatre  


Facebook: Private Lives on Facebook

Private Lives, at The Grand

If I were you I’d pay attention to the ticket information, it says quite clearly dress code POSH. You wouldn’t want to get it wrong, would you? I mean, turn up in jeans, nobody could be that stupid.

If this blog was written in the style of Noel Coward’s play Private Lives, the blog might carry on in this manner, but imitation would not come close to the original so I won’t attempt it.

The writing, the performance, by the already award-winning SomethingWitty and the staging at The Grand of Noel Coward’s Private Lives was full of energy, movement and fun.

Although already familiar with Noel Coward through theatre and film, this was the first time I fully appreciated what a great playwright he really was. Despite the dated language, the characters came to life and the unfolding drama felt immediate and credible.

When a production works as successfully as this it is difficult to separate out the parts to establish what the foundation of its success is. The drama took place in the middle of a large elongated room at The Grand Hotel with the audience seated around three sides. If the acting had been unconvincing, the actors would have had nowhere to hide as the audience were seated so close to the action. Equally when the characters are credible this type of staging makes the overall affect more powerful, as in this case.

There are four main characters, played by Heather Rayment as Amanda, Daniel Lane as Elyot, Rebecca Cooper as Sibyl and Jason Blackwater as Victor, who all delivered strong performances.

I loved the costumes and the music, which to go back to the talented Noel Coward for a moment was written by him for this play. We were lucky enough to have two violinists Marie Goulding and Christine Cooper to bring the music to life.

Incidentally Coward devised the play over two weeks while he was convalescing and then wrote it up in four days (if Wikipedia is to be believed).

The rest of the audience seemed as delighted as I was and the actors received an enthusiastic applause.

As for my opening remark, please do dress appropriately, the play and the setting deserve it and I was most disappointed to miss an opportunity to wear my pearls.

Actually one more point, I was watching the interview of Dennis Waterman last night by the ever oleaginous Piers Morgan who was asking Waterman about his stormy relationship with Rula Lenska and it reminded me of Elyot and Amanda. Morgan with his limited emotional intelligence missed the point and was trying to pigeon hole Waterman as a wife beater when really he would do much better to come down to the Fringe, catch a performance of Private Lives and place his interviewee’s relationship in a context. Well, that’s what I think anyways.

Event Dates

Entrance fee: £17.00 (£15.00 concessions)

Book through Brighton Fringe

• 12 May 4:00 PM from £15.00 - £17.00

• 13 May 3:00 PM from £15.00 - £17.00

• 19 May 3:00 PM from £15.00 - £17.00

• 20 May 3:00 PM from £15.00 - £17.00

• 26 May 3:00 PM from £15.00 - £17.00

• 27 May 3:00 PM from £15.00 - £17.00



Jane Bom-Bane’s Magical Mystery Tour during Brighton Fringe

Jane Bom-Bane's House

Venue: Bom-Bane's Music Cafe

Promoter: Bom-Bane's and She Bakes

Entrance fee: £10/£5 - Afternoon Tea + mini-Tour, £25 - Family Ticket (Daytime)

£20/£10 - Evening Meal + mini-Tour, £50 Family Ticket (Evening)


Facebook: Bom-Bane's

Age Suitability: A family friendly event (i.e. suitable for all ages)

To enter Jane Bom-Bane’s house, over two hundred years old with original winding stairs upward to the attic as well as down to the basement, is to experience a house as full of twists and turns as the tales told by Bom-Bane.

Once the front door has opened expect to find the most unique dining room, where there are six small tables, each with its own identity and mechanical devices to surprise and delight - the Aesop’s Tables, the Tablerone, the TurnTable, the Twenty-Seven Chimes Table, the UnsTable and the Water Table.

But wait, you are not stopping there, your hostess will invite you to climb the narrow staircase to the rooms above where she will sing to you and leave you to encounter musical, mechanical and magical delights that await you in each room. The mini-tour is designed for up to four people after which you will return to the dining room for afternoon tea or dinner. 

By this time your initiation into Bom-Bane’s world is over and now you can sit back and take it all in, because the impression that Bom-Bane creates is one closer to the fantasies normally found in children’s books and films like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Alice in Wonderland than in a terraced house in Brighton. But this event is not just for children, adults arguably need to reconnect with the fantastical even more. To imagine a world of such inventiveness, to create it and bring it alive is to bridge the gap between adult and child, reality and fantasy, the marvellous and the mediocre. It is to step outside the responsibilities and stresses of life and escape into fantasy for a while.

