Brighton Festival Fringe highlights

One of the joys of festivals is just  hanging around and bumping into stuff you had no idea about – a dance troupe from Plotsk or ambient theatre from somewhere you can’t pronounce let alone say where it is. And while that’s lovely… three of The Whistler’s favourite artists are playing the Festival and we’ve seen them a thousand times, but we’re still very very excited. 

They’ve been around since we were all much younger, but Manchester’s finest
A Certain Ratio (May 6, Chalk) are right now better than they’ve ever been. Jah Wobble’s “Metal Box: Rebuilt in Dub” always seemed an odd idea – it was kinda built in dub in the first place, and while we’re not always a big fan of “revisiting” old classics – they’re classics for a reason – you know this will be interesting. Louder, heavier, dubbier. And anything involving Wobble will always be a treat. Talking of dubbier, there’s Aba Shanti-I with legendary producer Dennis Bovell (May 7, Concorde 2). Also on is Brighton Festival director Nabihah Iqbal, playing from her acclaimed debut album of shimmering electronica Weighing Of The Heart on the always cool Ninja Tune label. Staying with music – well, ish – Linton Kwesi Johnson is reading from his new prose selection, Time Come (May 14, Theatre Royal).

You can’t talk about an arts festival without talking about installations and The Sleeping Tree (May 6, 7, The Dome) sounds perfect. “Enter one of the last great rainforests of North Sumatra and follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and return to their sleeping tree, one of six majestic trees that they have used for generations”. You’re there, aren’t you. The installation changes throughout the day and depending on the activity in the rainforest at the time you go there. Just lovely – and important.

An “unapologetically queer” tale that was first performed in front of Queen Elizabeth 1 more than 400 years ago, Galatea, is “set in a world where gods walk among mortals, two young trans people escape oppression and a shipwrecked migrant searches for his family”. Not sure about the gods walking among the mortals bit – though we do try to keep an open mind – but it doesn’t sound 400 years old. (May 6-21, Adur Recreation Ground, Shoreham).

Thirty years after it was released, Derek Jarman’s last film, Blue, has been given a makeover by director Neil Bartlett, (May 7, Theatre Royal). Blue Now sees Russell Tovey, Travis Alabanza, Joelle Taylor and Jay Bernard delivering Jarman’s words live on stage, accompanied by a new live score by the film’s composer, Simon Fisher Turner.

Daring To Be Frida is a photography and fashion exhibition inspired by the life and work of Frida Kahlo opens on May 1, and will be on at 114 Church St for the rest of May. 

You want a bit of comedy? What’s wrong with comedy? You don’t like comedy etc etc. The Fringe isn’t  the Fringe without a bit of stand-up comedy and In How To Be Jewish Gillian Fischer (pictured) wants to be Jewish. Actually she already is, but somewhere she’s forgotten this. Now she’s a mother…  (May 16-18, Laughing Horse @ The Quadrant) 

And that picture at the top of the page? “Expect a wild and vivid night filled with happy hedonism, fabulous fashion, go-go performers, and non-stop dancing to a banquet of bangers, including pop, disco, house and techno”. You’re there already, aren’t you. Our Roots is a celebration of queer chaos at the Dome (May 27) 

“Think ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ meets David Lynch”. Love it. It’s got Fringe written all over it. Degenerate is “a hellscape stand-up comedy fever dream” that descends into a full frontal face-off with the concept of ageing”. Ageing? No, no idea. None at all. May 31, June 1 The Rotunda Theatre: Squeak. 

For more info:

And for news and Festival podcasts 

Don’t stress about losing weight

When we think about ways to lose weight, often the focus is on calories, macros and portion control. Even though what you eat plays a significant role in your body’s ability to burn fat and maintain a healthy weight, it’s not the only factor. Keeping stress levels in check is crucial if you want to avoid stubborn weight gain.

We’ve been hard-wired to cope with what comes our way, to keep us safe and ensure we could run from tigers, lions or bears. Our modern stresses can be relentless: work deadlines, financial worries, traffic jams, pollution, lack of quality relaxation etc. The lions and tigers might have gone but the stress remains. 

Being chronically stressed means we produce more cortisol – the stress hormone. This plays havoc with our ability to keep blood sugar levels balanced, and slows our metabolic rate and therefore our ability to effectively utilise energy from food.

Stress And Insulin

Cortisol works alongside insulin – the fat storing hormone that keeps fat locked away –  to keep blood sugar levels in check. Lowering insulin is the key to unlocking stored fat. High stress results in higher levels of insulin.

Stress And Hormones

Stress can negatively affect other hormones too, like those responsible for hunger and satiation – ghrelin and leptin respectively. When stressed, our ability to control hunger takes a nosedive, meaning we eat more and get hungrier more often.

Stress And Fat Around The Middle

Fat around the middle is the type of
fat that’s easily accessible in times of stress. Being chronically stressed leads to fat
being stored in this area as a survival mechanism. The problem is the
stress doesn’t stop and the body never
gets the chance to access the stored “emergency fat”.

The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

When we’re stressed blood sugar levels can wildly fluctuate. Cravings kick-in
and we start looking for quick-fixes like sugar, stimulants and alcohol. When we eat this way, we experience sugar highs followed by sugar lows and the cycle continues. Like a real rollercoaster in the fairground, once on it, you can’t get off!

Comfort Eating

When stressed we are more likely to eat, reaching for quick-fixes, and less likely to eat healthy foods because we start relying on food as an emotional crutch. The more quick-fix foods we eat, the more dysregulated our blood sugar levels become, and we end up a slave to our biochemistry, experiencing the highs and lows of the blood sugar rollercoaster, craving more quick-fix unhealthy foods and staying stuck in fat storing mode as insulin levels soar.

Getting Unstuck

Your body is either in fight or flight mode or rest and digest mode. It cannot be in both at the same time. Most of us are stuck in fight or flight mode, which affects our delicate hormonal balance. 

When you lower stress and switch to the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, you also help your blood sugar levels come into balance. When that happens, insulin drops, the body’s fat stores get unlocked and hunger decreases. The body can then access the stored fat and use it as fuel. Increasing self-care practices and lowering stress are crucial if you want to lose weight. 

Make The Switch

When you breathe deeply it immediately switches your nervous system over to the rest and digest mode (parasympathetic), bringing your body out of stress response. This is where all the magic happens in your body for healing, rejuvenation and fat burning. Find moments in your day as often as possible to breathe deeply, such as whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, whilst on the loo, driving or washing up. 

It’s All In The Balance

As you can see, maintaining a healthy weight is less to do with ‘calories in, calories out’, and more to do with hormonals and the role stress plays in the bigger picture. It’s all about a delicate balance. Making time for relaxing selfcare practices like Epsom salt baths, yoga and meditation, as well as enjoying fun and laughter, will help you feel less stressed, whilst creating a lovely bedtime routine will pay dividends for your waistline. Lack of quality sleep has been proven to increase cortisol output and play havoc with blood sugar regulation the following day. 

Get The Support You Need

Reaching out to a health professional to address your own stress and to find out what your body personally needs, is a great step in feeling supported, motivated and accountable on your health journey. A nutritional therapist can help you with lifestyle and stress-relieving practices alongside deep nutrition for your body, so that you can find your balance.

Jo Rowkins, Nutritional Therapist & Lifestyle Coach at Awakening Health.

Matt Whistler talks Dotty’s Ditties

“I’ve got an exhibition coming up in a coffee record coffee shop just round the corner, dressed as Sir Dot A lot. 

I will be reciting Dotty Ditties, with coffee froth on the end of my nose. Recently I exhibited at the Brighton and Hove Engineerium housed in the Goldstone pump station. The big art extravaganza was to celebrate International Happiness Day and to launch a new well being centre. 

“The Professor of Happiness was there. I had a thoroughly miserable experience. Only jesting, it was clowntastic. In-between art shows I head to Montpelier Crescent, to backspin a hula hoop, to then run alongside with the challenge of diving through the hoop without touching it. 

“My latest two creations are Fender BOT, a Dotty mannequin with a silver fender guitar for a head. Fender Bot can be seen in Brighton’s new Bits On Wall Gallery at 50 Grand Parade. Then there’s Sozzled Bot, which is an upturned Star Wars at Walker, on a Dotty canvass with a gilded frame painted in a metallic blue. Exhibiting destination as yet unknown. 

“I’ve been going to launderettes to do book signings of second hand books, with my Dotty art on the front, this is the best way to not ever have to write a book. My wearable Dotty art is going to be featured at Brighton’s funky retail outlet Popstacular among 20 other great fashion designers. Madonna will be present”. 

Dotty continued to tell me about his DottyVerse and all the other incarnations he has created over the years, some of which include Jah Scooterman, AKA Whistles, Totally Absurd Man, Ro-Bot and Kaptin Avatar. 

Artist Dotty looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and the most incredible realisation hit me, that I have been interviewing a modern day version of Charlie Chaplin, minus the kid, the dogs, the funny walk, the stick, jacket and hat. I genuinely thought during that one moment of eye contact, that Artist Dotty is one of the clown greats, but not in the poodle balloon sense, more in a art imitating life sense. I suddenly realised how utterly honoured I have been to follow Artist Dotty’s steps over the last few months and that Dotty has phenomenal potential to become a rising star and bag the Netflix series prior to death. 

What I like about Dotty, is his ability to tell you about his art capers and yet be a humble modest guy with total humility. You can tell he’s just about able to discuss his achievements with confidence and isn’t one of those all-singing all-dancing stars and flagrant self publicists who perpetually bangs his own drum.

I wandered over to Artist Dotty and offered to buy him a crate of Prosecco and a jar of expensive Olives, with a free packet of pretzels. He gladly accepted, mounted the Prosecco on his electric scooter then sped over the middle of 7 Dials roundabout. 

What a great guy I thought. He really is an incredible dude. He’s got razzmatazz. I almost felt my kitchen needed an Artist Dotty calendar. I watched him slowly disappear down Montpelier Rd and was just about to head off when he took a u-turn and began to head back towards me. With a rattling crate of Prosecco tied to the foot stand, Dotty once again scootered straight over the middle of the roundabout, to finally stop outside the Small Batch coffee shop. He pulled up his vizor and slowly turned to look at me. What was Dotty going to say, could this be a scoop for a Dotty story ? 

I could barely contain my excitement. In a loud Northern Burnley excitement, Dotty said. 

“You did pay for the coffee didn’t you?” 

Dotty sped off down a different road and I was left thinking. What a guy. 

Matthew Marke’s West Hill Cautionary Tales – February 2023

Leah knew, before she had been in Brighton three months, that they meant to murder her.

With the pandemic and the introduction of working from home, the door to her office job in London had been thrown open and she had bolted south. For years she had dreamed of living in Brighton and kept a lazy eye on house prices. So when she was unchained from her desk, she ran.

She had found and bought a house quickly and moved in the first release from lockdown. Wandering her new neighbourhood, still marvelling at the diversity of shops and small bespoke businesses, she had one day bumped into Rose coming out of a grocer that sold the most wonderful bread. Leah had been in two minds whether to enter the shop next door but seeing this woman struggling with her shopping, she decided to leave it for another time and offered to help her.

‘May I?’ she had asked.

‘Darling, that’s so kind.’

On their way back up the hill, Rose had invited Leah for a drink in the pub. 

And that was that.

The two neighbours – Rose lived around the corner from Leah in Alexandra Villas – had become fast friends. Within days Leah felt as if Rose were a familiar. Within weeks Leah found it almost eerie how quickly and intensely they had become so close. 

Within months, Leah would be dead.


ose Hill lived a full life and also had her husband Fredrick, but she had made space for her new bestie. They met for drinks in each other’s homes, did yoga classes together and visited gardens in Sussex. It was as if they had known one another since primary school.

The garden of Leah’s ground floor flat on Albert Road, if it could really be called a garden, was small and paved with red brick and overlooked on all sides. There was one thin raised bed with a couple of dying ferns and a few plants in pots, one of which Rose had given her as a housewarming gift.

Rose’s garden seemed regal by contrast. Apart from a large ugly water tank in the corner, it was competition standard. It was so bursting with life and beauty that Leah had been taken aback the first time she’d seen it. The only plants, unsurprisingly, were roses. A show stopping array of colours, sizes and shapes, and indeed Rose had won prizes for them. 

‘How do you do it?’ Leah had asked.

‘Fish, blood and bone fertiliser is the secret,’ Rose had replied. ‘But it’s Fredrick’s doing really.’

Fredrick was a strange man and the only thing that gave Leah any pause in her friendship with Rose. He was nice enough – amiable, but a little reserved; and a foodie, – he had been a pioneer of locally sourced ingredients. He ran a shop in the North Laine, selling artisanal sausages and pork pies, for which he too had won prizes. What was odd about him, she couldn’t quite put her finger on. But it was unimportant. She was Rose’s friend, not his.

Rose was large, had short spikey hair and used a quantity of makeup that on anyone else would have looked gaudy. She wore long flowing dresses with big pockets that she dug her fists into. She would gesticulate from them, seeming as if she was trying to break out of bondage.


he moment Leah had understood what they were doing, what they intended for her, came just after she saw a drip from the water tank. They were in the garden one mild February afternoon, enjoying Negroni Sbagliatos.

Fredrick had come out with a wrench to fix the tank. He was telling Leah how he had rigged it up to not only catch the rainwater, but for the water to mix with his own secret recipe fertiliser and then irrigate the roses automatically.

‘That’s clever,’ Leah had offered, knowing that some sort of admiring response was required. ‘Rose said that you use fish, blood and bone. My father used to use the same stuff.’

‘I doubt that,’ he had replied, struggling with the tap. ‘And Rose wasn’t being entirely truthful. I don’t use fish.’

At that moment, the wrench slipped, and the tap came clean away. A foul, coagulated stream began to glug thick clots from the hole. Its colour, dark and evil was unlike any Leah had seen before. An appalling stench filled the air. 

Leah put her elbow over her nose and mouth and turned away. A clunk and a hollow gurgle from the tank made her turn back. A long white stick the length of her forearm protruded from the hole, stemming the discharge. A mucilaginous gob seeped out, dripped onto the grass and pooled in a vile little puddle. She stared at the stick. Then, realising what it actually was, she vomited on the grass.

Wiping her mouth, she looked up at Fredrick in horror. 

He grinned in return. 

She turned to Rose who smiled sweetly, before sighing and looking away. 

Frederick moved towards Leah with the wrench.

Moral – enter the shop next door.

Matthew Marke’s West Hill Cautionary Tales – April 2023

The doorbell sounds at the front of the house. 

I am ready. 

My heart is beating loud and I wonder if they will notice when they come in. 

Down the hall, I hear my mother come out of the kitchen, closing the door on my father. She always shuts it after herself. I can taste the silence in the kitchen. It is bitter and has the flavour of a squashed slug. 

I hear her open the front door and exclaim a too loud hello. There is a muffled silence for a moment and then I hear them coming towards the room where I am waiting. Ready.

Just as they are reaching the door, I see the key on the drinks table. I have forgotten to put it back. If my mummy sees it, she might wonder. Then she might ask daddy. And he would definitely check. And then my plan would be ruined.

I’m about to spring for it, but the door handle turns and it’s too late. Mummy comes in followed by my piano teacher. My stomach turns. The way it always does when I see him. My head goes funny too. It’s like it’s full of cotton wool and won’t let anything in. No music can live there. 

