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9 GRAND JCT RD | BRIGHTON | BN1 1PP (60 yards from Palace Pier)

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www.pier ninebrighton.co.uk @pier nine @pier nine (over 18s only) Image by David Freeman Photography

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Contributing Editors - Charlie McBrien Victoria Marie Emerson | Pete Hayward | Tony Shattell (food reviewer) Features Editor - Victoria Marie Emerson - info@absolutemagazine.co.uk Design - Pete Hayward - petehayward.design Owners - Publishers Simon Darcy Abbott - simon@absolutemagazine.co.uk David Camici - dcamici@absolutemagazine.co.uk

Cover Photography - Aida (Ibiza Photo Story) Wardrobe - World Family Stylist - Ger Valkenburg Assistant Stylist - Kc Rose

ABSOLUTE is owned and produced by Make a Difference Media Ltd Absolute offices 1 Preston Road, Brighton, BN1 4QU



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The Editor


his has been a crazy week with the entire world experiencing unprecedented times. The uncertainty of how long this global ‘pandemic’ virus will affect peoples health and also our economies is confusing and scary. All we can do is act prudently and selflessly to help our communities ride out this phenomenon for the time being. As a small business we have decided to reschedule the releases of all printed edition globally. New projects like the relaunches of Brighton Visitor and the new Sussex Visitor platforms will be more needed than ever to our beloved City of Brighton & Hove and other Sussex towns once everyone is able to go about their business as normal. Keep safe people. Respect the warnings issued by our government. Use your head and limit your time outside of your home so that we can support our amazing emergency services, doctors and nurses and other people out there working to supply us with care and provisions during these difficult times. ABSOLUTE Magazine Team MAD Media Team Sussex Media Team









Kiefer Sutherland live at Chalk

The Boomtown Rats The Boomtown Rats will mark 2020 (The Year Of The Rat) with a UK tour to support their first new studio album since 1984 and singer  Bob Geldof’s new book entitled,  Tales Of Boomtown Glory. Formed in Dublin in 1975,  The Boomtown Rats became part of the burgeoning punk scene and went on to make history. Racking up 6 era-defining albums, The Boomtown Rats were  the first Irish band to have a UK #1 with their hit,  Rat Trap as well as their single,  I Don’t Like Mondays, which went to the top of the charts in 32 countries.  The Boomtown Rats are: Bob Geldof on vocals, Pete Briquette on bass, Simon Crowe on drums and Garry Roberts on guitar - will tour the UK in 2020.



Kiefer Sutherland returns to the South Coast following a sell out show at Concorde 2 on his previous visit, and this time plays his biggest show in Brighton to date at Chalk! The Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor, producer & director began his musical career in 2002 with his music partner and best friend Jude Cole, when they began their own record label, Ironworks.

In early 2015 Sutherland played Cole two songs he had written and wanted to record as demos for other artists to record. Cole responded positively to the songs and their debut album grew organically from there on... Reflecting on his music, Sutherland says, ‘There is something very satisfying about being able to look back on my own life, good times and bad, and express those sentiments in music. As much as I have enjoyed the writing and recording process, I am experiencing great joy now being able to play these songs to a live audience, which was something I hadn’t counted on”.

An Evening with Whitney BASE Hologram, the leading live event producer of cutting edge holographic live entertainment tours and attractions worldwide, announced in partnership with The Estate of Whitney E. Houston the UK dates of the upcoming hologram touring production An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour and The Brighton Centre will be playing host on Saturday 7th March 2020!

The show will include all of the singer’s iconic hits including “I Will Always Love You,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me”), “The Greatest Love of All” and “Higher Love.”


Foodies Festival

Brighton Centre, Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2GR After selling out The O2 in minutes McFly announce a new UK Tour for 2020 including a date at the Brighton Centre on 6th May 2020.

Foodies Festival offers a fun day out for all the family and will be arriving at Hove Lawns on 8th-10th May 2020. Foodies Festival is the UK’s largest celebration of food & drink where visitors can feast on a vast array of culinary activities, making Foodies Festival the social event of the summer. This yea will once again see top chefs cooking in the Chef’s Theatre, wine, beer, and cocktails in the Drink’s Theatre, a brand new Tasting Theatre, a BBQ Arena, a live entertainment stage and kids can learn to cook too in the Children’s Cookery Theatre.

Gaming Retro-Bution Every lat Thursday of the month sees the Railway Inn, Brighton lay out a huge selection of retro consoles and games available to play completely free! Pick and choose from over 1000 games & 9 consoles available (NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, Megadrive, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, XBOX) . What’s more, they now have loads of light guns and light gun games too! The consoles are set up around the bar and the team change the games for you whenever you like. It’s not just one game left set up per console for the whole event - far from it!

Take your pals or arrive and make some new ones!

James Blunt The Brighton Centre is preparing to welcome James Blunt’s Once Upon a Mind 2020 UK and European tour on 22nd February 2020.

James Blunt released his first album, ‘Back To Bedlam’ in the autumn of 2004 and soon after the single ‘You’re Beautiful’ became a global smash hit.

After flirting with electronica on his last album, James Blunt returns to what he does best on new album ‘Once Upon A Mind’, writing classic songs that touch both the heart and the head. Highlights are many and include the breezy first single ‘Cold’, the poignant ballad ‘Monsters’, the pop swagger of ‘5 Miles’ and the country tinged ‘Halfway.’ There’s a warmth that permeates the entire album, and a real sense of personality.

He has sold over 23 million albums and has showcased his wit and charm more recently with his always engaging twitter account.

Queer the Pier Opening on 22nd February, this community curated display peers into local LGBTIQA+ history. Set within the impressive Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, the exhibition celebrates the lives of the writers, artists, performers, activists and ordinary people who have made Brighton & Hove so fabulous, with their stories brought to life with film and photography, fashion and drag and oral histories. Part of Be Bold, a series of collaborative exhibitions and events, programmed with Brighton & Hove’s LGBTQ communities.

With seven UK number-one singles, five top-ten albums, six sell-out tours and ten million records sold worldwide, McFly are without question one of the most significant British pop acts of the twentyfirst century. Since hitting the big time as the youngest band ever to have a debut album go straight to number one — beating The Beatles’ long-standing record — Tom, Danny, Dougie and Harry have become one of our best-loved bands, not to mention major stars in their own right.

Tom Stade The unparalleled master and worst-kept secret of stand-up comedy, Tom Stade, is back! Now the kids have moved out, it’s a dawn of a new era for the Canadian comedy legend. Pushing the boundaries of his irrepressible sense of mischief further than ever before, join Tom as he revels in his newfound sense of freedom with hilarious anecdotes of how he is embracing the next chapter of his and his family’s lives. With 30 years out on the comedy frontline as well as a brand-new show every year since 2011, Tom Stade is only just warming up as he enters the new decade with even more of his rock ’n’ roll swagger and blithesome spirit. You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Jimmy Carr – Terribly Funny

Jimmy’s brand new show, coming to The Brighton Dome on 23rd February contains jokes about all kinds of terrible things. Terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love. But they’re just jokes - they are not the terrible things. Having political correctness at a comedy show is like having health and safety at a rodeo. Now you’ve been warned, buy a ticket.




News Lighthouse Family

Brighton Festival 2020

Lighthouse Family, one of the most successful bands of the late 90s and early 00s, return with a new studio album and tour after 18 years, with The Brighton Dome playing host on 25th February.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival is the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Running from 2nd to 24th May 2020, it opens with the popular Children’s Parade, produced in partnership with Same Sky. Community and participation events will appear across the city – Our Place will continue to bring free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton; Young City Reads encourages school children to share their love of reading and Without Walls family friendly events will pop-up in unexpected outdoor locations.

Blue Sky In Your Head will be released on Fri 3 May on Polydor and will include all the bands classic songs remastered for the very first time to celebrate their 25-year recording history. The lead single My Salvation is a lushly melodic track every bit as good as you’d expect from the band that produced the timeless hits Lifted, High, and Ocean Drive

The Script

After 6 billion streams, 30 million single sales, 10.8 million album sales, over 12 million monthly Spotify listeners and 1.8 million ticket sales, Irish alt-pop trio The Script embark upon a new chapter with the November 8th release of their new album ‘Sunsets & Full Moons’ and will be bringing their tour to The Brighton Centre on 25th February 2020.

Having returned with the emotive, stadium-bound first single ‘The Last Time’, ‘Sunsets & Full Moons’ is the sound of The Script - Danny O’Donoghue (vocals, piano, guitar), Mark Sheehan (vocals, guitars) and Glen Power (drums) - focusing on the inclusive, uplifting songwriting that helped them become an arena-filling band with a fervent fan base the world over. In many ways, ‘Sunsets & Full Moons’ feels like a sequel to The Script’s much-loved debut album. Both albums emerged from emotionally turbulent times: O’Donoghue lost his father around the time of the release of their debut. And ten years later, he lost his mother as they worked on this album - with both his parents passing on Valentine’s Day. Naturally the songs began to reflect the band’s own personal experiences - and those are themes sure to resonate with their fans, too.

“I think it’s the most poignant record we’ve ever made,” asserts O’Donoghue. “Our music was always about being together with the audience, and writing about your own feelings, and sharing them”.



Stereophonics Stereophonics return to The Brighton Centre on 2nd March 2020 as part of their 2020 UK Arena Tour following the release of new single ‘Bust This Town’, the latest offering from forthcoming album ‘Kind’.

The Beat

Speaking on the new single, Kelly Jones says: “’Bust This Town’ is a song about escapism. Two lovers or friends or whoever you want to interpret them to be, finally find the courage to leave the small town they are stuck in and head on down the road breaking all the rules along the way. It’s the opener of side 2 of the album, with a four on the floor beat it should be a strong resident in the upcoming tour dates”.

For the first time in over twenty five years, founding vocalist Dave Wakeling will be performing as The Beat to celebrate  the 40th anniversary of their jaw dropping debut album,  I Just Can’t Stop. Alongside contemporaries,  The Specials, Madness and  The Selecter,  The Beat pioneered the 2-Tone explosion that changed British pop music forever. Following the release of their three revolutionary albums, the band went on to conquer the globe and toured worldwide with acts such as  The Clash, The Police, REM, Talking Heads and  David Bowie. 

With Kelly Jones’ trademark optimistic lyrics and rolling along on a wave of understated instrumentation, ‘Bust This Town’ is an emotive anthem for living for the moment, going with your instinct and never looking back.

