23 July 2014

Festival Guide 2014 - Port Eliot Festival by Rosie Davis

~ Port Eliot Festival, photo by Michael Bowles ~
~ 24th-27th July ~
Port Eliot Festival
Port Eliot Estate, St Germans, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 5ND
Weekend camping tickets £165 + £7.50 booking fee

 I hope you have recovered after my last preview as Love Supreme brought a whole lotta funk, jazz and soul into the South Downs. Pimms and Grand Marnier all shaken together with a shot of Soul II Soul and a large swig of De La Soul had three generations raising their hands up in the air and becoming hip-hop fanatics. Definitely a grand finale for the end of a triumphant weekend, I am sure we will see Jazz FM and the Love Supreme team back next year.

Now it’s time for something further south, across three counties and into a part of the world that feels like a million miles from England. I’m taking you across the Tamar Bridge and into Cornwall to St Germans, the home of Port Eliot Festival. Imagine a Grade I listed house and gardens filled with cabaret, music, literature, writers, artists, foodies and creative minds all congregating in this one heavenly spot. 
Well, you can now stop imagining and live it at this creative arts festival.

~ Port Eliot Festival, photo by Michael Bowles ~
Port Eliot house is the historic seat of the Earl and Countess of St Germans and the family have lived at the house for hundreds of years, this is still a family home, offering a personal touch to this annual gathering of creative personalities. Port Eliot Festival isn’t the first festival to have inhabited these grounds, back in 1981 a colourful and vivacious festival called the Elephant Fayre set up camp. It integrated all performance art but in 1986 the festival had to come to an end and pull down its tents and flags for good.

Emerging from the ashes of its predecessor came Port Eliot Festival, an idea conjured up in 2003 by Lord St Germans, but this time there would be a literary twist. Writers, poets and journalists were invited to read out work that other literary festivals wouldn’t even look at. The participants were asked to do something different with words, and they took this to new levels adding a performance element to their recitations, which led the way for future Port Eliot Festivals.

Port Eliot drawing room, photo by Michael Bowles
As a lover of books and everything about them, from the layout, to the design, the cover to the texture of the spine, I couldn’t help but find a gold nugget of joy in Port Eliot Festival. For me it brings all of the components of a book to life with the accumulation of talented artists and performers creating your perfect publication. From this year’s line-up my choice of author for my book would be Salena Godden, a female powerhouse known largely for her Book Club Boutique in London and her collections of poetry and short stories. Photographer Martin Parr would illustrate the text with his iconic style of photography, although at this year’s festival his main medium is film, where he will be screening ‘Turkey and Tinsel’.  The book design and fabric would be chosen by the founder of the original Biba, Barbara Hulanicki, and on this occasion she will be outing her pen to paper for a drawing master class for children aged 7-13.  And last but not least, what better way to accompany a good book, than a glass of bubbly and a delicious meal, possibly cooked by Russell Norman from Polpo and sound tracked by the harmonious sounds of Luke Sital-Singh. Now that is what I call a book, I mean festival!     
Louise Gray in wardrobe dept, photo by Fiona Campbell
As a Brightonian (although that could be disputed as I have emigrated here from Cornwall!), I believe fellow Brightonians will be drawn to Port Eliot Festival for its combination of scenic location and flamboyancy. There is a wardrobe department where you can choose an outfit, accessories and a hair style for the Saturday evening; various music stages, as well as a Food and Fodder stage. Catch Martin Parr's film at The Paradiso Round Room Cinema and afterwards why not wander towards the Ways of Weirds, where Salena Godden will be stepping up on stage as well as Nikki Wyrd, a lady greatly involved in group magical practices and occult conferences.

Camping here is a treat not a chore. The parkland has views of the Cornish countryside, the river, hidden mazes and walled gardens. If nylon, poles and pegs aren’t your thing then there are tipis and yurts and glamping choices galore. There is also an option to roll off your inflatable bed and get involved in activities such as kayaking, sunrise yoga, thai chi, screen printing workshops and knitting.