Mummy can’t understand why I am not learning. I’ve begged her. Not him. A different teacher. Anyone but him. But she won’t change.

It’s useless and I know why. And that is the reason the key is sitting on the table.

Mummy forces me to say hello as usual and I do. But I don’t want to. I don’t want anything to do with this man. I want to disappear but I can’t. I have a job to do. For mummy and daddy.

Mr Price says something and mummy laughs in that way that she does when he is around. I don’t see her laugh like that with anyone else. And that, more than anything, is why I know what they do. And now what I must do.

Colour comes into my mummy’s face. She is shining, like the petals of her roses. Reds, yellows, white. She looks like a sunset. She is so beautiful. Then I see myself in her face, my nose, my eyes. It makes me happy and sad at the same time and then it just makes me angry and I clench my fist and I want her to be gone. I want her out of this room. To go back to daddy in the kitchen. Get out. 

Get out. Get out. GET OUT.

But she doesn’t. She is still here. Smiling and laughing. At the stupid jokes he is making and thanking him for his compliments about me and my playing. Which is a lie and all of us know it. Me, my mother and the stupid, ugly, horrid man.

I want to scream. But I don’t. I clench my fists harder and wait. I am staring at the key on the table now as if it is a friend. And I know that they will not notice. 

My concentration on the key does it. Finally she is leaving. She is at the door and then through it, closing it. It makes only the tiniest click but it cracks like a gunshot in my head and I remember the first time I heard it. But now I smile. I know it will be the last time I hear it.

‘Well, shall we start?’ he says, his voice making that horrible gargling, gurgling, phlegmy sound. 

I am breathing fast, nearly panting. I hear my heart pounding inside my chest again but the cotton wool is gone. My heart is in my head now. 

Babam. Babam. Babam. Can you hear it? I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

I hear someone, a child, say ‘wait’. It takes me until I am halfway across the room before I realise that it is my voice. He is saying something behind me, but I can’t make it out. Everything is too loud. The ticking of the ancient grandfather clock is like a giant scythe clearing a path. I reach it as if it is an old friend waiting for my return. I pick up the shotgun that leans against it. It is heavy. I turn and point the barrels at him. The safety is off. I know I should never leave a gun like that. But this is special. And I’ll never do it again. Never have to.

His face is a picture when he sees what I am doing. I smile. Maybe the smile he and mummy are always asking for.

I watch as his yellow teeth, his thin pale lips, his blotchy red nose suddenly disappear and rearrange themselves across the bookcase behind him. I don’t even hear the bang. 

I sit down to practice my scales.

Awards Time – The Whistles

It’s awards time in Brighton and Hove with Brighton’s Best crowning Bincho Yakatori, Palmito and Burnt Orange as the top three places to eat. 

Meanwhile, Flint House received a Bib Gourmand and the Bravos will announce its kings and queens on April 4th. But what about The Whistles? The what? Well, there’s little more discerning taste buds in Brighton and Hove than those who can pucker up like you lot, and so we tried it out. We called for your top three, and you responded.

 ‘Oooo!’ says Toby Moore. ‘1. Flint House; 2. Mange tout; 3. Fatto Mano.’

Lou Gasparelli, who’s got a bit of a rep in Whistler Towers for spotting a good ‘un, says:

‘Bincho, Burnt Orange, Chilli Pickle’ as her top three. But wait, she has more! ‘And for pizza, Pronto In Tavola & Nanninellas. But I also love Fourth and Church when I’ve got a bit of extra cash.

I really enjoyed Roundhill restaurant (vegan). And for cheapest eats… ‘You can’t go wrong with Pompoko and Goemen Ramen’. 

Alison Vernon-Smith still loves 64 Degrees but ‘for wedding anniversaries only! At the other end of the scale – the Helm Ston Cafe. Stupid name and tiny place, but fab food’.  

Tim Mortimer is serious about his food: ‘The chart hasn’t changed pop-pickers….. Market; Flint House; Plateau (despite eye-watering wine prices)’

Rheanna Davidge-Huxley says ‘Curry leaf cafe for affordable, but super delicious curry. Also if you go a lunchtime you can get thali and dosa’. 

Sara Furse is all over Curry Leaf too, but votes it third after Unithai and Milk, No Sugar. 

But there are clear winners emerging:  Jenny Atherton says ‘Burnt Orange. Palmito. Riddles’.  Amanda Murphy says ‘Burnt Orange, Plateau, Urchin. But then there’s ‘Riddle & Finn, Flint House, Market, Chilli Pickle’.  

Cut Ceri Barnes and she bleeds Flint House. Guess what she says: ‘Flint House; Chilli Pickle; Woolfies.’ Hang on! Is that true, our Ceri?  ‘I nearly said Flint House Flint House Flint House’. (Ed: I’m with Ceri. Can’t beat Flint House. Top notch food and a very fine way with a Negroni)

Jacqui Loton is down at Little Fish Market ‘always’ but adds ‘Bincho, Palmito, Fourth and Church, Wild Flor…Bonsai if you want to go vegan’.  ‘Oooh so hard,’ says Kathy Caton. ‘It depends on the mood – Palmito, Bincho Yakitori … and I still adore the original Gingerman too.’ 

Liz Aggiss never follows the pack: ‘Vel in Kemp Town, Cin Cin Hove, Bankers’ while Karen Rose is backing the clear winners. ‘Bincho, Fourth & Church, Market.’

So… (drumroll)..

The results of the inaugural Whistles are … 

In third place: Riddle and Finn, Plateau and the Chilli Pickle

In second place: Market, Fourth and Church, Burnt Orange and Palmito.

And the loudest Whistles go to… Bincho Yakitori and Flint House.

Gull About Town – April 2023

There’s been so much food news in town recently, it could turn a bird’s head. There’s the latest wins from Gull favourites Bincho Yakitori, Palmito and Burnt Orange scooping the top three at the Brighton’s Best Awards,  and new collaborations all over town. Isaac at Isaac at has teamed up with former head chef at Terre a Terre, Dave Marrow at Embers on Meeting House Lane. Just up the road, the super talented Aaron Dalton who’s been turning his own house into Four Restaurant, has been lending a hand at Furna. And Dan Kenny at The Set has brought Bangkok to Brighton at Kab, without compromising his signature commitment to home grown ingredients.  Even his wasabi comes from Hampshire and Dorset.

For more titbits, the Gull will be cocking her head to listen in to the Brighton Whistler podcast chats with Duncan Ray at The Little Fish Market and Maddy Riches at Dilsk, the new restaurant at Drakes. Beady eyed foodies will have spotted Maddy as front of house manager at Murmur, and with former 64 degrees chef, Tom Stephens, she’ll be sourcing from ethical growers & local producers, in and around East Sussex. A big whistle to them for supporting our free roaming pals across the county. 

And as the weather brightens, your gull has been stretching her wings and heading for the hills to check in on her pasture-fed friends and find the best morcels out of town. The Ram in the unspeakably picture-book pretty village  of Firle is almost on the seagull flight path from the to Seven Sisters, and a popular spot for holidaying birds. Its courtyard dining space is a particular favourite for a weekend lunch of lamb or beef from Place Farm who once grazed in the grounds of next door’s Firle Place. The game on the menu all comes from Firle Estate and most of its fish is from the mighty fine Brighton and Newhaven Fish in Shoreham. 

Next, it’s a straight thermal to The Crabtree in West Sussex, as the crow flies, anyway, with a quick dive into a memory in Prince Albert Street. Great Uncle Gull still tells stories of the hippy birds who perched around Brighton’s trailblazing vegetarian, Food for Friends back in the nineties. Word had reached them that Simon Hope from the properly pioneering Food For Thought in Covent Garden was bringing some of its spirit to Brighton, and cool-hunters that they were, they hung around the bins to catch the first wave. And they were right; as vegetarians swooped in, it wasn’t long before two of its chefs, Amanda Powley and Philip Taylor would cross the road and set up their own groovy veggie, Terre a Terre and crown this fine city (then town) the best vegetarian in the UK.  

Twenty years on, what should your bird spot, but Simon Hope himself, now lord of The Crabtree near Bolney, tucking into what looks rather than a steak. But relax; this is from Trenchmore Farm where Brighton’s best restaurateurs do their shopping, where the cows are pasture fed and get to snack on the mulch of the apple leftovers from its Silly Moo cider and sleep on straw from home-grown wheat. Vegetarians may prefer the goats cheese with Piccalilli, but your Gull spotted a rather juicy leftover tempura oyster to suck on as she caught the evening thermal back to Brighton. And as the sun set over the West Pier, not for the first time she pondered of what a very lucky Gull she is too.

Editorial – April 2023

Do you know where the chicken’s from?” asked The Whistler’s food editor as we swung at the table at one of Brighton’s latest eateries. I’m used to this: it’s one of The Whistler’s food editor’s favourite questions. 

“I’ve never been asked that before” said the waiter. It’s what they always say. “I’ll go and check. Any drinks in the meantime?”

A few minutes later, he came back, all tray and gin’n’tonic. “I asked in the kitchen and the chicken’s from Poland”. 

Which seemed odd. Why would you buy your chicken from Poland? What’s wrong with British chicken? Did we fight The Brexit Wars for nothing?

The Whistler’s food editor looked at me and mentioned something about industrialisation and factories and broken legs – our waiter appeared not to hear that – and we ordered the aubergine. 

We were going to talk about The Whistles, our new awards. We’ve been planning this for a while. I can’t tell you how many cups of coffee and digestives have gone into this. We’ve done role plays, dress rehearsals, all sorts. And now’s the time. People read magazines like this to get a bit of a steer, a guide, knowing what to do and where to go, what’s hot, what’s not… all that. And so it seemed the right thing to do to celebrate the good, to recognise the best. Thinking next year we might have a bit of a do, have awards made. The full red carpet. 

So what are we looking for? What do you want when you go out to eat? Well, good food, obvs. But it’s more than that. You want heart and soul, imagination and verve, the beating pulse of passion. You also want somewhere that does things the right way, somewhere that puts welfare above profit, somewhere that knows animal welfare is paramount because eating an animal is hard enough – and don’t get The Whistler’s food editor on that subject. Before you can say “Another vodka please” you’ll be knee deep in a discussion on soil health, poo and hooves tramping the land – but how can you eat something you know who’s been tortured its truncated life? Just to save a few quid. 

But, you know, maybe I’m just a cynical old Hector. Maybe Poland is the luxury holiday resort du jour for chickens. Maybe if we spoke chicken we’d hear conversations like “Where are you going this year? Mauritius again?”

“No, I’ve stopped flying. It’s terrible for the environment, Plus, they bred my wings out generations ago. This year I’m going to Poland. Hetty went last year and apparently it’s just lovely”. Maybe that’s what they would say. And maybe let’s not ask Hetty. Anyway. Here’s a picture of Pickle because that’s all a bit grim. 

Check out page XX to see where readers of your Mighty Whistler rate the hottest of the hot. And next year, put a few quid on Bonsai Plant Kitchen. It’s not insider trading. It’s just… crystal ball time. 

Nicholas Lezard – April-May 2023

I write this at four o’clock; and I would like to go to Belchers for double egg and chips; but Belchers is shut. But thank goodness, it opens tomorrow; it just shut6s at two. Yet its survival is something of an anomaly; thank God it is still here.

As a Brighton resident, I get quite a few targeted ads to do with the place; as I imagine you do, too. The best one was for a tatty phone repair shop with branches in Kemptown and Preston Street; one of the comments beneath the ad was from a highly disappointed customer, which somehow added to the charm.

But the worst ad was the other day, and it was for “the twenty best restaurants in Brighton”. I scrolled through the list. The usual suspects: Riddler and Finns, the Salt Whatever It Is, you know the thing. Every photo was of a plate upon which lurked, shamefully, in portions so minuscule they were almost invisible, some confection of leaves and jus which you just knew that they cost, at a bare minimum, the thick end of twenty quid.

Now the best restaurant in Brighton is, as everybody knows, the Regency, which charges you about a half as much for its oysters as R & F. Why? They’re the same oysters. Its whitebait is a triumph. But there are times when you don’t want whitebait, however well-cooked; you want double egg and chips with a mug of dark brown tea, red and brown sauce bottles on the table. (Brown for me, thanks.) You also want it in a cafe that has been unchanged for decades; the kind of place that would not have looked out of place in an episode of, say, The Sweeney. Not that there is an undercurrent of violence in Belchers; indeed, the atmosphere inside is hushed, reverent, as people eat their all-day breakfasts and sip their tea. Right now, as I write, it is raining; I know that were it open, its windows, in its dining space the size of a small living room, would be slightly steamed up. (Ed: I’ve got to take you to Mac’s Cafe over Kemptown way. So old school there are Granadas and Capris parked – well, stopped – outside).

Belchers is now in its fifth decade, as is its proprietor and head chef, Jane. (Not that she looks it.) I don’t go there as often as I would like; in common with many these days, I have to watch the pennies. That said, six quid and change for a cup of tea and the double egg and chips is really not a bad deal.

It is, admittedly, a bit of a shlepp from West Hill; there was a decent cafe on Dyke Road but its food is now abominable. Beetroot has been involved. But Belchers is the true, the echt, the unimprovable. There’s a phrase used in the Michelin Guide, in which Belchers will never feature, for restaurants which are worth making an effort to go to: vaut le détour. Belchers falls very much into that category. 

Partying the daylight hours?

A couple of weeks ago Jamie Lee Curtis, on the Oscars red carpet, explained that she had declined an Oscars nominees dinner party the night before. I can’t imagine anything worse that having to dine with a room full of competitors, all eyeing each other and pretending to be sporting. But Curtis declined for another reason. She doesn’t fancy going out in the evenings anymore. 

Oh man, I cheered when I heard that. YES queen. She was like, it’s a 7.30pm start, which means we don’t get food til 9pm, and “you know what, there’s nothing good happening with me after nine o’clock.” She’s calling for daytime concerts and all sorts, and I am here for this.

This weekend I managed to socialise. You know, leave the house and see friends. Hurrah for me. I went to a 50th. I saw a friend’s band at the pub. I went out for a roast. And I went to a posh networking lunch. I managed all this because they were in the day. This is genuinely the most socialising I’ve done in a week since lockdown. 

As someone who has more than earned her ‘party girl’ stripes, as I’ve matured I’ve discovered the joy that is daytime partying. I’ve always preferred lunching to dining, but I’ve ramped this up a notch, and actively avoid going out in the evenings. It has to be a big deal for me to leave my nest. 

I have an advantage in that my time is my own. But the absolute heaven of daytime socialising, drinking wine and eating food, seeing live music and being home in time for tea. To guzzle enough water to wake up fresh. To be in bed by 9pm and still have had a blinding time out and about. 

A few years ago I threw a Christmas party, which kicked off at 11am. I’d had in mind people coming for a few sherries and out 3pm. We literally had to kick the last bastards out at midnight. I think that’s the longest session I’ve done for years.

Long gone are the days I’d leave my house at 10pm on a Friday for a party and get home on Sunday night with a hazy brain and filthy shoes. A couple of hours of fun, home by 8pm, and I’m a very happy bunny.

Curtis’s comments went viral, and it seems she and I are not alone. People want to party in the daytime. Whether they’re older, sober, have young kids, whatever. She called for bands to play concerts in the daytime (Coldplay, looking at you). This is one of the reasons I like festivals – you get to see bands playing all through the day. I love the Sunday headline acts for the sheer pleasure of it being in the day.

