Wednesday, 17 December 2014

One Man, Two Guvnors at Theatre Royal Brighton

It's a few years now since the Theatre Royal Brighton made the brave move away from the traditional Christmas pantomime. I've never really been a fan of panto so I was delighted that the Theatre Royal was offering an alternative. Initially they chose to host musicals but this year's big show is One Man, Two Guvnors and as the smash-hit comedy is set in Brighton it seems only fitting that it comes home for Christmas.

Gavin Spokes (Francis Hensall) OneMan2Guvs, NT by Johan Persson
This was another example of a play I had intended to go and see when it was on in London but never quite got round to it so I was thrilled to finally get the chance to see it. Of course there is always a slight sense of trepidation when going to see something that has been so popular for so long - can it really live up to all the hype? And I'll be honest during the opening scene I was starting to wonder what the fuss was about but once the focus shifted to Francis Henshall the laughs really started. There are moments of pure slapstick, the timing of which was perfect. There's also some audience participation and while Francis was cheeky, there was no hint of malice. During last night's performance there was an added bit of audience participation which could have really thrown some actors but Gavin Spokes (Francis Henshall) rolled with it and made it so funny. Although kudos to the audience member for perhaps the most Brighton heckle ever - hummus sandwich!

It's not all slapstick though, there are some fabulous one liners and even a bit of satire. But the big laughs are drawn from the farcical moments of misunderstandings and mistaken identities. This is really Francis Henshall's show but I did also love Alan Dingle the ridiculously hammy actor. I should also mention The Crazes, the 1960s live band who helped to liven up the potentially tiresome scene changes.

While this isn't a traditional Christmas show, it is a festive treat. Tickets are selling fast for the three-week run so if you want to see it, get in quick! See the Theatre Royal website for details and to book.


Friday, 12 December 2014

#LoveBrightonPTP - Pass the Parcel competition

This year we decided that we really ought to get into the festive spirit a bit more so on Monday we launched a Christmas competition - don't worry though as there is still plenty of time to get involved!

Each weekday we will post a festive image and we would like our followers and fans to share the image as a sort-of modern day Pass the Parcel. And that is all you have to do! The following day we will then select a winner out of all of the people who have retweeted, regrammed or shared the image using #LoveBrightonPTP. It's that easy.

Here is the list of amazing prizes that are up for grabs:
Of course as we are now on Day 5 of the competition some of the above prizes have already been won (the ones marked with a *) but as you can see there are still lots of great ones in the pot!  
Each weekday at midday we will post a photo on Twitter and Instagram and for a chance to win all you have to do is retweet / regram or share using #LoveBrightonPTP.
Normally you will only have until the end of the day to enter but as it's Friday you have all weekend to take part so once you've done it make sure you get your family & friends to enter too, on the condition they share the prize with you obviously!#
For full competition details go to:

Good luck!


Thursday, 4 December 2014

VisitBrighton Greeters and City Champions

At VisitBrighton we are fortunate enough to have a fantastic group of volunteers working with us either as Greeters or as City Champions.

Any visitor to the city can book a Greet, it's a free service and a great way to get under the skin of the city. Greets typically last one and a half to two hours and whether you think you know Brighton or not you are bound to discover something new. I've been on a couple and even though I grew up here and now work for VisitBrighton I still learnt a lot!

The City Champions are here to welcome visitors as they arrive and answer any on-the-spot questions. Most weekends City Champions will be at Brighton Station and/or Pavilion Gardens handing out maps and Rough Guides (all free!) and ready to answer any questions. They are easy to spot in their resplendent blue and orange uniforms.

I have always really admired anyone who works voluntarily and it just shows how much these people love their city, the fact that they give up their free-time to ensure our visitors receive a friendly welcome and get a chance to see all the city has to offer.

So as a thank you for all their hard work our lovely visitor services manager Suzanne, arranged a reception in the Mayor's Parlour where the volunteers got to meet the Mayor as well as being given an exclusive tour of the Council Chambers. At the event Sue announced that this year there have been over 175 Greets and the City Champions have welcomed over 9,000 people! So again a big thank you to all our volunteers from everyone at VisitBrighton.

Photo credit: Stephen Lawrence / Snap It Now
You can book a Greet at and when you arrive look out for the blue & orange uniforms of the City Champions. If you live here and would like to share your enthusiasm for Brighton & Hove with visitors then why not apply to be a City Champion?


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Fairy Tale Fair

Today we hand over to another guest blogger - Claire Montgomery - to tell us about The Fairy Tale Fair...

The Fairy Tale Fair is a well established and well loved craft fair in Brighton. We launched in 2012 in Patcham, Brighton and we have continued to grow and build a loyal following of stall holders and customers. The Facebook page now has 5,000 fans, twitter isn’t far behind and our blog has had over 60,000 views since launch in summer 2012, which is an amazing feeling. In summer 2014 we launched our new site ( and started an exciting expansion for the fair...

Christmas 2014 will see The Fairy Tale Fairs biggest expansion yet! This year we are holding three festive fairs and for the first time venturing into central Brighton. There is lots to look forward to with an array of wonderful craft and vintage sellers. Join us in our established home of Patcham Methodist on November 15th, at the newly regenerated Brighton Open Market on November 23rd, and most exciting of all at Brighton Racecourse on Saturday 6th December! Here there will be 100 stalls plus lots of magical extras, making it Brighton’s biggest handmade craft fair this winter. Highlights include Santa’s photo booth, free vintage hair and make up, the Snow Queen from Frozen performs ‘Let It Go’ live, face painting by fairies, singers & dancers, goody bags and lots more!

