Category Archives: UK

Things to do in between Brighton Fringe and Festival Shows

Brighton merry-go-round horse on pier with colourful paint

The Brighton Fringe is now in full swing until 4th June, and the Brighton Festival will be doing its usual artsy thing until 28th May, so the city is on a high.

If you’re a first-time visitor trying to see some entertainment, but wondering how to squeeze in some tourism on the side, help is at hand. You can absolutely see the city without missing out on niche Fringe shows, especially as many venues are right in the middle of the action.

The Classic Tourist Route for Brighton Fringe Visitors

If you’ve never been to Brighton before, you can’t ignore its most obvious tourist attractions: the Palace Pier (bright lights! Fish and chips! Out of control children!), the beach (pebbles! Hardy British swimmers! Sticks of rock, à la Brighton Rock!), and the Pavilion (cool domes! Really old! Once a hospital for injured WWI soldiers!).

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Review: Incident at Vichy – Finborough Theatre

Incident at Vichy three main characters: Laurence Boothman as Lebeau, Michael Skellern as Waiter and Brendan O'Rourke as Bayard.

Incident at Vichy, a one-act play by Arthur Miller, condenses and multiplies his usual sense of foreboding. It’s 1942 in Vichy France and an assorted group of suspected Jews and ‘asocials’ have been detained by Nazis in a makeshift prison. One hysterical young man has had his nose measured. The drip-drip-drip of rumours and panic start to build as the waiting game continues.

Miller’s play is a window into French deportations of Jews, which took place between 27th March 1942 and 17th August 1944. 77,000 deportees from France lost their lives at Nazi death camps or concentration camps, and 1/3 of these were official French citizens.

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Review: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – Old Vic Theatre

Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire as Rosencrantz & Guildenstern on stage at The Old Vic Theatre in period costume

Half a century after its debut, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead returns to The Old Vic. Things may have changed around these parts in the last fifty years – off the top of my head, there’s a branch of Byron down the road, and the price of theatre tickets has increased dramatically – but this play, just like its venue, remains sharp.

It famously lifts two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who we know end up dead, hence the non-spoiler-alert title, and tries to fathom how they met their fate. Was it just a case of really bad luck? Were they a bit dim? Was everyone out to get them from the start? Stoppard may not have all the answers, but he scrutinises their unfair side-lining by the Danish court, and gives them a chance to voice their side of the story. That is, if they even know what the story is. Or where they are. Or which one is which. In these ever more uncertain times, where we’re bombarded with cries of ‘fake news’, conspiracy theories and 24-hour coverage of distressing events, The Old Vic treats us to lines like ‘We are tied down to a language which makes up in obscurity what it lacks in style’. This could have easily described Donald Trump’s tweets, and not a key character’s philosophy on the language of acting.

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Review: Beginners Modern Calligraphy Workshop with Quill London

Quill Beginners Modern Calligraphy Workshop exercise worksheet and cake on table

Quill London is at the forefront of the local and national calligraphy scene, with a huge social following, a calligraphy workshop programme, pop-up projects and a physical store keeping up with customer demand.

I’ve chosen to test Quill’s entry-level course, the Beginners Modern Calligraphy Workshop (FYI, there’s no apostrophe). This is the perfect class for a novice because it’s only 2.5 hours long, so there’s no big commitment to make. The question is: can you actually pick up a new skill in less than half a day?

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Mapledurham Water Mill: From Taboo Filming Location to Black Sabbath Album Cover

Mapledurham village, Oxfordshire, seen in Taboo, Black Sabbath album artwork and The Eagle Has Landed film stills

This is a post about a water mill in a cosy English village. Sounds pretty boring, right? Well, add a dose of Tom Hardy and a pinch of Ozzy Osbourne and things get more lively; Mapledurham water mill is perhaps the world’s most famous backdrop right now, thanks to TV, music and film.