The Great Escape Festival 2020 Pretty and Punk South Brighton Wedding Fair

Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang Following a sell-out 2018 tour, and fresh from a 2019 Edinburgh Fringe run that sold out in advance, Phil ‘Philly Philly Wang Wang’ Wang is back on tour with his newest show, arriving at the Old Market on 12th March 2020. Phil has made a name for himself (that name being Phil Wang) exploring sex, romance, politics, and his mixed British-Malaysian heritage with shows that delight in his unique Wang brand of smart and silly. This one is about morality and the modern sense of self. Swell!

Rick Astley with Special Guest KT Tunstall

Rick Astley announces his ‘Greatest Hits Tour 2020’. The eleven-date arena tour, which includes The Brighton Centre on 18th April, will see Rick perform to a combined audience of more than 80,000 people,. Rick Astley has proven to be a consistently huge draw in the live arena. He’s sold over 100,000 tickets to his UK headline shows since releasing his chart-topping album ‘50’ in 2016. This year has seen him complete a gargantuan 38-date stadium tour as special guest to Take That in which he played to over 500,000 people. Meanwhile, festivals have included a headline show at Kew The Music, plus the Isle of Wight, Pub in the Park and Chris Evans’ Carfest.

His shows are a celebration, mixing the famous hits that he made his name with alongside current fan favourites. Rick’s wideranging love of music means that his sets are often peppered with some inspired covers - as vintage as AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’ and as contemporary as Calvin Harris and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man’s ‘Giant’. It’s a crowd-pleasing cocktail powered by his famous vocal, easy-going charm and incendiary live band. Previous live reviews have described his show at “joyous” (Evening Standard) and “clever and soulful” (Daily Telegraph).

Pretty and Punk South are coming to Brighton to host their ever first East Sussex wedding fair at The Wagner Hall on Sunday 26th April 2020!

Newly engaged couples will be able to connect with suppliers offering all things Pretty to Punk to help create their dream wedding day! The fairs are not ‘the regular’ – the team like to make them as fun, interactive and quirky as possible so they are are sure you’ll enjoy the time you spend there!

Brighton Fringe

The Great Escape is the festival for new music, showcasing 500 emerging artists from all over the world in 30+ walkable venues across the city and a pop-up festival site on Brighton Beach. Running from 13th16th May, it’s the first place to discover your new favourite artist and see them in an intimate setting before they go on to headline major festival stages. TGE is also attended by the music industry who are on the hunt for the next big thing. We run a conference alongside the gigs featuring insightful panels, topical debates, keynote speeches and networking opportunities in abundance. The Alternative Escape, the Spotlight Shows, secret gigs, club nights and spontaneous collaborations all add to the festivities and make this weekend in Brighton one not to miss.

Brighton Fringe, which runs throughout the month of May, is the largest arts festival in England, established to stimulate, educate and entertain diverse audiences from young children to arts professionals through a diverse range of art forms. The streets of Brighton come alive with outdoor events, street food stalls and Fringe City on New Road.

The Ladyboys of Bangkok; 2020 Tour FLIGHT OF FANTASY The Lady Boys of Bangkok are back at Pavilion Gardens, Brighton with their most sensational show yet, Flight of Fantasy which runs from 1st May 2020. Climb aboard for the trip of a lifetime as the world’s most glamorous showgirls (who just happen to be men!) send you soaring to spectacular diamante-dipped song and dance destinations, with over 400 stunning costumes.

Comedy turbulence is the in-flight order of the day as your cabin crew, Ole and Jamie (the UK’s only dwarf drag queen) take you mile high at the biggest party in the sky! Pop icons including Destiny’s Child, Shania Twain, Little Mix, the Pussycat Dolls and many more will have you dancing in the aisles, transporting you from Las Vegas to Las Palmas in a sparkle-filled show where Bollywood meets Broadway.

Grab your boarding passes at ladyboysofbangkok.co.uk because in 2020, the sky’s the limit for the UK’s favourite cabaret show!

Brighton Marathon Weekend 2020 Now in it’s 11th year the Brighton Marathon is one of the UK’s favourite 26.2-milers. With a stunning backdrop of the sea in one of the country’s most vibrant cities, the race gets bigger and better every year and will be returning to Madeira Drive Brighton on 19th April 2020. Renowned for its buzzing atmosphere and roaring crowd support, the course winds through the city streets, finishing up on the spectacular Brighton seafront.

The Brighton Marathon Weekend is an exciting three-day running event in one of Britain’s most cosmopolitan cities, comprising The Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Mini Mile Races on the Saturday, the BM10k and Brighton Marathon races on the Sunday and the Event Village on Brighton beach, which is open Friday-Sunday. This is an event for the whole family with something for everyone of all ages and abilities. The participant fields for all three races grow every year while over 150,000 spectators take to the city streets to show their support and cheer the marathon and 10k runners on, on Race Day.





640 EAST LONDON | BRISTOL | BRIGHTON coffee and bowls by day, cocktails and small plates by night in the North Laine

Bowls and Breakfast: 10am-5pm Mon-Sat Small Plates: 5pm-Close Thu-Sat, and 12pm-Close on Sunday Firepit Sunday: 12pm-Close on Sunday

WHERE WE ARE 39 Upper Gardner Street, North Laine, Brighton BN1 4AN OPENING HOURS Mon-Wed 8am - 5pm Thu-Sat 8am - 11pm Sun 11am-5pm www.640east.co.uk www.facebook.com/640East www.instagram.com/640east





Stylist - Ger Valkenburg DC Models Amy van Lersel & Aïda Husaj Clothing by Revolver Ibiza / World Family / La Galeria Elefante Jewellery by Delphine Tempels (Del Tempels) Jewellery by Natasha Dahlberg www.instagram.com/dahlberg Photography By Aida (Ibiza Photo Story) Hair & Make Up By - Blow Out Ibiza



































Tel: 01273 230535 | www.snofurniture.co.uk | info@snofurniture.co.uk



BRIGHTON PRIDE 2020 Brighton Pride celebrates 30 glorious years as Mariah Carey arrives in our city to headline FABULOSO Pride In The Park on 1st August 2020, joined by reunited mega group The Pussycat Dolls the following day!


righton & Hove Pride, the UK’s biggest Pride festival, have finally announced

the headline act for 2020 and it is none other than the global superstar Mariah Carey, GLAAD Award recipient and the best-selling female artist of all time!

You just need to google ‘biggest female artist’ of all time and Mariah Carey

is at the top of that list with more than 200 million albums sold to date and 19

Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles (18 self-penned), more than any solo artist in history. Internationally recognised as a media figure who has

consistently used their platform to support and advance

LGBTQ+ equality and acceptance, Mariah Carey received the

GLAAD Ally Award is 2016. Through her music and outspoken

support, Carey has inspired and empowered countless LGBTQ+ fans across the globe. She is a long-time ally and friend to

the LGBTQ+ community who has worked tirelessly to move acceptance and inclusion forward.

As the most recently announced inductee into the

Songwriters Hall of Fame, and with her distinct five-octave vocal range, prolific songwriting, and producing talent, the

achievements and accolades for Mariah Carey are almost too

many to mention – Grammy Awards, American Music Awards

and Billboard Music Awards, the prestigious Ivor Novello Award

for songwriting, the BMI Icon Award for Songwriting, Billboard’s “Top Female Artist of All Time,” Billboard’s “Artist of the Decade” Award, Billboard’s “Icon Award,” and the World Music Award for “World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium” among others!

Paul Kemp, Director of Brighton & Hove Pride, said; “We are

beyond thrilled that Mariah is joining our LGBTQ+ celebrations for our 30th anniversary. Mariah is a staunch LGBTQ+ ally

and having her perform at Pride really helps us highlight our campaigning for LGBTQ+ equality to a global audience.

Mariah is headlining the main stage but there are loads more

artist announcements to come. Watch this space for more great LGBTQ+ performers and allies over the coming weeks.”



The achievements and accolades for Mariah Carey are almost too many to mention!



Keeping with the ultimate diva theme, the era defying, chart-

fundraising for LGBTQ+ and community projects in Brighton

a decade as part of their UK tour.

those marginalised communities at home and abroad who still

topping, button-pushing The Pussycat Dolls are also set to whip up the crowds, when they perform together, for the first time in over

The multi-platinum pop sensations returned in February 2020

with their acclaimed new single ‘React’, seeing Nicole Scherzinger, Ashley Roberts, Kimberly Wyatt, Jessica Sutta and Carmit Bachar bring back Doll Domination on a global scale.

Having sold more than 54 Million records worldwide and

streamed over 1 Billion times, X2 Winners at the MTV VMA and achieved eight U.K. top 10 singles the dolls have Stick Wit Ya throughout the decades.

The Pussycat Dolls will perform a full 75 minute show at the

two day FABULOSO Pride in the Park on Sunday 2nd August and we are delighted that this performance will mark the first time they have ever performed at a Pride event in the UK.

Pussycat Dolls said “We are honoured to headline Brighton

Pride. It’s such a massive and important event bringing everyone together for one big weekend of acceptance and love, which is

what the Pussycat Dolls are all about. We can’t wait to share our show with you all and have the biggest party ever!”

2020 is the 30th anniversary of Brighton & Hove Pride

culminating in a weekend of campaigning, celebrating and



& Hove over 1st & 2nd August 2020. Pride is a celebration of how far we have come but it is also an ongoing campaign for

suffer persecution on a daily basis. The fundraising events will

ensure that we continue to raise vital funds for local LGBTQ+ and community projects.

Brighton & Hove Pride is the UK’s biggest Pride Festival

operated by Brighton Pride CIC, a not for profit community organisation. All tickets revenue raised goes directly to the

operational and running costs of producing the Pride Festival, Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade, Pride Village Party and community fundraising.

Brighton Pride has raised over £920,000 for the Rainbow Fund,

Pride Cultural Development Fund and Pride Social Impact Fund in the last six years. The Rainbow Fund has a remit to receive

donations and to use them to give grants to LGBT and HIV groups and organisations in Brighton and Hove. The Pride Social Impact Fund benefits local good causes giving grants to a range of local groups.

Get your tickets at www.Brighton-Pride.org

The Pussycat Dolls are set to whip up the crowds, when they perform together, for the first time in over a decade.



Ed Byrne


A household name teetering on the brink of national treasure status, award-winning comedian Ed Byrne enjoys worldwide acclaim for his stand-up and on March 6th he brought his signature charming wit and self-deprecatory observational humour to the iconic Brighton Dome.


ith 25 years under his belt, Ed has parlayed his on-stage success into a variety of notable television appearances. A regular on

Mock The Week and The Graham Norton Show, Ed has recently co-presented Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure and its follow-up Dara & Ed’s Road To Mandalay, and managed not to disgrace himself

on Top Gear or whilst tackling one of The World’s Most Dangerous Roads. As a

semi-professional hill-walker himself and fully paid-up humanist, he also brought a refreshing warmth and honesty to BBC2’s recent hit The Pilgrimage.