We see the fairs are the perfect opportunity to get your gifts handmade and one off this year, and avoid the stress of the high street. You’ll also be supporting the talented designers and makers, many of whom are local, and waiting to sell their creations to you!

We are lucky enough to have been chosen as one of American Express’ top 100 small businesses of 2014 for Small Business Saturday UK, which is on Saturday 6th December (the day of our Racecourse fair). Small Business Saturday is a grass-roots, non-political, non-commercial campaign that supports, inspires and promotes small business and encourages people to support small businesses in their communities, both on the Saturday itself and beyond. We are honored to have been chosen by a global company as prestigious as American Express out of all the small businesses who applied across the UK it feels very special. So where did it all begin?

The Fairy Tale Fair is the creation of myself, Claire Montgomery (aka Cat-a-Cake Creations). As a designer and regular on the craft scene myself I decided to set up my own craft fair. I love taking part in craft fairs but felt there was a lack of community based fairs for all the family to enjoy. After a few months planning and hounding craft-y contacts The Fairy Tale Fair was finally born! The first fair was in August 2012 and was in fact the hottest day of the year! It was held in a little hall in Patcham, Brighton and despite the blazing sun saw a huge turn out! It was quite stressful in the lead up to the first event, not knowing what the response or turn out would be but luckily it all went well. Stall holders and visitors very much enjoyed their day- eating alice in wonderland themed cakes, drinking gallons of tea and selling or buying wonderful handmade creations. One thing was for certain though- we needed a bigger venue! And now here we are just over 2 years later with 3 big fairs on the way and 180 stalls filled for Christmas 2014!

For further information and a full schedule of each of the fairs head over to the fairs website: Hope to see you there, looking suitably festive!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Dinner at Las Iguanas

Brighton's Las Iguanas has been given a makeover and so we were kindly invited down to take a look. On the way over I realised that while their happy hour is a well-known treat I had never actually eaten in the restaurant so I was looking forward to trying some South American fayre.

As it was a damp and dreary evening the warm colours of the restaurant were a particularly welcome sight and we felt very cosy in our curved yellow banquette. Fans of people-watching are well-served as if you are sat in the raised dining area (as we were) then you can watch your fellow diners whereas if you are on ground level you can make use of the floor-to-ceiling windows and watch the world go by.

There was plenty of choice on the menu including veggie, vegan and gluten-free options but after lots of umming and ahhing we decided to go for the classic chicken enchiladas. The portions are generous although I'm glad the waiter suggested having a side dish, not because we needed it but just because the sweet potato fries were lovely.

The enchiladas were delicious and I was feeling pretty stuffed so was about to decline a dessert when the waiter suggested we could share some churros, and we could always take some home if needs be. Well who could say no to that?! It turns out there was no need for the doggy bag as the churros were irresistibly scrumptious. They came with two dipping pots - one with caramel sauce and the other chocolate. The caramel was nice but if chocolate is an option then that's what I'm having! 

I'm glad that I finally got to eat in Las Iguanas and I'll definitely be going back again, the churros alone is reason enough for a return visit! I also think this would be a good venue for a group outing as there are lots of rounded tables and dishes that would be ideal for sharing.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

MADE Brighton - The Design and Craft Fair

Today we hand over to Anne-Marie Shepherd to give her insider's guide to MADE Brighton - The Desgin and Craft Fair...

The resurgence of craft shows no sign of abating, Every village, town and city seems to be brimming with homemade ware; fairs, fetes, pop up shops, specialist shows, beautiful high end galleries - it seems we can’t get enough of it.

MADE BRIGHTON – The Design and Craft Fair is the city’s annual contemporary craft and design show taking place at The Dome Corn Exchange from 21 – 23 November. The fair, sponsored by COAST Magazine themselves true craft advocates, offers the public the opportunity to buy original and exceptional pieces of craft and design direct from designer / makers. Now in its 9th year, MADE BRIGHTON has become firmly established as a friendly, accessible and top quality event. The show welcomes over 5500 visitors; collectors, galleries, curators and of course Christmas shoppers, many of whom return year on year knowing that the work is well worth viewing.

MADE BRIGHTON showcases over 100 makers and designers; from unique glassware to luxurious textiles, functional ceramics to dazzling jewellery, beautiful furniture to quirky accessories, there is something for everyone. A full list of exhibitors can be seen here.. Work is priced between £10 and £1500, providing the perfect opportunity to shop for unique gifts as well as perhaps finding that ‘can’t live without’ item! For men there is Chris Hawkins edgy jewellery or some wooden delights from Forge Creative and Sarah Lock lighting.. For babies and children there is an abundance of textile treats. The Black Rabbit has fabulous knitted Bods and Christmas decorations, Woodchild offers knitted blankets, hats and scarves whilst Sally Ann Dunn is bringing her hand smocked garments, ideal for adorning sweet cherubs. For women……., well for women there is simply everything; jewellery by regulars Alison Haddon and Rachel Eardley or by Amanda Doughty and Sue Gregor, both new to the show this year, amazing glassworks by Annie McCabe and Jonathan Rogers, fabulous hats by Angelika Klose and Lizzie Lock and for textiles everyone is spoilt for choice. MADE BRIGHTON brings knitwear, silks, linens, felt and much, much more.

We are delighted that local basket maker and willow artist, Annemarie O'Sullivan, will be showing and demonstrating her stunning work in the foyer at MADE BRIGHTON. Annemarie makes baskets and loves to transfer the traditional skills of basket making into larger woven forms. We can’t wait to see what she brings!

A café provides a place for visitors to relax and take refreshment.

