Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Just like a kid in a sweet shop

Sherbet dipper, curly wurly, push pop, gob stoppers ... all of those lovely memories under one roof! I cannot even begin to explain how amazing it feels to walk into Fizziwiggs (Meeting Lane, South Lanes) - every wall is lined with treats; with jars of sweets to suck on, to chew, to eat and to dip. This is the stuff kids (and myself - anyone else?) dream of, and what better time to visit, than just before those New Year Resolutions kick in.

I visited Brighton's best old fashioned-sweet shop for the (ahhhhmth!) time and was lucky enough to meet with Nick, the owner who was kind enough to answer some questions.

Laura: I imagine that kids love this shop. What's the average age of people coming in?

Nick: We serve everybody from 3 up to 100. There's no specific age group at all - the younger ones like to come in to eat sweets and the older ones for the memories.

Laura: And what's the most popular sweet?

Nick: Rubarb and Custard definitely.

Laura: Do you think sweets are going to change in the future?

Nick: Not at all. They'll always be the same. Perhaps they'll change shape, but the taste will stick - that's what people like.

Laura: If you could recommend that I try 3 sweets in the shop, which would they be?

Nick: (looks around the enormous selection, bewildered) Toffee crunch, strawberry bon bons, orange sherbets and coconut marshmallows (sounded more like 4 than 3 to me, but with such a selection was a tricky one!)

I chose a bag of sour plooms - Nick put about 20 in a bag for me and wouldn't take a penny for them (something to do with the thanking me for writing the blog). Now, I wonder if I now go to interview my favourite pub landlord, would 20 glasses of wine equate to the same number of sour plooms I wonder!

Thanks for reading this blog post, I'm off to cram in some sweets before the New Year diet begins ...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

First Brighton Gig - From Plan to Progress

I'm not going to be one of those bloggers who starts their post with an apology for not having posted anything for so long. There's no need to apologise, 1) I have been in London and Berlin so writing a Brighton blog would have been slightly fictitious (and everything in this blog is the truth ya know!) 2) Unfortunately I don't think anyone has been sat by their computer waiting for the next installment anyway 3) Absence makes the heart grow fonder, no?

Netty's boyfriend is in a band called 'From Plan to Progress' so we went along to watch them play and have our first night out too. We spent ages warming up, drinking bubbly stuff, doing our make up and getting all glam. By the time we left the house we were having such a laugh already that the momentum needed for a great night ahead was set in place.

However, as the taxi drew closer to the venue my heart sank. It was THE pub. (About a year ago I'd had a flat tyre in a Brighton side street, went into my meeting anyway and came back to a parking ticket. Being stranded in Brighton with no phone battery a fine and no transport was pretty stressful so I'd gone into the nearest bar to get some help and found the dingiest dive I had ever been into. Not having straggly hair, loads of tattoos and freaky piercings I'd felt a bit out of place and hadn't been made to feel any better by the greeting at the bar. I made it out alive and home in one piece, vowing never to go there again.)

Funnily enough though, as we walked in and met the band members and other people who Netty knew it just seemed like a cool place to be. The bands were excellent and it was fun being with the girls. So, either we were REALLY drunk or maybe I've become less judgmental in my old age.

We'd been told that the band sounded like Green Day on speed, not really my kind of thing at all - but they were so involved in the music and put on such a great rock star-esque performance that I would even come away calling myself a fan, ooo - er!

So, if you fancy a listen you can find them on myspace:

By the way the photos were taken with an excellent iphone app called hipstamatic. The revival of the analogue toy cameras is really exciting - and to be able to recreate the images with a £1.99 app just makes me brim with joy at the wonders of modern technology.

I'm spending Christmas in Brighton so hope to have some more stories for you soon ...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

White Night Festival 2010

I am yet to meet someone who doesn't love it here in Brighton. Never a week goes by without people raving about it. Of course you get used to it when you're here day after day, but then you get a glimpse of the sea or a whiff of the waves (bit exaggerated but you get the gist!) and remember why it's great to be here.

Q. So what could be better than a youthful, inspirational, creative, relaxed city by the sea?

A. An all night festival in a youthful, inspirational, creative, relaxed city by the sea.

Our night started on North Street as we looked up at a big fat tranny sat up high on a balcony belting out Madonna, Sinead O'Connor and other oldies with the crowds gathering underneath. From there we moved to the Enlightenment Stage in Ship Street - amazing idea to make drawings of an ever-changing street spectacle. Only in Brighton could you find arty types with pencils at the easel to one side with groups of bong smoking teens sat in circles and dressed up as zombies to the other.

