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


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

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