MADE BRIGHTON – The Design and Craft Fair
21st – 23rd November, 2014
  • Friday 21st November 11am – 7:30pm
  • Saturday 22nd November 10am - 6pm
  • Sunday, 23rd November 10am – 5pm
The Dome Corn Exchange, Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UD
Tickets £6.50 on the door. Children under 14 free
Travel direct to Brighton from London Victoria by train 10 minute walk from Brighton station

For more information please visit the MADE BRIGHTON:
Coast Magazine celebrates the UK seaside in all its glory and is an avid supporter of craft and design.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

South Downs National Park celebrates #WorldResponsibleTourismDay

Of course we all know that today is Bonfire Night but did you know that it is also World Responsible Tourism Day - an international day of action promoting tourism that protects the world?

To celebrate, the South Downs National Park has launched a new video encouraging people to Discover, Enjoy, Care:

If you're feeling inspired to visit the countryside then have a look at our dedicated website to help you explore the Downs, Towns & Coast. The site includes advice on bus travel into the countryside as well tips on cycle routes and country walks. You can also enter our competition to win a break and a vineyard tour in the picturesque village of Ditchling. Good luck!


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Brighton Early Music Festival – A Treat for the Curious

Today we hand over to another of our guest bloggers - Georgina Hawkins who is a Graduate Trainee working for the Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF)...

This is my first year going to Brighton Early Music Festival and I must say I am really excited. As a trainee for the festival I have been working behind the scenes, using everything from violas to cupcakes to hype up the festival (and I still have a few ideas up my sleeve!) I am really enjoying being a part of the BREMF team, it's giving me great experience promoting something I love, what more could I ask for?

I absolutely love early music, which makes it almost impossible to choose my favourite event. Once again BREMF has put on a range of performances which really do cater for everyone. The festival brings the vibrancy and creativity of Brighton to Early Music which I think is really unique and makes early music even more fascinating.

I am particularly excited to see Grand Tour Shorts, performed by an array of artists on Saturday 1st November. It looks to be an exotic and interesting event involving lots of different styles of music. We are exploring Music for Compline (25th Oct), uncovering Bach’s Secret Addiction (2nd Nov) and will be feeling the Passions of Venice (24th Oct); it’s going to be so exciting!

Photo Credit: Eric Richmond
BREMF is early music at its best and really accessible. Not only this, but it does something new with music every year, it really does keep you on your toes.

One of my duties as a trainee is to promote on social media, and this year we have #lovemusic on facebook and twitter. It’s one of the ways we’re getting early music out into the world and I am looking forward to see who tweets it during the festival. If you #lovemusic and want to experience something new, then you should come and try the Brighton Early Music Festival. 

So what more could you want? If you're even just the tiniest bit curious come along to one of our events and see what we are about! Early music can be enjoyed by anyone, that’s what #lovemusic is about.

Highlights from 26 events include:
  • The Night Shift - 17/10 @20:30, The Marlborough Pub & Theatre.
    Two half-hour sets of laid back classical from the OAE in the pub
  • Passions of Venice - 24/10 @ 22:00, St George’s Church, Kemptown.
    Half an hour of passionate music from romantic renaissance Venice.  Don’t forget your mask!
  • Music for Compline - 25/10 @ 22:15, St Bartholomew’s Church.
    A cappella music by candle light from 16th Century England.  Free event.
  • The Grand Tour Shorts - 1/11 from 11:00, Latest Music Bar.
    Half hour slots throughout the day featuring new generation artists.
  • Bach’s Secret Addiction - 2/11 @ 14:00 and 16:30, The Old Market, Hove.
    Pure indulgence and decadence, 18th Century style.  Coffee, cakes and music.
  • Nine Daies Wonder - 7/11 @ 20:00, St George’s Church, Kemptown.
    The longest dance ever! A wild evening of music, dance and strange instruments from Elizabeth England.
Tickets from £5.
Find out more at

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Giraffe is a buzzy burger and cocktail joint in the hip n happening North Laine

Last week Charlotte and I were treated to what I can only describe as an evening of indulgence of the foodie kind. After a full-on day in the office we made our way across a very busy cultural quarter – New Road was thronged - to the newly revamped Giraffe burger and cocktail restaurant. We were soon ensconced in our seats by the window with a first-rate vista of the North Laine fraternity; I love people watching.
American diner-style music and enthusiastic, friendly waiting staff make for a relaxed,informal ambience and the menu’s choice of laden burgers and contemporary cocktails give it a distinct ‘live for the moment’ edge.

A choice of beef patty or chicken in a bun is the main menu staple with an assortment of salady bits, cheeses, bacon, and pickles to set each creation apart. There are of course veggie options including all of the above plus falafels or halloumi.

While we deliberated, I grazed my way through a very large plate of nachos, piled high with melted cheese, guacamole, sour cream and a fiery roasted chipotle salsa - which added a pleasant smoky flavour - while Charlotte chose a more modest portion of melted mozzarella and focaccia chips.

My trousers were beginning to tighten as the burgers arrived. Mine, a Matador, was a hearty beef patty comprised of pulled pork, chorizo, manchego and roasted red pepper tapanede, extremely tasty and satisfying to the extent that I really struggled to make inroads to the coleslaw and salad sides I’d also ordered. Charlotte’s Rodeo burger – a riot of bbq sauce, bacon and house salsa - came with onion rings which, miraculously, she doesn’t like so I unashamedly had the pleasure of these too.
Fit to bust, but still willing, we opted to share pudding. A Banana Popcorn Sundae fit for the Rydell Diner – the café in the movie Grease – was set before us: scoops of vanilla ice cream, chopped banana, popcorn, fudge sauce, whipped cream and hot chocolate sauce, no less! On reflection I’m not sure what possessed us at this point but not wanting to miss anything we also ordered a Double Stuffed hard shake on the side. The innocent looking milkshake with an alcoholic twist involved baileys, finlandia vodka, kahlua, vanilla ice cream and oreo cookies.

