Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Festival is coming upon us said... The Lady of Patcham

Sorry folks! I couldn’t resist a bit of art and culture in today’s blog and being a bit of a Tennyson fan who loves The Lady of Shalott (to quote Charlotte “aren't the best jokes the ones that have to be explained?!”) I thought I’d remind you all that The Brighton Festival and Festival Fringe will be up and running from this Saturday 3 May.

To be honest, if you travel into Brighton by road today you can’t miss the fact. Passing Preston Park this morning on my way from our lovely Patcham village I noticed the posters for the Moscow State Circus which will be setting up shortly for their visit 8-20 May.

When you reach St Peter’s Church you’ll see that the Spiegeltent is well on the way to being completed. Yesterday, they just had a few planks up but by this morning the skeleton of the roof was visible. So what is the Famous Spiegeltent? Well it’s a pavilion used as a travelling dance hall, bar and entertainment salon which was created in the early 20th century. There are only a hand-full of these unique and legendary ‘tents of mirrors’ left in the world today. Built of wood, mirrors, canvas, leaded glass and detailed in velvet and brocade. The very essence of a festival club, ‘kabaret salon’ and intimate concert hall. You’ll find they’re hosting performances from the Fringe and The Great Escape music festival that’s also in town this month. Goodness! Isn’t there a lot to do in Brighton in May. Where do we start!

Travelling towards the beachfront I spotted another new construction going up and this was the tent for The Ladyboys of Bangkok. It’s their 10th Anniversary this year and once more they have returned to Brighton for the Festival. You’ll find them in Victoria Gardens.

And there’s even more. The Udderbelly is back with us in The Steine as part of The Fringe for the second time. You’ll find comedy, theatre and lots more in the tent. It’s really taking shape and looks almost ready for their opening.

As I said “Where do we start?” Well, I’ll be starting on Saturday night with a performance at the Corn Exchange called ‘Stockholm’.

Can’t wait…


Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Ooo, look - I'm such a sucker for whirly widget type things.

Amazon have recently created a new widget that lets you put your fav Amazon products into a carousel, so we've put some of our top Brighton related picks into the widget below. Everything from music from Brighton kings of cool - the Kooks, to film classic Quadrophenia. And if you're fed up of always landing on Old Kent Road in Monopoly, why not check out the Brighton edition?

We've got lots more Brighton related goodies in our online shop.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Brighton sewer tours

If you like getting down and dirty, then a Brighton sewer tour could be just what you need to get all nice and grubby! Well, not literally, of course. The old Victorian sewers are actually pretty clean these days. It was after listening to the lovely Simon Calder espousing the delights of Brighton's hidden gems on the Enjoy England video, that I realised how many hidden gems there actually are in the city and the sewer tours are definitely one of them.

Brighton's Victorian sewerage system is one of the most magnificent examples of civil engineering in the country and the sewer tours, which run from May until September, have become a highly popular attraction for tourists and local residents. And if you don't believe me, they were named Best Place to Visit in the Brighton and Hove Business Awards 2007. So there.

The Sewer Tour lasts approximately one hour and starts under the Brighton Pier and emerges back at ground level through a manhole in the middle of the Old Steine Gardens.

The minimum age for tours is 11 years old and you'll need to wear suitable clothing (trousers) and footwear and asked to climb and descend ladders. Find out more about Brighton sewer tours.

We'll be uncovering more of our favourite hidden Brighton gems throughout May.



Komedia Krater Comedy Club

In the past Sunday evenings were always considered to be a bit dull, as the weekend is over, Monday is rapidly approaching and there's nothing on telly. Therefore I would highly recommend going to the Komedia Krater Comedy Club as I did last night. As Sunday night is the cheapest, and we were still home before 11, perfect for a school night!

My man and I had been last year as I had got a special deal on tickets and we loved the final act who were incredibly silly and made my boyfriend's face ache he was laughing so much. So when I saw they were coming back again I got us tickets to see them. And I'm glad I did as each time I go I think why did I wait so long before coming back? Anyway for the uninitiated I should explain what happens, the show starts with the excellent compere Stephen Grant then normally there are only three acts but for some reason we had a bonus one, hooray! The first time I went I was a bit scepitical as I hadn't heard of any of the comedians so I was a bit weary as to what the standard would be. While I cannot claim to have loved every single one, I have not seen a bad one yet, obviously some you like more than others but whatever happens you are guaranteed a laugh.

The only slight annoyance is the seating as clearly they want to pack in as many people as possible, but this does mean that you end up being squashed, and the tables are layed in favour of groups so that couples either have to sit at the front and become part of the act or get tacked on the end of a group. However once the show starts it really doesn't matter. Oh and as for the act we were returning to see - The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue - we both felt that while they were still funny, becuase we knew what to expect it wasn't as funny as last time when there was an air of confusion about what was actually going on. But we'd still recommend seeing them.

