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


Brighton Art Fair 2014 at the Brighton Corn Exchange this weekend - 26,27 and 28 September

Absolutely fabulous, the number of artists, the standard and the diversity at last night's art fair was incredible.  

Tom White at Brighton Art Fair
at Brighton Art Fair 2014



The Common Land returns to Brighton 1 - 4 October 2014

When a Brighton Fringe Reviewer who has already seen a play likes it enough to go and see it again, then that's a good sign, in fact it's a really good sign.

The play in question is The Common Land and news is that it is great.  I'm excited.

Returning to Brighton after receiving accolades during this year's Fringe they are back for four nights this week at the Broadway Bar (formerly Upstairs at the Three and Ten).

So, to fill us in with a bit more info here's Greg to tell us about the show.

Having met while they were living and studying in Brighton for three years, Kyle Ross and Joel Samuels formed Fine Mess Theatre in 2013. They are back in town with the company’s production of ‘The Common Land’. Part love story and part revenge tragedy, the play is a one-man show performed by Joel as the character of Tom Head. Tom is bullied at school and abused at home, his life is one long streak of misery until a chance meeting with a girl called Leah leads to him making a friend and plotting his revenge.

Joel (writer and performer of the Common Land) trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts with a Leverhulme Scholarship. He previously studied Drama and English at the University of Sussex. The Common Land is set in the Fens in East Anglia where Joel spent half his childhood and much of the scenery of the play is directly lifted from real life locations.

The show previously appeared in Brighton as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival, where it won ‘Pick of the Fringe’ and a transfer to the Rose Theatre, Kingston as part of the International Youth Arts Festival. During its run in Kingston it was awarded ‘Best of the Fest.’ The show also features original music from the Melodic – a Brixton-based afro-folk foursome who also spent a lot of time in Brighton as students and is directed by up and coming young director Anthony Lau – currently in rehearsals at the Young Vic in London.

It runs in Brighton at Otherplace's Broadway Bar (formerly Upstairs at the Three and Ten) from October 1st - October 4th 2014.

Tickets: Buy tickets at Otherplace

written by Greg McEwan, director at Butterfly Effect PR

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Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere at Brighton Digital Festival 2014 by Rosie Davis

In 1959 eight students from Magic Valley Liberal Arts College in Idaho, America went missing, along with their science teacher. They were never found and the investigation into their disappearance was closed. On 1st September 2014 in Brighton, England, Producer Simon Wilkinson stood in front of a packed out theatre and screened his telling of the mysterious tale. Rosie Davis reviews, Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere.  

Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere at BDF 2014

TOM (the Old Market Theatre) signed up as one of the venues taking part in the Brighton Digital Festival 2014, and wisely so, as I was welcomed by a queue of people at the ticket booth. It turns out it wasn’t only me that had flicked through the programme and found myself shivering, fearful yet drawn in by the simple, but effective blurb on this event. The people of Brighton obviously can’t resist a good conspiracy theory, and combined with live visuals and music, it was a must-see.

TOM was the ideal venue for Wilkinson’s multimedia show, the screen was in clear view of every ticket holder and the sound was faultless. The lighting and music were vital parts in creating the right atmosphere, and the technicians at TOM, should receive a gold medal for their seamless abilities.

Simon Wilkinson, the show’s Director stepped forth on the stage and explained how this project came about, and why he chose to focus on this unexplained mass disappearance. Simon is also the Director of Circa 69, a Production Company based in Brighton, where he works as an AV/Performance/Installation artist, and Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere brings this to light.

The project was commissioned by Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia where it was first performed. When Simon was asked to produce an artistic installation to be screened or performed at the square, his fascination with this haunting story was reignited. His first encounter with this story was as a teenager when his mother bought a copy of Mysteries of the World. The stories were always concluded and the mysterious events explained, except with this story. The explanation didn’t sit right and Simon never accepted that it was an alien abduction. Over 20 years later the story still had him thinking, and he embarked on a mission to find out more. What he discovered was more than he bargained for, with no archives from the police or records of the mass disappearance, the mystery deepened.

Simon turned his back on the audience and stood behind a desk that looked like it could’ve controlled the Starship Enterprise. The film began and the mysterious mass disappearance is told through a montage of B-movies,‘50s black and white films and commercials. The film includes sub-headings and a narration, but it is the combination of electronic and live classical soundtrack, which really created the atmosphere. The musical scores created an eerie vibe and along with the footage, Wilkinson illustrated this true story more vividly than a documentary could have done.