We left the restaurant, slowly, and headed off to find our respective transport home. Thankfully my bike was nearby but I did struggle with the one slight incline on my ride home and I’m sure my tyres were in need of air the next day.

Giraffe is top for:

A full on blow out
Generous portions - don’t over order
Living for the moment
Eating in comfort with people you know; burgers can be messy
    I will return – with the kids; if I take them on a Saturday lunchtime I won’t need to cook tea!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Indian Summer and the Curry Capital of the Year

It's time for another guest post and today we had over to Minesh Agnihotri, co owner of Indian Summer restaurant, who takes a look back over the past season and ahead to the cooler months to come...

Charity success, Diwali, weddings, Christmas hampers … and is this the year when Brighton becomes ‘Curry capital of the Year’?

What a summer?  And then a lovely burst of warm Autumnal weather too, to justify our name.  It’s been a busy few months.

My business partner, Byron Swales, and I have just spent two weeks solid in the kitchen with the chefs developing and trialling new recipes.  We’re now happy with them and they will go live today. Tandoori Red mullet proved particularly popular with customers during the trials

The summer wedding season kept our outdoor catering business working flat out with 17 fantastic weddings of between 40 and 180 guests.  Bookings are already secured for 2015 /16 and we’ll have to think about upping our recruitment plans.

Now to decide on the special Gujarati vegetarian menu for our Diwali celebration  Also referred to as ‘The Festival of Lights’, Diwali is a five-day Hindu  festival, which occurs on the fifteenth day of Kartika –  the lunar month in the Hindu calendar which begins with the new moon in November.   Our annual Diwali party, always popular with our regular customers, will be on Sunday 2nd November.   The sitar player and musicians are booked, but sadly those nice people at health and safety won’t let us set off traditional fireworks.

The demand for the in-home cookery course I give is increasing.  The interest in authentic Indian cooking is growing tremendously, as more people realise there’s so much more to the cuisine than the fiery curry house ‘Ruby Murrays’.  Usual Groups are up to 4 people and they’re great fun.  I wish I had time to do more than two a week.

Brighton is certainly blessed with some fine Indian restaurants serving representative offerings of the diverse range of dishes and cooking styles found across the vast sub continent.  London is probably the only other city in this country where you can find such diversity.

This has been recognised by Brighton being short-listed as ‘Curry Capital of the Year’ by the Federation of Specialist Restaurants as part of the National Curry Week (13th to 18th October Indian Summer has been named one of four restaurants along with Bombay, Ashoka and Chilli Pickle to represent Brighton at this year’s event. You can cast your vote  for Brighton by emailing Polling closes 26th September.

The accolade adds to being named among the best Indian restaurants in the country, alongside London Michelin-starred eateries in this year’s Best in Britain Awards (BIBA), by Mood Food magazine.

I’ve just handed over a cheque to EIPC, a UK-based charity which raises funds for much needed palliative care for terminally ill patients in east India.  Our customers raised over £2,600 with generous support from the sponsors (who are listed on our website) at our masked ball at the end of July.

This morning’s post brings a copy of the Belfast Telegraph – not part of my regular breakfast time reading.  There’s a great article by Roger St Pierre, the famous travel writer, who declared the dinner he enjoyed with us as the “stand out meal” of his visit to Brighton and wrote of our, “dynamic mix of well-sourced seasonal ingredients, a base of family recipes handed down through the generations and a thoroughly contemporary slant to its keep it simple, keep it pretty presentation.”

Speaking of seasonal ingredients reminds me, I must order the baskets for our Christmas hampers.  This year’s will be jammed with chutneys, sauces, marinades, dips and Indian wine.

Where did the year go?

Indian Summer, 69 East Street, Brighton BN1 1HQ
T: 01273 711001 Tw: @indiansummer108
E: W:

Monday, 1 September 2014

Brighton Art Fair returns!

It's time to hand over to another guest blogger and so today Anne-Marie Shepherd will tell us a bit about the Brighton Art Fair and which artists to look out for...

Brighton Art Fair, supported by Oh Comely magazine, brings together over 100 of the best contemporary artists from the UK and abroad. The fair takes place in the beautiful and historic Brighton Dome Corn Exchange in the heart of the city and has built a very strong reputation for presenting highest quality contemporary artwork in a relaxed, informal and friendly environment.

Brighton Art Fair enables painters, printmakers, ceramicists, photographers and sculptors to present their original and eclectic work to the public, bringing a personal feel to viewing and to the buying process. Visitors enjoy meeting the artists - learning about their creative inspirations, techniques and future projects. The fair draws in curators, galleries, retailers, collectors and art fans, many looking for that definitive piece.

Sam Hewitt

Some of the artists have exhibited at Brighton Art Fair before, others are brand new to the event, but all the work is exciting, fresh and exceptional. New work to look out for include Julie Ball’s exquisite porcelain and wood collages; Annie Blanchet Rouze’s mixed media paintings and Emelie Essel’s embroidered work on silk glass beads. The fair welcomes back artist Sam Hewitt and his paintings of urban landscapes; Lilia Umaña-Clarke’s stoneware ceramics inspired by early South American civilizations and local artist Sam Lock’s oil and mixed media works.

Lilia Umaña-Clarke
Brighton Art Fair will introduce Alun Callender’s project of environmental portraits of East Sussex visual artists, designers and creative types. Alun usually spends a couple of hours with the subjects in their studio, to arrange a composition with a strong narrative. He will be photographing approximately 80 people and making a series of short films to compliment the project. Alun wants to celebrate the diverse creative talent in the area and is fascinated by how people balance the fine line between creativity and commerce. The project will culminate in an exhibition and a book.