Yes it was messy, yes it cost the council a bomb (fingers crossed for next years funding!) but for the 40, 000 people who showed it definitely was an extra reason to be raving about the city of Brighton and Hove!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Circe - the lovely cat

Well I am in two minds about writing this blog post. I know that some might say when in doubt, don't. However, against my better judgement I have decided to write today all about ... all about what? A cat.

So Circe is the first cat I have lived with. She has this wicked personality that manages to get what she wants despite being a tenth of a human's size and unable to speak (yes, I did just write that!) Quite a strength of character I'd say!

I like the way at any time of day she will try to persuade you that she needs feeding, whether she has just been fed or not. If she is hungry she will scratch at the door post until you wake up and attend to her and she frequently treads over my keyboard when I am online if she wants some TLC. Thought this was a classic moment (see image), when she decided that Benedict clearly wasn't giving her enough attention and sat right in the middle of his laptop. What a clever little creature.

She never leaves the flat, has no other feline friends and happily hops from bed to bed in our flat. In human terms this wouldn't be a recipe for happiness - but in the world of Circe it clearly does the trick and we love her loads for it!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Running to Rottingdean

To counterbalance the excess of Brighton's fish and chips, I thought it would be sensible to fit in a regular run up to Rottingdean. Now Rottingdean, for those of you don't know is the next town along the coast, about 3 miles east. Rottingdean means 'the village of Rota’s people', and was traditionally a place where writers and artists would live for quiet and seclusion. (Perhaps if this blogging lark takes off I'll be moving down there ... the next blog could be called 'from Brighton to Rottingdean' - although being as it is only 3 miles down the road I am not sure it will pull the crowds in. People would say, 'so she is moving down the road and decided to write a blog - how quaint!')
So back to the run, yep. you just leave our flat, turn right, take a left, go past the marina and up the cliffs to the village. It's really cute - there's a choice of cafes for homemade cakes and tea and THE Rottingdean Club. I have a suspician that it's not the kind of club I would normally* frequent and no amount of googling is helping me find the answer to what it is. Anyone have any idea?
After the club you pass by the Convent and take a left into the nature reserve. At this point there's a huge hill, - I must confess I normally walk this bit as it's enormous (see photo below) but really worth the climb as the views on reaching the top are just amazing.
From there it's downhill along side the golf course, and back to the coastal road where you can admire the view of Brighton from afar. The round trip takes about 45 minutes and I'd really recommend it as a great workout (so many coastal runs are too flat); a scenic view and a step away from the hustle and bustle of Brighton town.

*normally = in my youth

Friday, 17 September 2010

The journey home

Being a seasoned Brightonite (wayhay!) I thought it was about time to take a trip to London. Can I really have the best of both worlds? Live by the sea and keep in touch with London friends? You will not believe how jammy that makes me feel.

Anyway, so got to Brighton station straight after work, ready to jump on the train. Thought a return ticket would be handy, but guess what? There is a train at 1am from London Victoria to Brighton and another at 4am. So what if I want to come home at 2,2.30 or even at 3am? Bit of a pickle here I think...I mean, who would be on the 4am train anyway? - what would the average demographic of folks who need to be in Brighton at 5am or urgently need to leave London at 4am be?

The idea freaked me out a bit (thinking Sunday papers 'lone woman was traveling alone on the 4am train when....'), so opted for the 1am.

Everyone, and I do mean 'everyone' was scoffing away at their McDonalds or Burger Kings, a lot of waffle was being waffled (as waffling normally is.....) and many an aftermath of work parties. The result? A craic! I got the giggles, just looked around me to see all these lawyers, accountants and various traders (and no ... this is not a good place to meet a new man...) ties around their knees, chips hanging out their mouths and giving me advice on everything from living in Brighton to being a commuter to the economic vulnerability of South America!

... now maybe I should try that 4am train next time!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Alternative Notting Hill Carnival

Naomi warned me not to get too excited about this carnival. Having googled it before going I expected there to be a procession and was slightly concerned that I didn't have a costume. I was thinking on the way there how embarrassing it would be to be the only non-dressed up person, although to be fair it would be ten times worse to be the only one in costume!

On arrival I was relieved to find everyone in their normal clothes but disappointed that the 'carnival' was nothing more than a bar, called Concorde2 (by the beach, so no real complaints), with some local people and a band. Unlike the real Notting Hill Carnival there was actually a ladies toilet - what a result! Although it had clearly been designed by a man as there were 4 cubicles and just one tap. There was quite a cosy gathering around that sink as you can imagine...

Not quite the Notting Hill experience, but as you know, any event which involves the avoidance of tubes gets a thumbs up in my book!