10 October 2011

Hotel Review: The New Madeira, Brighton

This spacious hotel is wonderfully located right on the seafront almost opposite the pier, giving guests easy access to Brighton's famously labyrinthine lanes. It's nice and quiet for those who want a good night's sleep but also boasts a bar and neighbouring nightclub for more raucous visitors. So far, so good.

My three friends and I were greeted by a friendly receptionist who asked if we'd been out in Brighton before. When we said no, she gave us a map of the area after labelling it with shopping and nightlife hotspots.

We'd booked a quadruple room for £160 for night including breakfast, but were given the key to two twin rooms adjoined by a door. Well, actually, it was one twin room and one oblong, corridor-shaped space with two beds shoved top-to-tail along the wall. The bathroom was clean but tatty and an unpleasant musty smell pervaded throughout.

After Googling the hotel again and confirming that the rooms photographed on the website were far more attractive than ours, we phoned down to reception and complained. Again, the service was exemplary - within five minutes another member of staff knocked on the door and showed us to a very spacious quadruple room with sea views.

Appeased, we headed out to explore, returning a few hours later with a bottle of wine. Realising we had no corkscrew, I took it down to the bar where the tender was happy to open it for me and even offered to lend me some glasses.

After a late night on the town, we awoke the next morning feeling fragile and headed downstairs for breakfast. Ordering four fry-ups - three meat, one vegetarian - we helped ourselves to tea, coffee and juice. Cereal and yogurt were also available.

I really can't praise the breakfast enough. Sussex sausages, back bacon, crispy hash brown, baked beans, mushroom, fried egg and toast, all cooked perfectly and piping hot. Delicious!

I'd describe the New Madeira as an unpolished diamond. The tiny lift only holds two people and some of the rooms aren't great. But the location, service and food are fantastic and our second room was lovely.

I'd definitely recommend this hotel - in fact, we're alraedy planning our next stay.

The New Madeira Hotel
19-23 Marine Parade, Brighton BN2 1TL

21 September 2011

My boyfriend's new pet

On Saturday my boyfriend texted me saying, "I've got a new pet! It's not quite as good as a dog, but it'll do for now."

Great, I thought. Maybe he's finally decided to buy me a mini pig or micro hedgehog! "What is it?" I replied.

"A venus fly-trap called Mr T."

Of all the things I expected him to say - and he comes out with some pretty random stuff - this wasn't on the list.

Sure enough, half an hour later he arrived home with two fly-eating plants. Facing me, he said seriously, "This one's Mr T. This one's Rex. Together they are T-Rex."


He refused to let me separate them (apparently they're a team) and jumps up excitedly every time a fly buzzes through the window - which he now insists on keeping wide open to feed his new 'pets'.

And guess what? So far we've caught no flies.

20 September 2011

Limitless: Is the language really shocking?

After watching Bradley Cooper's latest flick Limitless last weekend, I was curious to know what his character Eddie Morra says in the film's bilingual scenes.

Googling the topic, I was astonished to find a number of claims that Morra's French and Mandarin in particular are, in fact, complete gobbledygook.

'Yahoo! Answers' user Antoine, who apparently hails from Quebec and is married to a native Mandarin speaker from Beijing, says: "The French at the beginning is total gibberish, just saying a bunch of words fast, there's not even a sentence
in there.

"The Chinese, at the end, in Mandarin, is just as bad. He's ordering two lobsters, then the waiter says, 'So you want neck napkins?'... and [Eddie] says something that remains a mystery."

If true, this is all a bit shocking. Surely big film companies should be respectful enough of other cultures to ensure that any exchanges in a foreign language are grammatically correct?

However, as I researched further the mystery deepened. Firstly, I discovered that Cooper is fluent in French. In an interview published on MyMovieMundo.com, he says: '...In order to pull it off you can’t just speak it; you have to inhabit it as if you talk all day in that language. And I had a freebie with French because I speak French.'

He's also said to have given interviews in the language while in France promoting the film.

It seems Cooper's Mandarin wasn't entirely hopeless either, but rather a clever play on words, according to movie blog Cinaptic in review 'Bradley Cooper's Limitless Mandarin Chinese'.

Having no knowledge of Mandarin myself and only A Level French, I'm still no closer to solving this debate. If anybody else can shed light on the issue or has an opinion, please post your comments below.

17 August 2011

The Vintage Event @ the Balham Bowls Club

Last Sunday I went along to the first ever Vintage Event. Organised by mother-and-daughter vintage experts Chanelle Ryan and Caroline Ray, the extravaganza is based at the Balham Bowls Club. This intimate venue lends itself perfectly to a vintage event – still bearing its original d├ęcor, the dimly-lit club’s faded carpet and higgledy-piggledy furniture make it a favourite with Balham’s trendsetters.

What made The Vintage Event so special was how well-balanced it was. Unlike other fairs that lump together stall after stall of generic goods with little or no variety, traders were carefully selected to transform the BBC into a nostalgic treasure trove of one-off finds.

And the fun didn’t end with the clothes and accessories. Pop-up gin and tea room Mother’s Ruin dished out lavish slices of home-baked cake and fluffy scones, accompanied by tea and gin fizzes served in delightfully mismatched crockery.

Cupcake connoisseur Kiss My Cake offered more sweet treats, delicately decorated and beautifully boxed. And a sizzling barbecue provided gourmet burgers, hotdogs and salad in the sunny garden space.

The relaxed atmosphere was perfectly complemented by live music from The Travellers and Chloe Ray, whose haunting vocals distracted quite a crowd from rummaging the rails. This event was so much more than just a vintage fair – it was a whole afternoon out.

I was unsurprised to hear that over 800 customers flocked through the doors, and hardly anyone left empty-handed. The venue stayed busy till after the clock chimed six, and there were few vintage bargains or cakes left at the end.

The next Vintage Event is on 11 September 2011 at the Balham Bowls Club. To find out more, email thevintageevent@live.co.uk, join the Facebook page or follow @thevintageevent on Twitter.