The show welcomes back the wonderful artists from ARTHOUSE Meath a charitable enterprise offering artistic facilities and support to adults living with learning and physical difficulties. The work being produced is raw, honest and properly beautiful and it has been wonderful to see Meath expand, now having established its own shop in Godalming and being asked to exhibit work at many shows here and abroad.  Also of interest will be the artwork of the Outside In artists, based at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. Outside In provide a platform for artists who find it difficult to access the art world either because of mental health issues, disability, health, social circumstance or because their work does not conform to what is normally considered as art.

  • Brighton Art Fair, 26th – 28th September, 2014
  • Open: Friday 11am – 7:30pm, Saturday 10am - 6pm, Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Address: Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UG
  • Tickets: £6.50 on the door.  Children under 14 free
  • Travel direct to Brighton from London Victoria by train - 10 minute walk from Brighton station

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Scooby-Doo: The Mystery of the Pyramid

Last thing I thought I wanted to do was head straight out after work for a theatre date with Scooby Doo and the gang but hey it's amazing what a change of scene can do for your spirits; even if you don't have time to eat!

Louis with his Scooby sticker & spinner
My seven year old, Louis, was raring to go and after a hot bus ride into town we arrived just in time for curtain call but then got so busy gauging what the least expensive option was merchandise -wise we actually missed the bell! Luckily we were only kept away from our seats for a few minutes before a natural paws- see what I did there- sorry, no more... We got comfortable and were soon ensconced in mystery solving mode.

First off there was a spot of audience bonding and being down in the stalls meant we were in prime position for being coaxed into clapping and hand jiving; spurred on by the characters that came among us during the first lively song. Louis' face lit up when Fred came by for a high five and couldn't believe his luck when Otto the explorer followed suit soon after. He was less impressed by a visit from the scary mummy but took it all in his stride and assured me it 'really wasn't that scary'.

The show rolled on and before I could contemplate 40 winks it was interval time and we were off to join the ice cream queue; well I'd not eaten anything since lunch time! Louis fancied pick n mix and selected a rather large bowl of assorted treats including jelly babies, fried eggs, fudge and citrus sugar coated dummies: yuk.

Back in our seats and super charged with sugar we were all set for a second half of super slick singing dancing and sleuthery. The characters were bright, believable, and just like I remembered from childhood days of TV - when there were only 3 channels and sets were strictly banned from bedrooms - and the clever set and lighting added just the right sprinkling of magic to bring the story to life.

It all ended well, of course, and the treasure plundering baddies were caught and unveiled; with a little help from Daphne's Elnett. I won't give anymore away but suffice to say that Scooby's Egyptian-themed tale made for a great evening out with my favourite little theatre companion and I would definitely recommend it as a show to go and see.

Top tips: arrive on time; have a Scooby snack before you go- Shaggy's frequent mention of pizza was quite difficult to manage on an empty stomach; wear few clothes - it's summer; and if you want to try for a high five: book the stalls.

Scooby-Doo: The Mystery of the Pyramid is on at the Theatre Royal Brighton until Saturday 2nd August.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Celebrating a significant year in Brighton

We always used to say that July and August were quiet months as far as press visits were concerned but that theory seems to have been blown out of the water and we're not even halfway through the month!

Last weekend we hosted a group of German journalists and the loose theme of the trip was anniversaries as it seems 2014 is a significant year for our city. So in case anyone would like to replicate the trip, here's what we did:

The group stayed at the Mercure hotel as it celebrates its 150th anniversary, although of course the hotel hasn't always been a Mercure. The Grand is also celebrating its 150th anniversary this year as well, so 1864 was a good year for the hospitality industry!

I did mention that anniversaries was a loose theme didn't I...? The first two items on the itinerary didn't actually relate to the theme but as some of our journalists hadn't been to Brighton before we also wanted to give them an introduction to the city. So with this in mind we started with the classic Fish 'n' Chips on the Brighton Pier. We then moved from the traditional to the eccentric with the Funny Peculiar tour.

When describing Brighton to press we are keen to get across the fact that a lot of the city's charm is down to the atmosphere and the characters of the place. The Funny Peculiar tour got this message across perfectly! Part walking-tour, part theatre we were introduced to the main areas of the city whilst taking a look back at some of the eccentrics that helped make Brighton what it is today.

After the tour we were back on track with the anniversaries theme with a visit to the museum at the Cricket Ground. The Sussex County Cricket Club is the world's oldest cricket club and this year is their 175th anniversary. Even though we were all cricket novices it was a fascinating insight into the development of the game over the years. We then rounded off the day with a sumptuous meal at drakes, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year. I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to go there for dinner but I won't be waiting until their 20th birthday for my next visit!

Continuing with the anniversaries theme, the next day we started with a trip around the Old Police Cells Museum to see the graffiti left by the Mods & Rockers who were held there after the infamous clash 50 years ago. It was then on to the Royal Pavilion to learn about the fascinating history of how the Pavilion was used as an Indian Military Hospital during World War One (part of the centenary commemorations). After a delicious lunch at Curry Leaf Cafe we then whisked them away to Court Garden vineyard. While the vineyard isn't celebrating an anniversary this year, they do produce a lovely sparkling wine, which is ideal for anyone marking a special occassion - such as an anniversary ;) The vineyard is in Ditchling and it's surprising to think that this tranquil setting is just a short distance for the bustling city centre!

Court Garden Vineyard

In the evening, after a quick break to watch Germany win the quarter-finals on the Big Screen on the Beach, it was off to Komedia which is enjoying a double whammy of celebrations this year. The venue as a whole is 20 years old and the famous (or infamous!) Krater Comedy Club is 15 years old. While some of the jokes didn't translate, there were enough that did to make it a fun night out. Although sadly we were too tired to stay on for Ultimate Power - the club night full of power ballads. Oh well maybe next time.