Jane Bom-Bane’s House Tour is available throughout May, as part of the Brighton Fringe, and is a completely unique experience and lots of fun. After the Tour enjoy Afternoon Tea of open sandwiches (very tasty) and cupcake provided by SheBakes, which tastes so good btw; or an Evening Picnic of cream of tomato soup with a dash of vodka, tortilla primavera, jerk chicken drumsticks, potato salad, coleslaw, tomato, mozzarella & basil and hard-boiled eggs Bom-Bane style, served with bread baskets and afterwards homemade cake by She (youaint'seennothin'likeit) Bakes.  For a vegan or other dietary requirements, please let them know in advance.

Throughout the rest of the year she runs the House as a music cafe. ‘We do music nights and cinema nights and we sometimes do our own musicals, one’s called Bom-Bane musical which is all about how Bom-Bane’s started and the other is called a musical history of 24 George Street Brighton. We do nice homely food, stews and salads and posh sausages. Our signature dish is Stoemp and Sausage £9.75 (£10.95 for two sausages) - we offer Oxford Pork, with Belgian beer gravy, Spicy Italian, with tomato and red wine sauce, Ostrich (low cholesterol) with tomato and red wine sauce, Bom-Banger of the Month (£1 suppl), Wicken Fen Vegetarian Carrot and Coriander. Stoemp is a Belgian dish of mashed potatoes with vegetables in it, savoy cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and spinach, the veg can be varied and the sausages are from a firm in Chichester.'

'Our tables all do different things and there are little buttons to press everywhere, each table has its own novelty and downstairs there is a big table for twelve and also little nooks. We’ve been here for six years and run a film and food night for £5.50 every week; music nights are on a Tuesday with rotating performances by students, Rosie Brown, a fantastic local performer and me. I play the harmonium, which is a pump organ and I make mechanical hats, I write songs and some of the songs have hats that illustrate the song. The most popular is called Goldfish bowl, when I sing, I’ve got a Goldfish bowl on my head people join in and feel they can relate to it. For me the best song I’ve written is Years of Sunday Suns, which is a ballad about Sundays.'

During the festival there will also be an opportunity to hear her son playing in a band called Melodica, Melody and Me and a poetry group called Pighog will be taking over the space for an event too.

I've already booked to go back and have a whole host of friends who are lining up to come with me.

Jane Bom-Bane's House



A Guide to finding the Warren (a Brighton Fringe pop-up venue) and what you’ll find there

Last night I had a tip off, (can’t reveal my sources), that the Warren was having a launch party, so with my fascination with the Kardashians in full swing, I stuck on some falsies, peeled on my shoe-boots and hoicked over to West Street and to where I thought the venue was. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be let in, but as I was keen to see the new venue for myself I thought I’d give it a try.

The Venue wasn’t where I thought it would be, so I clip-clopped down the main street in the drizzle with heavy eyelashes towards the seafront, looking up side streets trying to work out where I was going. After first of all trying to gain entrance through the exit, it did say Wagner Hall over the door, I was directed round to the front.

So after a bit of searching I found the entrance to the 150 seater pop-up venue, located right in the centre of town and what a jolly oasis it is too, with a garden full of bluebells and overlooked by the gothic spire of St Paul. Inside, the venue has been brought back to life by a whole host of volunteers under the management of James and Otherplace Productions. The proportions are perfect for Fringe entertainment in my opinion, small enough to be intimate, large enough to make a big impact.

The Warren Theatre, Brighton

The Burrow Bar, Warren Theatre,

After politely inviting myself and then being taken on a private tour, which I loved, I stayed to watch some taster performances, a mixture of the thought provoking and comic, mostly comic and I did laugh out loud a lot.

Honestly, when going through the programme none of these acts had stood out for me, but having seen a taster I would absolutely recommend them, which just shows it’s sometimes worth gate-crashing. As the Warren Theatre is the younger sister of Upstairs at the Three and Ten, the performances below are a selection from both venues.