There are still tickets available, so if you are feeling spontaneous there are trains specially arranged for the festival that will stop at the quaint St Germans train station. Hop off and follow the sign to the pedestrian gate and you are merely a stone’s throw away from Port Eliot Festival.  
Port Eliot Festival, photo by Michael Bowles

By Rosie Davis

27 June 2014

Festival Guide 2014 - Love Supreme Jazz Festival by Rosie Davis

~ Love Supreme Jazz Festival ~

4th-6th July
Glynde Place, Glynde
Weekend Camping £125
Weekend Non-Camping £110
Day Tickets £55

Feathers in your hair, sequinned leggings, wellington boots, wet wipes (optional), sun cream, anorak, check. Your rucksack is packed, your bus is waiting for you, but wait a minute, there’s one thing missing, your ticket! With festivals bursting up out of the ground every weekend from May to October you haven’t been able to decide which one to choose. Don’t despair, throughout the summer I'll be bringing you my pick of the festivals, serving you the juiciest and crucial information you need and want to know about festivals I think stands out amongst the rest.

This week I’m bringing you Love Supreme Jazz Festival, a cool, funky festival situated in the grounds of Glynde Place in the South Downs. The vast national park rolling away from you into the distance while a mixture of soothing and body popping live music is played to you from one of the four stages. This is a small but perfectly formed festival with a wide range of music on offer, bars, food stalls, as well as the champagne and oyster bar for those who are feeling lavish, and if you can’t wait to get home until you buy the music that you’ve heard then there’s a record shop, as well as a bookshop and of course, the obligatory feature for a festival, a helter skelter.  

~ Love Supreme Jazz Festival helter skelter ~

Now in its second year Love Supreme has returned with a line-up that will drag the most reluctant Brightonian out of the city and into the countryside, and with shuttle buses running from Brighton to the festival for a small fee of £11 there aren’t many excuses you can give for not going. The line-up has been causing a stir amongst the music lovers of Brighton and it has definitely been the topic of discussion. On the Saturday and Sunday the main stage will be performed on by the likes of Laura Mvula, Earth Wind & Fire Experience featuring Al McKay, Alice Russell, Courtney Pine (who creates an electric atmosphere, he is a must see), Soul II Soul, Imelda May and De La Soul with a full live band. And if that isn’t enough then from the Friday evening you can start your festival experience with music from King Porter Stomp (a Brighton favourite), and a late club night with Jazz FMs Funky Sensation. Brighton based Afro-beat band Kalakuta Millionaires will also be taking over the bandstand on the Saturday. If you’ve never witnessed this band live before then you are in for a treat.

If you are at the festival for the whole weekend then you will be able to pitch your tent in the camping area, which is only a matter of yards from the entertainment, but if you would rather walk back to London than camp, then save yourself the walk and look at one of the many other accommodation options. First of all there’s the very fashionable option of glamping, unfortunately the tents offered by Bluebell tents were so appealing that they’ve sold out! If you have treated yourself and bought a VIP camping ticket then this gives you access to VIP camping facilities, or the nearby town of Lewes has a variety of B&Bs and hotels, which can be found on the festival’s website.

I chose this festival to share with you for many reasons; it is just a stones throw away from London and Brighton, it’s in an inspiring location, it offers a little something for every type of festival goer and of course, the line-up is one of epic proportions attracting my full attention from the moment I heard that De La Soul were coming to town! See you soon!

By Rosie Davis

26 June 2014

New Writing South create the Good Blog Guide and include ModernBrickaBrack - cue happy dance from me

~ The Good Good People at New Writing South, a leading creative-writing hub in the south-east of England have set up a Good Blog Guide and included ModernBrickaBrack in their selection. It's a curated list that gives the New Writing South stamp of approval for good writing to bloggers.

I'm very flattered and delighted to say the least, so thank you very much NWS.
~ Street art in Brighton ~

Already a fan, this is not the first time they have received a mention on this blog. Only last month did their regular night of poetry and food, Come Rhyme With Me receive a review from guest blogger Amelia Charman. The next date for this event will be Friday 18 July and will feature Toby Thompson, Paula Varjack and Grace Carter among others.  Click on Come Rhyme With Me in July for more details.
~ Street art in Brighton ~

Dedicated to inspiring, nurturing and connecting to creative writers, they are keen to support all types of writing from novels, plays, poetry, radio drama, to blogging and screenwriting. 

They offer a wide range of events throughout the year with debates, rehearsed readings, author events as well as an annual New Writing South lecture to choose from.

Other support they provide includes workshops, feedback, mentoring, bursaries, advice and networking opportunities, where they focus on career development, promotion and employment.

Not only that they also go into schools, places of work and all kinds of communities in order to inspire imaginations, encourage creative thinking and generate a whole load of enthusiasm wherever they go.