In order to bring this unfinished story to life Wilkinson had arranged for 8 actors to partake in his show. Each actor read out a monologue; a part of a letter, which had been written by the students.

When Wilkinson went searching for more information on this story, he discovered that 15 minutes away from where the Magic Valley Liberal Arts College had been was the Burley Historical Society. They had managed to obtain the 8 letters that the students had left, neatly laid out in a 12ft x 12ft box which had been found in the Great Basin Dessert 14 days after their disappearance. To check out the Burley Historical society website about the disappearances visit

Simon’s production and overall delivery of the piece was perfect. It caused a stir and left everyone thinking, but in a creative way. Simon had delivered the story in acts, cleverly conveying to me a sense of deception and corruption without making these conclusions explicit. Ultimately it was left for the audience to make their own minds up about what had really happened.

As the show ended I caught the odd sentence from passers by; “I wouldn’t have drunk the water.” People were attempting to piece together the unfinished story. I grabbed a moment with Simon after the event to gain more insight and shared with him the snippets of conversation overheard. He told me that that was what he had wanted.

This is the kind of show that would’ve worked brilliantly at White Night, so it's great news that the Brighton Digital Festival has now taken on the mantle of the odd and mysterious alongside supporting digital creativity. I hope this show gets shown at TOM again!

Rosie Davis - follow on Twitter @RosieDavisred

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Color Run Brighton 20 September 2014

~ Color Run Brighton 2014 fuscia pink ~
  6,000 of you, shouted the man on stage, are going to enjoy the happiest 5k run in the world. Perhaps he didn't exactly say that, but as I stood amongst the crowd, dressed in a white t-shirt and allocated number, that's how it felt.

Taking place on an unbelievably hot September morning, my eyes squinted in the brightness of the light.  Ahead was an arch of balloons to mark the start and above us stood another fella, this one from South Wales to marshal us through in waves.

5k, or rather 3 miles took us along the very familiar Madeira Drive, now transformed by arches of different colours with stations of people waiting to cover us in coloured powder.  Fuscia pink, cornflower blue, sunshine yellow and Dutch orange in turn was chucked at us, choking us in dust.

~ Color Run Brighton 2014 orange ~
I ran-walked the course, enjoying the fabulousness of the occasion.  As the finish line approached we fell into a jog, Hold my hand, said my Cardiff fella. I smiled back and we crossed the finish line together, where we were each handed a packet of coloured powder.  To our right pop-drum-n-bass had the crowd of powder-coloured runners jumping to the music with their arms raised.  On the bank below Lewes Crescent, spectators gathered and participants joined friends.

Behind the stage Save the Children were inviting volunteers to help paint by numbers an enormous face of a girl helped by the charity.  One of the girls told us £20,000 had already been raised by Brighton. Unsure whether any of the entry fee had gone to the charity, she told me none of it had. I've now made my donation and if you want to as well, please click on Save the Children and follow the instructions.
Meanwhile runners continued to stream in and join in the dancing. The man on stage urged the crowd, Wait for it, wait for it, on the count of three release the colour. Above their heads, colours exploded, merged, grew faint and fell on everyone.
Color Run Brighton 2014, Madeira Drive

Color Run Brighton 2014, warm up

Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014

Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
Color Run Brighton 2014
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Slash / Night at Brighton Digital Festival 2014 by Amber Gregory

Yesterday I got an email from Brighton Writer Amber Gregory that read, " I had no idea what I was getting myself into last night and it was very explicit! How PG does my review have to be?"  
Well, thought I, that sounds intriguing, a couple of hours later this is what Amber sent through.

Slash / Night
An evening of slash fiction featuring talks and readings from Chris Parkinson, Muffy Hunter, James Burt and others.
Location  Komedia: Studio
Calendar  17 Sep 2014 - 7:30 pm

Ignored by the mainstream and despised by the canon, Slash fiction is living its life underground in the creases of the internet. The term now refers to any fan fiction involving a relationship between same sex characters, but originally the genre was specifically reserved for a sexual relationship. Some fans also distinguish a female focused sub-genre called Femslash. It's generally agreed that the origins of flash fiction began in the 70's with Star Trek, when fans started reacting to the underlying sexual tension they perceived between Kirk and Spock.

It was a pretty ordinary Wednesday night when I dragged an unsuspecting and uninformed friend to night of Slash fiction. Neither of us had any prior knowledge of the genre and having got a bit of garbled information from the internet before we left, I have to admit to feeling a bit sceptical.

