Travel

Brighton wanderings and Brighton Fringe Festival

I headed down to Brighton for the day on Friday to catch up with a friend who lives nearby. I’ve been staying in South London (cat-sitting!) for a week and thought it would be the perfect time to pop down to Brighton – the train from East Croydon only takes about 45 mins too so it’s really easy from the South…also pretty easy from anywhere in London but y’know even easier!

Although it was a pretty grey day when I arrived and we had a few rain showers, the sun came out just in time for us heading to the seafront! For lunch we grabbed some food from the ‘Street Diner’ which is a collection of stalls selling a variation of street food in the Brighthelm Gardens there were loads of yummy things on offer…no photo of our food as it was consumed too fast 🙂

My friend had mentioned that Brighton Fringe Festival was on while I was down there – it runs throughout May and ends at the start of June – so we had a little look at the programme when I arrived and picked out a comedy show later in the day. There’s a box office outside the Theatre Royal where you can just walk in and buy tickets which is really handy if like us you happen to find yourself in Brighton during the fringe and fancy checking the listings out for that day.

Note: in other food related findings Gelato Gusto on North Laine provided a much needed sugar hit in the afternoon, see above for pic featuring their waffle bites, ice cream and fruit combo (SO GOOD).

We headed to The Warren in the evening to watch comedian Dave Edwards discuss the world of modern dating in his show ‘Looking for Love!’, the studio where he was performing was actually an old shipping container which was pretty cool and the show was really funny!

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With the sun coming out later in the day the evening turned out to be super lovely so once we came out of the comedy show we went for another wander and instead of heading back to the station we decided to pop into the open artists studios at Phoenix Studios, the building is home to 100’s of artists and makers as well as providing space for temporary art projects and an education programme. It was really interesting chatting to some of the artists and a really inspiring end to the day!…..

…..Until next time Brighton!

 

Travel

Lewes and the Sussex Coast

Last weekend I headed down to visit my friend Bec in Lewes, East Sussex. Usually when I go to that part of the country it’s for a day trip or a gig trip to Brighton so it was nice to another corner of Sussex that I didn’t know that much about. Waking up on Saturday morning to grey skies and rain meant that we decided to stick with exploring Lewes rather than battling the winds nearer to the coast!

We spent the day wandering around the little independent shops, mostly in the Needlemakers  originally the building was a candle factory then became a needle factory during World War 1. The charming brickwork building now houses a whole host of unique shops selling some beautiful gifts as well as antique and vintage goods and the Needlemakers cafe. Even though it was only the first day of October my mind was already wandering off into Christmas gift territory! One of my favourite shops in the Needlemakers was Popsicle , an explosion of colourful and kitsch gifts, home-wares and clothing. I loved the pleated style lightshades and the quirky greeting card designs!

A few other shops that caught my eye were Mary Fellows another shop full of bright, colourful and fun gifts where you could also buy personalised items such as mugs, eggcups and prints. From Victoria – a locally based ceramics artist who had a  pretty  little studio/shop that caught my eye. Located downstairs was The Seamstress , providing the people of Lewes with not only an alterations service but also the opportunity to go in and try their hand at making their own clothes – aspiring seamstresses check out their site for more details about workshops.

After perusing the Needlemakers we headed off towards the river, stopping for some lunch in the aptly named Riverside brasserie, serving all day breakfast, lunches and afternoon tea it was a good place to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon lunch! The Riverside building itself hosts a farmers style market and cafe downstairs and some great little fabric and art shops upstairs. Some more strolling in town turned into stumbling upon a beer festival. Taking place at the Snowdrop Inn, with beers from all over the UK it was organised by local brewery Burning Sky and proved a great way to chat to a few locals about the area.

Waking up to sunshine on Sunday morning meant we could stick to our plan of heading to the coast, first we drove towards Birling Gap, a national trust site near to Eastbourne; an unspoiled pebbly beach at the bottom of the famous white cliffs known as the ‘Seven Sisters’ can be accessed via a stair tower from the cliff and the rocky areas when the tide is out is a great place for rock pooling. We sat on the top of the cliffs for a little picnic in the sun, a really peaceful and lovely spot with amazing views!