But the Irishman is still best-known and best appreciated for his stand-up

performances. A quarter of a century at the comedic coal-face has equipped Ed with a highly evolved story-telling ability and a silky mastery of his craft. Yet his wit, charm and observational humour is

often underpinned by a consistently hilarious vitriol and sense of injustice at a world that seems to be spinning ever more rapidly out of control.

Having recently hit a new peak with shows such

as the sublime Spoiler Alert and reflective Outside,

Looking In, which explored the minefield that is modern parenting and a generational sense of entitlement,

Ed’s new show If I’m Honest digs ever deeper into a

father’s sense of responsibility, what it means to be a

As ever, Ed manages to provoke without being overly polemical, a balancing act that only someone of his huge experience can really pull off.

man in 2019, and whether he possesses any qualities

whatsoever worth passing on to his two sons. Occasionally accused of whimsy, If I’m Honest is a show with a seriously steely core.

Gender politics, for example, is something Ed readily engages with – deploying his

customary comedic zeal. ‘I’ll admit that there are things where men get a raw deal,’ he says. ‘We have higher suicide rates, and we tend not to do well in divorces, but

representation in action movies is not something we have an issue with. It was Mad

Max: Fury Road that kicked it all off, even though nobody complained about Ripley in Alien or Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. Of course, social media means this stuff gets broadcast far and wide in an instant, which emboldens people.

‘The problem with men’s rights activists is that it’s not about speaking up for men’s

rights, it’s about hating women. If you’re a men’s rights activist, you’re not going to

care about the fact that there’s an all-female Ghostbusters remake. That’s nothing to

do with men’s rights or female entitlement. That’s everything to do with being, well, a whiny baby.’

As ever, Ed manages to provoke without being overly polemical, a balancing act

that only someone of his huge experience can really pull off.





Ed Byrne

The new show also takes his natural tendency towards self-deprecation to unexpected extremes. ‘I do genuinely annoy myself.”

‘I did stuff about Trump and the Pizzagate right wing conspiracy,’ he says, ‘and a couple of the reviewers said, “Oh, I would have liked to have watched a whole show of this”. And I think, ‘well you might have, but the average person who comes to see me would not like to see that’. I like to make a point or get something off my chest, or perhaps I’m talking about something that’s been on my mind, but the majority of stuff is just to get laughs. ‘People who come to see me are not political activists necessarily, they’re regular folk. If you can make a point to them, in between talking about your struggles with aging, or discussing your hernia operation or whatever it is, you can toss in something that does give people pause as regards to how men should share the household chores.’ He continues, ‘It’s not that I feel a responsibility, I think it just feels more satisfying when you’re doing it, and it feels more satisfying when people hear it. When a joke makes a good point, I think people enjoy it. It’s the difference between having a steak and eating a chocolate bar.’ Ed, who broke through in the mid-1990s when the New Lad became a genuine cultural phenomenon, doesn’t want to submit to any unnecessary revisionism, but admits that if the times have changed, he has changed with them. He reflects a little ruefully on one of his most famous jokes. ‘There’s an attitude towards Alanis Morrisette in the opening of that routine that I’m no longer comfortable with, where I call her a moaning cow and a whiny bint… slagging off the lyrics of the song is fine, but there’s a tone in the preamble that I wouldn’t write today.’ The new show also takes his natural tendency towards selfdeprecation to unexpected extremes. ‘I do genuinely annoy myself,’ Ed concedes. ‘But the thing of your children being a reflection of you, gives you an opportunity to build something out of the best of yourself only for you to then see flashes of the worst of yourself in them. It’s a wake-up call about your own behaviour.’ When I challenge him over the degree of self-loathing he displays, he disagrees. ‘Self-aggrandising humour is a lot harder to pull off than self-deprecating humour,’ he insists. ‘A lot of people get really annoyed when Ricky Gervais is self-congratulatory. I always find it very funny when he accepts awards and does so in the most big-headed way possible. I think it’s a trickier type of humour to pull off, talking yourself up in that way. ‘So no, I don’t think I’m being massively hard on myself. The fact is when you’re the bloke who is standing on the stage with the microphone, commanding an audience’s attention, you’re in a very elevated position anyway.’



There’s something very satisfying about your audience growing old with you.”

That said, If I’m Honest brilliantly elucidates the frustration that arrives in middle age – and lives up to its title. ‘I’m bored looking for things, I’m bored of trying to find stuff, because I can never find it, and it is entirely my fault,’ Ed says. ‘Nobody’s hiding my stuff from me. Although my wife did actually move my passport on one occasion’. He insists that, while the show might have mordant and occasionally morbid aspects, it’s also not without its quietly triumphant moments. ‘I thought I was being quite upbeat talking about the small victories,’ he says. ‘You know, finding positivity in being able to spot when a cramp was about to happen in your leg and dealing with it before it does. I was very happy with myself about that.’ Age, it seems, has not withered him. Especially now that he’s figured out how to head off ailments before they become a problem. ‘You see comics who are my age and older but are still retaining a level of “cool” and drawing a young crowd. I can’t deny that I’m quite envious of that. But there’s also something very satisfying about your audience growing old with you.’ www.edbyrne.com By Jason Barlow




Nestled in the heart of the stunning Sussex countryside, Ghyll Manor Hotel is a picturesque spot to marry. An elegant 17th-century country house hotel brimming with character and style, the traditional oak-beamed building gazes out over 40 acres of gorgeous private gardens, including a lake and a pretty summer house. We cater for both ceremonies and receptions - enabling you to spend all of your big day in the same delightful setting, or you can choose to just enjoy your wedding reception with us. TAILOR-MADE WEDDING PACKAGES suiting individual tastes and requirements OUTDOOR WEDDINGS AVAILABLE* in our picturesque Summer House *(May to September – weather permitting)

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An emerald jewel in the turquoise Maldivian waters. Acres of luxuriant vegetation. Spectacular beaches tapering into an endless sandbank. Catering to all budgets, choice of villas range from the individual Beach Villas to the idyllic Water Villas with Pool. Savour exquisite dishes from 12 superb restaurants catering to diverse taste buds. Sip exotic cocktails in the 7 bars conveniently located in beautiful settings around the island. The island's vast size opens up an array of activities on the island or in the water. Younger guests find thrilling options at Bageecha Kids Club, featuring fun and educational experiences. Kuramathi Maldives – a retreat that offers unique experiences for all in a natural setting.

Kuramathi, Maldives Kuoni (01306 747008 or www.kuoni.co.uk) offer seven nights Full Board at Kuramathi in a Superior Beach Villa including flights on SriLankan Airlines from London Heathrow and transfers in resort. The price for selected departures in March 2020 based on two adults sharing is from £2299 per person, with a saving of up to £753 per couple.

www.kuramathi.com info@kuramathi.com +960 666 0527



SEYCHELLES STYLE Photography: Marsha Dine Photography Lighting Assistant: Savio Dyer Creative Director: James Dupres Make Up Artist: Anisa Rose Make Up, Ann-Marie Hair, Wigs and Make Up Hair Stylist: Ann Marie Hair, Wigs & Make Up, Federica Desir Models: Anisa Rose, Tasha-Lee Richemond, Trisha Dubignon, Felicita Filipin, Lady Zen Stylist: Kc Rose Wardrobe: Kankan, Portofino Sunglasses VisionCare / Beyond The Sea Eden Island Jewelry: Kankan, Gianmaria Carbo Locations: Alphonse Island Resort, Kempinski Seychelles Resort, Bliss Boutique Hotel Seyche


























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“My favourite hairdressers, I can’t recommend then highly enough” Lottie Moss

113 High Street RH17 5JX t: 01444 452900

reception@olivercunningham.com www.olivercunningham.com OPENING TIMES Monday 10-6 | Tuesday 10-6 | Wednesday 10-6 | Thursday 10-6 Friday 10-6 Saturday 9-5 | Sunday Closed 52









The Fence

Homelessness doesn’t start with a first night on the streets. It doesn’t even start with a night on a friend’s sofa or at a hostel. It can start with a difficult time in school, mental health problems, a difficult relationship or family breakdown.


ff The Fence works with the homeless, women in crisis and children in edu-

cation in Brighton and Hove. These three strands have been developing since

the charity began in 1997 and come from over two decades of finding the root causes of poverty and being where they are.

They work on the premise that homelessness isn’t solved by just a sleeping bag and hot

food, although sleeping bags and hot food are an excellent place to start. Off The Fence has always been about offering people hope and community as well as the practical tools and emotional support needed for a transformed life and brighter future.  

Inspired by the invaluable work the charity do around our city, Absolute Magazine spoke

to Co-founder Paul Young to see what they’re up to and how we can all get involved…

Your Antifreeze project involves outreach teams going directly onto the streets of Brighton with the aim to meet the basic needs of the homeless. Is there a way in which an individual can approach Antifreeze themselves?  Absolutely. The different stages of care at Antifreeze (our flagship homeless work) are really important. Our teams go out onto the streets four times a week to provide warm clothing, hot drinks and signposting to our services, and other services in the city. We also have teams out with our shower and laundry vans. These take hot showers and clean clothes to locations across the city, promoting good hygiene, and helping us win the battle against preventable but life threatening infections. Through this work, we always encourage clients to use our day centre, and that’s crucial because the care we provide on the streets could really be described as ‘acute.’ We’re dealing with their needs there and then, and those needs can be the difference between life and death, but in order to make lasting change, they need further support. At our centre on Portland Road, which is open four days a week, we provide practical support, such as clean clothes, showers and laundry, and health care support with visits from podiatrists, dental hygiene workers and hairdressers. We also provide support with housing benefit, universal credit, referrals to emergency accommodation and drug, alcohol and mental health support. A really valuable element of our day centre is also our community hour. A significant and damaging aspect of homelessness is isolation and rejection. A quiz, or a board game or round of bingo with people who treat you well and are happy to see you can make as much difference as the practical support our clients receive. It helps them feel included and builds social skills which are vital for relationships and employment, which in turn are key features of a productive, independent and positive future. If anyone asks how they can support a homeless person they meet, we encourage them to give out our street sheets which show them what services are available to them at any time of the week.

“We provide practical support, such as clean clothes, showers and laundry, and health care support with visits from podiatrists, dental hygiene workers and hairdressers.”







The Fence “This place means everything to me. The staff have always been good to me. They’ve always given me support. They got me into the Nightshelters. Two weeks ago I used the shower. It was lovely and hot. I smelt nice at the end of it, I felt nice at the end of it. It made you feel good about yourself. This is a very special place.”