On Saturday we stepped back from the anniversaries theme to give the group some time to explore the city by themselves, this mostly included shopping! But in the evening we had time for one last walk along the prom and a photo to mark the end of a busy few days in Brighton.

Group shot!
So there you have it, an inside guide to hosting a press trip in Brighton & Hove. It was a busy few days but we'll hopefully soon see some great coverage off the back of it :) Also on a personal note I would like to thank the lovely Anke from KPRN for her help with organising and hosting this trip.


Monday, 16 June 2014

An artist's view of Brighton

I had a week off work last week and so today has mostly been a battle against the emails, however there was one that really made me smile.

My last post was about the Artists Open Houses awards and the fact that we sponsored the Visitors' Choice Award. Afterwards I asked our winner - Cristobal Ochoa - if he would be interested in writing a few words about his experiemce of Brighton and the festival and today I received his reply.

While we may have our own little moans about this city, I think Cristobal's post puts things into perspective and will (hopefully) remind all of us why it is we love Brighton & Hove...

On February 12th, 2014 protests emerged in Venezuela (my home country) due to the economic and security crisis we are going through. These pacific protests were growing more and more and so was the repression of the Government to them, violating our right to protest and human rights. Those were weeks were we felt asphyxiated and feared the fact that we were stuck in a country in war. Venezuela´s situation turned more tense and dark while days passed, and the Government wasn't paying attention to the complaints of a tired country, but was looking for confrontation among the two sides (the ones that supported the government versus the opposition), in order to have a civil war. 

Amid all this chaos, I was lucky to find a ticket out of Venezuela (extremely expensive and difficult to get one) and arrived to Brighton on March 29th, 2014, filled with hope and illusion of being part of the Brighton's Art Festival. The contrast was very much gratifying. I was able to walk through the streets of Brighton without feeling fear of being mugged or even killed (in Caracas it's unthinkable to walk through the streets at night). I was shocked by how clean and maintained was the city, the public transport service which lets you know when the bus is coming (this doesn't happen in Caracas), the parks, the deck, walking in the beach, the Palace. I started to get to know people from Brighton and was completely delighted of how sensitive and relaxed they were, with an open mind and extremely kind and patient with foreigners. It was people who enjoyed art in all its expressions, and demonstrate it attending each event or artistic show that happens in town.

Cristobal Ochoa's performance art in Brighton. Photo credit: Julien Zuinghedau
I left Brighton on June 3rd, 2014 recharged, full of good energy and new experiences, for which I am nothing more than thankful for the hospitality you had with me. I am thankful for the award, and I take Brighton in my heart and in my memory. I hope I can come back next year with a new proposal.

A big hug for all the VisitBrighton team, the festival staff, and every person that participates in it. And of course, to the Brighton citizens.

A big hug to you too Cristobal :)


Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Artists Open Houses Awards

Last night it was the Artists Open Houses Awards at myhotel. I have to confess when I was first leaving the office, I was feeling quite tired and part of me did just want to scurry off home, but as we were sponsoring one of  the awards this was not an option. Of course dragging a friend along always help but even so I'm very glad I did go as it was actually a very sweet and lovely event.

A lot of hard work goes into the festival, not just by the fabulous artists who exhibit their work but also behind-the-scenes by the organisers and the promoters. Last night was a great opportunity to celebrate the festival and to recognise the work that goes into it.

We were there to present the Visitor's Choice Award:

As the name implies this award was voted for by visitors to The Open House Open Exhibition at the Regency Town House, and the winner was Cristobal Ochoa. Cristobal is only 27 but he has already exhibited all over the world and in his native Venezuela he is known not only for his ceramic sculptures and paintings but also for his artistic interventions and street performances. It was a pleasure to present the award to Cristobal as he seemed to be genuinely touched to have his work recognised in this way and he commented that Brighton as a city was very welcoming to artists.

The other winners were:
  • AOH May 2015 Brochure Cover Artist - Bernard Lodge
  • AOH Artist of the Year - Tony Bowen and Joachim Lambrecht
  • The Latest's Best Open House Award - Peanut Butter Tree Arts
Judy Stevens - Artists Open Houses, Charlotte Barrow - presenter of the VisitBrighton Visitors' Choice Award (me!) and Sarah Jackson of Bullet PR
Hong Dam of Childhood Memories, Cristobal Ochoa winner of the Visitors Choice Award and Miladys Parejo of Encounters Open House
Congratulations to all the winners and to all who took part and made this year's festival such a fantastic event. And a special congratulations to our winner - Cristobal Ochoa :) Also we would like to thank Able and Willing for making the lovely award for us.

While the Artists Open Houses may be over (until Christmas at least!) we were delighted to hear that the HOUSE exhibition by Yinka Shonibare at Brighton Museum has been extended until 22 June so if you haven't been yet or fancy a second look then now's your chance!


Thursday, 22 May 2014

We do love to be beside the seaside... and we're not the only ones!

We recently had some good news. The Office of National Statistics relesed a report about travel trends in 2013 and there were 2 pieces of good news for Brighton & Hove. Firstly we were one of only a few cities to have seen a significant increase in the number of overseas visitors, becoming the 8th most visited city outside of London. Even more excitingly Brighton was the only seaside destinaiton on the list making us the most popular seaside holiday spot in the UK, hooray!

This good news coupled with the improved weather made us think we ought to make the most of it and so last week we popped down to OHSO Social to enjoy lunch with a seaview. The bar has arguably one of the best locations in the city, as it is right on the beachfront moments away from Brighton Pier and the 'doughnut' sculpture (officially it's called 'Afloat'). So with the sun shining it's not hard to see why everyone loves to be beside the sea.