Once we’d finished exploring Birling Gap we hopped back into the car and drove the short distance towards the town of Seaford for the view of the Seven Sisters, on the way down the Cuckmere river winding down towards the sea is an impressive site (I wasn’t skilled enough to capture on camera!). We parked a short walk from the famous coastguard cottages, the views were stunning and probably some of the best I had seen in Britain, the chalky cliffs looked so striking, especially with the pink sky as the sun set. Considering how easy it is to get to Lewes/Seaford/Eastbourne from London on the train (Southern rail strike dependent of course!) I would definitely recommend a day trip or a weekend break to the area!

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Travel

Always the Sun Festival

If you name a festival something ‘sun’ it’s sort of inevitable that the weather will do its best to provide anything but that…and that’s exactly what happened on Saturday when we headed off to Always the Sun festival in Guildford. Despite the soggy day it didn’t dampen ours (or anyone else’s) spirits and for those that went on Sunday too there was plenty of sunshine to make up for Saturday’s grey skies!

This is the first year of Always the Sun, curated by local people with lots of involvement from the towns famous venue The Boileroom, the 2 day festival aims to involve the community as much as possible from local labels hosting stages to artists running workshops. The festival also aims to be ethical and eco-friendly, taking some inspiration from Glastonbury with its compost toilets!

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The first band we catch are Native People, the four piece from Folkestone are on the main stage (Park stage) and despite the raincoats and umbrellas they have the crowd dancing along to their pop/indie sounds, next we popped over to the Andertons stage where local lads Darko are playing – not really my cup of tea but if you like your punky-hardcore stuff these could be for you.

The chilled out sounds of Hannah Lou Clark are followed by the infectious indie singalongs of Kent based Get Inuit, they were the one of the bands I was most excited to see and they didn’t disappoint – singer/guitarist Jamie Glass is also a pro at the ‘in-between’ song chatter too.

Taking a little break from the band watching we took a wander around the site where we came across the Crafty Peacock tent that housed all sorts of different workshops for kids (and creative adults) including Lush soap making, ceramics and painting activities. There was even some civilised wine-tasting over at the Waitrose stand (well, this is a festival in Surrey after all)…while The Outdoor Kitchen featured cooking demos from Masterchef and Great British Bake Off favourites, as well as a handy place to shelter from a downpour! and if you really wanted to chill out, there were free massages on offer and the chance to do a spot of yoga over at the House of Hatha.

The aptly named Kagoule took to the main stage just as the rain made way for an idyllic sunset over Guildford…finally the sun had made an appearance! Kagoule were followed by The Big Moon   who won us over with their catchy riffs and effortless live performance.

Catching up with Manchester’s Spring King  before their slot on the main stage we chatted about Bestival, which they’d played the day before and they told us they were almost as excited as us to watch headliners Mystery Jets. I’ve seen Spring King more times than any other this year and it’s always nice to see them win over a new festival crowd they even managed to get half of them involved in a conga line during ‘They’re Coming After You’. Just their set I ran across the The Andertons stage to catch a few songs from Palm Honey, they were one of the bands I wanted to see and from the first song I was pretty much won over…it’s always ace to find a new band to obsess over at a festival and Palm Honey could just be the ones <3.

All too soon it was time for headliners Mystery Jets to draw things to a close and being one of my most loved bands I was always going to be happy with them rounding off a great day at Always the Sun, not surprisingly they have the biggest crowd of the day and luckily by then the rain is all but a distant memory. They play a set packed with songs spanning all 5 of their albums including sing/dance-along Two Doors Down as well as new album tracks Bubblegum and one of my faves Blood Red Balloon.

I had such a great day at Always the Sun festival, massively helped by the fact some of my favourite bands had been picked for the line-up but also because it was a lovely little festival site with a chilled out atmosphere, friendly people and plenty of other things going on away from the main music stages. What a good end to this years festival season!

Gill x

Out & About · Travel

10 reasons why Budapest is the best!

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Last week we booked a very last minute 3 night trip to Budapest (mostly to avoid Glastonbury envy) but also because everyone that had been couldn’t stop telling us how awesome it was, and they weren’t wrong! So after a 2 hour flight from Heathrow we arrived at the Atrium Fashion Hotel  (which had a great central location) and were ready to explore the city! As we only had 2 full days we made like proper tourists and got ourselves a ticket for the Hop On Hop Off bus tours for 48 hours, a good idea if you want to know where the main sites are and don’t have too much time to stumble across them yourselves! So here’s 10 things that we loved about Budapest!