I've added a widget to the right, which you can click on to check out the full list of bloggers included in the Good Blog Guide or alternatively just click on New Writing South to find out more.

They are always open to adding blogs to the Guide, so if you want to nominate one (including your own) or for information on their criteria please email: goodblog@newwritingsouth.com

10 June 2014

Tony Benn: An Appreciation this Friday 13 June 2014 in Brighton

Tony Benn: An Appreciation
TOM and Lakin McCarthy present:
Tony Benn: An Appreciation.

Member of Parliament for 47 years, Benn described himself as "one of the few UK politicians to have become more left-wing after holding ministerial office." He also stated "I was brought up to believe that when you were elected to parliament, you were elected to control the statute book, the purse and the sword. But I have sat in a commons that has abandoned control of the statute book to Brussels, control of the sword to the White House and the purse to the IMF."

Admired for his integrity and honesty, two words rarely associated with our politicians, he was (and still is) an inspiration to people.  In fact, there's even a group on Facebook with close to 3,000 fans called Tony Benn Encouraged Me.  How wonderful.

He also inspired those close to him, including Chris Mullin, friend for 35 years, writer and former politician. 

Tony Benn: An Appreciation, is a talk by Mullin, where he pays tribute to Benn's life, offering a sympathetic but not uncritical assessment of him from the post-war era.

“One of the most mesmerising and divisive figures in the mainstream of postwar British politics.” The Guardian

During his long political career Tony Benn went through many incarnations: pillar of the Labour establishment, Cabinet minister, tabloid bogeyman, serial dissident and “reviled prophet of capitalism's demise” (The Guardian), he eventually, in his old age became considered a national treasure. Celebrated as a radical left-wing politician, he was both loved and loathed in equal measure by countless voters who had never met him.

Mullin has written in various publications about Tony Benn, in one he shares the following anecdote.

Once, in the early 80s, I walked beside him near the front of a huge demonstration organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, called in protest at the government's decision to allow the Americans to station a new generation of nuclear weapons in their British bases. The arrival of Cruise missiles had given CND a new lease of life and, in an attempt to broaden their base, Benn had been missed off the list of platform speakers and instead that old cold war warrior Denis Healey had been invited to speak.

No sooner had Healey started speaking than the crowd, more than 100,000 strong, began baying for Benn. Eventually, the organisers realised that they had no choice but to invite him on to the platform. Up he climbed and within minutes, he had set the crowd alight.

Chris Mullin, former MP and writer, has been a minister in three departments and chairman of the Home Affairs select committee. His writings include three highly acclaimed volumes of diaries, "A View from the Foothills", "Decline and Fall" and "A Walk-On Part"; as well as the novel "A Very British Coup", which was made into an award-winning television series.

The event this Friday comprises of a talk, followed by a question and answer session.

Event Details:
Title: Tony Benn: An Appreciation
Company: Lakin McCarthy
Date: Fri 13th June 2014
Time: 7:30pm
Advance Tickets: £14 [£12]
Tickets On The Door: £15 [£13]
TOM’s Friends 15% Discount

6 June 2014

ON THE MARGINS - free literary event in Brighton Thursday 12th June 2014

Literary event with Brighton Writers and Myriad Editions

A night of contemporary fiction with Nina De La Mer and Liam Murray Bell, hosted by Rosie Davis. 

Join Brighton Writers for an intimate evening of literature as the group’s co-founder introduces two exciting authors, Nina De La Mer (Layla) and Liam Murray Bell (The Busker). Delve into the creation of their latest protagonists and find out why they are found on the margins of society. 

Layla - Nina de la Mer
Busker - Liam Murray Bell
Come along to the fresh and vibrant setting of Temptation Café, meet the teams from Brighton publishing company Myriad Editions and writing group Brighton Writers. There will be a licensed bar serving hot and cold drinks and delicious cake.

Doors open at 6:30 pm, starts at 7pm
Thursday 12th June 2014  

Temptation café, 56 Gardner Street, Brighton. Free Entry.
In association with Myriad Editions
and Brighton Writers Facebook: Brighton Writers

Twitter: @BrightonWrites 

1 June 2014

The Colin Hoult Shows - Brighton Fringe review 2014 by Sarah Agnew

The Colin Hoult Shows, Company: Colin Hoult
Venue: The Burrow at The Warren, Category: Comedy
5, 14-15, 23 May 20:00 25 May 17:00 £8.50 (£7, £35 All Burrow Shows) [1hr]

With "Cover your belly" ringing in my ears and images of a man galloping around in his underpants, I felt I had been thoroughly exposed to the Colin Hoult experience.  The show was called Characthorse and involved an imaginary world, Snottingham and various characters as devised by Colin's seven year old self.