Clearly OHSO are on to a winner with the view but what about the food? The venue has recently been awarded 5 stars in the Scores on the Doors food hygeine rating system so nothing to worry about there. The menu features local Sussex ingredients and while there were lots of tempting options
including charcuterie boards, big salads and burgers, in the end we opted for the classic fish 'n' chips, perhaps all that sea ait had gone to our heads!

It is a classic dish but it is one that can easily go wrong - the fish can be greasy or the chips uninspiring, thankfully this was not the case here. Just look at that!

I'm not a food critic so I'm not going to start trying to describe the texture or whatever it is that critics are meant to discuss. All I will say is that all the ingredients were clearly fresh and everything tasted scrumptious. And we had an amazing view, whta more could you want on your lunch break?


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

National Vegetarian Week: 19-25 May

Brighton was one of the first destinations to embrace vegetarianism so it will be no surprise to hear that we will be celebrating National Vegetarian Week next week.

The city is lucky enough to have two fantastic vegetarian restaurants both of which have offers on next week to tempt you to go veggie.

Terre a Terre has been wowing diners for 21 years now and so they would like Vegetarian Week to be a bit of a reunion. Anyone who has worked at the restaurant is invited to come back with their family & friends and receive a 15% discount plus a complimentary glass of fizz. Don't worry if you haven't worked there though as you can still take advantage of their Terre a Verre offer where two people can enjoy a Terre a Tapas with Chunky Chips and a carafe of wine for just £39.25. To find out more and to book your table call 01273 729051 or check

I am not a vegetarian and even though I grew up here it did take me a little while to actually venture into a purely vegetarian restaurant. While I do sometimes pick the meat-free option I was worried I wouldn't find anything I liked, I think I was probably picturing lentil soup and nut roast. Of course now I know this is complete nonsense and our veggie restaurants serve amazing dishes. But I'm sure you still have friends who need convincing. So book a table at Food for Friends next week and your non-vegetarian friend gets to eat for free! To claim the offer book a table and bring a printed voucher with you, call 01273 202310 to book and the voucher can be printed from this page:

And that's not all as there is still time to enter our competition to win afternoon tea for two at Food for Friends:

To find out more about National Vegetarian Week see:


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Get to know Brighton with a Greet

Today we hand over to a guest blogger - Sophie Whelpton works for Mulberry Cottages and recently went on a walk around Brighton with one of the VisitBrighton Greeters...

I really was not expecting so much from a walk around Brighton. Having lived in East Sussex for 14 years, and having used Brighton as a shopping and cultural centre for some time (have been to the theatre quite a bit and have watched bands at the Brighton Centre) I sort of felt quietly confident that I would know where we were going and what was what in Brighton. I was totally wrong!!

We met at the wonderful Brighton Museum
We met at the wonderful Brighton Museum
Chris our Greeter, met me and one other greetee (is that a word?) at The Brighton Museum on a sunny afternoon last week (so lucky with the weather!).

Walked through the Pavilion Gardens
Walked through the Pavilion Gardens
We had a little introductory talk, Chris apologised in advance, saying that he was prone to talk about the history rather a lot but it was his passion, so we must tell him if he is going on a bit too much!

I was fascinated, I think it was lucky that I really did not know the history of Brighton as I learned such a lot about Dr Russell and how he had influenced the wealthy and well connected in the 18th Century to come to Brighton to have the Sea Water Cure. We walked through the Lanes (I learned the difference between Lanes and the North Laine too!) and admired the quirky individual shops and specialists.

The Brighton Pavilion
The Brighton Pavilion
We walked along The Twitten (you will only find these in Sussex – a very narrow lane) and Chris also showed us amazing graffiti.

So much amazing graffiti
So much amazing graffiti
He also told us about a guy called the Cassette Lord, who has decorated junction boxes all over Brighton, so I started looking out for these.

The Cassette Lord has been busy in Brighton
The Cassette Lord has been busy in Brighton
Round every corner there is something to look at...

So many quirky shops to explore
So many quirky shops to explore

Bright Brighton!
Bright Brighton!
The Laines are full of individual shops and stalls
The area is full of individual shops and stalls

We passed the Komedia  in New Road
We passed the Komedia in Gardner Street
I did not want our little tour to stop, but we ran out of time and I am definitely coming back to Brighton to learn more! I thanked Chris – the Greeters do an amazing unpaid job – I would recommend a Greeter trip to anybody, especially to those who think they know the city like I did!

If you would like a Greeter Tour, just get in touch with VisitBrighton and they will organise it.  If the idea of spending some time in Brighton appeals to you.

We have some lovely holiday cottages in the Brighton and Hove area, the perfect place to stay so you can explore all that Brighton has to offer, just call our bookings team on 01227 464958 or email:  You will not be disappointed!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Festivals in Brighton

Spring has officially arrived in Brighton & Hove and not because of the weather (although the sun is starting to come out!)... 

May is the month for Festivals in Brighton and for me the first sign that Spring is here is when the festivals start launching their brochures and announcing programme details as this means we are officially on our way to May madness!

Earlier this week we attended the launch of the Brighton Festival and this year the Guest Artistic Director is the acclaimed choreographer Hofesh Schecter. Naturally this year's programme has a strong dance element including Hofesh Shecter's new piece Sun. I'll also be intrigued to see Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2 which is an installation by William Forsythe. It seems the piece features hundreds of pendulums in a timed sequence, therefore as you move through - without touching them - the visitor becomes a dancer. The programme is not all about dance though and other highlights include a new production of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore at the Theatre Royal Brighton; Bring the Happy at Onca Gallery and The Old Market; and of course the ever-popular Children's Parade.