Ragnarok: The Weird of the Gods

John Hinton is funny, he’s funny when he doesn’t need to be or maybe even means to be, I’m not sure. He just has a great stage presence that was evident even before he started his performance. With a cartoon backdrop he told us that he would be explaining Norse mythology and that the world is not round, did we know that? We actually live up a tree. His songs were enjoyable, funny and bonkers, that’s a great mix and Hinton is definitely worth going to see.

Venue: Upstairs at Three and Ten,  Category: Theatre

Promoter: Theatre of the Preposterous,  Entrance fee: £9.00 (£7.50 concessions)

Website:,  Twitter: @johnny_acecraft


Age Suitability: PG – Children (16 and under) must be accompanied by an adult

Event Dates

• 05 May 3:00 PM from £9.00, 06 May 3:00 PM, 26 May 3:00 PM, 27 May 3:00 PM

The Big Bite-Size Vintage Tea Party

Having reviewed performances during the Fringe in previous years I was already aware of Bite-size and they have never failed to be inventive and lively. This particular ten-minuter turned on a clever conceit, was well executed and delivered. I don’t want to spoil it by elaborating more on the story because part of the enjoyment is the unexpected. As an added incentive the price includes tea and cake, super-yay!

Venue: Warren (The),  Category: Theatre

Promoter: White Room Theatre,  Entrance fee: £12.00

Website:,  Twitter: @bitesizeplays


Age Suitability: PG – Children (16 and under) must be accompanied by an adult

Event Dates

• 20 May 2:30 PM from £12.00, 27 May 2:30 PM

The Ouse Valley Singles Club

Featuring Andrew Barron on his ukulele and Amy Martell on Bass they sang a selection of very funny songs about the trials and tribulations of having or not having a relationship. According to their Facebook profile, ‘their brand of music has brought singles together and cured loneliness. A truly original music form which is a Hybrid New Wave Skiffle. In their travelling singles venues they have brought many a couple together. Indeed rumour has it that the celebrity couple Russell Brand and Katy Perry found true love at an OVSC gig.’ They are very funny and absolutely worth going to see.

Venue: Upstairs at Three and Ten,  Category: Music

Promoter: The Ouse Valley Singles Club,  Entrance fee: £8.00 (£6.50 concessions)

Website:,  Twitter: theovsc


Age Suitability: Suitable for ages 18+

Event Dates

• 04 May 7:00 PM from £8.00, 22 May 8:30 PM, 23 May 8:30 PM

Eve Speaks: A Musical Cabaret

In this retelling of the tale of Eve, Matthews uses a blend of writing, live music and cabaret. Eve is a seductive, sassy blonde with a soft North American drawl. The performer Matthews has a short wavy bob that reminded me of the 1930s and then she sang with the most lovely voice a song that also seemed influenced by this period, it has an intoxicating effect. This is an opportunity to be drawn into the re-invention of the original story.

Venue: Upstairs at Three and Ten,  Category: Cabaret

Promoter: The Bitchuationist,  Entrance fee: £8.00 (£6.50 concessions)

Website:,  Twitter: @bitchuationist

Facebook: Ali Matthews

Age Suitability: Suitable for ages 15+

Event Dates

• 04 May 10:00 PM from £8.00, 05 May 10:00 PM, 06 May 10:00 PM

Bug by Tracy Letts

Written by the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Tracy Letts, Bug is a tale about a divorced substance abuser who discovers an infestation in her seedy motel room. Starring Charlie Allen, Melody Roche & Mandy Jackson and from the company behind last year's critically acclaimed 40th anniversary adaptation of Get Carter this is an altogether weightier piece to get hooked into.

Venue: Warren (The),  Category: Theatre

Promoter: James Weisz Productions,  Entrance fee: £12.50 (£10.50 concessions)

Website:,  Twitter: @bugplay


Age Suitability: Suitable for ages 15+

Event Dates

• 04 May 5:45 PM from £12.50

• 05 5:45 PM, 06 May 5:45 PM, 07 May 5:45 PM, 26 May 7:30 PM, 27 May 7:30 PM



Having the Thai Touch in Cardiff – the best massage ever

~  It would not be a shocking admission to make that I put a lot of store by recommendations, for a start I make a lot of them myself.  It would also I’m sure not be a surprise to find out that my Best Friend is an advocate of personal recommendations as well and that as a result of my BF receiving two good recommendations for Thai Touch in Canton, we ended up heading to this Thailand-by-Cardiff for back and shoulder massages.