1. The Danube

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It once separated the two cities of Buda and Pest until the 1800’s and even now each side of the river is quite different with Buda being the more tranquil escape from the bustling city centre over on the Pest side. You can get some amazing views of the city from the Buda hills including up at the Statue of Liberty point.

2. Thermal Spas

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Széchenyi Baths

If you’re going to Budapest you have to try out one of the thermal spa water baths, we went to Széchenyi Baths   which are the biggest and most popular, it is an amazing way to relax whether it’s in the heated outside pools or the inside Roman bath style ones complete with plenty of saunas!

3. Dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant

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Dinner at Borkonyha

There’s not too many places (especially in London) where you can eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant without spending more than you would in your local Nando’s but at the amazing Borkonyha  that’s what we did, the duck and the seabass were amazing, as was the Hungarian wine!

4. Ruin Bars

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Instant – Ruin bar

Budapest’s night-life is all about the ruin bars, occupying formerly ruined buildings and usually built around a courtyard the bars have an eclectic mix of different music and styles, with a ramshackle feel to them, we went to Instant which is the biggest one, featuring over 20 different themed rooms that are wall-papered, graffiti-ed and furnished in every colour, we ended up staying until it was turning to daylight, so a sure sign the ruin bars the place to party in Pest!

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In our favourite room at the ruin bar (mainly impressed by the wallpaper)

5. Night time boat cruise

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As part of our Hop on/Hop off ticket we could get on one of the night cruises that took us down the Danube as the sun was setting,  Budapest is a city that looks magical at night-time with all of the buildings and bridges lit up and the lights dotted into the Buda hills, luckily it was a gorgeous summer evening!

6. Views

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View from the Statue of Liberty

There are plenty of places to get an amazing view of the city, especially when you cross over to the Buda side and head up to the highest point at the Statue of Liberty, the old castle ruins or the church!

7. Architecture

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The Matthias Church at Buda Castle

Budapest has some stunning architecture that you can see around every corner on both sides of the river, the imposing parliament building sits on the riverbank and from taking one of the boats down the Danube you can get an awesome view! We were also impressed by the Basilica cathedral and the second largest Synagogue in the world,  while over on the Pest side there is the Matthias church next to the old castle.

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A view of the parliament building!
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The Dohany synagogue

8. The market hall

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The Central Market Hall is one of the largest and oldest indoor markets in the world and it’s impressive site! most of the stalls sell fresh produce and you can grab a traditional Hungarian snack on the upper floor!

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Lots of pickled things!

9. Statues, lots of statues!

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Szt Gellert Statue

We didn’t get the chance to make it to Momento park which is home to giant statues of figures from the communist dictatorship but we still saw a lot of other statues in our 2 days in the city – ones of important political figures are dotted around and there’s also the monuments and horse statues at Heroes Sq. (where Michael Jackson filmed the video for ‘History’ no less!)

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Us, with some statues.

10. Ice cream!

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Last but not least, Budapest could give Italy a run for its money in the Gelato stakes, there’s lots of street vendors selling every flavour you could dream of!…even more impressive is we paid about £1.50 for one of these giant cones!

Thank you Budapest! We’ll make sure to stop by again soon! 🙂

 

Out & About · Travel

Amsterdam – London Calling festival and Kings Day

 

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I’ve just returned from a little trip to Amsterdam for the London Calling festival and to join in the Kings Day celebrations! I think it was about my 10th trip to the city so I’ve got to know it pretty well over the last few years! This time we stayed in an amazing apartment above the cat museum – Kattenkabinet – yep an actual cat museum.
Held in the Paradiso, the London Calling festival is a great place to check out up and coming bands, they are usually UK or US based ones and in previous years I’ve seen lots at the festival that have gone on to become become pretty big – Klaxons, Jamie T, Maccabees, Royal Blood – to name just a few!

On Friday we kicked things off with Spring King who were definitely the best new discovery of the weekend, before watching Happyness,  The Districts (one of my faves of the weekend), the awesome Slaves and ending the nighg having a little dance around to Fools Gold. On Saturday we wandered around the Waterlooplein flea market which is always good for finding little treasures at good prices compared to lots of the vintage shops in London. We stopped off in the De Pijp district for a burger at The Butcher  – there’s lots of cool bars, places to eat and shops in this area so would definitely recommend a wander around!