Your Antifreeze project involves outreach teams going directly onto the streets of Brighton with the aim to meet the basic needs of the homeless. Is there a way in which an individual can approach Antifreeze themselves?  Absolutely. The different stages of care at Antifreeze (our flagship homeless work) are really important. Our teams go out onto the streets four times a week to provide warm clothing, hot drinks and signposting to our services, and other services in the city. We also have teams out with our shower and laundry vans. These take hot showers and clean clothes to locations across the city, promoting good hygiene, and helping us win the battle against preventable but life threatening infections. Through this work, we always encourage clients to use our day centre, and that’s crucial because the care we provide on the streets could really be described as ‘acute.’ We’re dealing with their needs there and then, and those needs can be the difference between life and death, but in order to make lasting change, they need further support. At our centre on Portland Road, which is open four days a week, we provide practical support, such as clean clothes, showers and laundry, and health care support with visits from podiatrists, dental hygiene workers and hairdressers. We also provide support with housing benefit, universal credit, referrals to emergency accommodation and drug, alcohol and mental health support. A really valuable element of our day centre is also our community hour. A significant and damaging aspect of homelessness is isolation and rejection. A quiz, or a board game or round of bingo with people who treat you well and




are happy to see you can make as much difference as the practical support our clients receive. It helps them feel included and builds social skills which are vital for relationships and employment, which in turn are key features of a productive, independent and positive future. If anyone asks how they can support a homeless person they meet, we encourage them to give out our street sheets which show them what services are available to them at any time of the week.

What happens once someone is housed? A political issue that’s been raised recently is poor aftercare for the homeless once they get into housing. The early stages of housing are problematic. Often the problems that caused homelessness, such as mental health problems or addiction, have not gone away and in fact are often compounded by PTSD and health problems caused by their time on the streets. We now continue our care after people are housed by doing weekly home visits, to make sure they are connected with community groups and any health support they need. The most important part of this work is really to have an opportunity to see if there are any significant personality changes, as sadly, suicides often occur in the early stages of housing. Tell us about Gateway. What additional support do you offer vulnerable women in Brighton?  Gateway Women’s Centre works with women struggling with issues such as anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, domestic violence and abusive relationships. Again, at the heart of this work is community. We offer practical support, such as our foodbank and help with health appointments and form filling, but our home visits and various craft groups where our service users support each other and build confidence through simple activities are equally important. By creating community, and mutual encouragement, and by building confidence, we give our service users the tools they need to face the world again, with strength and dignity.




The Fence The best way to illustrate the difference we can make to a life is by hearing the stories behind the women we help. Here’s Jo’s story… “After losing both my partner of 20 years and my motherin-law to cancer, my depression, stress and anxiety became overwhelming. I have some physical health problems and use a wheelchair to get around. Without my partner’s help I couldn’t go out alone and I became isolated, which made everything worse. My GP told me about Gateway, to help me start socialising again. I knew I needed to start dealing with all of this stress, depression and loss. Gateway has helped me loads. I feel protected here and everyone at Gateway is so nice. I now have something to get up for in the mornings. Although I’ve only been coming for about seven months, I feel I’ve slotted in really well. The staff here are so helpful and friendly, they make great coffee and there’s always something nice to do, like colouring, chatting, games or activities – the time always runs out too quickly! There’s no bad atmosphere at all. I wasn’t expecting Gateway to be like this – I thought I might have to sit in a quiet room with everyone having to go around and say what’s wrong with you. But it’s not like that at all – I felt so welcomed and put at ease straight away when I came here. If I’ve got a problem, I can come here and always have someone to talk to. I never used to have that. I used to pent it all up inside, but now I don’t have to. The staff have helped me practically too. For example, they emailed the hospital for me and this brought an appointment forward by 6 months and also got me a home visit which saved me a trip by myself to the hospital which would have been difficult. Gateway has given me different things to do like the Wednesday Wellbeing workshops. For example, I’ve been on a bread making workshop with Gateway to the Stoneham Bakery, and I’ve never done anything like that before. It felt good to make the dough, see how it turned out and think “I made that.” I’ve also done a cookery workshop at Gateway which taught me how to make easy, healthy food to my dietary requirements. I learnt new recipes – particularly for breakfast - which I can prepare whilst sitting down, which has been so helpful as I cannot stand to cook due to my physical illnesses. The women here always welcome me when I come in and ask me to sit next to them. When I think of some of the women I



now know at Gateway, I no longer think of them as “just a lady down at Gateway” but as a “friend.” It’s so nice to have new friends to talk to and go for coffee with. I’m part of a good community and lovely circle of friends. Thanks to Gateway, people have said that I seem a lot happier now, and I don’t want to run away or disappear so much. In the last three weeks, I’ve even started going out on my own which I was never able to do before. A friend accompanies me to Gateway normally, but I’ve been able to go to Gateway alone. I also used to need someone to take me to the bus stop and wait with me until I got on the bus, but now I’m starting to get buses all the way into town by myself. I still panic when I go out by myself, but without Gateway, I would never have had the confidence to try going out alone. Thanks to Gateway, I am also more confident to do things like make phone calls by myself like to my doctor, to go to my GP on my own, and to go to the shops alone. Gateway has improved my confidence so much. I get to have a laugh there as well!”

Tell us about your schools and youth programme. What additional support you offer young people in Brighton? Our schools team work in fifteen different primary and secondary schools across Brighton and Hove. Half of this work involves providing workshops and courses on issues such as self-esteem, anxiety and healthy relationships. They also provide lunch clubs, safe space clubs and 1-1 mentoring. We also do work with transition to secondary school mentoring. This is a really difficult time for many children, but a good start to year 7 can have a lasting positive impact on their future. The other half of this work involves covering some of the schools SMSC teaching (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) by providing multisensory prayer and reflection spaces which promote compassion, empathy, forgiveness and gratitude. This work adds so much value to Off The Fence. Not only do we have the opportunity to catch some of the issues that we often see at Antifreeze in the early stages. We also promote the kind of society that cares about its neighbours, whoever they may be. We are proud to be sought after in so many schools and are excited to see this work growing.

As with all charities you must rely heavily on volunteers. How can our readers get involved in volunteering?  There are two ways you can help us practically. We have a volunteer page on our website where you can find specific volunteer ‘vacancies.’ Because we are committed to providing high quality support to vulnerable people, our volunteer recruitment process is pretty vigorous, and our current volunteers work with us either weekly or bi-weekly and are expected to take training. The commitment level is high, but so are the rewards! The second and equally valuable way you can volunteer is by fundraising. We have a fundraising pack, equipping you for everything form a bake sale to a mountain climb. We also have a ‘Run for a Reason’ page on our website. If you’re planning a 5k or a marathon and want to run it for us, we would love to hear from you. We have no council funding so we really are reliant on the goodwill of others to keep our work going.   If unable to give their time, are there other ways readers can help? Please see our current ‘Wishlists’ on our website for how you can give practically to any of our 3 frontline projects www. offthefence.org.uk    What do you believe to be the best course of action for the government to combat homelessness?  I think it involves joined up, intentional national policy, which should include: a big rethink on Universal Credit, affordable housing, better NHS mental health support at school and in adults, a crackdown on professional begging, abstinence based drug and alcohol treatments, and above all a focus on empowering not enabling. What does the future hold for Off The Fence? Off The Fence has grown it’s work significantly over the last 20 years, by always coming alongside current issues to provide the support the most vulnerable in the city need. We’re the only charity in the country with a mobile shower and van unit and our home visit initiative are recent examples of this. We have a robust business plan that covers the next five years, which includes long term client housing and larger premises in Hove for our projects; enabling us to continue to watch and respond in a way that makes a lasting difference to Brighton and Hove. To find out more about Off The Fence, contact Jo Henderson on 01273933885 or visit  www.offthefence.org.uk





Brighton’s iconic Norfolk hotel by Mercure has had a stunning new look



Bar | Restaurant | Weddings Special Events

01273-351012 w w w. m e rc u re b r i g h to n . co. u k



FIZZ F& FOOD East Beach Café

The Bali Brasserie

Limetree Kitchen

1| Littlehampton: Sea Road, BN17 5GB East Beach Cafe was completed in June 2007 and has since won more than twenty national and international awards for design, architecture, steelwork, craftsmanship and engineering. Not dissimilar to the hull of a ship, it is a self-supporting structure and an extremely complicated piece of engineering. The whole process from commissioning the architect, Thomas Heatherwick, to completion took 18 months. Thomas heads one of the world’s leading design practices and was described recently by The Times as “the most creative mind in Britain”, the East Beach Cafe was his first UK building. The emphasis is on fresh fish and locally sourced produce, cooked in a style that lets the quality shine through. The Ritz trained kitchen team produce a standard of food that is fit for such an amazing setting.

5| The Bali Brasserie is proud to present vegan, vegetarian and dairy free dining as well as gluten free. The restaurant inside, ‘Rijsttafe’, (the rice table) is Indonesian themed food on a set menu, but they are able to adapt a meal to almost any dietary requirements. Meaning there is no reason to not go and enjoy yourself. There is something for everyone at The Bali Brasserie.

10| Lewes: 14 Station Road, BN7 2DA The Limetree Kitchen isn’t all about food, they have a unique “Gin Kitchen” which makes them stand out from the crowd. You can choose from their fantastic range of gins on offer and let them mix up a perfect blend of gin & tonic. If you fancy staying the night in Lewes, you can book a night in their elegant accommodation – “The Room”. If you are visiting Lewes for site seeing, or a special occasion getaway, The Room would be the perfect place to stay for a luxurious night after a delicious meal in the Limetree Kitchen restaurant. The menu consists of tapas style small plates which give diners the opportunity to try more on the menu. This is an informal way of eating out and you can either share a few dishes with friends or enjoy them on your own. Their simple menu is split into sections which include Vegetarian, Fish, Meat, Nibbles and Desserts.

2| Douglas McMaster, owner and head chef has spent many years working in some of the UK’s and Europe’s top restaurants. You can expect to see a fair sized menu created with seasonal foraged ingredients that come together to give you a unique dinning experience. Some of the dishes so far have been Sea Buckthorn and Elderberry fool for dessert and potato steak, elephant garlic, alliums and herbs.

Memories of India


Curry Leaf Cafe

3| The original Curry Leaf Cafe is located in the heart of Brighton's bustling Lanes, just a couple of minutes' walk from the beach. This colourful, laid-back 75-seat dining space – decked out with exposed brick walls, wooden tables and vintage Indian design touches – operates as a cafe-cum-lunch spot during the day, offering a range of coffees, teas, snacks and traditional South Indian street food, as well as more substantial meals such as thali platters, dosas and Masala-battered fish 'n chips. In the evenings diners can experience the cafe’s small but diverse dinner menu of tandoor-grilled meats, street food dishes and expertly spiced curries, accompanied by Brighton's best range of craft beers and spiced cocktails.