Thai Touch massage, Cardiff
Thai Touch massage, Cardiff
Although I am always keen to hear other people’s recommendations, my natural cynicism means that I still approach somewhere new with an amount of caution. Outside on Cowbridge Road East the weather was as grey as a rainy April day can be, inside we entered a little Thai haven. Seated on a cosy sofa our feet were bathed in warm water before being dried and placed in comfortable slippers and then escorted to a raised platform. Once in the raised area we were surrounded by drapes that could be tied back or lowered according to preference.  Feeling slightly awkward, BF and I followed the instructions given by the lovely Thai ladies to disrobe and replace with loose fitting white t-shirts and Thai trousers that had been left by the side for us.

As neither of us had undergone a treatment alongside someone else before and we didn’t know what was happening, we weren’t sure what to make of it. We lay back on our separate mattresses and two Thai ladies, occasionally chattering to each other softly in Thai started to press firmly on the soles of our feet. BF and I did not speak to each other but agreed afterwards that the pressure would best be described as very firm to slightly uncomfortable. The firm pressing carried on up my spine and I could feel that the corresponding parts of my body would move a little in response to the pressure, that is until she reached the bottom of my neck. I could feel that there was no give, so voluntarily I lowered my arms, asking, ‘does that help?’ to which the Thai lady pressed again, it felt no different and she said, no. The treatment continued and I could feel the crunching in my shoulder blades as the tension was eased out of them. BF felt a huge knot under her right shoulder blade hurting as it was being worked. Her therapist moved on to other areas and then would return to the knot and continued to do this until it had fully gone.

Now sat upright my Thai lady placed my left arm above my head and with her arm she pressed down on my shoulder by my neck and I heard a clunk, my body was moved round to the right and I heard a crack and I started to giggle as a kind of reflex reaction. BF started laughing too, so did the Thai ladies, nobody really knew why we were laughing, it didn’t matter, the place had a warm, welcoming feel to it.

From the distant music, the oils mixed with a traditional Thai combination of herbs, to the décor and the little Thai ladies chatter, I really felt I had returned for a moment to Thailand.

After the massages had ended, BF and I felt that we had been given the best massage ever. To finish we were offered ginger tea, and we sat a moment to enjoy it, the tea tasted good and of real ginger, a suitable ending to a rejuvenating experience.

The lady at the desk told us the business is owned by her mother, which is why she started to work there too. Unlike the other Thai ladies, the lady at the desk grew up near Swansea and spoke to us in soft Welsh tones. We told her how much we had enjoyed the experience and said with a smile that the shop is looked after by its own Buddha and asked if we had noticed the offering in the morning of three cream cakes.

There are six female therapists and the shop is open 7 days a week. They also have a Happy Hour offer, every day including Saturday and Sunday 10am – 2pm when the Back and Shoulder massage, normally priced at £40 is priced at £30.

In the end it couldn’t have been better and as it was my birthday present I was chuffed as beans, thanks Blondie!

Thai Touch massage, Cardiff
Thai Touch massage, Cardiff

Thai Touch
331 Cowbridge Road East,

Tel:  02920 236733

Twitter: Thai Touch Cardiff



No Wrongies, No Write-ie - Brighton fringe 2012

Venue: Nightingale (The) - Dining Room    Category: Theatre

Dates: WORLD OF WRONG, 4th May at 10pm

CULT OF THE WRONG, 6th May and 7th May at 9.45pm

Entrance fee: £8.50 / £6.50 (£5.50 concessions)    Age Suitability: 18+

Website:    Twitter: @thetwowrongies

Inching closer as we are to the Brighton Fringe and with hundreds of events to choose from, it's always good to have a few ideas of the best events to got to, which is where these ladies enter the party, with bells on.

The Two Wrongies

A couple of months ago I was only vaguely aware of The Two Wrongies, without knowing how or for what, when I saw them perform at the Brighton Fringe launch in London.  As soon as they came on stage their presence was mesmerising, shocking and hysterically funny.  I was sat on my own laughing and laughing and laughing.  Part of it was the shock factor of their act, but if it were that alone, the initial joke would soon wear off.