Is this a post-lockdown thing? Have we all developed a desire to hunker down in the evenings and relax? I had thought I was just getting older and slowing down. That too is true – I don’t smash into my weekends now with a bottle of vodka and a pocket full of anything except poo bags these days. I’m 53 and the amount of drugs I’d need to get through a weekend bender would probably kill me these days. But the social media outpouring in support of Curtis’s remarks would suggest this is not just an age thing.

So let’s do this. Let’s have raves and lunches and parties and live music and let’s do it all in the afternoon! Who’s with me?

Sam Harrington-Lowe on life as an upbeat lunatic

This article was originally going to be about positive ageing. A rage against the purported dimming of the light, if you will. But actually, I’m going to write about being diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 51.

I was recently on the phone to a fella, I won’t say who, and we were talking about this. And he made some crack about it being the latest trend. And good lord weren’t there loads of women doing this now at our age, isn’t it fashionable ha ha. 

If he’d been in front of me, I might have been tempted to punch him across the room, but obviously only in my head because ABH etc. Also I’m working on my impulsiveness, now I know that I can be impulsive. 

But as I found myself patiently explaining – again – why having ADHD, or in fact any kind of neurodiversity really isn’t a trend, nor is it usually ‘fun’ or even funny (well, maybe sometimes funny), and not something you’d want to make up having, I did feel weary. A weariness that women everywhere will recognise anyway, and I expect all late-diagnosis ND people too.

‘But you seem so normal’, he continues, unabashed. I sigh. ‘Yes,’ I say. ‘And that’s taken half a century of exhausting acting.’ But I’m not ‘normal’, whatever the hell that even is. I’ve always known I was different, and always had to work hard to fit in. The reason for women being diagnosed later in life are so many and myriad I haven’t got room here. Let’s just say they slipped through the net.

Fortunately, the relief of being diagnosed more than compensates for (repeatedly) having to have idiotic conversations like this. Finding out that there was a good reason for being weird was such an emotional phenomenon, I’m not even sure I can put it into words.

Before diagnosis my day would be filled with trying to do too many things at once. Starting things and not finishing them. Working out how to do something and then not doing it because hey, now I’ve worked it out it’s boring. It was fighting executive dysfunction – I’d have a ten-minute job to do that was holding EVERYTHING ELSE up and not be able to do it. Just absolutely stuck, sometimes for weeks. By 11am I would be exhausted, unable to form clear thoughts. I was filled with panic, so I’d curl up on the sofa and hide from everything. I couldn’t talk to people. I could barely respond to text.

It was an inability to sit still, or concentrate on anything for more than about 10 minutes. It was a constant search for distraction which then led to a cluttered mind. It was being unable to decide what to wear every day, so mostly living in the same type of clothes 24/7. Offending people by blurting things out that were best left unsaid. It’s having hyperfixations and listening to the same tune or watching the same programme over, and over, and over again. It’s an inability to cope with noise and light, and an actual fear of supermarkets and the overwhelm.

There are masses more, but let’s do some positives, because there are some, and I try to be an upbeat sort of lunatic. When I’m under pressure, back-to-the-wall deadlines etc, I can turn out extraordinary things (although the crash afterwards is like the worst drug comedown ever). I’m able to paint, sing, play the piano, write, memorise whole pages of text, pass exams without actually going to any classes, run a business. I can see music; I have synaesthesia which is pretty cool. Music is coloured. I love that.

But it took almost a full-blown breakdown to get diagnosed and treated, because I’m also awful at asking for help. I’m fortunate – I’ve got a lovely GP (who I suspect is also ND), who was 100% in my corner. When I tentatively approached her with the possibility, feeling like I was being some kind of show-off for pretending I was special because yay imposter syndrome, and she took me seriously, I wept. I wept for weeks actually, as I went through the process, and ultimately had a psychiatrist diagnose me and prescribe me medication. I finally had an answer for all the things I did that made me feel such a failure. And a way to fix it.

Every school report I ever had said the same thing – Samantha would do well if she could concentrate for any length of time. Samantha is disruptive, Samantha only has herself to blame for this poor report… well finally Samantha understands why, and Samantha is getting on with shit. 

#LifeBeginsAt50Sam is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Silver Magazine – for the mature maverick

Keep our beaches clean

The Deans Beach and Environment Volunteers organise Saltdean beach clean this April. Nadia Abbas reports

Everyone loves the beach. Whether you’re an all-weather swimmer, someone who likes the promenade or maybe just an occasional visitor, everyone loves the beach.

In the summer our beaches are a bustling haven of activity with surfers, swimmers, and families filling up the seafront. But many of these people are unaware of the amount of rubbish that is left on the beaches. This waste is damaging to marine wildlife and human life, as plastic waste trickles into the food chain over time. One way to tackle this growing problem is to organise beach clean events, which is what The Deans Beach and Environment Volunteers group are doing.

The Deans Beach and Environment Volunteers are a group of volunteers. They raise awareness about ocean litter, and they remove rubbish that has been left on Brighton’s beaches. This organisation has been active for over ten years. They have organised a beach clean event on the 2nd of April 2023 at Saltdean beach. It starts at 11am and ends at 12:30pm. This event is open to the public and people will be provided with equipment, such as gloves and litter pickers. People can also bring their own equipment. 

Rona Hunnisett, Deans Beach and Environment volunteer, said: “We regularly have more than one hundred people turning up and helping, which is amazing.” Once the litter has been collected, this organisation sorts through it and recycles as much as possible. “We weigh it because we then send the information, we’ve got back to the Environment Agency to say to them, this is the type of stuff we are seeing.”

Some of the waste that is found on the beaches is not recyclable, such as crisp packets and different plastics. These will remain on the beach for many years, and they will be ground down into microplastics. These microplastics end up in the food chain, as they are eaten by the fish and humans will eat the fish. “The oldest thing I’ve seen was a crisp packet which we dated back to 1984, I remember it from when I was a kid. They don’t break down,” said Rona. Other items that this group finds on the beaches includes clothing, fishing boat trays, glass cans, and food wrappers. “Last month we found the most enormous plastic tank, it took three of us to lift it off the beach.”

This volunteer group works with the Marine Conservation Society, who highlight the work of different beach cleaning groups. This group are also participating in the Great British Spring Clean campaign. This is the nation’s biggest environmental campaign, by independent charity Keep Britain Tidy. “We have committed to ten huge bags of rubbish that we are going to take away.”

To find out more, visit

“Do you like scary movies?” Time to Scream…

Every horror fan recognises this line as one of the most iconic moments of 90s cinema when spoken by Ghostface in Wes Craven’s 1996 film Scream.

I’m a massive fan of this franchise and grew up watching the films any opportunity I could. Halloween? Scream marathon. New year? Scream marathon. Procrastinating work? Scream marathon. And with the reboot of the series with 2022’s reboot Scream and the highly anticipated Scream VI, I have yet another film to add to the list.

In anticipation of the newest instalment to the franchise, Scream VI releasing worldwide on March 10th, ODEON Brighton is hosting a one-night-only double feature of 2022’s Scream followed by Scream VI two whole days before the international premiere on Wednesday, March 8th at 6pm.

If you are a fan of 90s slasher films, metacommentary horror, murder mystery films, or just some good ol’ fashioned blood and gore this four hour double feature is an absolute must-see.

Tickets are available now via ODEON’s online booking platform.

By Tallulah Gray

Brighton Festival – What Not To Miss – Tallulah Gray’s Choice

To be able to stop what you’re doing, just fora moment, and let yourself be transported into another world is a little luxury we can all enjoy”. Nabihah Iqbal, Guest Director

Brighton Festival has officially launched and it’s jam packed with shows you won’t want to miss. From interactive art exhibits to dance, to multicultural, mixed media music performances the almost 80 page brochure has a lot to offer. This is our list of absolute must-see shows.

Galatea as adapted by Emma Frankland is described by Iqbal as the “centerpiece of the festival” in many ways. A modern adaptation of the classic John Lyly text from which many famous Shakespearean plays were adapted, Galatea centers around two young trans people finding love whilst escaping oppression.

Suroor to be presented by Iqbal herself with support from Qazi & Qazi in partnership with the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts is a “shape-shifting, experimental collaboration” that combines music influenced by heritage and society with aspects of, as Iqbal put it, “droney, doom metal”

The Sleeping Tree is an audio immersive experience coming from Invisible Flock studios that surrounds participants with the noises of the jungle that were recorded over a 3-month long stint in the great rainforests of North Sumatra. Guest Director Nabihah Iqbal is also collaborating with this exhibit to create a one-of-a-kind sound performance using extracts from the rainforest recordings and original texts to connect humans and the forest ecosystem.

The Enthusiasts is Victoria Melody’s latest passion project about the passions of others. The Enthusiasts invites onlookers into the extraordinary communities of “pigeon fanciers” and funeral directors by creating two intimate auditory experiences taking place at two secret locations across Brighton.

Kizlar is the world premiere of Ceyda Tanc Dance’s celebration of what it means to be a woman through dances interpreted from traditional male Turkish dancers and an all-female company.

Bakkhai follows a reimagining of the ancient Greek tragedy reframed in a contemporary anti-corporatization context. Performed by the incredible talents of ThirdSpace (formerly Windmill Young Actors) Bakkhai features a cast of over fifty people, aged 8-60 and is in collaboration with Ceyda Tanc Dance and Brighton People’s Theatre.

This barely scratches the surface of the 120 events that are set to take place during the course of the Festival and I’m eager to see the city transform into the hub of arts and culture it so passionately supports during this time.


Got to say, very excited – and I mean very – that A Certain Ratio are playing. I can’t begin to think how many times I’ve seen them since – I think – ’79 in Manchester and each time they’ve got better and better. Can’t wait.

Local gull and bird group face a new rescue season but need new volunteers

Local groups of dedicated bird lovers last year went beyond breaking point as they worked around the clock to help injured and orphaned birds following the closures of wildlife sites in the wake of the Avian Flu crisis. This year looks set to be different. 

The outbreak of Avian Flu that swept through East and West Sussex earlier in May last year left hundreds of adult birds dead or dying, with their healthy offspring left abandoned

Volunteers stepped into rescue reported injured or distressed birds, including pigeons that were not affected by the epidemic and were put into strict quarantine measures. Once out they were sent into rehab centres in and out of Sussex and later released, living happy healthy lives.

Justin King who runs the East Sussex Rescue Group and Nerys Deutsch the West Sussex side called The South Coast & Sussex Bird/Gull Volunteer Network (jokingly known as The Chicklet Crew) were among others called out day and night to help with rescues and rehabilitation of injured or malnourished birds.

He said “Looking back, I don’t know how anyone managed as well as they did. It was well known that volunteers were left to deal with the situation last year and it definitely left scars. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, so myself and Nerys drew up strict measures as outlined to us by one sanctuary who specialises in gulls. Once Avian Flu had been confirmed last April, we went into overdrive to make special arrangements. Within two weeks we had on board a publicist to highlight the help we needed, brought in fosterers who worked closely with us to turn their homes into isolation areas, plus new rescuers came in to help get casualties back onto rooftop nests during baby season. Many coped extremely well, but others found it too much and left. It became massively tense and stressful. Luckily, we’ve had the winter to recover which is critical for any volunteer to avoid burnout.

“I know too well how all-consuming it was for everyone” said Justin. “To top it, misinformation and internet hysteria contributed to the stress, but that’s Facebook for you. Too many know-it-alls, not enough truth”.

Much like Covid, Avian Flu has died down, but only a little. It has spread to other waterfowl and still remains rife in many areas of the UK and beyond.

“Last year took us by surprise. But this year we are taking no chances and plans are underway to make sure everyone knows the quarantine and sanitising regulations (just in case) before handling each casualty. We now know that at least three wildlife sites in Sussex are expanding upon their isolation units, one of which was partially funded by our fundraiser which we are continuing to do. Our fundraiser and supporters kept us going and it has also allowed us to set up a fully functional aviary, which opens up for the first time in Worthing this spring. Plus we helped in a small way to finance other volunteer groups and Rehab sites up and down the UK where there is so little available in the way of help. Its been gut wrenching all round, but we just continued” said Justin.

“We will know in the next month or so where we stand with Avian Flu. Should it return we hope to be prepared. If it doesn’t return to affect gulls, quarantine measures will still be needed. All it will take is one case to put an entire wildlife site into jeopardy. We won’t allow that. The feedback of last year from the sites who worked with us is that our measures were 100% effective. That’s a percentage that made the job worth it, even if it did make us unpopular with our over-zealous measures! Dialogue has opened up with some wildlife sites so we hope for a better year.”

But what we need this season are back up plans… just to be safe 

The group desperately needs more drivers and rescuers to help oversee each rescue. Those who can go out to either injured or abandoned casualties they spot online. Any offers of more outdoor spaces, ideally an aviary to house healthy quarantined young abandoned chicks until fit for release or transfer to wildlife sites in the local area. However, many elements of rescuing is not something that can be done on your own initiative. Not in the beginning. Every case is specific so working as part of an established team of knowledgeable staff is key. Teamwork is essential. If all you can do is get a towel over a casualty to put in a crate, this alone will save us a job. 

“Right now, we’re in a cost of living crisis. Even volunteers have to work, so expecting someone to go out at a moment’s notice is not going to happen. Get a casualty safe, inside and behind closed doors, then contact us. We have plenty of carriers so just ask” said Justin.

“We’re funded by the public so if all you can do is donate, anything even in the way of cat or dog food is helpful. What we don’t use we pass onto charities who may need it more. If you would like to volunteer or support the team this summer, please go here…”

Bighead Tea Drinkers – Live Review & Interview by Tallulah Gray

Ahead of their first headline show at Brighton’s iconic Green Door Store, I sat down with Bighead Tea Drinkers to get a feel for their musical journey and creative process that led them to this moment. From the minute they introduced themselves, their laid-back attitude and comfort with each other was apparent. Pint in hand, all the more eager for their performance, I sat down to ask them a few questions.

“We knew fuck all about music, but we learnt through this bandMarshall Tyce

Freddie Brindle and Marshall Tyce, lead singer and drummer respectively, formed the band when they were only 13-years-old, with a variety of members over the years, but their move to Brighton set in motion the future of the band as we know it today. On the hunt for new members, Marshall and Freddie found bassist Kian Ramsay after moving in together and eventually decided to join forces. With lead guitarist Ellie Rosehart, the story is a bit more cinematic.

“We were at an induction event at BIMM and I had submitted our song Tokyo,” said Marshall, “and Ellie came up to us after and it must have been a week or two before we started rehearsing all together.” I asked Ellie what drew her to this track, “When I first heard Tokyo, I was like this is the kind of band I want to be in… I learnt two of their songs that night and sent it to them like ‘I want to do this'”.

After solidifying their line-up with Kian and Ellie officially joining the band, they faced a new challenge: merging each of their unique musical influences to form a cohesive sound.