4| Eatalio is a recently new addition to Brighton’s food scene, and is located on Queens Road, abouta 5 min walk from the station near Brighton’s clock tower. Inspired by the simple, yet healthy food served from the street carts in Italy, Eatalio provides affordable, grab and go food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A great venue to pop into and dogs are most welcome. No servicesfor dogs, they just allow them in the venue.



Riddle & Finns

6| Another favourite in the restaurant scene, Riddle & Finns offer wonderful seafood platter as well as shellfish too, they do also cater for gluten free. Reservations are not Necessary unexpectedly, however it is recommended on the weekends as it can be very busy. Riddle & Finns also own a second venue on the seafront, both perfect for a special occasion. 7| Offering traditional Indian food in a variety of flavours from all over the continent. If you’re gluten intolerant then you will be pleased to know that gluten is very rare in all Indian food due to the lack of wheat flour. On Tuesdays, you can enjoy a five-course buffet menu for £12.95

Wolfies of Hove

8| Family run business that pride themselves in serving the finest, sustainable fish alongside locally sourced potatoes. Having served the Brighton & Hove area for over 25 years we know that quality is of the utmost importance, with carefully selected suppliers so that they can provide you good quality, fresh ingredients. Boosting The best fish in Brighton & Hove. The fish is the freshest sustainable fish available in Brighton & Hove, and our handmade pies using all local ingredients. They challenge anyone to serve up tastier, fresher & more wholesome fish.


9| If tapas style eating is your thing then MARKET, situated in the Brunswick district of Hove, is sure to deliver. With a multitude of Jamons on display and boasting a host of Spanish & Sussex food ingredients, wines, beers & spirits their Spanish inspired cuisine offers an authentic experience in a fast paced & buzzy environment. With countertop dining & chefs cooking in front of you a real draw for patrons the menu of modern tapas, including great vegan options through to meatiest of meat dishes, MARKET offers something for everyone.

Terre a terre

11| Terre a Terre is an iconic, award winning restaurant where being vegetarian is about more than just not eating meat. You can expect a variety of flavours and foods to try when you arrive. Much more interesting than the standard stuffed mushroom.

Pelham House

12| Lewes: St Andrews Lane, BN7 1UW Pelham House Lewes is a beautiful 16th century town house hotel in the heart of Lewes and one of East Sussex’s hidden gems, just 10 minutes from Brighton. Right off the High Street you will find the historic building, set in an extensive secret garden, Pelham House is perfect for dining alfresco or an afternoon tea. The house & garden has been exquisitely restored to create a stylish venue, combining elegance and history. The head chef has developed a varied set of menus for their gallery, panelled room, garden room and dining outside on the terrace. The restaurant at Pelham House focuses on simple and delicious food, using good quality seasonal and locally sourced produce from Lewes and the county of Sussex. They regularly offer private dining to guests for special occasions and events.

The Urchin Pub in Hove

13| One of Brighton’s newest offerings, the Urchin craft beer and shellfish pub is a wholly unique concept. Entirely dedicated to shellfish, matched with a range of over 100 craft beers The Urchin is something Brighton and Hove has never seen before. Seats 30 covers in the restaurant, the menu predominantly features prawns, lobster, crab and scallops.







Chambers Bistro 14| Shoreham-by-Sea: Old Town Hall, High Street, BN43 5DD Chambers Bistro Shoreham is an independent family-run British bistro, serving all the popular classics with an emphasis on locally sourced produce in an elegant and centrally positioned venue. Located just 15 minutes West of Brighton & Hove along the seafront, or 5 minutes off the A27, this well-known restaurant boasts the splendour of a Grade II listed neo classical building with super stylish interiors. Features include stripped wooden floors and cream leather chairs, set among two softly lit dining areas. Think boutique and chic, romantic and intimate. Chambers Bistro is as sophisticated with its appearance as the food they serve.

Sylvan Oak









15| Findon: BN14 0TE The Sussex restaurant is situated 10 minutes north of the town of Worthing in the sleepy village of Findon. The Sylvan Oak prides itself on an evolving food culture, where their head chef and proprietor Sinan Kalan presents flavoured food with amazing visual presentation. The Sylvan Oak could be perfect for that intimate occasion on the sun terrace, or can be privately hire for a party or celebration. Open most days apart from Mondays, and open for lunch and dinners. The Cuisine described by the owner as “British Fusion” which I suppose is close to dine dining and modern European. Essentially the food is professionally prepared and influences stem far and wide giving you quite a varied menu.

The Fountain Inn, Ashurst 16| Beautiful olde worlde inn in the sleepy village of Ashurst. A free house and ‘Cask Marque’ accredited, the Fountain has plenty of local ales on offer as well as the more recognised international beers and lagers. Complete with wonky floorboards, inglenook fireplaces and the heart warming smell of homemade cooking wafting in from the kitchen, you will not want to go home.

Block. 8



17| Block. is a bar with a great wine list, bringing you lots of new young wineries / vineyards, the people who, in wine that are pushing the envelope a bit. The wine is supported with great craft on draft and Brighton's first and currently only charcoal and wood burning oven, working with only the best produce from local farms, fisherman and suppliers they offer you a local meat and fish menu with a basque influence coming through, the garden at block has also recently been improved even after being voted Brighton's best garden for the last two years. So if you want gourmet restaurant quality food, but enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a bar. BLOCK is the place for you. Fridays feature the best in Brighton DJ talent.



BARS & B BEATS The Crown and Anchor


Fortune of War

1|Shoreham-by-Sea: 33 High Street, West Sussex BN43 5DD Named after the town’s past with its port famed for smuggling, and centrally located on Shoreham’s high street, the Crown and Anchor is a must visit and very popular with locals and visitors alike. From the high street it looks like a regular run of the mill pub, but it hides a gorgeous restaurant with big glass windows and a patio area with outside seating which backs onto the river Adur. Perfect for alfresco dining and drinking on warm evenings, with spectacular views of the South Downs and the river itself.

5| Legends is a gay bar and hotel located on Marine Parade just a minute away from Palace Pier. It has a fantastic selection of rooms with stunning sea views. The venue itself is very spacious and has a large bar upstairs with outside terrace and huge dance floor downstairs. There is always plenty going on with drag acts during the week and great music played by a diverse r ange of DJs at the weekends.

9| This lovely pub has been open since 1882, making it the oldest pub on the seafront. It is a good meeting place if you are going clubbing on the seafront. There are DJs playing at the weekends and it always has a friendly atmosphere and is never too crowded. The décor has a maritime theme and the pub provides beautiful views over the seafront. It has an outside seating area and a buzzy atmosphere during the summer months.


2| Haywards Heath: 65 The Broadway, West Sussex, West Sussex, RH16 3AS Centrally located in Haywards heath, this little Gem of a bar boasts cool funky décor, friendly expert mixologists with a great selection of cocktails and a wonderfully diverse and well thought food menu which caters for everyone. Pictures of sexy celebs adorn the walls of this cool atmospheric venue, which also boasts a great outdoor seated terrace area. Playing an excellent selection of music all day everyday with regular and guest DJ’s Friday and Saturday nights. A lot of thought has gone into this place and it shows.

32 Duke Street

3| Those with a party penchant wont be hard pushed to get your late night fix at this naughty, Brighton number. While a cracking destination for eating out in the day, get stuck into the confines of the quirky Brighton bar as the lights go down and the sound-system goes up for a fun loving, seaside crowd.

My Hotel

4| If you’re after a Sex and the City venue then look no further. My Hotel is a beautifully crafted bar with curved walls, gilding pewter surfaces and low lighting, reflecting a warm and spacious cocoon. As part of the My Hotel franchise, the bar is open to non-guests to enjoy some beautifully made cocktails, a sophisticated atmosphere and an altogether glamorous night out. The bar staff are knowledgeable and helpful. This is a good place for special occasions. Everyone gets super dressed up so if you are looking to get your glad rags on and feel special this could be the place for you.



Lion & Lobster

6| If you are looking for a good, old fashioned, comfy pub with a great atmosphere then this is the place for you. The Lion and Lobster is very popular with the locals and has become a bit of a Brighton institution. It is a good venue to start your night before going out on the town. The pub is spread over three floors with a main bar downstairs complete with cosy real fires in winter. The second floor has a small bar within a beautiful dining room and the third floor is the outside smoker’s area complete with mini bar and outside heaters. The Sunday roasts are very popular but make sure you get there early.

The Dead Parrot

7| Horsham: 21 Piries Place, RH12 1EH, West Sussex A cocktail bar with a difference! Opened by a group of bartenders in 2014 who are obviously passionate about their craft. The Dead Parrot boasts a fantastic menu of unique and eccentric cocktail as well as some classics, well as a fine selection of beers and delicious wines. Split over two floors with cool and quirky décor featuring some interesting taxidermy and a giant chessboard on the ceiling! An unashamedly hipster joint serving cocktails in all manner of vessels from beer cans with sombrero hats, to metal tankards and even the odd dainty glass. Lots of fun!

Hotel du Vin

8| A lovely start to your evening in a classy venue. The bar is part of the Hotel du Vin chain and is open to non-guests to come in and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. It is a little on the pricey side but if it is sophistication you are after then look no further. The bar has an extensive list of wines and a wide selection of whiskies, rums and countless spirits. As well as relaxing in the main bar you can also enjoy a game of billiards located on the balcony above.

The Dragon Bar

10| Hastings: 71 George Street, Old Town, East Sussex TN34 3EE Owned by the same people as the famous Dragon Bar in Shoreditch and centrally located in the Old Town in Hastings, just a stone’s throw away from the beach. This is a fantastic bar and eatery where during the day you can sample a diverse and delicious sounding menu made up of fresh local produce, and relax and watch the hustle and bustle of the old town. Beautifully decorated with local artwork with a lively and welcoming ambience. A vast selection of drinks with premium spirits, and live DJ’s at the weekend. Attracts an eclectic crowd of varying ages.

The Tempest Inn

11| With scenic views from the beer garden at this washed up bar along the beach front, enjoy the fresh sea air and the beautiful rolling waves from your dainty picnic bench. If you can drag yourself away from this alfresco seating, you’ll be just as impressed by the coastal coves set into the walls. Enjoy a frothy pint and a tempting tipple in your very own seafront cave at this quirky little cavern.

MEAT liquor

12| Hailing from the success of their London counterpart, Brighton’s MEATLiquour is a wonderment of carnivore feasts and locally inspired artwork. Based around the carnival days of Brighton gone by, doused in neons and brimming with urban regalia, MEATLiquour is a unique restaurant bar in Brighton where the burgers come hearty and the cocktails come laced in awesome.