The performance I watched by Avis Cockbill and Janine Fletcher skillfully combined the absurd with carefully considered choreography, music and moments of comedy in their own unique way.  I loved it.  With the constantly upward trajectory of sexualising women's bodies it was refreshing to watch a performance that managed to do the complete reverse.  It was also amusing to overhear a sponsor complaining about the nature of the preformance and by doing so giving the act even more credibility.

Did I say I loved it?  Ok, yes I have already, well, they are unique, seriously funny and absolutely worth going to see.

There's even a chance it will lead you into whole new world of dance discovery with the two wrong'uns as they run dance classes through Evolution for those who think they can't dance.  Sign up for Sept 2012.



A Titanic connection, the ship is launched

As 15th April 2012 approaches and with it the tragic centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, I thought it appropriate to commemorate a happier event in the ship’s history and that of Belfast, where the ship had been constructed.

It was a ship that my own Great Great Grandfather would have been very proud of, because in his capacity as Head Foreman Shipwright, it was his responsibility to ensure its successful launch from the dry dock where it had been built, into the river Lagan.

His name was Robert Faulkner Keith and he'd moved from Newcastle upon Tyne where he had completed an apprenticeship at Armstrong Mitchell and Co to Belfast where he had been offered a job at Harland and Wolff in 1894.

A Titanic connection, the ship is launched, Robert F Keith Head Foreman Shipwright
Robert F Keith,
Head Foreman Shipwright,
Harland and Wolff


The antiquarian bookshop with hidden gems in Holywood

The Old Abbey Bookshop, Holywood
The Old Abbey Bookshop

118 High Street, Holywood, Co Down

Tel: 028 9042 5472

Open: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays  9.30am to 4.30pm

Owned by Harold Mitchell this antiquarian bookshop at the top of Holywood High Street is as enticing inside as its sash window display suggests. Full of antique treasures that include a collection by Oliver Goldsmith, letters from the Court of King Charles II to books on vintage cars and old fashioned children's books, there's a subject to suit every book lover.

Old Abbey bookshelf

As well as a diverse selection of antiquarian and second hand books in history, literature, art, cookery and children's titles the collection includes sought after first editions.

First inspired to set up a bookshop 20 years ago after a lifetime love affair with books, Harold has a bookshop full of his own favourite items, "there's a lovely little 1884 first edition of Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers and a very nice two volume leather bound 1842 illustrated edition of Don Quixote."

What makes this bookshop even more special is the growing scarcity of this type of old fashioned, independent bookshop and so this is definitley a hidden gem worth checking out, located just outside Belfast.

Old Abbey Bookshop, Holywood

While you are in the delightful town of Holywood, Harold suggests some more places worth going to.

"Holywood (the home of golfer Rory McIlroy) has many Restaurants such as The Bay Tree and The Coffee Yard and many gift shops such as The Mews, Cape Table, Urban Orchard, The Cove, Antiqua."



The Irish Contingent, Happy St Patrick's Day

With Paddy's Day upon us I thought it appropriate to bring you a round-up of Irish related events to look out for at the Brighton Fringe Festival in May.

The one I am looking forward to most of all is your man from the North with the big blue peepers, I don't think that is his normal tag line, but anyway.


Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, that is Happy St David’s Day

Thursday 1st March 2012

And what a beautiful day it is, hurrah for St David’s Day!

Brighton may be about four hours away from Cardiff but you can always find a bit of Wales in Brighton when you need to.

And today the place to head for all that is Best in Welsh music like the Super Furry Animals, Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, Stereophonics, Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey to name my favourites is Sticky Mike’s.

Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, Welsh night

DJs Simon Price, HalfBeat and Dynamite Sal will be rocking the decks and to make it feel a home from home there will be specially imported Welsh beers and homemade rarebit on the menu.

It's free to get into this St David's Day event at Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, a venue with a really distinct appearance thanks to the internal decoration done by local artists.

To which I can only add my favourite Cardiffism, da iawn splendid (roughly translated means splendid splendid).

Sticky Mike's Frog Bar,

9-12 Middle Street,

Brighton BN1 1AL

Tel:  01273 749465


Brighton Fringe 2012

The expression ‘Only in Brighton’ for me sums up Brighton’s vibe, one of chaotic creativity, as described by Julian of Brighton Fringe, one of pushing boundaries and as it goes, this May also one full of puppets.