“It definitely does all come from different places… which I think makes it unique” Freddie Brindle

From Halsey to Primal Scream to Catfish and the Bottlemen, Bighead Tea Drinkers are tuned in to the sounds of passionate artists from a variety of musical stylings. Their earlier tracks like ‘Never Seen a Fox in The Daytime’ show a clear influence taken the punk and 80s rock sounds, while newer tracks like ‘Tokyo’ blend their influences into a more alternative pop/indie feel. With all the mixing and recording being done by the band themselves, the quality of their single releases is incredibly impressive. “We’ve got a bigger variety of avenues to go down when we’re writing songs now as well” says Freddie on their creative process, “it definitely helps”.

With Freddie at the helm of lyric writing and each band member contributing to the overall sound, writing each of their own parts and collaborating together to create a cohesive track they can all be proud of it’s no wonder these emerging talents are seeing such success.

Hours later after opening acts Q-Days and Not Sarah, Bighead Tea Drinkers take the stage launching first into their upcoming single “Where Is The Love” (to be released on March 10). Right from the first chords it’s clear that this band is something special, they’re tight on stage but still leave room for some stand out moments, particularly from guitarist Ellie Rosehart during their track “When She Goes” and phenomenal drumming from Marshall Tyce throughout.

Their set was strong and dynamic which reflects their discography well and is hopefully indicative of their future releases as well. By the time they finished there was a palpable feeling in the air, an enjoyment of an overwhelmingly fun show but also something else. We were left with the distinct and indescribable feeling of watching something incredible right as it comes into its own.

Mick Robinson catches up with Young Fathers at Chalk and Sollus at Shortts

A cold dark dank Monday night in early Feb. The streets are empty and even the spirits of Brighton’s past are staying inside. I turn the corner of Poole Valley, the worst send off spot for coaches round the UK, and there’s a huge queue of shuffling souls in big coats and hats waiting to get into Chalk. “Fuckin’ hell’ we cry as we join the queue. Rock’n’Roll is still big in our city rain or shine and the draw tonight is Edinburgh’s Young Fathers.

It was the launch of their fourth album, but it was only 2022 when they came to my attention, and they feel like a brand new band. It helps that the gig is priced at a ‘realistic’ £12 – and that also helps explain the big turn out on this inhospitable night.

The 500 enthusiasts quickly settle into place, so standing at the back is pretty much the only option, and anyone familiar with standing at the back at Chalk will know the ‘watching the gig between the heads of the two tallest people in the venue syndrome’, as the band hit the stage to blast of white strobe light and Burundi beats.

Energy flies off the stage as the band cast shadowy silhouettes across the audience adding to the mystique of the band and the excitement of the audience.

A unique sound is extremely rare in ‘23, but Young Fathers have found it – tribal drums are mixed with electronica, off the wall vocals and brooding beats combine with a clever use of layered voices & synths. 
Few words are exchanged between songs and in one of those quiet moments a voice shouts “I love you” through the crowd. For a moment the band smile and nearly loose the thread of a serious stage show, but there is that adoration for them in this room. Suddenly it’s the last song and… No encore. Less than an hour and felt like only half way through a set. The idea of “treat ’em mean and keep ’em keen” is all very well, but that was a bit to short.

That did leave enough time to visit the monthly new band night at Shortts Bar  in the war zone-esque strip of St. James St, the bit between Morrisons & the Co-op, hosted by the wonderful up & coming band Zap Euphoria, having promoted gigs and attended many new bands at the start of their careers over the years. A while back everyone was sounding like an Oasis tribute act, then it was the Arctic Monkeys, and it was refreshing tonight to hear bands trying something new. If anything the new sounds were leaning on a near heavy metal in parts, but not too much, just great musicianship and energy rather than long hair, spandex and guitar solo overkill.

I only caught the set of locals Sollus, but what a great band they are, filling the dance floor on a Monday with crazy passionate fans, a clear sign that they do have something special, a treat of rolling bass lines and powerful drum beats, topped with great guitar and a soaring vocal. Lead guitarist mesmerising as he took on the skills of a young guitar hero Rory Gallagher , a mosh pit soon erupted. 

They were immediately booked em again for a Friday night, April 14th!
The Spirit of true rock n roll keeping our city alive.
Next New bands night is Monday March 6th.

The Whistler Recipe – The easiest fruit loaf ever! – Thanks to Gina Dodds


50g light brown soft sugar

75g plain flour

75g spelt or wholemeal flour

1 tsp bicarb of soda

½ tsp ground cinnamon      

200g mixed fruit and nut

200ml semi skimmed milk


• Preheat oven to 200oC 

Grease and flour a 900g loaf tin

• Put all the dry ingredients below in a bowl and mix with the milk.

• Pour into the loaf tin

• Bake for one hour

• Lasts for ages and as it gets a bit older is great toasted with butter

• When finished, take to The Whistler’s editorial offices for tasting

Sarah Taylor’s Gardening Tips – Feb 2023

Order summer flowering bulbs & seeds

It’s the perfect task for a wet and windy winter’s day. Flowers like lilies, gladioli and ranunculi can all be ordered in the winter for early-spring planting. Make the most of those days you’re stuck indoors to browse catalogues or websites for inspirational new varieties of seeds and bulbs to plant and grow this year. 

The best flowers to plant in the spring.

• Pansies, Marigolds, Petunias, Zinnias, Sunflowers, Sweet Pea, Gladiolus, Hydrangeas

Seeds to plant in March and April:

• Carrot, beetroot, kale, leeks, broccoli, horseradish, chicory, and turnips. Spring onions are also great early vegetables to plant in March, as well as spinach (make sure the soil is enriched with organic matter), peas, shallots and parsnips.

Tidy up flower beds and borders

Have a general tidy up, removing leaves and other debris from flower beds and borders. 

You can cut back the old dead growth of deciduous grasses and herbaceous perennials now, although, if you’d like to be wildlife friendly, it’s best to leave these until early spring.

Clear borders and beds back to bare soil. Put the dead organic matter you’ve cleared away into your compost pile or bin to break down. 

Remove any weeds you can see. Don’t compost them as the seeds will germinate and cause you more problems later on.

Install water butts and start collecting rainwater

Install a water butt in your garden this winter to make the most of rainfall. Most of the year’s rain falls in winter, so now’s the time to collect it! Harvesting rainwater is essential for environmentally friendly gardening. Peak demand for water in the hotter months often forces water companies to resort to groundwater reserves and streams, which is harmful to the environment and costly for consumers.

The Whistler Quiz – Feb 23


1. Christiana is the former name of which European city? 

2. What is the name of the ancient city, carved out of red rock in Jordan? 

3. The Yucatan Channel separates which two countries? 

4. Worcestershire is surrounded by six counties: West Midlands, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and which other? 

5. In which US state is Kansas City? 

6. Of which US state is Boise the capital?   

7. Carrots were originally purple, red, white, yellow, or black. Who started cultivating orange ones and why? 

8. The Dickin Medal, bearing the words; “We also serve” and “For Gallantry” is awarded to which members of the armed forces in the UK? 

9. Who was the cow in The Magic Roundabout?    

10. Which First Lady’s memoir is called “Becoming”?     


1. What does the Scoville Unit measure? 

2. Which restaurant won the first Michelin Star in UK? 

3. Which is used in Glamorgan sausages?

4. Which citrus fruit is used in Earl Grey tea and eau de Cologne? 

5. Which spirits name derives from a Dutch word that means burnt wine?  

6. What is the common name for the scapula? 

7. In the human body, which gland secretes a hormone which governs growth? 

8. A Snellen chart is used to test what? 

9. Where would you find the islets of Langerhans? 

10. How many bones are there in the foot? 


1. What drink did pharmacist John S. Pemberton invent in 1886? 

2. On which mountain is it said Noah’s Ark came to rest? 

3. Who was the last monarch of the House of Stuart? 

4. Who was King Philip of Macedon’s son, who succeeded him in 336BC? 

5. In which war did Florence Nightingale come to prominence? 

6. What species of bear is Paddington Bear? 

7. Which tree do we get turpentine from? 

8. How many claws
does a house cat have? 

9. Which infectious disease has a name derived from the Latin for `bad air`?

10. What is the only animal which, for both genders, is born with horns on its forehead? 


1. Why did Charles and Diana Ingram and Tecwen Whittock become famous on TV in

Sep 2001? 

2. Who wrote Islands in the Stream, a hit for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in 1982?

3. In the Peanuts cartoon, who is Charlie Brown in love with? 

4. Which family did David, Keanu, Ronan Best join in 1999? 

5. In Dad’s Army what is Pike’s first name?

6. Which 1979 film and set in London and Brighton is based on a rock album?

7. Who played James Bond immediately before Daniel Craig? 

8. Who played Thelma in “Thelma and Louise”? 

9. Who wrote the TV series “Killing Eve”? 

10. In which year did Channel Four start broadcasting?

Answers below (so no cheating)

Geography & Miscellaneous



3.Cuba and Mexico




7.The Dutch – in honour of King William of Orange.



10.Michelle Obama

Food and Drink & The Human Body 

1.Chilli heat

2.Le Gavroche




6.The shoulder blade

7.Pituitary gland


9.The Pancreas


History & Nature

1.Coca Cola

2.Mt Ararat

3.Queen Anne

4.Alexander the Great

5.The Crimean War

6.Spectacled bear 7.Pine




TV and Entertainment

1. They cheated on “Who Wants to be a Milllionaire?” 

2. The Bee Gees Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb

3.The little red-haired girl

4. The Royle Family

5. Frank

6. Quadrophenia

7. Pierce Brosnan

8. Geena Davis

9. Phoebe Waller-Bridge

10. 1982

In sport as in life we find art

It takes a lot of guts to be a writer, to not only put yourself in the centre of any narrative but to claim that your perspective is something new, fresh and worth reading. Les Misérables was first published in 1862 and has had countless adaptations and interpretations since then so it would be naive to suggest I could offer something new and exciting however I doubt many have looked at Les Mis through a Leeds United lens. 

The novel begins with Jean Valjean being released from 19 years imprisonment for stealing bread and few metaphors describe Leeds United’s 16 year exile from the Premier League. Leeds first season in the Championship brought a play-off final defeat so fans would be forgiven for thinking a swift return to the big-time was on the cards however relegation to League One followed the season after. Les Miserables the musical opens with the song “Look Down.”

On 26th February 2022 I watched Leeds United against Tottenham Hotspur on television from the comfort of my living room before traveling to London to watch Les Misérables the musical. Despite the 4-0 scoreline in favour of the North London side, Leeds had hit the woodwork twice and Stuart Dallas seemed certain to score when putting the ball past Hugo Lloris only for a combination of Dallas’ patience and some determined defending from Ben Davies ensured that didn’t happen. That was Marcelo Bielsa’s last game in charge of Leeds United and I found out that he had “parted company” during the interval of Les Mis. 

Susan Boyle was laughed at in her Britain’s Got Talent audition when she stated she wanted to be a professional singer and when Bielsa named his first starting 11 against Stoke City there were similar howls of derision. How had he included only one new signing in this team that finished 14th in the league the season before? Unlike Susan Boyle, Leeds fans had seen the same players only months prior and knew that they weren’t good enough to go up. If Boyle and Bielsa proved anything in their first public outing in the UK it was that looks could be deceiving. Boyle’s song choice – I dreamed a dream from Les Mis. 

Bielsa’s nickname is El Loco and his intense fitness demands and steadfast refusal to deviate from his attacking philosophy is what earned him that nickname but he lived by an honour code that made him human and in the world of professional football that is crazy. He lived in a small flat in Wetherby so he could walk to and from the training ground refusing the plush surroundings initially offered to him by Leeds United, he was often seen preparing for games in the local coffee shop, he reportedly spent hours every morning responding individually to fans messages, he didn’t give exclusive interviews because to do so would undermine his weekly 

press conference that was available to all. It’s important to remember he was doing this with Leeds United, Dirty Leeds. The team that celebrated Norman “bite yer legs” Hunter and the ground that during the 80’s became a hotbed of support for the National Front and the associated hooliganism that blighted English football for that decade. Leeds have never been popular and sometimes with good reason. 

Bielsa’s ability to get Leeds promoted is nothing compared to the achievement that is getting supporters of other teams to actively like Leeds United and causes us Leeds fans to question who we actually are – much like Jean Valjean does in Les Mis. The nadir of this honour code was undoubtedly allowing Aston Villa to score unopposed at Elland Road following what was a controversial but not illegal goal. The willingness to risk the ire of the vociferous crowd in order to do what he thought was right shows the El Loco nickname is warranted. 

The last song before the interval is “One Day More” and before I had turned my phone off to enjoy the show there had been rumblings that Bielsa was gone. The song begins with Jean Valjean pondering “These men who seem to know my crime will surely come a second time.”

But more suitable for Bielsa’s relationship with Leeds is the line “I did not live until today, how can I live when we are parted?”

Artist Dotty finds the world’s largest night sky observatory

Now not a lot of people know this, Artist Dotty says, in his most Michael Caine of accents. Directly above the Seven Dials medical centre on Montpelier Crescent, is the worlds largest night sky observatory. The telescope capabilities are truly phenomenal and being on a hill pinnacle, night-time air pollution is down to an absolute minimum. The telescope has one of the most powerful lenses in the world and the observatory is available to book via the furniture shop near Small Batch coffee.  

For the last month, Artist Dotty has been taking photos via the telescope and running the photos through a kaleidoscopic effect on his computer. Some of the effects are truly stunning and through his art he has uncovered what can only be best described as hidden Gods in the night skies. There have been errors of judgement though, on my first attempt, I thought I had discovered life on Mars and realised I had accidentally zoomed in on a spider suspended from a street lamp near Tesco Express on Dyke Road.  

I was invited to the observatory to watch Artist Dotty identifying the best photo opportunities. The telescope rotates via a remote control and Artist Dotty enjoys listening to Mozart whilst appreciating the night skies. AD said he was inspired by a guy from Rochdale, Lancashire, called David Malin, a British-Australian astronomer and photographer who in his early years started out as a microscopist and found himself becoming a leading astrophotographer, who enjoyed looking at the night sky from the Smitz observatory, in Australia. 

AD says, I first spotted David Malin’s work at the Liverpool museum of art back in the 90’s and was impressed with the way the art world acknowledged his photography as an art form. The images are of Nebulas and star clusters and are very hypnotising and mesmerising. Star gazing is a great way to put life’s struggles into a wider, mind expansive perspective. Certainly one of my tick box’s would be to visit more observatory’s around the world and take more photos. 

A galaxy is named after him – Malin 1, which he discovered in 1986 and is the largest spiral galaxy so far discovered. 

Artist Dotty genuinely believes his digital art, may also be contributing towards scientific research of space elasticity and dimension perception. 

“My results are somewhat beyond comprehension and have blown my own mind, to the point I need to take a break from my latest art obsession, every now and then”.  

The first night sky photo I took, was from a NASA image, on their website and after a touch of kaleidoscopic digital wizardry, I created a symmetrical God, that looked very similar to George Harrison from the Beatles.

I am now wondering if all the critical mass celebrities are hidden amongst the stars.  All of this talk about outer-space is making me want to put on an early Star Trek and admire the great use of Royal Brittanica books on Captain Kirk’s book shelves in his bedroom. 

I have approached NASA with my findings and also suggested having an art gallery on the moon to celebrate the spirit of adventure and discovery.  Anyway after I sent the email to NASA, the most incredible thing happened. I haven’t heard back. But that’s OK, life goes on, if the moon doesn’t come to me, I will go to the moon, just need to find a huge elastic band and someone to hold it. 