La Havana 13| Chichester: 3 Little London, PO19 1PH A deep subterranean live music venue which is famed for its Jazz nights, though Whatever your particular taste in music, you will always find there to be a night to suit you here at La Havana. A fun and lively venue which is well thought out in design, you can easily find a spot to sit and chat away from the music whilst still enjoying it, or be right in the action. All in a vaulted basement for real atmosphere. Reasonably priced drinks to boot with beer at £3.00 a bottle.

The Loft Lounge and Bar





14| Eastbourne: 14 Station Street, East Sussex, BN21 4RG An elegant chic and sophisticated late night lounge and bar, spread over two floors, and carefully designed to create a unique and sumptuous atmosphere. The downstairs bar boasts an impressive circular bar backed onto a dazzling glass wall, and a skylight which floods the venue with natural light. Upstairs is a bit cosier and intimate, with various sized booths and a premium drinks bar. A fine selection of food and drinks on offer here, with delicious sounding cocktails and expert mixologists more than happy to make off-menu drinks. With live music every Friday and drinks offers throughout the week it’s easy to see why this is one of Eastbourne’s top rated nightspots.

Gin Tub 5




15| The exciting tastes of international gins in a superb interior of our newly opened Gin Tub Cocktail bar. Finally somewhere to drink after all the great Hove restaurants. With well over 80 gins – bespoke cocktails – craft beers and ales. We have also created flight boards to try new spirits. Bespoke Cocktails, craft beers, IPA’s and all the normal beers and spirits too. Under The Tub Welcome to the Rum Cage, where the spirits and specifically the rum never dry out. With a bar selection of some of the best rums, oh and of course some of our favourite gins.

Cocktail Shack 7


16| A unique and innovative bar hidden within the tall walls of Regency Square. They pride themselves on drinks as creative and bespoke as the Artist Residence itself, offering playful service and a passion for the product. We would urge everyone to check them out at The Shack for a taste of something new.

The Rocking Horse 8



17| Worthing: 3 The Broadway, Brighton Road, BN11 3EG Quirky pub serving cocktails and a limited beer and wine selection. Comfortable place for a chat with a rocking horse theme to the décor and a relaxed vibe. The best place in Worthing where you can go and experience trained mixologists who understand cocktails and flavours make your drinks! Reasonable prices for the quality of drinks too! A clean, light and airy venue with friendly staff to boot. They also offer a cocktail masterclass (daily) where for just £19.50 you can learn to make (and drink) three classic cocktails with a glass of prosecco included.






Thirdave.co.uk 70 - 72 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2FP








COPPA Club “My pappardelle with pork and beef shin Chianti ragu had an incredible depth of flavour that only comes from being slowly and gently cooked with the upmost care and attention.”


remember being on a night out in London last winter with some old friends and

seeing the Coppa Club’s beautifully lit famous igloos on the bank of the Thames. I

was on the other side of the river and I recall thinking to myself how magical they looked, and what a wonderful time people seemed to be having in them. I made

a mental note to pay Coppa Club a visit next time I was in town with the wife, but

alas, I have not been back to London since and never got round to it.

Thankfully Coppa Club has landed in Brighton, and I have been enjoying sampling

the cocktails and nibbles in the unique members club style lounge bar on many an evening since they opened in September last year. Located on Brighton Square, it is tucked away enough to have an

“exclusive” feel to it, yet is open and free to all. Coppa Club

is huge, with an elegant well-stocked bar, a variety of areas, some with dining tables and chairs, some with sofas and coffee tables, and plenty of lounge areas where you can

casually enjoy a drink or two before perhaps choosing to dine.

I finally got round to dining in one of their igloos in

December, and I have to say that the experience was one I

Coppa Club is huge, with an elegant well-stocked bar, a variety of areas, some with dining tables and chairs, some with sofas and coffee tables.

will not forget in a hurry. Not only was the ambience that

comes with dining out under the stars in such a beautiful

setting absolutely incredible, but the food was top notch also!

I arrive with my dining companion Matt around 8pm on a particularly nippy

December evening thinking we should have just booked a table inside. We were

shown to our igloo by a particularly lovely and chatty waitress and were pleased to

find the igloo nice and toasty inside. As well as this there were plenty of warm furry

blankets scattered about so our reservations about dining alfrescoish were well and truly quashed. Each igloo seats up to ten people,

so we shared ours with a small group of girls and a couple enjoying a romantic meal. There was plenty of room so not to feel like we

were dining on top of each other, but also cosy enough so we could not help but to make friends and chat with the other diners. The

square itself where the igloos are situated is lit by hundreds of fairy lights which makes the experience all the more enchanting.





COPPA Club The menu is made up of a selection of nibbles, small sharing plates, mains and grills, and pizza and pasta, with some temping sides and super healthy seasonal salads.

On to the food, which as I have already mentioned, was absolutely delicious. The menu is made up of a selection of nibbles, small sharing plates, mains and grills, and pizza and pasta, with some temping sides and super healthy seasonal salads. Feeling ravenous we devour some nibbles which were some very tasty and satisfyingly salty Marcona almonds and some large juicy green olives which all go down a treat. Whilst we wait for our order, we casually sip on our wine selection; a rather sublime rich and chocolatey Malbec which we both agreed on after much deliberation when perusing the comprehensive drinks menu, which boasts select wines, champagnes, beers and ciders, classic cocktails and a wide range of soft drinks. To start, we share small plates of D.O.P Burrata with pesto Genovese and seared king prawns. The luscious Burrata was wonderfully soft and creamy with a homemade pesto which, although tangy and full of deliciously herby, did well not to overpower the delicate flavour of the cheese. The prawns, plump tender and very tasty indeed, drenched in garlic, lemon and chilli olive oil and served up on warm crunchy sourdough toast. Delightful. Matt is a rather fussy eater, and amongst other things, prefers not to eat gluten (despite not being gluten intolerant in the slightest). No problem for Coppa Club as the separate gluten free menu is nearly as comprehensive as the regular one. In the end, he selected a Portobello pizza from the regular menu anyway, shrugging when he saw my quizzical look after he unnecessarily delayed my dinner. I forgive him when he gives me a slice to try. I thoroughly enjoy the oozing stringy mozzarella, together with the generous amount of wild mushrooms and parmesan flakes, along with a light, crisp, fluffy distinctively full flavoured base, all combined tto create a pizza to rival offerings from any of the top pizzerias in Brighton. My Pappardelle with pork and beef shin Chianti ragu had an incredible depth of flavour that only comes from being slowly and gently cooked with the upmost care and attention. Served with fat freshly made Pappardelle noodles and topped with thick flakes of parmesan slowly melting into the sauce, this legendary Tuscan dish, cooked to perfection is the perfect winter warmer and I devoured the lot with a huge smile on my face.



On reflection of our visit, not only was the food impeccable, but the service and overall experience is something we could not recommend enough.

After a breather to finish off the last of our delightful wine, I managed to convince a fully-to-the brim Matt to go in with me on a sharing board of desserts which consisted of a butterscotch pot, cashew brownie with vanilla icecream, panna cotta with pink grapefruit compote and ginger crumble, and a pecan pie with honeycomb ice-cream. Matt’s eyes popped out of his head when our waitress presented this calorific marvel, and as my dinner had started to settle, I myself started to doubt our ability to even make even the slightest dent in it all. Bit by bit everything on the board seemed to evaporate however, and before you know it we had demolished it all. Every dessert was flawless, and with so many flavours and textures each mouthful was a sublimely sweet adventure. I particularly liked the pecan pie, a dessert I would not have gone for in itself, but I could not get enough of the gorgeous buttery pastry base and sweet smooth pecan filling which was expertly enhanced by the honeycomb icecream slowly melting all over it. As we got up to leave, I wasn’t sure if we would still fit through the Igloo door. I could imagine having to be lifted out by a crane and winch through a hole cut in the top. We managed to squeeze ourselves out and decided to grab a short at the bar to aid digestion and soak up some more of the atmosphere. On reflection of our visit, not only was the food impeccable, but the service and overall experience is something we could not recommend enough. Even when the igloos have been taken down I can imagine the square packed with happy people enjoying leisurely brunches and cocktails. Coppa Club really does have it all, and is somewhere I would be happily visit night or day. Tony Shattell Coppa Club 12-16 Brighton Square, BN1 1HD www.coppaclub.co.uk /brighton 01273900731




I am pleasantly surprised that such a complex range of intense acidic flavours all worked so harmoniously together. I am even more astonished that Rob is able to pair the perfect wine for a dish that contains pickled mushrooms!


have been hearing quite a bit of chatter about Wild Flor since it opened towards the end of last year. I passed by this intimate neighbourhood bistro on a few occasions on the way to town in December, and could not help but peer in through the windows and have a nose at the menu, each time making a mental note to book a table once the craziness of the festive period had abated. Several friends of mine had beaten me to it, telling me I simply must go and check them out. My social media is awash with praise and admiration for head chef Ollie Darby’s ever-evolving a la carte menu, which showcases an innovative mix of modest comfort food alongside more luxurious items, as well as for co-proprietors James Thomson, Rob Maynard and Faye Hudson who have all gained the very best experience from working for the Gingerman group, owners of some of the most successful restaurants in the area. They each bring their own diverse expertise to the mix which, just like their friendship, has been refined from years in the industry. James is the General Manager and oversees it all. Rob is an incredibly talented wine specialist whose passion for all things grape is infectious. Faye is the face of Wild Flor, overseeing all things front of house and is well-versed in the fine art of customer service, which is immediately apparent with the warm welcome we receive, on what I am now certain will be our first of many visits. Once we settle in to our seats we are introduced to Rob who immediately gets us started with a lovely complex Michel Gonet ‘Les Terroirs ‘ Champagne to get the taste buds working, as we are going all-out with a three course meal with winepairing. He does explain, however, that if you prefer to order by the bottle or select a glass yourself, he is more than happy to steer and recommend to avoid wines that may conflict with your choice of food. Having starved ourselves during the day we delve straight in to some nibbles, incredibly addictive almonds, huge plump and juicy green olives, and some homebaked bread made from grains from one of the top millers in the country, served with a knob of butter sourced from a local farmer that tastes incredible. I am already in foodie heaven and we haven’t even properly got started yet! To start, I could not help but to go for Veal Sweetbreads due to a glowing recommendation from a trusted friend who has already had the pleasure of dining here. Faye tells us they have been very popular and it is easy to see why as they taste divine! These are tender meaty morsels with a crisp shell that when bitten into reveal a unique mild flavour, expertly exaggerated by mushroom puree and a foamy delicate sherry cream sauce and topped off with delicate herbs and chestnut flakes. As I sip on a lovely drop of Beaujolais-villages Blanc, Jules Desjourneys, I marvel at how this powerful wine brings all the flavours from my plate to the forefront.