My scepticism increased when we'd settled in our seats and been told that Slash fiction has just as much literary merit as any other genre. “Really, we'll see” said a snobbish little voice in my head. But as the evening progressed my doubt was largely stifled by laughter.

We had Jarvis Cocker engaging in a steamy affair with the Tyrannosaur, while a Velociraptor hungrily listens in on the phone. Like many of the pieces this was intentionally hilarious, dipping into a realm of absurdism not commonly associated with erotic fiction. From then on in we covered different sub-genres from an avid and knowledgeable fan. I learnt new words and I found out many things I didn't ever want to know. By the way the word Millicest describes a kind of fiction involving Ed and David Milliband. I'll leave you to work out the rest.

But what I loved about the night was the total sense of liberation. Why shouldn't writing be about reacting to a demand – however strange that might be? There are anonymous forums where you can post the most specific and obscene guidelines for a story, and if you're lucky someone will write it for you. Surely there is a cathartic effect knowing that you're not alone in imagining Shakespeare's Mercutio and Benvolio locked in a passionate embrace?

Don't go if you're a prude, prepare for heaps of obscenity and don't leave your sense of humour at home. If you manage these three things you'll be in for a weird and wonderful night to remember.

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Open Houses with a Georgian connection - FREE access to eighteenth century buildings in September

Open House London is a free event once a year in September when hundreds of properties open their doors to the public.

With over 850 sites listed, there's a phenomenal number of buildings and public spaces to choose from, let alone go to in one weekend.

So, to help bring a few to the foreground I've chosen my top pick of eighteenth century properties that would be worth a London jaunt.

Benjamin Franklin House
36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF
By Architect Patrick Dillon
Year Built 1732/2006

This Grade I listed Georgian house was home to Benjamin Franklin, who among other things discovered the positive and negative charge of electricity, invented a 24-hour clock for navigation, watertight bulkheads for ships, equipment to measure sea water temperatures at different depths, and improved bifocal glasses.

It's the world's only remaining home of Benjamin Franklin – scientist, inventor, writer and one of the greatest political figures of the 18th century.

It retains many of its original features, including central staircase, lathing, 18th century panelling, stoves, windows, fittings and beams. In his parlour Franklin frequently received friends such as William Pitt the Elder (Earl of Chatham), Edmund Burke, David Hartley, James Boswell, Adam Smith, Bishop Jonathan Shipley, Sir Francis Dashwood and Thomas Paine.  

Franklin lived and worked there for nearly sixteen years on the eve of the American Revolution, 1757-1775. It also became the first de facto US Embassy and still holds a special place in Anglo-American history.

Also interestingly, an anatomy school was also run from this site by the landlady's son-in-law, William Hewson. Centuries later, bones were found, beneath the Seminar Room's floor, remnants from this time. 

Though built as a lodging house (Franklin was the tenant of Margaret Stevenson), it was said that during his long tenure he was seen less as a lodger and more as head of the household. By the end of 20th century, when the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House were granted the freehold from the British Government, the property was in a dire condition.

Craven Street has the longest stretch of 18th century housing of any street south of the Strand. Like most of the turnings on the south side of the Strand, Craven Street, originally called Spur Alley, was originally approached through an archway and this continued to be the case long after the street was rebuilt and re-named.

Hogarth's House
Hogarth Lane, Great West Road, London W4 2QN
Year Built c 1715

An early 18th century timber-framed, red brick house, it was home to artist William Hogarth who extended it significantly around the years 1749-1764. It contains a delightful walled garden with an ancient mulberry tree in it and is considered an unique oasis in modern West London.

Hogarth's House is a tiny building beside the Great West Road beyond the Hogarth Roundabout. Built in the early 1700s it was the country home of painter, engraver and satirist William Hogarth for the last 15 years of his life.

Following a period of neglect, and after a public appeal to save the house in 1900 failed, a local benefactor decided to restore and open it to the public two years later. The museum remained open until serious damage by bombing in 1940 caused it to close. It was reopened again after restoration in 1951 and finally underwent further restoration with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to mark the 300th anniversary of Hogarth's birth.

Rooms are furnished in the style of Hogarth's time and it contains displays about his life and work as well as many of his famous prints, including the well-known 'Moral' series: A Harlot's Progress, An Election and Marriage a la Mode.

The Hurlingham Club
Ranelagh Gardens, London SW6 3PR
Architect Dr William Cadogan / George Byfield
Year Built 1760/1797-8

Known as last of the grand 18th century mansions that once fronted the part of the river by Putney, it has both magnificent interiors and extensive grounds to marvel at.