The show began with the fully dressed Colin in a suit who spoke to us in the deliberated commanding tones of the highly accoladed thespian, Sir Patrick Stewart, while wearing a tan coloured stocking over his hair. Addressing us as Sir Patrick he demanded various members of the audience to cover your belly. Late arrival, cover your belly. Pregnant lady, cover your belly.  It was a cover your belly-fest.  My Cardiff fella and I looked at each other, what's he talking about?

From there he took us with conscious ingenuousness back to his childhood and the imaginary world he had created.  Characthorse came from a misunderstood word his mother had said and Snottingham was accessed via a wormhole in his bedroom.

We met a Scottish guy who wanted us to sniff grated nutmeg, his accent seemed spot on and the phrases he used were really funny. Cardiff fella loved his dodgy cockney geezer and was still trying to mimic his "aow!" the next day.

Colin clearly revelled in the audience interaction and was quick to respond.  The funniest part by far was when, as Sir P again, he orchestrated three men from the audience to pick him up.  His comments were so funny, he gave them all nicknames and had them joining in the absurdity, which worked brilliantly.

There were other parts though that fell flat for me, his character with ticks seemed an easy target and hit the wrong note as did telling the girl in the audience, something along the lines of she'd never get a boyfriend. The girl was meant to repeat the lines and wouldn't. I thought good for you.

Hoult is absolutely a master character comedian and with credits such as 'Derek' and 'Being Human' he is a rising star to watch, he should just stay away from the easy targets and leave that to the school yard and kids who don't know any better.

Sarah Agnew - follow on Twitter @IrishAggers

NB Since going to the show I obvs had to find out what this cover your belly lark was all about.  Check out the Youtube videos to find out.

Rob Auton: The Sky Show - Brighton Fringe review 2014 by Sarah Agnew

Rob Auton: The Sky Show, Company: Rob Auton
Venue: The Burrow at The Warren, Category: Comedy
3, 24, 31 May, 1 June 17:00 £8.50 (£7)

Billed as comedy I was one of the ones he had in tears by the end and not from laughter.

Curious from the very outset, Rob Auton emerged from behind a poster hung across the mock medieval fireplace in The Burrow.  His style of banter, full of pregnant pauses along with disarmingly naive questions created an atmosphere that was open to a new type of show.   
Once the late comers were seated. "Thanks for coming" he said with a Yorkshire accent, before adding "I'm not having a go". He produced one of his props, a newspaper he had created out of the Sun, called the Sky. It had little content, with one picture made up of Andy Murray's shin. This led to an imaginary conversation with his Editor, "Do you remember that mantra I taught you? Shin in".  He introduced us to a new expression, Wood pigeon doing the sex neck and read us some prose poetry, one piece ending with the line, "remember son your sunset doubles as a sunrise".

The comedy was a little hit and miss, and the show felt like a series of fragments tenuously joined together. Then he read his final piece, which was a show changer.  Accompanied by instrumental music he read out a piece he had written about his mission to get to the moon. Collecting together every staircase he had ever walked up to reach the moon, including the odd spiral staircase, he took us on this journey skyward.  He looked up to see the structure he was building and wondered, "I've climbed every one of these steps, I have done it before I can do it again". People offered help and he kept climbing into the morning sky. He admitted that while working in a shop, every minute of which he had wanted to be somewhere else. He was climbing up memories that would never let him fall, these are his words. Different steps came with different memories. "I felt along way away from war and love and family."  The tears rolled down my face, I couldn't believe it, I'd come for comedy and had been moved by the most beautiful piece of prose poetry instead.

Rob Auton is that rare breed of original thinker, catch him this weekend or in the summer for his new show Faces. Whether he makes you laugh or cry, whatever he does it's worth watching. 
Sarah Agnew - follow on Twitter @IrishAggers

Rob Auton, The Sky Show at The Burrow

Rob Auton, The Sky Show at The Burrow
The Yurt Bar, outside The Burrow