I am already in foodie heaven

and we haven’t even properly got started yet!” ABSOLUTE



I could smell the truffle from across the table and was begrudgingly offered a forkful to try. Texture like silk and flavours that explode on the tongue.” THE TEAM

My vegetarian companion plumps for Confit Jerusalem artichoke, Salted Fennel, Chilli, Hazelnut and Pickled Chestnut Mushroom which she was absolutely delighted with. As I am the one doing the write up, I insist on trying a couple of mouthfuls and am pleasantly surprised that such a complex range of intense acidic flavours all worked so harmoniously together. I am even more astonished that Rob is able to pair the perfect wine for a dish that contains pickled mushrooms! His choice of a rather elegant ‘La Rosa’ Can Sumoi, Penedes 2018 is perfectly grounded enough to calm everything on the plate down. As Rob passes by, I compliment him on his wine choices so far and ask what the secret is to pairing food with fine wine. He explains it is like making a sandwich. Sometimes you want flavours that go together, like ham and cheese for instance, and sometimes opposite flavours work, like peanut butter and jam. I’m guessing there is a lot more to it than that, as otherwise everyone would be a wine specialist. For now though, I’m mind blown. For mains, I enjoy Glazed Beef Cheek with Wild Mushrooms, Cavolo Nero and Celeriac Puree, washed down with a very nice St Emilion 2010 Moulin St Georges. The beef was beautifully cooked with a crisp shell and meat that disintegrates in the mouth releasing the full taste of the most delicious and tender meat a cow has to offer. The mushrooms, Cavolo Nero and Celeriac did well to compliment but not distract from the full flavour of the meat. My companion sticks with her new found vegetarian principles to a degree, although she could not resist trying a small mouthful of beef. Risotto of Black Winter Truffle and Aged Parmesan is her choice of main and is as velvety and decadent as it sounds! The dish is paired with an equally licentious powerful Moulin-A-Vent (2010) from the same winery as the Beaujolais I enjoyed with my starter. I could smell the truffle from across the table and was begrudgingly offered a forkful to try. Texture like silk and flavours that explode on the tongue. If I could eat like this every day I would be more than happy to give up meat entirely. As my companion is struggling to decide what to have for dessert, Faye recommends Blood Orange Posset with Rhubarb and Shortbread from the specials board, which Rob pairs with a citrusy Malmsley Madeira, H.M Borges 15yr that has nice tropical tangerine notes that goes perfectly with the velvety creamy posset. The rhubarb adds a nice tang and the accompanying shortbread satisfies with a satiating crunch and tempting buttery-sweet vanilla flavour.



My first mouthful of Chocolate, Chestnut and Passionfruit Mont Blanc from the dessert menu had me thinking it was the most overly sweet dessert I have ever tasted, though when the citrusy passionfruit is revealed, everything falls into place. I also especially like the crunchy yet sticky meringue infused base and, as was now expected, the wine, Banyuls domaine Petri-Geraud 2010 really backed up my choice of dessert with fig, orange and coco notes to create a whole entire delightful package that tops off one of the most delightful culinary experiences I have ever had. Our evening at Wild Flor was nothing short of spectacular. We were truly marvelled by Rob’s knowledge of fine wine, and entranced by the accompanying stories he recited about where each of his selections came from. Faye’s hospitality was second to none and everything you would expect from the finest of restaurants with none of the pretention. Most importantly, the food was exquisite. The menu is extremely well thought out, with each dish expertly prepared with the freshest seasonal local produce, and with such an exciting range of flavours. Throughout the evening, customers came and went, popping in for nibbles and a glass of vino, and given the same high level of service and attention. You really can come in and spend as much or as little as you wish and have a lovely time. An intimate private dining room is available upstairs for eight to twenty guests and is the perfect space for a celebration. Wild Flor really does tick all the boxes and I expect to see their reputation grow and grow. I have never witnessed such passion and commitment to a restaurant concept before and I wish the team behind Wild Flor the very best for the future. Tony Shattell www.wildflor.com 42 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2FN. 01273 329 111




BeachClub Relax & Unwind In The Cities Latest Venue Brighton BeachClub The Milkmaid Pavilion 26 Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2LN 01273 206523 info@brightonbeachclub.com

www.brightonbeachclub.com @btnbeachclub



Relax & Unwind In The Cities Latest Venue Brighton BeachClub The Milkmaid Pavilion 26 Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2LN 01273 206523 info@brightonbeachclub.com www.brightonbeachclub.com @btnbeachclub




“Once an Art Deco cinema, the iconic building that is 9 Grand Junction Road has, throughout history, provided a mecca of entertainment for the people of Brighton, welcoming guests throughout the decades all looking to spend a few hours in pursuit of pleasure.”


oday, Grosvenor Casinos has renovated the building into it newest guise; Pier Nine, a vibrant 24 hour leisure, entertainment and gaming destination. Construction got underway last year at the £5.2 million venue last year, with all three floors of Pier Nine has being designed for modern work, rest and play, including space to work and meet with friends and colleagues, stylish bars, modern eateries, two classic casinos, a variety of fun and competitive socialising games, as well as a private cinema and karaoke space to hire. Bringing a sense of style and sociability without the membership fees, this new kind of third place is entirely inclusive and proud to be rooted in Brighton’s community. Overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of entertainment and facilities on offer, Absolute Magazine decided to get the full lowdown from Lisa Stidwell, Head of Marketing for Grosvenor Casino Brighton, as well as sending our ’Man on the Ground’ Tony Shattell to sample and report back to you on the full Pier Nine experience... Pier Nine Brighton is in a very good location in the town and as it’s only 5 minutes from the centre... We have a fantastic location, as you say, 5 minutes from the lanes and we’re right on the seafront between the Palace Pier and the West Pier. What would you say are some of the most exciting new aspects of Pier Nine Brighton? Pier Nine is a 24/7 entertainment hub which includes several bars and food offers, a wide range of entertainment, competitive socialising, karaoke and of course all your favourite casino and electronic games.

A wide range of entertainment, competitive socialising, karaoke and of course all your favourite casino and electronic games.

Would it be fair to say in addition to this being a major refurbishment, that it’s also seen the venue undertake a major rebranding that includes the name along with the likes of a stylish Live Sports Bar? Our vision was to develop a venue which would give our existing customers more reasons to visit us and encourage trial for a variety of new audiences. With the changing leisure landscape and the change in consumer requirements for their leisure time over the past five years or so, we knew this had to be more than a refurbishment. With that in mind, we undertook a thorough programme of customer insights to look at the product mix, venue design and of course branding. The challenge as always, is how do we create a better venue for our existing customers at the same time as attracting new audiences and that’s always a fine balance. However, listening to the customer feedback we hope we’ve done just that.







Pier NINE We didn’t call the venue Grosvenor Casino Brighton for many reasons. Firstly, research told us that for new audiences, the word casino can be a barrier to trial. Secondly, its Brighton and there is a preference for independent venues over big brands in the locale, and lastly, we have a repositioning job to do so that our customers see this as so much more than a casino. We’re proud of the Grosvenor brand and wanted to use this to emphasise the expertise around the gaming elements but the venue has many more reasons to visit than gaming alone.

Restaurants are a proven winner with attracting patrons. What has been the approach with Pier Nine Brighton with regards to the investment in its new restaurant? We’ve been reviewing our F&B strategy nationally and have found that some customers want to sit down to eat for an occasion, many of our casino customers just want ‘fuel for play’ and others want a far more casual dining experience. Therefore, we’re created several options. You can enjoy a casual dining experience from a range of third party brands in the club house, sit down to one of the gorgeous sharing boards in the View Bar, whilst enjoying the sea view and a glass of your favourite wine or order food to your table straight from our app anywhere in the venue. This venue is really abouthow the customer wants to interact with each of the individual elements.

Infrastructure with these new refurbishments is extensive. What was your organisation’s choice of company to install all the display lighting and sound systems and its interactivity with the venues management operating system? It absolutely is and we’ve worked hard to ensure we have the right systems in place to ensure we create the right atmosphere in each zone relevant to the customer needs andduring the day. This includes lighting and music. We have a wide range of suppliers who work with us on these projects to ensure the customer experience is what it should be.

The design and the layout of the table gaming area is impressive. What has been the feedback from patrons? Our gaming team seek feedback from customers every day on the set up of our product mix and layout on a national basis. These learnings are fed into all our venues, including the Grosvenor Casino at Pier Nine. The refurbishment has just been completed so it’s too early to get formal feedback, but we’ve been sure to take our customers on this journey with us and anecdotally the feedback has been positive so far. Is there a seasonal impact on the Casinos revenue or is it steady throughout the year? Before the refurbishment we didn’t see huge seasonal trends in the business, but we had a very core customer group who mainly lived in and around Brighton. However, the vision for this investment is to continue to look after the customers we know and love but also attract a range of new audiences which will include holiday makers and day-trippers - so we would anticipate some seasonality moving forwards.



We hope it will appeal to everyone. It certainly has a broad enough range of experiences How have guests treated the venue - as a party, entertainment and dining venue or as a casino? It’s very early days but this venue has many different experiences to offer different audiences. The premises itself is a bit of a Tardis - as we’ve taken over an adjacent building. The benefit of this means there are lots of different areas or zones which offer a different experience and atmosphere to meet the needs of each individual customer group. How does the entertainment and casino venue compare with the other alternative attractions in the Town? Brighton is a vibrant cultural city with more experiences on offer than anywhere else I can think of. That’s almost a blessing and a curse when launching a new venue. Its means people are open minded and ready to trail new experiences but obviously it’s highly competitive. However, it tends to have lots of smaller independent venues, but it doesn’t have anything like Pier Nine to date. In fact, I think Pier Nine is aUK first, not just a Brighton first.

Is there an average age group or does the Casino attract patrons from 20s to 70s+? We hope it will appeal to everyone. It certainly has a broad enough range of experiences and as I have said, lots of different zones offering different atmosphere and product environments.

Tony’s Take on Pier Nine.. I am not normally a big fan of casinos. Mainly because I am exceptionally bad at gambling. So, when my friend called and invited me to join him in checking out Pier Nine, the new entertainment hub-come-casino, I was hesitant to say the least. He managed to convince me, and I am glad he did, as I had a lovely time and am very much looking forward to going back! Firstly, Pier Nine is more of a leisure centre for grownups than a casino. Yes it has slot machines, card tables, and a whole host of ways to gamble away your money if that is your thing, but it is also so much more, with a massive array of non-gambling fun to be had twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Formally a Grosevener Casino, the building has been redeveloped by the rank group and is the first of its kind in the world! Why Brighton? Because the commercial director Laura wanted to bring the business to a town she grew to love by spending the her formative years in the 90’s living in the city, where she enjoyed the vibrant night-life it had to offer. So we made our way into this new look premises not knowing what to expect and what we were greeted with when we entered was a beautifully well designed and considered interior, in keeping with the buildings art deco architecture. This was after we had our car valet parked for us in their own secure underground carpark! We were greeted by a lovely young lady called Laura who gave us the lowdown on what to expect and convinced us to become members, which took only a few minutes of our time and made us twenty pounds better off as we took advantage of the opening offer where they would match the first twenty pounds you load onto the card for slots.