Well I think that's enough gushing and enthusiasm for a Monday morning, but when you are next in Brighton make sure you include the Comedy Club :)


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Things to do in Brighton: Hidden gems of the city

From Edwardian seaside destination and health resort to funky cool bohemia, Brighton has always been much more than just a city by the sea. Which may explain why Brighton is currently destination of the month on the Enjoy England website.

Check out our new Enjoy England/VisitBrighton video and join the Independents rather lovely travel guru Simon Calder, as he discovers some of Brighton's hidden gems sent in by users of the Enjoy England website. Enjoy!

Don't forget you can also check out the VisitBrighton website for more on many of the haunts Simon visits - including:

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Smoking ban shennanigans

I was chatting to a colleague yesterday about my trip to Madrid and explaining how everyone still smokes willy nilly in restaurants, cafes and bars. It felt really odd, not to mention smelt rather pongy! We're good little Brits really aren't we. Braving the cold and rain outside of Starbucks and bars in order to light up and have a puff. Shunning hail, snow or force 10 gales in return for a quick fix. It really hit home how quickly we've become accustomed to the smoking ban over here. I think many of us expected rampant uprisings and people exhaling at you furiously, on the back of a Bill Hicks anti-anti-smoking tirade. But no, we've taken to it like good little chickens and personally, as an anti smoker, I'm grateful to the people around Brighton and Hove who sit dutifully outside when they light up. I don't want to stink of fags when I pop to the pub or end up on the edge of the smoking bit of a restaurant. Call me a smoking fascist but I don't! Sorry Bill Hicks, but I do cough if someone exhales smoke at me - didn't do you much good did it!

I was a little worried though by a colleague who seems like she might have the murmerings of an uprising in her. A respectable woman of long term management she took great glee in telling me that whilst waiting for her luggage in a Spanish airport, she timed how long it took 2 policia espagnol to make their way around the airport and return to the area where everyone was illegally lighting up. As they approached they would waggle their pistols and shout 'no, no, no' (but in a Spanish accent). She mistimed one of their revolutions around the terminal and had to do a quick half revolution herself in a Benny Hill stylee to get away from them half way through a fag. Why do Brits get so mischievous abroad and not at home I wonder? Perhaps it was the pistols? I'm not sure....


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

We are still here...

Yes I know I said I'd leave the blog and let someone else write on it but then something happened that I felt I just had to write about...

I went to log-in to our Facebook page this morning and to my horror a big red notice flashed up telling me that the account had been disabled! I can only assume that this was because we are a business rather than an individual user, however a) there are lots of other businesses doing the same thing so why just us? b) why couldn't they have warned us first?

So first of all I just wanted to reassure any of you who were our friends on Facebook that we will be back so look out for us and also to let you know that we did not choose to leave!

I have to say what really annoys me is not the fact that we were deleted, as I am sure they have their reasons. However surely it is common courtesy to let someone know about it first? Perhaps it is not just that we are a business page, maybe someone has made a complaint about us but how can we possibly defend ourselves if we don't know what it is all about? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Is it me or is this just another example of the general lack of manners people have now a days?

Although perhaps I have been spoilt growing up in Brighton (come on you knew I would link it back to the city somehow!) for as Hilary pointed out in one of her posts we are a polite and friendly city. So perhaps naively I thought everyone was like this but after this Facebook incident (and British Gas but that's a whole other story!) I'm reminded once again how lucky I am to be from Brighton & Hove :)

Anyway I'll keep you posted and as I said we do plan to set up a Facebook business page so keep an eye out for that and in the meantime please keep reading the blog and checking for news on the city


Friday, 18 April 2008

John Barrowman

Last night I had to forgo drinks at the uber cool Niche bar at the Amherst hotel, hopefully one of my colleagues will be able to tell us a bit more about the bar soon. As you should be aware by now I am rather partial to a cocktail so what could possibly have stopped me from going?

Well my Mum and I had tickets to see John Barrowman at Brighton Dome and he certainly was the man for the Barrows last night (should probably point out that my surname is Barrow - aren't the best jokes the ones that have to be explained?!) He sang a mixture of show tunes and pop songs, and the way he was belting them out I'm not entirely sure he needed the microphone. At this point I feel I should also give a special mention to his lovely bottom, clearly he agrees with me the way he kept wiggling it about!

Although I think the highlight for me was the way he managed to camp up 'Every little thing she does is magic' by giving it a mariachi feel, not quite sure what Sting would have thought of it but there you go! I also enjoyed Man of La Mancha but that's mainly because it featured in Quantum Leap (Oh boy!) and Amarillo was very popular and seemed to add an extra helping of cheese on top of what was already the musical equivalent of a cheese board!