Having attended the launch of this year’s Fringe Festival this week I was well entertained by some of the artists that will appear during the Fringe, including the very funny singing Mr B on the banjulele, that’s a fusion of banjo and ukulele btw, as well as acquiring a white label copy of the brochure.

This annual fest, the Fringe, is an opportunity for artists to showcase new work, most of it originating in Brighton, and mostly unfunded.

However, with so much on offer, May 2012 will see around 700 events take place in over 100 locations in Brighton, attracting visitors in the region of 1 million people, making the number of options available quite bewildering.

To help in this matter the new Fringe website has various search categories to help narrow the options down a little.

To assist you even further I have extracted a few events from their website that are worth flagging up early on as they invite participants to submit material.

Tickets go on sale to everybody from 1st March 2012 and programmes will be readily available to pick up all over Brighton from mid-March.

Flash Fiction Slam: Ultimate Story Challenge!

Venue: Hendrick's Library of Delightfully Peculiar Writings

Category: Literature             Sub-category: Storytelling, Interactive

Date: 19 May 6:00PM         Duration: 60mins

Entrance fee: £5.00

The ultimate short story competition! Award-winning writers Niven Govinden and Vanessa Gebbie read their Flash Fictions aloud and judge yours! Strict rules apply. Your story must be 3 minutes or less. Your story must be entitled 'The Door' Prize: £100. Entry: £5 or free if you bring a story. Complimentary decadent libation included. Names drawn randomly on night.

Once Upon A Time In Brighton

Venue: New Venture Theatre

Category: Literature            Sub-category: Spoken word, Storytelling

Date: 25 May 7:45PM        Duration: 135mins

Entrance fee: £6.00

A night of quality live short fiction written by you, read by us. Winning stories from New Venture Theatre's open competition will be read by a team of NVT actors. Please send your short stories of 1500 words max, on the theme of ‘Brighton - Past, Present and Future’ to Deadline for entries is midnight on 25th April.

Verse & Versus: Poetry Slam!

Venue: Hendrick's Library of Delightfully Peculiar Writings

Category: Literature        Sub-category: Poetry, Spoken word

Date: 21 May 7:00PM    Duration: 120mins

Entrance fee: £5.00

This is performance poetry with an edge. The future of poetry is you! Share your lovingly-crafted verse in whatever form it takes. Aim for the heart and soul of your audience. May your aim be true! Maximum Length of Reading: 3 minutes. Prize: £100. Entry £5 including a decadent libation or FREE if you bring a poem.

As I tend to get carried away with all the interesting events to go to, below are the names and pictures of other Literary events that also look worth finding out about. Go to the Fringe website for details.

A Dirty Martini with Evelyn Waugh

A Literary Feast

A Séance with the Ogden Sisters

An Evening of Southern African Memory


Dare You Brave The Writers’ Den?

Dr Frankenstein's Travelling Freak Show

Fashion Tips for the Last Days

Stuffing Peter Rabbit

The Battle of the Trees

The Charles Dickens Literary Cabaret!

The Last Tuesday Society: Crowley Cinematography

The Last Tuesday Society: Reveller's Digest

The Last Tuesday Society: The Magician

The Story Surgery with Susannah Waters

The Unquiet Dead



Accidental heart shapes

Not alot of people know this but over the last year I've had a little random hobby, I've been taking photographs of heart shapes whenever I see them.

It all started the Christmas before last when I noticed a heart shape in the sand on Runkerry beach, Northern Ireland.  I didn't want to disturb it as it looked so perfect surrounded on all sides for miles with smooth sea-clean sand so I took a picture of it instead.  From there I started seeing them in stones, on the pavement and more recently in the milk of my nephew's milk bottle and imprinted on the back of my niece.

So today on the day of love, St Valentine's, I thought it only fitting to bring you this collection, as a reminder that we are all loved and all love somebody.

Heart shape on Runkerry beach, Northern Ireland

Heart shape on Brighton beach

Heart shape on Brighton pavement



Notes from New York

I believe in synchronicity and in fact the more it happens, the stronger it reinforces the notion that if you are going with the flow of your life there will be funny coincidences and clues along the way to let you know that you're on the right track.

New York, photos by Modern Bric a Brac

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