There are examples of AD’s works at St Augustine’s church in Brighton, near Preston Park. It’s a healing arts centre, with a Whole Earth food cafe. A great spot to relax and scoffie on a banoffie with a coffee. AD’s work is coming down on the 20th Feb, so if your looking to hedge your bets and make an investment on an emerging Artist, AD is one to look out for. 

AD’s work has also been acknowledged by Castle Fine Art as incredible. They currently represent Billy Connolly. 

Check out Artist Dotty’s latest work at St. Augustine’s Arts & Events Centre, Stanford Ave, Brighton BN1 6EA

Dymphna Flynn’s Book Review: Annie Stanley All at Sea by Sue Teddern

Approaching 40, Annie Stanley is in the midst of a crisis – burnout, or existential angst. This former City financier and school teacher now spends her days in tracksuits at the local fleapit when suddenly her father dies, too soon after her mother.

Annie Stanley All at Sea is a kind, funny portrayal of a woman who’s stuck and doesn’t quite always get things right (who does?). When her father’s girlfriend announces she’s going to scatter his ashes somewhere meaningless to Annie, she takes matters into her own hands. In a fantastically comic set piece, she seizes the urn and on a whim takes her dad on a tour of the 31 sea areas that make up the shipping forecast, which he loved listening to, despite living in landlocked St Albans.

The unfolding story is reminiscent of the hugely successful Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, as Annie travels from Cromarty, Forth, Tyne etc. Along the way she looks up old friends and colleagues in a journey of self-discovery, working through her self-loathing, as she truly believes ‘making bad things worse’ is her default setting – as an ex in the Forth chapter helpfully tells her. 

Sue Teddern is a Brighton writer – spot the character Simon living in a poky Seven Dials bedsit – and this is her first novel. Sue’s an accomplished scriptwriter and playwright (credits include The Archers) and her expertise shows in this charming book, with its crisp dialogue, light humour, deft characterisation and neat structure. We root for Annie, and we see what she can’t because of the sea fret of sadness – that maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Dymphna Flynn is a development producer at Pier Productions in Brighton

NuSoul Union – Soul Sisters

I’m sitting in NuSoul Studios in Woodingdean – “the coolest & best rehearsal, recording, video & compact venue space locally” – talking to producer Simon Hill and singing coach Gary Whalen who run the studios and Millie, Maisie and Keira, three smart young women who are the vocal group NuSoul Union. Well, there’s a fourth, Libby, but she’s not here – “She’s a bit quiet at the moment, but she’s here in spirit” says Millie, who, at 18, is the oldest of the group. 

“So I’m the mother of the group”. 

Are you sure you want to be seen like that? I ask, and she laughs.

The idea of NuSoul Union came to Simon and Gary a few years ago and different members have come and gone, but the line up has been settled since Keira joined almost two years ago. Now, they’ve got the together thing, the ‘finish each other’s sentences’ together thing.

We’re talking about what they do and how they do it and Simon said “a very big part of the reason it works is that they have four very different voices. Okay, even the kind of bands you could possibly compare them with like En Vogue or Destiny’s Child” – if you’re going to set a bar, set it high – “they’ve not got particularly different voices. They’re all great singers, but what we do is something different, we’ve got four very different voices.”

What do you mean, different voices? Do you mean like The Temptations or something where you have a very low, bass guy and… 

“Let’s show you” said Gary. And they get up and walk over to the white grand piano – yes, there’s really a white grand piano in the studio – and break into a beautiful accapella version of their single “Boy” which is just lovely. They float in and out of the song, enjoying the moment in a way that people who are good and know they’re good do. I was going to say “effortlessly” but it’s far from effortless. They’ve really worked at their craft. They come in every day.

“Yes, every day” said Millie.

“Every single day” said Keira. 

And what do you do, every single day?

“So we do individual lessons to work on our voices independently to stretch, do whatever we need to work on, songwriting and all of that stuff, work on new songs. Make sure the harmonies work, everything’s tight. We’re also working on everything else, dress, clothes, appearance, moves, dance, all that” 

“And then we have our college as well, which is also here”. They’re studying for a Music Business diploma at Sutton District College, where Gary is Head of Performing Arts. There’s a branch in Woodingdean. 

“It’s kind of just everything to do with the music industry. So yeah, we’re in college. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Brighton School of Singing on Monday”. 

Since Christmas they’ve played the Brunswick and Shortts Bar in Kemptown, and they’ve got a new EP in the pipeline which they played under a promise “Please don’t share it” and which, OK, I won’t share but I will say it’s blimmin lovely and completely blows away the idea that it’s been largely made by three 16 year olds and an 18 year old.

What’s the best bit, what do you like doing best? “I think the best part is just been able to do it together. We’ve done solo stuff as well, and even though that’s like fun to do, it’s just nicer doing it with your friends. Yeah.”

Stress? What even is that – ayurvedic massage

It’s been a bit of a day. Everyone, they all want something. Whether it’s time or space or energy or just you. They all want something. God, you’re exhausted. Now imagine this. You’re lying down in a candlelit room. Slowly the air is filled by the undulating sounds of gongs and Tibetan bowls, rising and falling, swirling and twirling, sounds that take you away to… to somewhere calm and peaceful. Stress? Right now you don’t even know how to spell it. 

Emma Thomas and Naomi Potter (left and right) run sound baths in St Michael & All Angels Church in Powis Road and, because they understand how stressful running The Whistler is, invited us along. And very lovely it was too. Floaty and blissful and lovely. The mesmeric sounds of the gongs and bowls are transporting and meditative and take you somewhere else. If you can stop yourself falling asleep – and I did, honest – it’s just beautiful. The next ones are February 11 and 18. Phone Emma on 07974309972 for details and tickets. 

And if you fancy an Ayurvedic massage, check out

Low carb eating

Back when we lived as hunter gatherers there was a limited supply of carbohydrate-rich foods. We hunted wild animals, caught fresh fish and foraged for green leafy vegetables, herbs, berries and nuts. We lived close to the land and honoured the seasonal changes. We had times of fasting and times of feasting. This is the way our bodies evolved. There was no bread, pasta, grains or refined sugar. 

Today, we eat a vast amount of sugar-rich and starchy foods that push our bodies to their biochemical limits. When we eat carbohydrates our bodies produce insulin to allow glucose to enter the cells for fuel and keep blood sugar levels in check.

A high carb diet from overconsumption of grains, starches and sugary foods results in constant insulin spikes as the body attempts to keep blood sugar levels at their low default setting; a very narrow threshold that evolved over millions of years when there was hardly any glucose available to us.

Insulin resistance

When insulin keeps spiking from years of eating sugary and starchy foods, the cells of the body stop responding to its message and it can no longer do its job properly, as there is simply too much dietary sugar to deal with. The sugar gets converted into fat and the body loses its ability to regulate its glucose load.

The driver behind most degenerative conditions

Insulin resistance is the driver behind diabetes, inflammation, heart disease and high cholesterol, and can contribute to carcinogenic changes in the body (cancer cells are greedy for glucose), as well as setting the stage for Alzheimer’s, which is now being classed as type 3 diabetes. Female hormonal imbalances can be addressed by lowering excess glucose because high insulin plays havoc with hormonal balance. 

Eight benefits of low carb eating

When blood sugar levels remain balanced, insulin stays low and stress hormones are spared, resulting in health benefits, such as:

1. Increased energy

2. Stable moods

3.Hormonal balance

4. Lowered stress response

5. Freedom from cravings

6. Fat burning

7. Lowered inflammation

8. Better sleep

What to eat on a low carb diet?

• Green leafy vegetables

• Salad leaves

• Herbs and spices

• Seaweed

• Low starch veggies – cauliflower, broccoli, kale, radish, asparagus, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, aubergine, sprouts…

• Quality protein from natural sources like grass-fed meat and wild fish

• Free range, organic eggs

• Raw nuts and seeds

• Healthy fats from cold-pressed oils, virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocado, oily fish, fatty meats…

• Low sugar fruits packed with antioxidants like blueberries, strawberries & blackberries

• Some grass fed, organic dairy

A typical day of low carb eating:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs and veggies

Lunch: salad packed with leaves, a protein source and a decent drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of nuts and fresh herbs

Dinner: vegetables, a quality protein and lots of healthy fats, such as wild salmon with broccoli cooked in butter, or chicken and roasted veg drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Your body knows best

Your body has a deep inner wisdom and you’ll be more finely tuned to listening to it if you get out of the perpetual cycle of sugar and starch addiction. 

Find out for yourself

Try slowly cutting out sugary and starchy foods and see how good you can feel without them. I guarantee you will feel supercharged and awesome! Eating this way deeply supports your body’s biochemistry.

Get the help you need

If you’re a slave to cravings, addicted to sugar, starchy or processed foods and would like to experience a whole new level of health and vibrancy, or to address any health conditions with a therapeutic diet, seek the advice of a nutrition professional to help you find your balance again. 

l Jo Rowkins, Nutritional Therapist & Lifestyle Coach at Awakening Health.

Gull About Town – February 2023

It’s been a wet old winter for your feathered friend as she braves the dark skies in search of the best food finds and drinking dens for her Whistler readers. But as the clouds part and the days get longer, it seems that there’s signs of new beginnings popping up all over West Hill. 

In Guildford Road alone, the legendary Sussex Yeoman, at one time the easy winner of Best Sunday Roast in Brighton is set to welcome its new tenants after 18 years of the old regime. As your Gull hovers, the doors are bolted, the boards are up and the ‘substantial investment’ promised by owner, Greene King, seems to be already under way. The Gull had become used to a regular leftovers feast of a Sunday evening as the city’s largest portions defeated even the healthiest of appetites. Check in the next issue to see whether the new menu has whet the Gull’s super-discerning whistle.

Over at the ever-buzzing Eddy, those animal and bird-loving landladies, Hatt and Jess are planning more arty pub nights. With Deliveroo biking the food in from all corners of Brighton, your Gull is not the only scavenger waiting at the bins as punters pile in for rockabilly bands and fancy-dress film nights.

The take-away pizzas from VIP seem a particularly popular choice among the birds of West Hill, so large are they that there seems to be enough for everyone. This grumpy Gull did notice, however, that with palate in one hand and brush in other, there was precious few pickings at the end of the recent Bob Ross live paint-along, even for this art-loving bird. There will be more Bob Ross nights coming as soon as March, but in the meantime, the rockabillies coming out to play with the Box Stomping Boys on Feb 17th are a much better bet for a hungry gull. (And check out for an interview)

Always on the hunt for food news, your Gull hears that Drakes Hotel in Kemptown has captured a couple of tasty chefs from 64 Degrees. Tom Stephens and Madeleine Riches are launching a tasting menu only restaurant called Dilsk in April. Expect five courses for £55 and 10 for £95, a sure-fire leftover offering for your hungry bird,

Catching a thermal, the Gull soars over to Western Road where a familiar scent of seafood is floating on the breeze. Sniffing closer, it seems that Brighton’s best chef, Duncan Ray, the man that Michelin missed, is sharing his brilliance at Atelier Du Vin’s new wine bar, Cases.  

Shared is his new menu concept which takes him away from his (and your Gull’s) beloved bivalves at Little Fish Market (pictured) with a much meatier menu. At £90 for two and his signature oysters to start, just one sitting a night will get a tour of his other favourite dishes cooked by his mate, artisan maker and purveyors of fine pies, Al the Pieman. Expect a terrine of Fosse Meadow chicken, Al’s famed beef pie, rump of Saddlescombe lamb with Potato Anna and lentils and a little Financier biscuit with pear and salted caramel that your Gull’s got her beady eye on.  Local, delicious food, cooked by the best in Brighton; this bird just hopes that Shared means what it says on the bin. 

Brighton Best 2023

It’s when Brighton foodies refresh their Instagram feed, ready to pounce on Open Table and book the top 20 restaurants in the city, as voted by ‘those who know’. It’s that time when Brighton cab
drivers high five each other, knowing that we’ll all be going out to eat more, taking confidence from the recommendations of Brighton’s Best.

As founder of the Juicy Guide and Awards back in the early 2000s, I’ve witnessed the influence of a gong. Judged by a panel of the city’s most well-fed foodies, the Top 20 will be announced at Brighton’s Best 2023 on March 20. But Euan MacDonald, one of the four founders of the awards which has been rating Brighton and Hove’s favourite restaurants for the last eight years, told me that it’s its autumnal sister, October Best which can give the most interesting indicators of what the public choose. The annual of feasting at £25 per head at any one of that year’s crop has become a bit of bun fight, with the public voting with their wallets; the clear favourites are sold out within an hour of release, or in the case of Bincho Yakitori within minutes…

‘We had 60,000 people visit the site in the first hour’ Euan told me, ‘and that’s predominantly from within Brighton and Hove. It’s like the public poll.’ Less 64 Degrees and more Chilli Pickle is what ticks the local box. 

So where else among the BB top 20, other than Bincho, did Brighton and Hove food fans go for last year?  ‘Well, I think Namo (Eats) had a really interesting October Best. We had so many people who didn’t know them, but she put on a terrific value menu. I think it was 25 quid for two. And we know that with it was chefs who were ordering her takeaway auction last year more than anyone else.’ 

It’s part of Brighton’s Best’s mission to support indie restaurants in Brighton and Hove, and Namo Eats is a great example of how it works. Another is Halisco.  ‘As they’re next door to Bincho, I think people who couldn’t get in there went, “Well, let’s just see what Halisco’s doing. They put on a mix of both menu and events, including a charity night to raise money’, Euan told me. ‘They had cocktails as part of their package,  so they had a brilliant October Best!’

It’s also a great way to reach new diners even for those we think of as booked up all year round.  ‘Dave from Bincho used to use October Best as his main marketing strategy’ said Euan. ‘He’d lose money in October because it was his way to go out and meet loads of new customers and get them on his books. The Set had a fantastically popular October Best because they were raffling tables off. And so they were able to accrue a huge amount of new followers to their Instagram stuff.’

But what does it say about the way that people are eating out in Brighton now? A city once leading the way in sustainable choices – Terre a Terre was scooping up the national awards decades ago; the vegan Happy Maki was born here – is now less interested in where its meat and fish comes from than a climate conscious foodie in more, let’s say food literate cities might be. In short, Brighton and Hove food fans are perhaps more into their Instagram stories than the unfolding drama of soil health and climate change. 

‘Well, I think that food literacy had a peak’ said Euan, stepping out of BB’s shoes for a moment and into his food consultant’s. ‘Dan Kenny (The Set) is a great example. Whatever Dan does, I know he won’t sell himself short on that type of thing. 

“But what we’ve got at the minute is a lot of people who are conscious of overheads, and so conscious of costs. So what can they do? They ask themselves what they’re prepared to trade off. Brighton has never wanted to spend huge amounts on eating out. We’re so close to London, but we just have never had the pockets.’

Part of the problem in Brighton’s sustainable food scene is the tourist; 
Euan says that post-pandemic,
many restarateurs just can’t prioritise
ethical choices when the tourist pound
is so integral to their survival.  ‘Really,
I  don’t think it’s something that is front of mind for a lot of the owners and operators’, Euan told me. ‘What a lot of visitors to Brighton do in a way that you might not do
in London is they’ll try and go to three places in a night. If they’re down for a weekend, they want to see as much of it as they can. So if

they’re not keen on the price, they’ll jump somewhere else. And that’s a real worry for restaurants at the moment.’