The only survivor of the many late Georgian mansions in the local vicinity, Hurlingham House (since 1869 the home of the Hurlingham Club) dates back to 1760 when Dr. William Cadogan, a fashionable physician, acquired a 9 acre site from the then Bishop of London’s Fulham Palace estate and built a plain three bay, three storey house in brown brick which is still recognisable as the core of the present building.

Dr. Cadogan’s successor was one John Ellis, brother of the head of London’s West Indian sugar interest. In 1797 Ellis incorporated Cadogan’s villa into a new, much larger neo-classical style mansion.

The new house’s dominant feature is the stucco faced garden facade in the new grand "John Nash" style of the period, complete with a giant pedimented Corinthian portico with flanking Corinthian pilasters. Inside Byfield created a matching suite of ample "grand manner" style reception rooms (drawing room and dining room) linked by an oval ante room retained from the earlier house (and which, against all the rules of classical decorum, projects into the central portico).

After Ellis, Hurlingham had several well known occupiers including a "mad" Archbishop of Dublin, the Duke of Wellington’s brother and various City bankers. Becoming the Hurlingham Club (originally dedicated to the sport of pigeon shooting) in 1869, it later became the national centre for polo. Forty acres remain (part of the original beautifully landscaped Humphrey Repton Park). "for the use and enjoyment of the (6,000) members and their families and friends".

White Lodge
Richmond Park (nearest gate Sheen Gate), TW10 5HR
Architect Roger Morris
Year Built 1727-30

Commissioned as a royal hunting residence, White Lodge is a Grade I listed English Palladian villa, inspired by the high renaissance design principles of Palladio and the neo-classical interiors of Inigo Jones. It houses a museum that explores the principles of classicism, embodied by the building of White Lodge and is also now home to students of The Royal Ballet School.

White Lodge was commissioned in 1727 as a hunting lodge for George I. Completed in 1730, the Lodge became a favoured retreat of the new monarch George II and his consort, Queen Caroline.
In 1837 Queen Victoria granted White Lodge to her favourite aunt, Mary, Duchess of Gloucester.
From 1869 the Queen’s cousin Princess Mary Adelaide and her husband the Duke of Teck resided at White Lodge. Their daughter Princess ‘May’ married the future George V in 1893, becoming Queen Mary. Her son Edward VIII was born at White Lodge on Midsummer’s Eve 1894 and his Christening took place in the Salon. In 1923 the Duke of York, the future George VI and his bride Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon made their home at White Lodge. The grand stairway leading up to the Salon was added. The birth certificate of Queen Elizabeth II gives White Lodge as her parents’ address.

In 1954 a 50 year lease of White Lodge was acquired for The Royal Ballet School. Half a century later the Crown granted a further 100 year lease to the School. In 2004 an ambitious redevelopment of White Lodge commenced, including the addition of new accommodation, dance studios and study facilities. The new buildings were designed by BHandM Architects, and were completed in 2009.

Asia House
63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
Architect John Johnson
Year Built 18th century

This Grade II* listed town house originally planned by Robert and James Adam, has an interior designed by John Gregory in the 1770s and library book shelves designed by Sir John Soane. The interior of the rooms are Adamesque with filigree plasterwork, inset with classical paintings and elaborate marble chimney pieces.

In the 1770s, Number 63 New Cavendish Street, along with its surrounding area was part of the Duke of Portland’s Marylebone estate. It is now Asia House, a charity, covering a geographical remit from the Gulf in the West to Indonesia in the East, click on the link to find out more Asia House.

To find out what other buildings are included in the line up click on this link to Open-City.

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Tour of Britain 2014 Day 7 Finish Line Brighton

What a glorious September day down at the finish line of Day 7, Tour of Britain 2014.

Here are some pics from Madeira Drive.

Vermote, finishing first, Day 7 Tour of Britain 2014

Wiggo warm down

Mark Cavendish, Tour of Britain 2014

Mark Cavendish

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Brighton Mini Maker Faire #BMMF2014

So here it is - pics from the fun, inspirational, child friendly, creative, digital Brighton Mini Maker Faire.  In its fourth year, this is an event that keeps coming back, bigger, bolder and brighter! #BMMF2014

Public art for the Dream City Project
Mr Watt, Grumpy Man of Metal

Dream City taking shape
Mini Maker Faire 2014

The Woolly Umbrella
Mark Cass, dispensing advice
Mini Maker Faire 2014

Lab Rat Creations
Lab Rat Creations, upcycled art
Tazz lamp by Lab Rat Creations
Jewellery Macabre by Kimi
Play music with a bunch of bananas at Maplin
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