29 January 2015

Valentine's for your baby at My Mini Disco, Brighton

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There's one thing Brighton folks love to do and that's party. With Brightonians this love-affair starts early, so whether you're a babe-in-arms (literally) or you've just started pre-school that statement still rings true.  That's why Brighton-based My Mini Disco was made for you (and your mums and dads too, of course).

myminidisco, Brighton

Set up 5 years ago My Mini Disco took it's first baby steps in Komedia, Brighton and from there took a tour of some of the biggest and best festivals going. With appearances at Camp Bestival, Wilderness and Lollibop, My Mini Disco have been building up a great reputation entertaining the little ones with some pretty good tunes.

This month they are back in Brighton for a very special Valentine’s Ball at the Old Market venue called TOM on Sunday 15th February 2015.

There will be a "glitter & glow" catwalk for the little ones, plus a super-sized ghetto blaster DJ booth playing funk, disco, hip hop and party classics. 

Alongside this will be an in-house dance instructor teaching the little ones some dance moves and hula hooping skills.

myminidisco, Brighton

There will be free face painting provided by Brighton based, award winning Nam Nams; an activity baby play area (non walkers go free); complimentary healthy snacks throughout the event (fruit, sandwiches and healthy snack bars) and a safe place to leave buggies and nappy changing facilities for the tiny ones too.

For the mums and dads, never fear, the fully licensed bar will also be available.

The party starts at 2 pm and finishes at a civilised 4:30 pm.
Price £8 per walking adult. Non walkers FREE. £25 family ticket (4 people)
The Old market, Upper market St
Tickets from TOM

If all of this sounds good but you can't make 15th February, they will be going to Shindig festival (Bath) and Love Supreme (Sussex) later in the year.

myminidisco, Brighton

For more MyMiniDisco news follow them on Twitter @myminidisco and Facebook myminidisco

19 January 2015

#BestBitsAboutBrighton Number Ten - The Undercliff Walk

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The countdown has begun from Ten to One of my own Best Bits About Brighton.

Forget the razzle dazzle of the pier and the showy, it's-all-about-me Pavilion, this list is a collection of the Best Bits About Brighton once you get beyond those very famous landmarks.

With ten years of living and loving Brighton under my belt it's about time I gave you my very own guide. I'm breaking it down into ten separate blog posts as I re-visit each recommendation, take some pics and explain why I have included it in my Best Bits About Brighton, hashtag.

With little more to add on this matter, please let me introduce Number Ten -

The Undercliff Walk

The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton

On bright days the light reflects off the White chalky cliffs on one side and the sea on the other and the effect can be dazzling. When it's sunny in Brighton the Undercliff super charges this and turns it into the sunniest, most holiday-like day you could hope for. It's quite transformative.
Even though I live on the seafront and look at it every day, somehow I don't feel like I live by the seaside. However as soon as I reach the Undercliff Walk, which runs along the base of the cliff at sea level I get that amazing holiday feeling of being by the seaside.

During the winter months, the Undercliff walk has a different appeal. The waves are more riotous and it's all a bit more moody as the waves crash over the wall onto the path.

Whether you like the sea dramatic and attention grabbing or peaceful and calm, the Undercliff Walk offers a front row view.

Free to enjoy, the main part is two miles long between Brighton Marina and Rottingdean. The walk takes between one and two hours depending on ambling speed and there are buses back to Brighton from the main road once you get to Rottingdean.

The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton

So to find the beginning of the walk go to ASDA car park in the Marina and look up to the left and you'll see a path running alongside the chalky cliff.

The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton
~ Brighton entrance to the Undercliff Walk above ASDA Marina ~
The path takes you behind ASDA, past houses in the marina where boats are moored outside and past the boat yard where yachts balance in the dry dock and then finally to where the path meets the beach. 

The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton

If it's a breezy day expect to hear the roar of the sea before you see it as the path rises upwards taking you to above sea level.

The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton

On one side the cliff face towers upwards to glimpses of fence and sky, opposite at high tide the sea breaches the wall and soaks the walkway.