All in all it was a fabulously camp and cheesy night, Mum and I were giggling most of the way through particularly at some of John's dance moves which resembled your dad at a wedding party. Although some people seemed to be taking it all very seriously as during the interval I overheard someone exclaim that John Barrowman was clearly born to be on the stage! While that chap may have been a bit overly dramatic, John Barrowman was excellent, in between the songs he was telling us why these tracks were important to him and of course there were plenty of cheeky innuendos as well.


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Things to do now that the nights are drawing out...

We too, from the Avalon Brighton, took an afternoon off and went to see Single Spies at the Theatre Royal. I have to say I found it a bit dull and nearly dozed off in both plays! Her Majesty herself (played by Diana Quick) made an appearance in the second play - unexpectedly as Sir Anthony Blunt was logging her collection and she was home early from an abandoned opening of a new swimming pool which had cracked the day before. The dialogue was playful (although I thought the Queen had a real air of menace about her). I also thought the discussion about art was more from the mouth of Alan Bennett than anything HM might come out with.

There was never a hint of why these two men, both played well - but sometimes a little strained - by Nigel Havers, should have so utterly betrayed their country. They just seemed affable toffs and perhaps, in all their muddled and misguided ways, that's all they ever were.

But that's indoors - outdoors is much more fun. There's an amazing battle at the end of the film Zulu - the Battle of Rorke's Drift. Perhaps not something this country would commemorate with the pride it once did but an immensely heroic tale nonetheless of holding out against overwhelming odds. A small mission surrounded by the hills from which the enraged Zulu armies attack. Well, out on the Downs is a spot which always reminds me of it. From immediately outside the Avalon you take a 2 bus to point on the road in to Woodingdean where the first houses start. Go back behind the end houses and there's a pathway (Jugg's Road or Drove Road) which eventually leads you to Falmer Road.

Cross this and take the track curving right after the car park. After 250m bear left to stay to the right hand side of a fence. The valley opens up to your left and you go around a hill with spectacular views. Eventually you'll see the mission hall (actually a derelict sheep pen). You do a big backward loop then the path drops down towards the buildings (you can go straight down the hill across the fields but there are two nasty barbed-wire fences to cross). It's actually called Standean Bottom which doesn't have the same cachet as Rorke's Drift.

Take the flat 'road' away from the buildings and eventually swing right uphill and around, staying on the same track. Remote houses belonging to the waterworks are down the hill to your left. This track eventually takes you back in to Rottingdean - just turn left at the end down to the village. You can get a bus back to Brighton or, if you're still up for it, walk the undercliff to the marina, stop for beers and grub, then continue back to the city.

If you're staying with us, we'll lend you the OS map. Or you can walk the whole thing - no need for buses if you don;t want to. You can be off the beaten track within 10 minutes of the Avalon.

Brian Snow
Avalon Hotel Brighton

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Brighton Special Offers

Well it seems this is rapidly turning into my own personal blog as everyone seems to be quite hectic at the moment, not that I'm not busy as well but I wouldn't want out readers to feel at all neglected ;)

So why are we all so busy? Well I think it is partly due to the fact that while most people live their lives in the traditional fashion from January to December, for council employees it is April to March therefore we are at the start of the new year and new plans need to be implemented. Equally as Spring has finally arrived people will start to think about coming to Brighton, so we are all getting more enquiries whether it is from visitors, press or conference organisers. And of course we are also being kept busy gearing up for next month as May is Festival time here in Brighton

Inevitably if they leave writing of the blog to the Marketing bod, I will eventually have to resort to shamelessly promoting our special offers. So here goes, if you are coming down in May make sure you check out our special offers page so that you can extend your stay and really make the most of all that's happening. And if you are feeling green (and as Brighton fans I'm sure you are) and have therefore decided to ditch the car and come down by train, then you will be pleased to know that we have some special offers for anyone travelling to Brighton by First Capital Connect during the Brighton Fringe Festival. So I look forward to seeing you all here in May!


Friday, 11 April 2008

Theatre Royal Brighton

Well I have run the risk of turning into a bit of a luvvie this week , as I have been to the Theatre Royal Brighton twice.