More worryingly for the planet is that Brighton diners don’t care much either. ‘It never comes into it’ said Euan, when I asked if Brighton’s Best is ‘marked’ on its sustainable sourcing. ‘It’s about the dining experience. And that has never been raised in any feedback. I would say it’s not front of mind for a lot of people.’

So what should we look out for in 2023 in Brighton and Hove restaurants?  ‘The year was split into two hubs for most restaurateurs’, Euan told me. ‘First is: are we still going to be here at Easter? I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as people thought it was. But I know that at the tail end of last year, a lot of people were very worried about the first six months of this year. So first of all, I think everyone will just do what they got to do to stay where they are. So that doesn’t breed a lot of innovation unless you’ve got deep pocket backers behind you.  

‘The fact that the whole industry had to be supported during the pandemic has changed the way investors will look at opening restaurants at the minute. And so, what you’re looking at is something which then starts to talk to that entire night out, rather than just the meal. So, keeping people under a roof for cocktails, accommodation. There’s a massive hotel being built on Middle Street. It’s operating more like a Soho House or a club that keeps you in.  I’m not saying it’ll be club membership by any stretch, but the prices will reflect that I’m sure. 

‘The Albert Schloss group which has venues across the North has looked at Brighton. The food’s actually really good; they lean towards the sort of schnitzel side of things. But they are about getting you in and keeping you in for music, for food for everything. And I think Brighton’s missing that at the minute.’

And there are plenty of opportunities for investors. The development of The Hippodrome is ‘up for grabs’; Churchill Square’s food offering is expanding very soon, which Euan says will look to keep people across three floors of drinks and food. That’s going to be the challenge for the smaller operators,’ he warned. ‘Whereas at the minute, I’ll go to a couple of bars and I’ll go to Bincho or I’ll go to Chilli Pickle, that’s going to change for most people’

It’s a depressing vision of Brighton’s next food chapter. What we need is something new in Brighton, Euan tells me, and for him, Palmito, the Latin-Indo collaboration between Curry Leaf chef, Kanthi Thamma and his pal from his Chilli Pickle days, Diego Ricaurte  is it. ‘I’m absolutely in love with Palmito. It’s just food you haven’t had before. And for that reason alone, it’s just so exciting.’

Editorial – February 2023

I’ve come full circle with Valentine’s Day. I used to get right grumpy about things like Valentine’s Day. Being told what to do and when to do it. I don’t need Hallmark or Cadbury’s telling me when to be romantic. It’s like all those other days that have crept into the calendar, days that have different names  – Black Friday or whatever – but are all basically the same. Today is “Buy Stuff Monday”. I’ll decide when I want electronic things and I’ll decide when I want to give an expression of my love. It’s commercialised nonsense, it’s rampant capitalism exploiting our love. But then

“Have you forgotten anything?”

“No, not all at. I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but I’m not buying into that. We don’t need to be tol…”

“You forgot, didn’t you”

It was never a conversation that was going go well. What do you mean, the chances are she was probably right? 

Things change, we get older and different things seem important. Things that used to seem important… I don’t even know anymore. As I write there’s a bit of a kerfuffle because the Welsh rugby people have banned the singing of the Tom Jones song Delilah. Should they, shouldn’t they? Is it right, is it wrong? No idea. Sure the lyrics are seriously dodgy and no one – you’d hope – would write that now. But should it be banned? Instinctively, I’d say it shouldn’t be simply because I don’t like banning things. Apart from people who vote Tory. And Arsenal fans. And marmite butter which my fine wife has just started to make which is basically taking some perfectly good butter and rendering it inedible. So… shouldn’t be banned. But then, maybe it shouldn’t be sung either. Life’s not easy being liberal. 

Talking of Arsenal, wasn’t it a treat to see Brighton smile sweetly at their attempts to steal Moises Caicedo. Even in football, money doesn’t always talk. 

Anyway. Valentine’s Day. Let’s embrace it. Telling your loved ones you love them, there are worse things to be corralled into. So take it on and do it your way, and if you’re going to get a Valentine’s Day card, why not avoid all the corporate stuff and support local artists, and maybe head to FlyingCircusDesigns at – because if you can’t give your friends a plug, what is the point of life? 

We’ve given The Mighty Whistler a bit of a re-jig this month. There’s a new quiz page, recipes, gardening tips,  a murder story… Next issue we’re starting a new column with a local councillor to talk about all things local and councilly. And if anyone would like to get involved, we’re looking for someone to write about architecture and local history. Maybe at the same time. Think about it. The pay’s really good. 

Next time out we’ll have a feature on the hot new sport Pickleball, which is as good a link to Pickle, our new-ish pup, as we’re going to get. 

For Pickle, every day is Valentine’s Day. He knows he’s loved and he knows that even if he runs off and gets lost in the woods for two days and two nights on the coldest weekend of the year and worries mum and dad stupid, they’ll still love him unconditionally*. He’s not going to care if he gets a card. A treat he’d care about. Chicken, that’s the hallmark of love. Be more Pickle is, I think, generally a decent mantra for life. 

*Just don’t push your luck. We’ve still got the receipt from the rescue centre.

View From The Hill – Nicholas Lezard February 2023

It’s a funny old thing, supporting a football team. The majority of supporters never set foot in the grounds of the clubs they support; many of them don’t even live in the same country. In their a heyday, a map of Man Utd’s fans would be properly global; and this was a cause for some taunting by others. 

The proper thing to do is to start at an early age and adopt the team nearest to you. For me, this meant Arsenal, although I was, as a North Londoner, unsure whether to support them or Spurs; a persuasive argument from the school bully when I was around six or seven helped to settle the matter: he put my head in the toilet bowl and threatened to flush it if I didn’t promise to support Arsenal for the rest of my life. As I was of an age to at least half-believe that flushing the bog would result in my joining the North London sewer system, I thought this a good enough deal; and as Arsenal won the Double next season, I in time became grateful to him. And, true to is word. He has never stuck my head down the toilet and flushed it ever again.

That said, I have been very pleased by Brighton’s success in the Premier League and FA Cup (so far) lately. At the moment of writing, they have beaten Liverpool in both, and as I once had a girlfriend who broke my heart terribly and also supported Liverpool, I give a little cheer whenever anyone beats them. Klopp may be a decent guy and Liverpool a team with a fine underlying philosophy, but, to paraphrase Gore Vidal on success and friends, it is not enough that Brighton should win; Liverpool must lose.

As it happens, the editor of this fine journal is a Spurs fan, and a serious one; so it would be unbecoming, and ungentlemanly, for me to mention the result of their most recent encounter (2-0 to Arsenal, playing away). He has his own cross to bear. Or, shall we say, his own cross to fail to score a goal with.

He has lived in Brighton for many years, and, like me, although he is happy for the team when they win, when his loyalties are tested he supports Spurs, as I support Arsenal when they play B&HA FC. That said, I am now entertaining a reverie in which the team is split in two, one side representing Brighton, the other Hove. 

How wonderful that would be! Imagine the derbies! Pitched battles on either side of Boundary Passage, effete Hovians being taunted to tears by mighty Brightonians, a Berlin-style wall being erected to keep an uneasy peace. The Hove side teased by images of tattoo parlours and interesting architecture and people actually having a good time. It would make Man U/Man C, or Liverpool/Everton rivalries look like walks in the park on a sunny day. It’s a long shot but one can dream.

Aladdin sane

Aladdin pantomime comes to the Brighton Centre this Christmas season. By Nadia Abbas

The magical world of Aladdin with its golden sand dunes, genies, and flying carpets has been a fan favourite since the Disney films release in 1993. Fans now have a chance to experience their very own Arabian night as the Aladdin pantomime is coming to the Brighton Centre this December. The pantomime promises to reunite the audience with the beloved love story of Princess Jasmine and the charming thief Aladdin. There will also be unexpected twists and turns in the story that will leave the audience laughing all night long.

Brighton production company E3 is bringing the Aladdin pantomime to the Brighton Centre. Aladdin will be running from Thursday 22nd to Tuesday 27th December (excluding Christmas Day). The pantomime features a talented and diverse West End cast. This includes Anita Dobson who has starred in Eastenders, Mark Inscoe who was in Sweeney Todd, and BBC Radio Sussex presenter Allison Ferns. Mark Inscoe plays the character of Widow Twankey who is Aladdin’s mother in this production. Mark Inscoe, said: “With pantomime it’s such a family experience that it’s going to be wonderful for people to get out and bring the whole family.”

This Aladdin production will differ from the original Aladdin story. It will be set in Old Peking in China instead of the mythical land of Agrabah like in the Disney film. Some of the character names are also different in this Aladdin pantomime. It does not have the villain Jafar, but instead they have a villain called Abanazar who is played by Anita Dobson. Mark Inscoe, said:” Widow Twankey that I’m playing does not exist in the original story, but she’s one of the most famous pantomime dames.” Aladdin’s brother’s character Wishee Washee is also not in the original story but is a new addition in this unique spin on the tale of Aladdin.

This pantomime was supposed to take place in 2021, but it was postponed due to concerns over the Omicron variant of Covid-19. This affected the suppliers, the costume makers, stage management, and set staff. Mark Inscoe, said: “Two days before we were due to start rehearsals everything just came to a close.” Fortunately, most of the company that were supposed to take part last year, are back to do it this year. Mark Inscoe, said: “People are now much more comfortable about going into a confined space and going back to the theatre again.”

E3 production company will support nine charities across the Sussex area. Each performance of this Aladdin pantomime will support a different charity. The audience will be encouraged to make donations to these charities at each showing. Some of the charities include The Sussex Beacon, Chestnut Tree House, and The Starr Trust. The first performance on Thursday the 22nd of December will be supporting The Focus Foundation.

Ticket prices for this pantomime range between £15- £35 and they can be purchased from the Brighton Centre’s website.

To find out more visit

Get it on, bang a gong…

Christmas. You love Christmas. Family you haven’t seen since… oh, blimey, do you remember that time? It’s fine. It’ll be different this year. It’s cool. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’ll be lovely. Probably. Or it could be like the script EastEnders rejected because it was too scary. Do you remember that time?? Blimey. Who’s coming round? So… he’s vegan and she eats anything as long as it’s high welfare? Are you sure it’s that way round?

Forget all that for a minute. De-stress. Relax. Have you ever had a sound bath?

A sound bath is – and I found this quote on the internet so it must be true – a way of managing anxiety, soothing the nervous system, and blocking all the ideas and thoughts out of your consciousness as you connect with your body. Actually, I’ve had one before and it’s blimmin lovely.

Actually it really is lovely. And if you’re struggling to think of what to get your loved one as a present… read on.

Naomi Potter and Emma Thomas run sound baths in St Michael & All Angels Church in Powis Rd, and if all this Christmas stuff is feeling a bit too much, you could do far worse. “What better way to start the New Year and beat the January blues than by focusing on your health and wellbeing” said Naomi.

Emma takes up the theme. “Melt away and relax with this soothing and restorative sound journey, designed to reset your nervous system and create inner calm. Our uplifting weekly sound journeys, which will include gongs, Tibetan bowls and soothing percussion instruments will create a sense of stillness, grounding and inner peace. Lay down, relax and allow yourself the opportunity to access a state of deep rest.

“Regular sound journeys are powerful healing tools. They are well-known to support relaxation, ease pain, anxiety and muscle tension, and promote better sleep. Concentration and energy levels may improve as a result of regular relaxation with sound”.

Naomi and Emma are donating 15% of any profits from this sound journey series to the Free Tibet campaign which campaigns to protect the human rights of Tibetans.

If this sounds cool – and if it doesn’t… are you OK? – bear in mind that their previous Solstice event sold out quickly so get in quick and make sure you reserve your spot.

Get your tickets here:

Also, next year on January 14th, there’s a harp special with a guest harpist, and that sounds kinda nice too.

A time to think of others

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Mistletoe, Bailey’s, Quality Street, presents, the family coming round… Another game of charades…

Except not for everyone. This is Jelly with his puppy Banter, a picture taken by Marc Davenant from his book Outsiders.

“He was telling me how lonely it is trying to exist on the street and how an entire day can go by with nobody even acknowledging that you exist” said Marc.

“It was a really sad discussion, he was wearing two different shoes and seemed completely worn down by it all. He’s a musician fallen on hard times from what I could gather”.

There really are too many people like Jelly, and it might sound sanctimonious to say it – and if it does, I don’t care – but this year maybe give one less present to someone who’s getting loads and give something to someone who isn’t getting any.

Check out Marc’s book

Life with Justin King of the South Coast and UK Bird/Gull Volunteer Network

Yeah, so where was I? When I moved in here about 11 years ago now there was a gull standing on the fence.”

Which is not unusual in Brighton. 

“I suppose it isn’t, but I just threw out a bit of food and from that moment on, he decided he quite liked being here so he brought his partner along, but then another two came along and were a bit jealous about what was going on so they scared off my first two but they came back and… I’m surprised he’s not here actually”. 

The Whistler is in a garden near the seafront and we’re with Justin King, prime mover of the South Coast and UK Bird/Gull Volunteer Network, a group dedicated to helping and rescuing our favourite birds. If life can be split into “Good Guys” and “Not Good Guys”, Justin is about as good a good guy can be. 

“If I throw a bit of ham I bet you he’ll arrive. He’s called Brutus he’s also a bit of a celebrity because we’ve got an Instagram page and we’ve got a Facebook page I constantly take pictures of him and his partner and… I’ll tell you what, let me get a bit of ham”. Justin disappears into his kitchen and emerges with a small packet of ham slices. He reaches into the packet, throws his hand in the air and, from nowhere, we’re in a scene from Hitchcock. 

“There’s Brutus” he says as a gull that looks disarmingly like a gull swoops down for Justin’s ham. “He’s been a bit of a constant for me, but I have all kinds of birds that come into the garden.” Justin reaches for another handful of ham and throws it over his fence into the neighbouring car park.

The Whistler is admittedly a bit biased, but we think gulls are just lovely and we’re very happy to be in a city where the… whatever the national symbol of a city is called, is a gull. But gulls, like all birds, have had a tough time recently. Avian flu – “flockdown” – has hit hard, which has meant that charities and rescue centres have been reluctant to take injured or needy birds in. And that has meant, what it always means: volunteers need help. In the last year, the Network has raised £170,000 for Bird Aid, which is an extraordinary amount. 

Justin rattled off a list of names. “Tony Bloom, owner of Brighton and Hove Albion, got involved in the Bird Aid campaign last year…” Well, he does own The Seagulls… “which was brilliant. But then we’ve got a lot of celebrities on board. Chris Packham. He put a post on Facebook. Ricky Gervais posts on his Twitter. Holly Willoughby. Oh, Woody Cook. Actually it was Woody who… once he started it snowballed. Loads of other naturalism environmentalists got involved.” 

Just as we’re talking, Justin’s phone goes. He’s making an arrangement. 

“What’s that?” I ask. 

“Someone’s coming round to pick up the pigeon to take him to a sanctuary”. 

“What pigeon?”

Justin takes me round to what looks like a garden shed. Well, OK. It is a garden shed. Carefully he opens the door and there, standing on one foot and looking a bit sorry for himself, a pigeon. 

“He’s hurt his foot and can’t put any weight on it and someone brought him round. He’s stayed here for a couple of days and then he’s going to go to the sanctuary to fully recover”. 