Halfway along the Ovingdean Cafe appears offering warm bonhomie from a little hatch serving no nonsense cups of tea and coffee. Compared to prices in town a mug of tea for £1 and a mug of coffee for £1.20 is a bargain. It's run by Jane and Liz and as I was passing I asked Jane if I could take her picture and she kindly obliged.
Ovingdean Cafe, The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton
~ Ovingdean Cafe ~

The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton

The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton

If you don't fancy walking back you can catch a bus from outside the White Horse and enjoy a cliff top view as you whizz back to Brighton.

The Undercliff Walk, #BestBitsAboutBrighton
~ Sea view January 2015 ~

5 January 2015

Upstairs at the Three and Ten moves to the The Basement

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Exciting times lie ahead for the biggest and best production company in Brighton (in my opinion) as they upscale to a bigger and better venue.

Otherplace Productions Brighton
~ Otherplace Productions ~
Providing a platform for new and emerging talent throughout the year they play a key role in May during Brighton Fringe where they were responsible for a third of the shows programmed last year.
Otherplace Productions Brighton
~ Otherplace Productions, The Warren ~
Ranging from theatre, music and comedy to puppetry they provide an amazing supportive network. I'm a big fan, not only because I've seen so many great performances produced by them but also because I'm so impressed by what this not-for-profit organisation has achieved. In particular the time, effort and enthusiasm Producer James Turnbull and Artistic Director Nicola Haydn have put into their company while working full-time, I think deserves a lot of credit.

Otherplace Productions Brighton
~ Otherplace Productions ~
So to celebrate their new venue, to be known as Otherplace at The Basement and coincidentally their tenth birthday they will be having a party on 10th January 2015. Called Otherplace’s 10th BIRTHDAY THING the night will feature music from Peanut Albinos and a whole host of guests and past performers. Doors open at 7:15 pm, Starts at 8 pm, £5 entry. 
Otherplace Productions Brighton
~ Otherplace Productions ~
Their new venue the Basement is located at 24 Kensington Street, in the centre of Brighton and offers two unique spaces. Their new year programme features local and national theatre, as well as comedy and music. Their aim is to make live performance accessible and affordable, providing entertainment with a broad appeal and in the process creating a social activity for everyone can enjoy. Look out for Jacko Hooper who supported James Blunt at The Brighton Centre in November and the multi-instrumentalist super-talented Fiddes Smith. Combining beautiful melodies with heart-felt lyrics catch them at the Basement's intimate setting on 24 January 2015.

In the past Otherplace Productions have won many awards including Best Venue at the Brighton Fringe and Festival Awards three times. Other awards include The Chortle Award for Best Comedy Venue in the South (2010), Best Venue 2007 and 2008 Brighton Fringe Awards. It has hosted acts including comedians Daniel Kitson, Sarah Millican and Tim Key, award-winning theatre company Theatre Ad Infinitum and playwright Edward Bond. In 2012, The company launched a new temporary site and venue for Brighton Fringe called The Warren. The Warren site consists of a 160 seat main house, 49 seat studio and a 150 seat church space, all located around a beautiful garden bar and festival environment.
Otherplace Productions Brighton
~ Otherplace Productions, The Warren ~
Listings for Otherplace at The Basement can be found at otherplacebrighton.co.uk.

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3 January 2015


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1 January 2015

Indian Summer in the middle of a Brighton winter

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I recently found out Brighton has been voted a runner-up for the Curry Capital of Britain award. So where better to head on New Years Eve than the Indian restaurant in Brighton that has received numerous accolades and no one I know has a bad word to say about it (that's unusual). 
Indian Summer pea parcels with pomegranate
~ Indian Summer, Brighton ~

Greeted at the door by the Restaurant Manager we were swiftly escorted to the back of the restaurant and after a little head scratching as to what was on offer, there was a lot on the menu I didn't understand, we consulted the waiter to help us decide. Within moments it seemed we were served a complimentary soup├žon of spicy tomato and mango soup in an espresso cup as an aperitif. 