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The amazing burgers at The Butcher
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Cute cupcakes at The Darling shop/cafe
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The Saturday night of London Calling had another awesome line-up with Londoners As Elephants Are being the first band we caught, we then popped out to Bar Lux   for a couple of drinks in between the earlier bands, the little bar tucked away from the Leidseplein sqaure is friendly and chilled and every time I go back to Amsterdam I have to go! Heading back to the Paradiso to catch Liverpool band Hooton Tennis Club and The Dø – who were also both great discoveries! The headline band in the main room on Saturday were Drenge, even though I’ve already seen them in London and various other places several times before *including earlier in the week!) it was great to see them at the Paradiso. For about £35 for both the nights of London Calling it’s pretty good value compared to some of  the UK equivalents, and the organisers have recently  announced an outdoor version in May  that will take place in the Amsterdam North area.

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There wasn’t much time for recovering on Sunday as the celebrations for Kings Night started in the afternoon with the end of the street we were staying on turned into a mini street party and locals and tourists filling the streets along the canals, despite being told by a few people the thing to do was stay out and party on through until Kings Day due to us being slightly fragile from the previous two nights we couldn’t quite manage it!

Kings Day is the Netherlands biggest bank holiday celebration, everybody dresses in orange, heads out onto the streets and canals and sell things at outdoor street markets or in the parks, it’s a good excuse for everyone to basically just drink and be merry, which the Dutch are very good at, luckily Monday was lovely and sunny so we got to hang out in the parks and stroll along the canals. Amsterdam is such a fun, friendly city to explore and even more so when it’s Kings Day! Below the pictures are some links to some of the places I’ve mentioned in the post!

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http://paradiso.nl/web/English-Agenda.htm?gclid=CI3Bi5T7nsUCFSkcwwodUDcA7g

http://www.the-butcher.com/

http://thedarlingamsterdam.nl/

http://www.amsterdam.info/depijp/

http://www.amsterdam.info/depijp/

http://www.worldsbestbars.com/bar/amsterdam/city-center/bar-lux

 

 

 

Travel

Peace instore @ Rough Trade East

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I popped into Rough Trade East on my way home from work on Tuesday for the Peace in-store in support of their new album ‘Happy People’ which was released on Monday – that same night they played a sold out NME show at Heaven – which unfortunately I missed so I was glad to get the chance to go along to Rough Trade. They played a handful of tracks from ‘Happy People’ as well as a few old favourites (Lovesick, California Daze and Wraith). From the new album we got to hear the title track, single Money, I’m A Girl and Someday – the latter being a guaranteed tearjerker (well, unless that was just me) – I love their ability to provide the slower tunes alongside the big grunge-y guitar numbers such as Wraith and new song I’m A Girl.

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I was at the Rough Trade instore when Peace launched their first album back in 2013 and they were already a superb live band then so it’s great to see them back with another record of instantly catchy tunes, see below for a video of the band taking you through their album track by track in their own unique style!

Also you can check out the events page on the Rough Trade website for future in-stores!

Travel

The Weeks @ The Windmill, Brixton

The Weeks have been over touring in the UK during January and I got to see them at The Garage a couple of weeks ago, the band from Mississippi have posted on Twitter at the weekend that they’d decided to play one last small gig before they headed back to the US. So as promised that’s what they did on Monday night when they arranged a last minute headline slot at the Windmill in Brixton, the band have been staying in the area during their time in the UK and seem to have taken a shine to it judging by their Twitter and Instagram posts! referring to it as their “home away from home”.

Myself and Steph headed down to the gig to see them play a set full of songs from their two albums and asked the crowd to tell them what they wanted to play, it was a similar setlist at The Garage, which you can see on my Instagram here! and the new songs I heard at that gig and on Monday night were awesome, especially one called ‘Mercury’. Probably (definitely) under the influence of some liquor before they took to the stage the band got given tequila shots during the gig. What I love about The Weeks is how much fun they have on stage together and at the Windmill the atmosphere was great, it’s the perfect ‘sweaty pub’ type venue for this kind of rowdy gig, with low ceilings and the stage squished in at the back. The first time I saw The Weeks was when they supported Kings of Leon at the O2 and they made me fall in love with them instantly, even though they have they’re own sound if you are a KOL fan or if you’re a fan of music dripping in Southern charm then y’all should check out The Weeks when they’re next in town!  Here’s some photos from The Windmill (featuring a crowdsurfing bassist)

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