On Tuesday night we were there to see Single Spies by Alan Bennett and starring the lovely Nigel Havers and Diana Quick, a winning combination! Single Spies is actually two plays for the price of one - An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution, both set in the 50s and both about espionage. While my companions were a little more mature and therefore knew more of the history of the period in question, I still thoroughly enjoyed it, the script was witty and the acting spot on. A great night out, the play will be on in Brighton until Saturday so if you are visiting this weekend then pop into our Visitor Information Centre in the Royal Pavilion Shop and get yourself a ticket

Then last night I was back at the theatre for a behind the scenes tour. I kept my eyes peeled for a glimpse of Nigel Havers but sadly I had no such luck. However Lorraine gave us a fascinating tour of this Grade II listed building. The Theatre celebrated it's 200th anniversary last year, so there is a lot to talk about, whether it's the inside story on what Marlene Dietrich and Sir Laurence Olivier were like off the stage or a spooky ghost story. You will also get the chance to tread the boards and go down into the Orchestra box as well as take a sneaky peek inside the Queen's box, where there is the only seat where you can have a perfect view of the stage but no other audience member can see you, well apart from the other people in the box with you :) You also get to hear the meaning behind phrases such as to be in the limelight and break a leg, as well as the reasoning behind the old superstition that it is bad luck to whistle in the theatre. A fascinating insight into the workings of this delightful old theatre.


Monday, 7 April 2008

Brighton weather

Well first of all welcome to the 100th post from the VisitBrighton team, how exciting!

Anyway back to the point... It always amuses me that Brighton seems to be the location of choice for freak weather reports, this time last year when we had a sudden heat wave the news was filled with pictures of Brighton beach and people catching some rays, or relaxing outside one of the beachfront bars.

Then a few weeks ago we had poor reporters struggling to stay standing as the 80mph winds hit, and people had to be warned not to go down on to the beach to watch the waves crashing on the shore as they could very easily get blown away - do these people have no common sense at all?!

Yesterday we had the sudden snow flurries, and while we had all be warned to expect snow , I don't think anyone could have anticipated the blanket of snow that covered the city as ordinarily even when we get snow here in Brighton it usually only lasts about an hour before it melts into slush. Even though I hate the cold I have to admit there is something quite magical about seeing the city turn to white, and familiar scenes are completely transformed. This picture postcard scene was actually snapped by our very own Richard!

Don't forget you can check our Brighton weather page before you vist to get an idea of what you need to pack


Friday, 4 April 2008

Small changes can cause a lot of confusion....

When I logged on to our Facebook page recently I noticed they had changed the menus at the top, there are now only 3 options - Profile, Friends and Inbox and while I had spotted that something was missing, I couldn't for the life of me think what it was. I then updated my status to reflect this and it seemed I had struck a chord as a couple of my friends replied to say they were also confused and again could not remember what the other button was. Clearly this mysterious button had entered into our subconscious even though we never used it. Rather fortuitously I decided to have a bit of a clear up of my desk today and whilst flicking through some Marketing journals I found the answer. Very helpfully they had printed a screen shot of Facebook with the mystery button - it was Networks. Obviously they removed it as no one used it but it amused me how these little unexpected changes can affect us.

A similar state of confusion had been caused in Brighton by the appearance of a bizarre alien like object on the grass verge opposite Roedean school. It was featured in our local paper and generated a lot of theories and comments. Today it was revealed that it was just an April Fools prank from the owners of Silver on St James Street in Kemp Town. They had decided to put the piece from their bespoke glass company there for a bit of a laugh. I'm sure they'll benefit from the extra publicity and they are now selling the piece and donating the profits to charity so all in all it was a pretty good idea for a prank.

Anyway I guess the point of my musings today is that the smallest of changes can quickly throw us into a state of confusion even if it's only for a little while. That's unless you are my Mum of course who's favourite motto has always been to expect the unexpected, which seems to be especially appropriate when visiting (or living in) Brighton!


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Terre a Terre wins the best Vegetarian award

Well as you are no doubt aware by now we don't need much of an excuse to brag about our fabulous city but this week we have a big reason to feel chuffed as the Observer announced the winners of the 2008 Food Monthly awards.

And we would like to say a huge congratulations to Terre a Terre who were voted the best vegetarian restaurant in the country, wahoo! I must confess that the first time I went there I was a little sceptical as I am a devout carnivore and rather picky when it comes to eating my greens. However I was in for a very pleasant surprise as Terre a Terre is certainly not just carrots and brussel sprouts, we had the Terre Tapas and a row of exotic looking dishes came out, each one was delicious thanks to the combination of textures and flavours. Ooo reading that back it almost sounds like I know what I'm talking about! But all I'm trying to say is that it is really tasty stuff and worth going just for some of the names, so what will you be tempted by the Fundamentally Fungus, Thai One On or perhaps your children will want some Teeny Weeny Linguine?

While Terre a Terre were the main winners, Brighton restaurants were mentioned in every category and other places to be named were: Due South, Sussex and the City, Food For Friends and Pintxo People

So there you go, another reason to come and visit Brighton, and once you've been why don't you let us know if there are any other restaurants that should have been included in the awards?


Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Blue whale seen off Brighton beach

Well, it's a strange old life here in Brighton isn't it. America may have Britney going bonkers, but we've apparently got our very own blue whales...