Revived by this little wake-me-up from the cold and dark outside I began to relax and look around me. The walls in Indian Summer have been painted a rich aubergine purple, a very grand colour especially when in contrast to the white ceiling with ornate coving and the bright lights from a sparkling chandelier that hung in the middle of the room.

~ Indian Summer, Brighton ~

Our first course again arrived swiftly with great attention paid to each dishes presentation. The mint marinated Tandoori king prawns and spiced pea filled parcels with pomegranate, raita and tamarind sauce looked equally appealing and intriguing. Once served, it all disappeared with the same amazing speed it had appeared in the first place. In particular I was delighted with the juice of the popping pomegranates as it combined with the creaminess of the raita and the dark sweet promise of tamarind.

Another surprise arrived in the shape of a miniature pot of cranberry and clementine sorbet to refresh our palates before the onslaught of flavours expected in the main.  

Next to arrive was the Indian Summer Thali or plate of chicken, lamb, potato and dal served with rice, pickle and naan breads. Overall the food was a bit spicy for me, but the lamb melted and the plain basmati rice was delightfully delicate and light, although the portion was not big enough for my Cardiff fella.  
~ Indian Summer, Brighton ~

~ Indian Summer, Brighton ~

~ Indian Summer, Brighton ~
~ Indian Summer, Brighton - mango creme brulee ~

For dessert we shared a mango creme brulee with coconut shortbread. I had my reservations as I had only ever heard of and eaten simple creme brulees and I'm not a big fan of mango, which can be an over powering flavour. However, I wanted to try it at least. As it turns out I was wrong and although I was unimpressed by my Cardiff fella's smug face as I scraped off the last morsel clinging to the side of the ramekin, I had to concede he had made the right choice and the dessert was good 'un.

As we left the welcoming feeling we had felt throughout the evening from all the waiting staff continued. The level of service in Brighton is usually high so to receive a service that goes beyond that can only be described as outstanding.

Find them at Indian Summer69 east street, brighton bn1 1hq  Tel:  01273 711001

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and fun new year 2015. 

22 December 2014

Pretty unique clothing with a nod to vintage in Brighton

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Vacant Clothing

It happens sometimes, you pass a shop and like the look of everything in the window. Although this was the case for me as I passed Vacant, I had to keep walking as I was on my way up Trafalgar Street at the time to check out the new ethical chicken restaurant and wasn't sure where it was.

In the window were cute mid-length patterned dresses in navies and greens. As I continued climbing the hill in search of chicken my mind was still thinking about the dresses I'd seen in the window. Once I'd found the new restaurant I realised I was a bit early, half an hour to be exact, so I realised I was free to skip back down the street to take a better look. 

Inside Vacant clothing the shop is spread out over two levels with men's clothing as you walk in and women's on the lower level. On a table were some feather earrings, purses and a bobble hat, while on the wall were some cards with birds on a wire and generous looking scarves. Asking permission to take some pics for this blog from one of the owners Mhorag I also found out more about the clothes that I liked so much. Designed and manufactured by husband and wife team Mhorag and Simon Lomond they have three labels that they sell in their shop - Vacant for men, Pretty Vacant for women and another range Circus that they make in collaboration with a friend in Dublin. They have been open for about five years and their shop has become so popular that a couple of months ago they opened their second store in the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. 

Heavily influenced by vintage styles I particularly loved a polka dot dress with a full skirt, that had a very 50s style. I also loved a navy sleeveless top, which I still liked even when it was on me (in the New Year I've got to stop treating myself to waistline increasing foods) and left very happy with my Pretty Vacant purchase.

Find them at 11-12 Trafalgar Street, Brighton UK
Facebook at Vacant-Clothing

14 December 2014

The best hostel in the world, probably. The Royal York YHA, Brighton.