And in case you're wondering about the sheep, he is this years cover star...

May would be busy enough if it was just the Brighton Festival but there's so much more! Brighton Fringe will be back with a bang, and following on from the success of last year The Fringe will again be running for four weeks with over 700 events. The programme is now available online and I'm delighted to see that the Spiegeltent will be back again as well Fringe City, I'll need to take some time to really get to grips with all the craziness on offer but one show has already caught my eye - Lynn Ruth Miller at the Marlborough proving you are never too old for comedy!

HOUSE, the sister festival of Artists Open Houses, is the visual arts festival for the city and this year's lead artist has been confirmed as Yinka Shonibare whose new installation will explore the impacts of immigration on British culture. And finally the Great Escape has this week confirmed a second wave of artists taking part in the festival, including 2013 Mercury Prize nominee Jon Hopkins and Strokes’ guitarist gone solo Albert Hammond, Jr.

Oh and just before I go I have one last thing to share with you. During the launch for the Brighton Festival there was a Q&A with Hofesh Schcter and someone asked him why he likes Brighton & Hove. And I rather liked his reply, unfortunately I cannot remember it verbatim but to paraphrase...
Brighton is a really vibrant city but it is also a place where you can find peace, a quiet spot away from everyone else whether that's by the sea or somewhere else.

See you there, Charlotte

Monday, 3 February 2014

Meze Lunch at Food for Friends

Even for those of us who enjoy our jobs Monday's can be an effort, but not today! This lunchtime we popped over to Food for Friends to try their new Meze lunch.

Richard and I did have a quick look at the menu before the dish arrived but either because we were talking or we were just too lazy to read it properly we didn't really take it in. This meant that when the food arrived neither of us really knew what was what but when it all looks this good, who needs to know?

Choosing what to order can sometimes take a while as you um and ah over several options, but the meze lunch was ideal as we got to try bits of lots of different things. The other bonus was the amount as usually if I go to a restaurant for lunch I end up eating too much and feeling sleepy when I get back to the office. However, instead of one heavy meal we got to sample lots of little ones and it was lighter on the stomach. Ideal for a lunchtime treat.

This also meant that I had time for a pudding, before heading back to the office, hooray! As anyone who knows me will know I will always be drawn to the chocolate option on any dessert menu. There were a couple to choose from today, but the one that won me over was the rich chocolate truffle torte.

I discovered afterwards that the pudding is actually vegan! I've no idea how they managed that as it was very chocolatey, although surely if it's vegan it's good for you, isn't it? ;)

For more details on the Meze lunch go to: I should point out that as we were returning to work this afternoon we did not have the carafe of wine so if you have any non-drinkers in your party then we can heartily recommend the Ginger Zinger.


Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Pride at the Theatre Royal Brighton

The Pride received rave reviews during its West End run, the play is now on tour and is currently on at the Theatre Royal Brighton so last night we went to see what all the fuss was about!

Thankfully we were not disappointed :) Just to give a quick background - the play features a love triangle between Philip, Oliver and Sylvia in the 1950s and also in the present day reflecting the changing attitudes towards homosexuality.

L-R Al Weaver & Mathew Horne - The Pride - Trafalgar Studios - Photo Marc Brenner

Before going in my Mum and I were a little worried that the time split would confuse us (it doesn't take much!) but the simple set design, costumes, music and clipped tones made it very easy to follow. While this must have made things very tricky for the actors, they made it seem effortless.

Given the subject matter this could have been very heavy-handed and maudlin but this was not the case, there were plenty of funny moments which made the heartfelt scenes all the more touching. In historical terms 50 years is nothing and yet the time split effectively emphasised just how far we have come, and while things are by no means perfect we are definitely heading in the right direction. I was also pleased to see that the love triangle didn't focus purely on the men's struggle and that Sylvia's pain & anguish were also given a voice.

And finally, it is so satisfying to see a new play that isn't a rehash of an old story. While I did adore the recent production of Jeeves & Wooster (there always has to be an exception!) I do get a bit disappointed when I read that there is another new play based on a book or a film - there are even plans to write a musical based on Groundhog Day?! - and you do start to wonder if everyone has run out of original ideas. So it was a relief to see that at least one person is capable of writing something new and moving and hopefully more will follow...

The Pride is in Brighton until Saturday so make sure you catch it while you can.


Thursday, 9 January 2014

2014 - The Year of the Anniversaries

Happy New Year Brighton Lovers! I don't know about you but I'm still getting used to the alarm clock waking me up each morning, still it's good to back as there is lots to look forward to this year.

My charming colleague Sarah has highlighted some of the 'Only in Brighton' events coming up but did you know there are also a couple of exciting anniversaries to celebrate in 2014? Back in 1974 ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo. What's that got to do with Brighton? Well that year the contest was held at our very own Brighton Dome! There are rumours that the band are planning a reunion to celebrate their 40th anniversary so if Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn or Anni-Frid happen to be reading this do let us know if you fancy a return visit to the city, I expect you'll notice a few changes!

But if Eurovision is just too kitsch and camp for you then perhaps you'll be more interested in this... 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the infamous clash between the Mods & Rockers on Brighton beach. This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the film that depicted the clash - Quadrophenia. So why not celebrate with a mod themed trip to the city? Book the Modrophenia room at Hotel Pelirooco; head to the North Laine to get suited and booked at Jump the Gun; go to a Sixties club night at Komedia; visit the Old Police Cells museum to see the graffiti left by the Mods & Rockers who were held their after the clash or simply ride your scooter along the seafront.

Still from the film 'Quadrophenia'
Whatever anniversary you decide to celebrate make sure you book your Brighton break through ;)