The site, part of the Mapledurham Estate in Oxfordshire, was recently used as a filming location for the TV series Taboo, plus it appeared in the background of Black Sabbath’s self-titled album, released on Friday 13th February 1970. Now Black Sabbath have played their last ever gig, fans are craving a nostalgia fix.

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Brontë Country: Exploring the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth

Miniature book by Charlotte Bronte, 1830, held at Bronte Parsonage Museum, Yorkshire, in glass case

In 2017 it will be 170 years since three Yorkshire sisters exploded onto the literary scene with their debut novels. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey are all classics, written under the same roof: the parsonage at Haworth, which is now the Bronte Parsonage Museum.

Anyone in search of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë will have this museum on their wish list. Over 7 million visitors have traipsed through the door, despite a dip in visitor numbers in 2015. This is why they keep coming.

Brontës in Haworth

The Brontë family lived in Haworth from 1820-1861, having moved from Thornton so Patrick Brontë, the head of the family, could take up his position as curate of Haworth, Stanbury and Oxenhope. There were six Brontë children, but their mother Maria, followed by the two eldest children, Maria and Elizabeth, were all dead by 1825.

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Hidden London Museums You Need to Visit

Hidden London museums include the Petrie Museum (exhibit seen here) and the Hunterian.

London is a museum lover’s dream, but there are always far too many high-profile exhibitions and permanent collections to choose from and, try as I might, I never get to see them all. Hidden London museums, in comparison, are usually cheaper and quieter to visit, yet they’re easily overlooked.

The thing is, those smaller and more obscure attractions don’t get an equal billing, and many tourists miss out on these underrated attractions. I’ve selected six of my favourite hidden London museums to redress the balance.

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Peruvian Restaurants in London: Why They’re Back in Demand

Chicama Peruvian restaurants menu

Yet again, Peruvian influences are spreading across London. It was only a few years ago that London’s food scene bagged itself Peruvian restaurants – all of which continue to draw crowds. One brand, Lima, has recently had a revamp, and two new restaurants have stepped into the fray since August.

Lima, based in Fitzrovia (31 Rathbone Place), added a much-needed extension and redesigned its dining spaces but also launched a new a la carte menu in November. The new dishes come with healthy twists, such as white and purple sweet potato added to main courses and an entire dessert menu free of refined sugar – yes, that is possible!

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Poldark Filming Locations in Cornwall: Series 1 and 2

It’s not long now until Series 2 of Poldark hits our TV screens, bringing Winston Graham’s popular saga back into the forefront of our minds and making everyone long for a Cornish holiday (preferably with Aidan Turner, a.k.a. Ross Poldark, to feed us a cream tea).

Whilst a few of the filming locations fell outside Cornwall, I’m going to ignore those anomalies and focus on the gorgeous Cornish settings used to bring these local novels to life once again.

Bodmin Moor

Both St. Breward and Minions village were used for their stark landscapes. This created the perfect mood for Ross Poldark’s family home, Nampara, and for the views between Nampara and Ross’ cousin’s estate. The crossroads in Minions ramped up the cinematic quality of these scenes, as did the rising sun at St. Breward as the backdrop to a duel.

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Bethlem Museum of the Mind: A Unique Attraction

Raving and melancholy infamous allegorical statues at front of Bethlem Hospital now used in museum entrance

Amid last year’s mental health scandals – including spending cuts, insensitive comments from politicians, and crisis care failures – there was a big step forward in tackling the stigma of psychological illness. It came from a newly-opened museum and charity: Bethlem Museum of the Mind, in Beckenham, Kent, recently nominated for the 2016 Museum of the Year award.

Yes, the name might sound familiar. Bethlem is the fourth site of the notorious hospital better known as Bedlam. You won’t find power-crazed doctors leaving patients in chains – a stereotypical mental image associated with the ‘madhouse’ of earlier centuries – but you will find a place where modern mental illness is explained. What’s more, entry is free, and it’s open to everyone.

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