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Named after the Prince Regent's cousin the Duke of York, the Royal York hotel first opened in 1819. Among its many claims to fame, Charles Dickens read from David Copperfield there in 1861, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli was a guest and the soon to be King William and Queen Adelaide stood on the balcony and waved to a crowd singing God Save the King.
Royal York YHA Brighton
~ View from a Premium room
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~

About a month ago on 17 November 2014 the lights were turned back on and the Royal York was once again opened for business, this time under the stewardship of the YHA.

Royal York YHA Brighton
~ Entrance to The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Walking past this building hundreds of times I have always wanted to go in and find out about it, intrigued by the blue plaque on the wall and the glimpses of antique interior that you can see through the windows.
Royal York YHA Brighton blue plaque
~ William and Adelaide plaque,
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Becky Hudgell, the new manager kindly offered to show me around and let me take snaps to share on this blog. The rooms off the foyer are generous in size, to the left is a dining room with fabulous art on the walls and information about some fascinating Brighton eccentrics. One of the most famous, Martha Gunn known for dipping clients in the sea, was granted special privileges by the Prince Regent and allowed free access to the Royal Pavilion kitchens.
Royal York YHA Brighton, dining room ceiling
~ Ornate dining room ceiling
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Above us the ceiling is a show-stopper with the most delicate and pretty flourishes and patterns. At the back is an equally ornate fireplace, perfectly preserved and freshly painted.
Royal York YHA Brighton bar
~ Bar at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
To the right of the foyer is a large seating area, with large art works on some of the walls and an enormous and generous bar. There are also photos of Brighton on other walls with interesting bits of information, such as the story about Charles II who was reputedly carried piggyback along Black Lion lane during his escape to France.
Royal York YHA Brighton
~ Photos of Regency architecture
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Becky and I head upstairs and the first room we go into is one of their premium rooms, which when booked guarantees you a sea view. In front of us we have a spectacular view of Brighton wheel, while through another window is an incredible view of the sea. The bed looks enormous and inviting and costs as little as £60 a night.
Royal York YHA Brighton premium bedroom
~ Bed in a premium double
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
At this point I ask the obvious question, Can you book a specific room? (I've not actually seen any others, but I'm sold). No, says Becky, they cannot guarantee a particular room nor can they offer room service, but you can expect everything that you'd get in a hotel room.
Royal York YHA Brighton en suite
~ en suite bathroom
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Next Becky shows me some other smaller doubles that face the fountain in the Old Steine and are just as lovely and available for £40 a night, each with its own plush, en suite.
Royal York YHA Brighton standard double
~ Double room at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
In total they have 51 rooms available and have 180 beds. So far I haven't mentioned their dorms, but these are just as nice, if a little less private! Most of the dorms are four or six bed, with only one eight bed and one specifically designed for wheel chair users. Each bunk has its own light point and electric socket and prices start from £14.50, again with an en-suite to every room. The YHA are definitely fulfilling their brief to make travel affordable.
Royal York YHA Brighton Queen Adelaide room
~ Queen Adelaide room at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Becky takes me to check out two dorms, the Queen Adelaide room with balcony and the King William suite, also known as room 112. It is from the balcony in the Queen Adelaide room where in 1829 the Duke and Duchess of Clarence, who were to become King William IV and Queen Adelaide a year later, were greeted by a joyful crowd singing patriotic songs.
Royal York YHA Brighton dorm
~ King William suite dorm at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Run as a Not for Profit organisation, over the next three years the YHA aim to reach over a million under 26 year olds as well as funding individual children to go on school trips. Although the YHA embraces all ages and has a large and loyal number of life members, their target market is still the under 26s.

As Becky put it, The YHA enables young people to have experiences they wouldn't have a chance to otherwise.
Royal York YHA Brighton ornate fireplace
~ Ornate fireplace at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
The aim of this particular YHA, the Royal York, is to become the best hostel in the world. With Becky's experience running the YHA in Oxford Street, London for five years and taking it to third best hostel in the world in its fourth year, I'd say their chances are pretty good. It's certainly the most outstanding hostel I've ever seen by far.

Click on YHA to find out more

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