I love these people. I love the person who found the pigeon and picked him up, I love Justin who has nurtured him, I love the people who have a sanctuary where he can recover.   

What is the Brighton gull population? What number are we talking? 

“I don’t actually know, but in general the species is in decline. Herring gulls are on the endangered species list, the Red List. Herring gulls. Yep. The ones you just see. They’re all herring gulls. And I know you wouldn’t think so, but it’s true, they’re on the decline. Saying that though, a lot of wildlife is in decline.

“There’s a lot of ignorance and intolerance towards a lot of forms of wildlife. There’s been cases in Woodingdean of people poisoning foxes because they don’t want them coming into the garden and digging up their lawns. Birds being shot, you name it, it’s happened. Yeah, shocking. Yeah. I mean when you think of Sussex, the word that synonymous with the countryside. If you don’t like birds, don’t live by the coast, go and live in Milton Keynes. Sorry, but it really is relentless”.

How many people are there in your group?

“The group has approximately 3,200 members, but the majority of them aren’t really active. Mostly, it’s just a few people. A lot of people have dropped out because times are hard for everyone and not everyone has so much time anymore. The cost of living crisis has made people reprioritise”.

So hardcore volunteers? Let’s put it this way. How many are as committed as you?

“Probably about a dozen. But it’s been difficult and because of avian flu this year, I’ve literally had to throw myself headlong into this. Yeah, the whole campaign. It’s left no time for anything else.

Watching Justin, listening to him, I know there’s nothing he’d prefer to be doing. He has, in every sense, found his calling. 

Justin looks up to the skies where the gulls are still circling, a bit distracted. Do you listen to the goals and recognise different calls?

“Yes. That’s the whistling you can hear there, the babies. I always know that sound. But I’m also familiar with my regular gull who comes to visit. He stands on the shed and waits for his food. And when he screeches, I recognise it. It’s just, I mean, they’re all different. Anyway, I recognise the way he does it and the sound that he makes and yeah, so I know when he’s here”.

Justin looks up again. 

“I was just thinking I should go and check on the ham I threw over the fence. I want to make sure they all got some” 

Check out the Whistler website for details of the South Coast and UK Bird/Gull Volunteer Network Go Fund Me page or go to their Facebook group page of the same name

Check out the Whistler website for details of the South Coast and UK Bird/Gull Volunteer Network Go Fund Me page or go to their Facebook group page of the same name

Christmas at Bolney Wine Estate

Gilly Smith talks to Sam Linter about life on The Bolney Wine Estate

Baubles and berries, bottles and bubbles, it’s all just one big excuse, this Christmas malarkey, to deck the halls and be very jolly indeed. But we’re not about that consumerist nonsense over at Whistler Towers. We’re all about zero waste and making stuff, eating local produce and supporting the neighbours. So how to feast and have fun without maxing the landfill? Come closer; we have some sparkling ideas.

One of the real treats of living in Brighton is the bounty of great produce on our doorstep, and increasingly, that means some pretty amazing wines too. Ding dong! There’s a couple of Christmas present ideas already. Plus, a wine tour is a great day out for all the rellies, and we’re still only on paragraph two. But wine? Sustainable? How? 

Well, climate change may not have a lot going for it, but the warming of our southern vineyards is at least creating a rather vibrant industry, with experts claiming that some of our chalk soil compares favourably to that of the Champagne region of France. And while English wines have been a thing since the Romans, this relatively new industry has attracted some pretty cool people who care about much more than the sound of the cash till. 

Cindy-Marie Harvey is the author of Watercress, Willow and Wine and told me that the English wine industry is setting new standards in sustainable business practice. “I think wine GB has been absolutely brilliant,” she told me on my podcast Cooking the Books. “If you look at a winery at harvest time, the amount of water that you need just to keep everything clean, it’s a phenomenal amount. For one litre of wine, you probably need ten litres of water. There’s a whole host of sustainable criteria that you have to look at before you can actually get the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain badge, but that means that customers can trust what they’re buying.” 

Within an hour’s drive or so from Brighton, we have some of the best wines in the south east, many of which are leading the field in sustainability. Ridgeview in Ditchling, the organic Davenports in Rotherfield in the Low Weald, Rathfinney in Alfriston, Bolney, just 20 mins from Brighton, Wiston, Breaky Bottom, the mighty Nyetimber, how spoilt are we? And Plumpton College just down the road is training up the next generation even as I write. 

Winemaker Sam Linter has lived almost her whole life at Bolney vineyard after her parents bought up an old pig farm in the 1970s, inspired no doubt by the TV sitcom The Good Life

“We had goats on site, so mum did the goat’s milk, the goat yoghurts, the cheese she used to sell to local deli’ Sam told me when I interviewed her for the delicious podcast. “She would drive all over to sell them. She grew marrows, tomatoes, courgettes, sweet corn, we had strawberries on site here. And it was fun. It was a great childhood. My brother and I ran wild.”

That Good Life ethos lives on at Bolney since Sam has taken the reins from her parents and built a business that has become a leader in English wines. Its cuvee rose even had a rep from Laurent Perrier recently scratching his head at which was his in a taste off. And with pips and skins used to make gin and other by-products, its wine production creates a virtuous circle. They even have a wine bottle Christmas tree at the entrance to the winery restaurant.

On which… what a find for a posh lunch over the holidays. Its Eighteen Acres Cafe overlooking the vineyard gets our loudest Whistle for quality, service and price with a fabulously instagrammable menu. And it’s even dog-friendly! To celebrate the festive season, Bolney is also running some tastings throughout December. A £12 ticket will buy you a tasting of three wines, paired with festive themed canapé plus a Bolney branded ISO tasting glass to take home. Or to give away as a Christmas present..  And if you prefer a little music with your wine tastings, you can enjoy a charcuterie board and glass of Bolney Bubbly for £30 per person every Friday evening in December. 

Listen to Gilly’s podcast with Cindy-Marie fromher podcast show “Cooking The Books with Gilly Smith

And also Gilly’s interview with Sam for the delicious podcast from June 2019

Bolney Wine Estate Foxhole Ln, Bolney, Haywards Heath RH17 5NB

More details at

Dressmith – Style and Substance

“So I walked past the shop and it was empty. I’ve always loved this shop, the frontage of number 77 because of the curved windows. It looks like an old apothecary and there aren’t enough of these shops left. When I saw it was empty just after lockdown, I stood at the end of the alley and waited for someone to come out of the building, ‘Who can I call?’

I literally had no business plan, you know, but I had around 40 samples which I sold from, plus several rolls of fabric. I also have close friends who are wonderful artists and designers and having wanted to show their work too for some time, I just went for it.”

The Whistler is with Jane the Dressmith, dress designer, fabric lover and owner of the coolest clothes shop in the Dials. 

“I’ve never had a shop, never really wanted to. But I love to this shop. I’ve lived in Vernon Terrace for 22 years, so I’ve been part of the Seven Dials community and seen its rise to… Yeah, that Time Out thing, the top 12 coolest destinations in the country.”

It’s a curious thing, that coolest destinations thing. You know Time Out wasn’t talking about ‘Oh, there’s a really big Co-op’ (he says pointedly). They’re talking about independent shops, individual shops, shops with heart and soul, this is what they’re talking about. They’re talking about Dressmith. 

It’s a beautiuful shop full of beautiful clothes and lovely, lovingly chosen fabrics. It’s been here about a year, and slowly but surely she’s making it exactly as she wants. Everything in the shop is carefully curated, carefully positioned. Well, she’s a designer. It’s what they do. And in the same spirit, because she wanted to get things just right, she made me some notes. 

“Dressmith. Beautifully British. Handmade in England. Ready to wear and utility clothing. Limited edition. Organic collections and sustainable collections made from overstocked fabrics, surplus to the trade. Luxury brand with ecological consciousness” – which is all very well, but it doesn’t give an indication of the passion. Walking around the beautifully designed, beautifully presented shop you just know that there’s a real love here. Wools, linens, cottons… 

And it’s not just hers. There’s art on the walls “they’re by Michael Bishop” – ceramics on the shelves, cards, candlesticks… All made by friends, all part of the same ethos. 

So this is your baby, but it’s a hub for your community as well. “Yes. It’s a Dressmith family, basically. Yeah, that’s what I like to think of it as. 

“Basically, I want this shop to be for everybody. So I get I’m getting gifty things in candles, socks, berets, room diffusers, soaps, tea towels. I want people to be able to come in and buy a card and a gift”.

I was desperate for Dressmith to be her real name – love a bit of nominative determinism – but “No, my real name is Jane De Lacey” which is maybe even better, especially when you consider that before 2014 when she established the dresSmith label, she designed underwear and lounge wear. “I just thought, you know, my initial concept was when you get home, you should put loungewear on you shouldn’t put an old tracksuit on, you should dress up at home. So I made lounge suits”. 

Jane the designer came of age in the mid-1980s and hit the ground running during the heyday of Kensington Market, the New Romantics, Vivienne Westwood, Camden Market, Club For Heroes… 

“I dressed bands like Madness, U2, the  Stranglers. Do you remember that newspaper print suit Madness wore?” Madness were always seriously stylish, but The Stranglers? “Oh, God. Well, I just used to make normal stuff. You know, Jet Black was rather a hefty chap…” 

So a year on, do you enjoy the shop life? “Yes, because I don’t have hundreds of customers, and everyone has been so welcoming. I’m not in the Western Road, I don’t have serious footfall, so I can sit there and get on with designing. My idea has always been I would have a shop that I could work at the back of, and then if somebody comes in then you can help them if they need help. So actually, that’s what I’m doing”.

Dressmith, 77 Dyke Rd, Brighton BN1 3JE

How To Have A Mindful Xmas by Jo Rowkins

There’s the Bailey’s. That tub of Quality Street. And the Christmas pud always seems a good idea – until just after you’ve eaten it. How can you avoid that “uurrgghh” when your “Oh, just one more” urge is bigger than your mince pies.

There’s a Christmas song we’ve been practicing recently in The Dulcetones, a fabulous choir I sing in, called “Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year.” I’ve been reflecting on those lyrics. But amid the stress and overwhelm of it all, too often the Christmas reality for many is one of over-indulgence, family tension and feeling wiped out come the new year. So how can we make Christmas mean something this year? One word: mindfulness!

Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be a time of gratitude and nourishment, and a wonderful exercise in mindfulness. Nurturing yourself and your loved ones at the end of another year, can be an opportunity for relaxation and renewal. Christmas is the stepping stone from one year to the next, so a very powerful time indeed. So, bearing that in mind, here are 11 Ways To A Mindful Christmas:

1. Pamper yourself and your loved ones. Christmas should feel like it’s everyone’s birthday. Make it special by being truly present as you take yourself through each moment of the day.

2. Eat a protein-rich breakfast. I adore wild smoked salmon, spinach and organic eggs alongside my glass of Christmas breakfast champagne. The protein regulates your appetite and reduces the temptation to eat all the chocs and sugary treats on offer! Balanced blood sugar equals balanced energy levels, allowing you to stay fresh and avoid mood swings.

3. Choose quality over quantity. Luxuriate in the decadence of this time of year. Choose wisely, slow down and enjoy every mouthful! Make your food a sensual delight. 

4. Eat the rainbow. Christmas dinner is the ideal opportunity to load your plate with colourful veg. Cruciferous ones like Brussel’s sprouts, broccoli and red cabbage are packed with indole-3-carbinol to help your liver process the extra booze (and they support your hormones too). 

5. Make cooking an act of ritual. Slowing down and being mindful when shopping, prepping and cooking food can make it a sacred act. Notice the colourful vegetables, the smell and the textures. Feel honoured to be able to cook a nourishing meal for yourself and your loved ones, instead of it feeling like a chore.

6. Be mindful of your food intake. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you have to eat until you’re stuffed. Eat mindfully, chew slowly and give each bite the attention it deserves. Notice the tastes, textures and smells. 

7. Receiving and giving is an experience of abundance and gratitude. Slow down and appreciate what’s happening. Give from your heart when you give, and truly receive and appreciate the gifts you are given.

8. Watch your ego! Family can churn up old patterns, judgments and behaviours that no longer serve us, or are real. Breathe, connect and observe fully. Sometimes negative reactions are our own, sometimes from another family member. Stay true to yourself without the need to react. Breathe deeply, don’t get sucked into old family dramas (this one is easier said than done…sometimes another Campari is actually what’s needed in these situations!!). Choose happiness over being right!

9. Play and have fun. We’re often feeling stressed and overwhelmed due to society’s pressures. Laughter and silliness are the best medicine. Be silly, tell jokes, wear the Christmas jumper, do jigsaw puzzles, play Charades… it’s a time to let your hair down.

10. Drink mindfully. Be sure to sip water regularly as well as selecting healthier options such as red wine, dry white, and Champagne. Drink your vodka or gin with soda water and a squeeze of fresh lemon instead of sugary mixers. 

11. Supplement to support your body. I favour milk thistle and B vitamins to support liver function when drinking excess alcohol, and vitamin C to boost immunity. A quality digestive enzyme is a perfect natural remedy, and you can’t beat mighty magnesium to calm your nerves and help you relax. An Epsom salt bath in the morning will set you up for a relaxing and nurturing Christmas day ahead.

Switching off autopilot is one of the best things you can do. On autopilot you act without thinking, feeling or noticing, and miss all the magic of life happening around you. So, embrace the sensual pleasures and decadence of Christmas day with intention. Being mindful is a great gift to yourself and others and the way to make Christmas mean something this year. 

I wish you a wonderfully mindful, nurturing and healthy Christmas, and a fabulous year ahead full of wellness and self-care.

Jo Rowkins, Nutritional Therapist & Lifestyle Coach at Awakening Health.

Skip Kelly of Montpelier Villa Women Remembers The Important Things

The coffin was surrounded by dozens of family photos. I featured in only one,a chubby-cheeked youngster decked out in various items of clothing coloured blue and white to show our support for the Waterford hurling team in their quest to win their first All-Ireland Hurling title since 1959. He was born in 1960 and in the obituary I was listed as his son, but I never considered him my father. 

There were many facets of our relationship that you’d expect in a father-son relationship. I was the only one listed in the obituary that supported the same football team as him which often meant that our relationship rarely went beyond analysis of the most recent Leeds United result. 

“It doesn’t matter that we lost to Cheltenham Town because if we beat Scunthorpe United then we’re only 12 points outside the play-offs with 13 games to go,” I’d declare enthusiastically only to be met with some variation of “I’m still going to have to go to work in the morning.”  This humility was something that always irked me.  

When I received my Junior Certificate results, I was picked up by him and told that I was expected to work for his gardening business that afternoon. I stared blankly at the road in front of us as I could see my friends plan infinitely more exciting activities than cutting grass. It was the kind of humility that never caused me anger when displayed by Marcelo Bielsa when he famously insisted the Leeds United squad picked up litter for three hours.

I couldn’t help question why there weren’t more photos of me, but also what did I know about this man? I was given the opportunity to confront these questions sooner than I had anticipated with the arrival of early onset dementia. 

I knew he was stubborn, once falling off a ladder two stories high and breaking two ribs while painting but climbing up the ladder to finish the job before seeking any kind of treatment. 

I knew he enjoyed old western movies and although never expressed out loud did not have an affinity for the slick cowboys with their pistols but rather with the Indians and their measly weapons. I remember his frustration at being given a dream-catcher that “wouldn’t work” because it had the caricature of a chief’s head in the middle. An incredible piece of knowledge for someone to have who left school before gracing the doors of a secondary school but his lack of gratitude had annoyed me. It was the sort of knowledge that didn’t annoy me when inspired by The Last Dance. I read an array of books about Phil Jackson who used his knowledge of Native American culture to inspire his Chicago Bulls team to an incredible run. 

Although he enjoyed sports, he somehow knew his life wasn’t dictated by results in Yorkshire. I couldn’t disagree more and it was this perennial unspoken conflict that meant our conversations that were based solely on analysis of results waned and eventually disappeared. I visited him every Christmas when I went home out of a sense of duty. 

Although he remembered my name, he forgot how old I was, he forgot I moved, he forgot his siblings names, he forgot snippets of conversation that we just had and he even forgot he supported Leeds United. Hardly surprising considering he had never been to Elland Road and only owned one replica shirt which was a gift for his 40th birthday.

I realised it’s easy to attribute characteristics I admire to the likes of Bielsa and Phil Jackson because it suggests I found them and I don’t have to acknowledge the real source which was much closer to home. 

I was told my step-father passed away on a Saturday afternoon. I booked a flight that I could make that didn’t clash with the Bexhill game the following day. I’m still going to have to go to work in the morning. 

Dream-catchers don’t actually catch dreams but rather ward off nightmares, specifically from children. I never considered him my father, but that never stopped him from seeing me as his son. 

Are You Still Potty, Dotty?

It’s been a personal back patting few weeks. I’ve painted drain pipes gold, exhibited at Naked, the seafront art gallery with a golden spiral staircase and recently commissioned to complete a Tsunami wave on the side of a house, with accompanying Artist Dotty jellyfish. As I sway, splat, and splodge my brush, in preparation for an AD flourish of finality, I often ponder what an interesting green future might be for Brighton ? 

Firstly trams on the hills would certainly encourage people to socialise while in transit. Old wooden carriages, San Franciscan style. Bring your bike disco nights, powered by a local park with exercise machines. Reduced mortgage deals for proof of bicycle purchase. Ban of sales of plastic, have a plazzi bag amnesty and tie all the bags together to make tents for the homeless. 

Create a piece of art that explores the land mass of every UK food bank and the land mass of every supermarket in the UK (if joined together). Introduce the Brighton pound, which can only be used for green initiatives and works directly with local artists. Build a green cafe warehouse with easy access for the wheelchair community and run a campaign to have the word disabled removed from the Oxford dictionary. 

Make bright green the new council colour for seafront railings and use eco friendly paint. These and a million other ideas float through my head as I dangle at an angle contravening every health and safety law to complete my tsunami wave on a hilltop house. 

Hold on a minute stream of consciousness kicks in again. And last but by no means least the thought that might get me lynched on the way to the shop. Scrap all cars in Brighton and have really cool sci-fi vehicles that function for different reasons :

Vehicles specially for retail delivery 

Transport for Tradesmen … that’s right, no more parking fines,  you simply load a carriage up, that stops at your destination. 

Vehicles for anyone with mobility issues. 

Vehicles for emergency only ( high speed) .

Vehicles for retail shopping, with the option of a two tiered retail experience : 

Human interaction or Automation 

Given that all the bungeroosh buildings are sinking into the sand, knock them all down and build round eco houses as a flagship project to show off to the world. 

Have a toll to enter Brighton and all the money gets split amongst artists demonstrating a green awareness. Maybe have a recycling bin with the title Further Use on it. 

Right that’s it, time to stop waffling. What do you think ? 

Artist Dotty is considering running for Prime  Minister. Would you vote for a messy, unorganised Artist ? 

Artist Dotty is currently exhibiting at Brightons St Augustine’s church art centre

Sam Harrington-Lowe – December 2022

My friend Kath messages me. “I’m coming to your ‘hood later to get things for Stir Up Sunday,” she says. “Let’s meet up.”

Delighted as I am to see my friend, I wonder what the hell Stir Up Sunday is. Am I being invited to a thing? In the olden days, it sounds like the sort of hedonistic event we’d go to once the club shut at 6am, to carry

on dancing and getting wasted. But we’re both in our fifties now. This seems unlikely.

Obviously I can research this myself but it’s still the morning and Kath is happy to advise me. It’s the day when you make the Christmas pudding, or cake or whatever. Or possibly you give it one last stir before cooking it. Who the hell knows? I don’t. And I realise that I don’t know this because I don’t like cake, and I don’t really like Christmas.

I’m not entirely bah humbug about the whole thing. It’s nice to see people I suppose, and I do enjoy the long lunches that happen in December. And I always take time off work, so I like that bit too. And there is cheese. Cheese is possibly the best thing about Christmas. 

But the determined and competitive gaiety of Christmas decs, the enforced time spent with people – in groups! With alcohol added! And turkey. The driest, most boring bird on the planet to grace a table. Give me rib of beef, and a quiet day to actually chat to people without the madness. I’ve always preferred Boxing Day. By then everyone has run out of steam, like toddlers on sugar, and it’s a lot nicer. Plus cold meats and pickles.

My dislike of Christmas probably stems from two things. Firstly, from being neurodiverse. A room full of people, all full of beans, wanting conversation and loud Bing Crosby and pulling crackers and OH MY LIVING HELL – charades, is the stuff of nightmares. Also, I had an alcoholic and often argumentative mother, so childhood Christmases were like unexploded bombs. I can still feel that fear sometimes in a large family group, on alert, waiting for the inevitable car crash, the shouting, the tears. It’s hard to let that go.

I’m not alone in this anti-Christmas feeling. Everyone has their own take; my daughter seems genuinely to feel the same way. And I have tried to make it nice for her, I promise. She has always done her best to prevent me from doing anything ‘large’. It’s hard to argue when you don’t want to do it either.

It seems, however, that a bit like choosing not to have children, choosing not to have Christmas is becoming more acceptable, which is excellent. I have friends who hate it too. In the US, Jewish people (for whom Christmas is just another day, in a religious sense) gather in Chinese restaurants for parties, and banter, and the not eating of turkey – the Chinese being similarly uninterested in Christmas. In Japan, the big tradition is to have KFC.  I’ve seen mates employing some of these tactics recently and I applaud this.

Anyway, this year my daughter is hosting Christmas in the deepest countryside, at her place, which I am a bit excited about. She’s a sous chef at a wonderful pub, and working over the silly season. “Mum, you can sit up at the bar with Alice (the pug) and drink brandy and yak with the locals, and I’ll feed you,” she said. “And then when you want, you can just go back to the house and chill out.”

Does that sound like the magic of Christmas to you? Because it does to me. Time with the best kid in the whole world, and the dog. And no jobs to do? I’m looking forward to it more this year that possibly ever before. Cheers! And thank you my wonderful daughter.

Happy whatsit to you lot too, however you decide to celebrate (or not).

The New New Wave vs The Old New Wave – by Mick Robinson

Four gigs in one week is quite unusual for me these days, but emphasised the plusses and minuses of each act and also highlighted the differences of each band, especially the old and the new.

Here are the gigs in order;
Sham 69 Saturday in London.
Gemma Rogers Sunday in Brighton 
Working Men’s Club Tuesday in Brighton 
Stereolab Wednesday in Brighton

There were several eras covered, and so it was interesting to compare each band and where they’re at either then or now.

Sham 69, fronted by Jimmy Pursey and with the original line up from 1977, are very much a marmite band in the love or loathe stakes. Mainly due to their original followers being skinheads and violence at all their gigs at that time, followed by chart success & Pursey’s larger than life persona, the fans were passionate, but the haters had plenty of ammo to dislike. 

I loved the band at the time, but I was a punk rocker and there was trouble with skinheads everywhere and going to a gig of theirs back then… that was a definite no no for me. Back then, the kids were not united.

Fast forward to five years ago, and Jimmy had stayed a lot at Hotel Pelirocco, my place at the time. I got on well with him, something which culminated in him offering Dirt Royal, the Brighton band I managed, a support at The100 Club. They were great. It was a mixed crowd, there was no aggro, just a good rock’n’roll band, and I could finally jump in the mosh pit safely. Jimmy was born to perform and always has the audience in the palm of his hand.

Gemma Rogers penultimate gig on her UK tour for her current album, No Place Like Home, at the lovely Hope And Ruin, a great debut full of clever witty observations of everyday life with a bit of a social comment edge for good measure.

It wasn’t as busy as expected, but perhaps isn’t as well known here as she should be. She had a sore throat, but that was pushed to one side with a stunning vocal and stage performance. Like Jimmy Pursey, she’s born for the stage. She has charm, grace, panache and style in abundance, and was wildly received by her passionate fans.

Working Men’s Club hail from Yorkshire, are signed to ultra cool Heavenly Records and are loved by critics – they get all the plaudits – and are definitely on the rise to the next level of fame. A touch of the New Order indie dance crossover best describes their sound. I first saw them at The Great Escape four years ago playing to 30 people in Photomatic in Gardner Street. It was an epic performance, followed by a bigger, but also epic performance at The Latest Bar a year later, now playing to hundreds instead of 50 or so people. I personally felt the charisma and stage presence of singer Minksy was slightly lost on the bigger crowd as he’s very intense, but watch this space as they move into the next stage like Fontaine’s DC  before them.

Finally the unique perfectly crafted lounge Anglo French avant garde electronic pop sound of Sterolab (pictured). They made one of my all time faves – French Disko, an amazing pop song. If you want to check them out, it was perfectly highlighted on a YouTube clip from mid-90s TV show The Word, a clip that still sends a shiver.

They sold out at Concorde 2, quite a feat at any stage of your career, and were eagerly anticipated by a crowd stroking their beards, but actually the gig fell a bit flat and me and my pal Dave, over from Australia, left early.

I like a bit of performance with my gigs no matter how innovative or arty, Jimmy Pursey gave a master class, Gemma has bundles of charisma & presence, WMC need to get back to their roots and the Lab need chairs. ✌️❤️

Burning The Clocks returns. Nadia Abbas reports

Brighton’s annual Burning the Clocks event has become a beloved tradition among residents. It’s a magical community event that marks the shortest day of the year. A few nights before Christmas the streets are filled with crowds of people carrying handmade, intricately designed lanterns. They march through town until they reach the seafront. They throw their lanterns into a blazing bonfire and enjoy a spectacular firework display to mark the end of the year.

SameSky is a local charity that organises the Burning the Clocks event. The event will start on New Road at 6:30pm on December 21st and entry will be free. SameSky expects around twenty-thousand people to attend this year. This includes children, families, artists, bands, and community groups. Robert Batson, SameSky Executive Producer, said: “There is so many cool builds that we are excited to bring to Brighton this year.” People can carry their own lanterns that they have made or purchase lantern kits from SameSky. Robert Batson, SameSky Executive Producer, said: “Some lanterns will have names, hopes, or wishes inscribed on them. Something to remember the past year.”

The event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. As Covid restrictions have been lifted and we are making the transition back into normal life Burning the Clocks returns. This year its theme is ‘wild’. Robert Batson, SameSky Executive Producer, said: “It has a lot to do with the feeling of being unleashed and uncaged after two years.” SameSky artist Jo Coles designed the effigy this year, and she took inspiration from the uninhibited elements of central European cultures like the wilder men.

The event costs over £45,000 to produce, and SameSky does not receive regular funding. They rely on donations from their Crowdfunder, fundraising, and support from local businesses to enable this event to take place. Robert Batson, SameSky Executive Producer, said: “As long as we know the community is behind us and that there is support out there for this, this event is going to continue.”

SameSky works with different schools and organisations in Brighton. Robert Batson, Executive Producer at SameSky, said: “We are working with the Hummingbird Project which is a refugee group based in Sussex who have been doing tremendous work.” SameSky also works with artistic group Pebbles and The Woodcraft Folk, who try to involve families in the artistic practice.

Burning the Clocks has a long history in Brighton. It began in 1993 and its aim was to provide a cathartic and uplifting escape from the heavy commercial focus of the Christmas season. It also became a way to embrace the community as everyone could celebrate this event regardless of faith.

SameSky has created lantern kits for residents to purchase if they want to take part in the event. They are available at HISBE Supermarket, The Booklovers Store, The Book Nook, Seed ‘n’ Sprout, and Paxton+Glew.

If you would like to find out more, visit

Gull About Town – December 2022

The skies are clearing as we head out of the chaos of an autumn that had us gulls wondering about the very future of the city’s rich pickings, and we’re gliding into a crisp midwinter of surprisingly fresh and vibrant food stories. Who’d have thought that we’d be talking new restaurants in a cost of living crisis, but there’s exciting news ahead.

Your gull has been pecking at the windows of what was her favourite nibble, Oki-Nami on New Road to try to spot Brighton’s superstar chef, Dave Mothersill. Furna, his tasting menu only restaurant on the site will be open by the time your Whistler hits the streets and has been met with cries of delight in the scavenger community. 

Great uncle Gulbert still tells the chicks nest-time stories of the stubbly-chinned chef who would leave his delicious leftovers at the back of Terre a Terre, The Salt Room, The Coal Shed, The Ginger Pig and The Gingerman for his favourite gull with a smile and a wink. He could spot a bird with good taste.  And, shh, but word has it that he’s the most likely chef to get the city’s elusive first Michelin star. 

And from that Salt Room stable, Tutto (pictured) has finally opened after a false start back in September. Early pecking has this gull cocking her head, but she’ll be sticking with the veggie leftovers until she can be sure where the meat comes from.

Squawking of new openings, your gull can report that the highly popular Curry Leaf chef, Kanthi Thamma and his pal from his Chilli Pickle days, Diego Ricaurte have settled into their new Latin American meets India restaurant, Palmito. Since picking at the pork chicharron with hominy corn and salsa, she’s even ditched the idea of spreading her wings and heading to Mexico for the winter. 

As the nights draw in and the Christmas lights begin to line the streets of Brighton, your gull hits a thermal to look down on the bird life in this pretty city. The chicks are tottering down West Street, pecking at the tacos strewn across the pavements ahead of their big night out. A team of eco-gulls are clearing the beach after an unseasonably warm day has attracted a swarm of tourists. And Great Uncle Gulbert struts out of the back of Bincho Yakitori, stuffed to the gills with his favourite pickings in town. Dave Mothersill was right about him. He does have great taste.

Xmas In The Dials – December 8

Come join Hi Cacti & our fellow 7 Dials independent businesses for some late night shopping, festivities & share some community cheer🎄

18+ of our local neighbouring shops, cafes, pubs, and businesses are all joining together to bring you festivities & late night shopping!

🎅🏽 Kitsch Santa’s grotto
🎅🏽 Treasure Hunt
🎅🏽 Christmas Carol Singing
🎅🏽 Local Pub Crawl for a free drink
🎅🏽 Christmas lights & window displays

🛍 More to be revealed & all are open till 8pm to bring you sales & discounts to help you Christmas shop locally & support your 7 Dials community businesses this Christmas.

During Very Merry 7 Dials your favourite independents will be open 5pm-9pm to bring you vinyls, vintage, houseplants, cakes, fashion, local art, mulled wine, Christmas trees, raffles, mince pies, wreaths, home goods, festive cocktails, local makers, late night shopping & sales, essential oil samples & workshops, coffee, gifts, charitable causes, & more!