Pier Nine is more of a leisure centre for grownups than a casino. but it is also so much more, with a massive array of nongambling fun to be had twenty four hours a day There are of course areas where you can play slot-machines, as well as areas for traditional tables with roulette, poker and blackjack in a very tasteful setting that is a far cry away from the usual garish interiors you would expect in a casino. The first floor has a room just for such games, whilst taking an elevator up to the second we were greeted with a huge grandiose room which hosts all manner of fun to be had! You can enjoy similar games to downstairs but in a more laid-back setting but on top of this there are a vast array of different non-gambling gaming activities, including pool, shuffleboard, retro arcade games, and electric dartboards! It has its very own karaoke room which is very smart indeed. There is a bar with a fantastic array of well-priced drinks and its very own food hall serving a vast array of delicacies, from dirty burgers through to much healthier and more refined dishes. Just as we sat to take it all in and enjoy some delicious buffalo wings and a beer, a live band started on a stage in the centre of the room, and after they belted out a couple of hits the singer invited the customers to come and sing with the band themselves! As we had not quite had enough to drink to go and sing in front of a load of strangers at this point we opted to play some pool and darts, and even had a little go on the blackjack where I actually doubled my money! Before we knew it we had spent several hours at Pier 9, and had an absolute blast! I have already made plans to visit again with some friends and am sure will find myself wandering in for a game or two on a night out in Brighton. The staff were all really lovely and could not do enough for us. Pier Nine is certainly an exciting addition to Brighton’s entertainment scene, and I cannot wait to go back again and again. www.facebook.com/pierninebrighton/ www.pierninebrighton.com



640 EAST “Coffee by day, cocktails and small plates by night in the North Laine”


aving enjoyed a wealth of success since launching as a sustainable pop up concept in shipping containers, made successes of restaurants in London’s Bethnal Green and Canary Wharf, as well as England’s second coolest place to live (after Brighton), Bristol, 640 East owner Ross Blake has finally set up in his home town in Brighton’s North Laine at the former home of Silo on Upper Gardner Street. Offering coffee and brunch by day and small plates by night, this new hot spot has a calendar full of collaborative events with local chefs and producers planned. We figured it about time we checked the place out of an evening, and I am so glad we did, as the whole experience was nothing short of spectacular, and certainly not to be missed. Firstly, I must comment on just how amazing the place looks. With a grand entranceway, opening to an open-plan dining room littered with pristine wooden tables in a variety of shapes and sizes. Even though the room is not particularly big, high ceilings with industrial style metallic chandeliers in strips light the room and a huge bay window looking out onto the street all give the impression that there is a huge amount of space, plus the tables are carefully spaced so customers aren’t on top of each other. The kitchen is on full view behind a bar to the rear, which gives the chef a commanding presence over the room and it is lovely to see him already hard at work creating and serving up some incredible looking plates of food. We are seated by Front of House Manager Natalie and offered drinks menus. The cocktail list featuring an impressive range of classic and signature bespoke cocktails and mocktails immediately catches our eyes. My companion, a self-pronounced gin connoisseur, is drawn to their signature “Foraged” which is a gorgeous refreshing twist on a Tom Collins made with homemade Sumac Syrup. As I am feeling a bit under the weather, and what with the current goings on in the world, I cannot help myself and plump for the “Flu Jab” - a signature pairing of peaty scotch, citrus, ginger and honey spices. It really is lovely; silky smooth with the spices wakening my taste buds that have been dulled by whatever winter bug I currently have, and strangely enough actually makes me feel much better!

The kitchen is on full view behind a bar to the rear, which gives the chef a commanding presence over the room and it is lovely to see him already hard at work creating and serving up some incredible looking plates of food.



The evening food menu is divided into four sections; bar bites to nibble on while you wait, plant based and non-plant based small plates and sides, with four or five options in each. I always find it hard to choose, especially when everything on the menu looks so incredibly tempting so I am relieved when my companion takes charge and asks our chef to just bring us a selection of his favourite dishes. Even more so when he insists on paying! We begin with Pumpkin Hummus and Flatbread from the bar-bites and after our first bites we both know we are in for a treat this evening! The velvety hummus pumpkin flavour is really brought out by subtle spices and fresh chillis add a satisfying kick. It is the seeded flatbread that steals the show however, with its freshness so apparent that we both simultaneously ask if it is made on site. It is, daily, and it is wonderfully light and packed full of seeds giving it a lovely full flavour. Next up the chef decides to present us with a special that was not due to go up on the board till the following day. Roasted Scallop with Romesco, Kale and Dukkha. It really is incredible. The delicate sweet buttery flavour of the meat is drawn really drawn to the forefront by an ever-so slightly bitter sauce with tiny specks of crisp Kale adding an extra element to this incredibly well thought out dish. No wonder the chef could not wait to show it off. The next plate of food really stood out to me and might even be my favourite of the evening, which is surprising as it is one I would never have picked from the menu myself! Miso Roasted Cabbage, with pumpkin and tahini, red onion pickle, peanuts and black sesame. If I was blindfolded, I simply would not have been able to guess I was eating cabbage! This dish had such a plethora of exciting flavours, all working harmoniously whilst exciting every part of my palate and a wonderful meaty texture to boot. Words cannot describe just how good this dish is so I will just say you simply must try it when you visit. Divine.





640 EAST Every course we enjoyed was consistently excellent with a huge variety of flavours and textures, together with a great deal of thought going into the presentation and composition of the dishes.

We had not finished marvelling at how impressed we were by the last dish when the next was humbly presented. Molasses Cured Salmon, with pickled beetroot, salt baked potato, shallot and dill. A beautifully presented plate of food with slight slithers of salmon, garnished with vibrant colourful ingredients which all together created equally vivacious flavours, with the potato somewhat grounding the sharpness of the picked beetroot and the contrasting sweetness of the salmon. The salmon was served up alongside what for me was another stand out plant-based dish; Salt Baked Celeriac, with hazelnuts, sourdough crumb horseradish and parsley. Explosive bold earthy flavours are released with every mouthful of the melt in your mouth celeriac with horseradish which we were told comes straight out of the ground from a local allotment and grounded down. Salted cucumber balls and crisp sweet apple shavings add extra pizazz to this hearty dish. We finished off with Lamb Breast, slow cooked and served up with tzatziki, coriander and lime gremolata alongside a plate of fried green beans with romesco, confit garlic and braised lentils. The lamb breast was truly magnificent. Simply spiced with the subtle flavours that allowed the taste of the melt-in-your-mouth meat to really shine. The fried green beans were another highlight from the plant-based plates. More bold earthy flavours and crunchy textures. The quality of the produce really apparent. Washed down with a nice medium-bodied well balanced and elegant glass of Malbec which we ended the night on, as for the first time in the three years I have been writing restaurant reviews for Absolute Sussex Magazine, I did not have room for dessert! Thank you 640 East! We will visit again and again. Every course we enjoyed was consistently excellent with a huge variety of flavours and textures, together with a great deal of thought going into the presentation and composition of the dishes. This was especially the case with the plant-based dishes we sampled, which from the perspective of a carnivore, I have to say were absolute genius! With a regularly changing menu sourcing ingredients from local suppliers I am really looking forward to seeing what you will come up with in the coming months, and will keep an eye on the website for some of the speciality collaborative evenings I have heard so much about. I may even pop in for a coffee and a bite during the day when I’m in town. Tony Shattell 39 Upper Gardner Street, North Laine, Brighton BN1 4AN www.640east.co.uk



SPAin Sussex

It may just be the one night, but we guarantee you will feel like a new person when you come out the other side.


s we get back into the swing of things and say goodbye to the chaos of Christmas, it’s a good opportunity to take time to reflect, plan our year ahead, focus on our well-being and invest in a bit of ‘me time’. It’s often hard to actually find the time to switch off and relax in our manic daily lives, with work deadlines, chores around the house, school runs and family engagements often taking centre stage. Short of locking ourselves away in a cupboard, the concept of getting a little headspace is, for most, just a fantasy. However, the answer to this conundrum is right on our doorstep; clear your diary, turn your phone off and make your way to one of Sussex’s blissful spa hotels for an overnight stay. It may just be the one night, but we guarantee you will feel like a new person when you come out the other side. In a bid to relieve you of the chore of scrolling through endless reviews online, Victoria Marie Emerson, our Editor here at Absolute Magazine, has taken it upon herself to carry out essential research for you, bringing you her two top spa hotel choices for 2020. Enjoy….(she certainly did!)

Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa, Cuckfield In a nutshell An enchanting Elizabethan manor house with 28 opulent rooms, Ockenden Manor proudly boasts an outstanding spa, an award-winning restaurant and eight acres of beautiful grounds overlooking Cuckfield Park. Hotel With its history and character, elegant sitting room warmed by a roaring log fire and cosy, wood-panelled bar, Ockenden Manor is a wonderful place to escape to and is less than 30 minutes from Brighton. Set in the chocolate box village of Cuckfield, with its cornucopia of enticing independent shops and cafes, a genuine and warm welcome awaits you as you arrive at the hotel, which has a comforting and charming family-run feel.



The Rooms Each of the 28 rooms are set within two houses, that sit proudly within nine acres of gardens. Every room has its own character and identity at Ockenden Manor, all woven together in a maze of intriguing little corridors, nooks and crannies. From the fabulous over-sized contemporary spa suites with roof terraces to the charming period suites and elegant, individually decorated rooms, there is something to suit all tastes. As unique as the hotel itself, our room was referred to as a ‘feature room’ and oozed romance and style. With a four-poster bed, exposed beams, antique furniture, vintage style patterned wallpaper, thick and luxurious curtains framing sweeping views over the gardens, all the mod cons you’d require, plus a large bathroom with walk-in shower, the room felt like a timeless escape from the modern and manic world.

The Restaurant The jewel in the hotel’s crown, the Restaurant at Ockenden Manor is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, mid-morning coffee or a full afternoon tea. Led by award-winning Head Chef, Stephen Crane, the Restaurant is without doubt one of the finest in Sussex, serving exceptional dishes that showcase the very best of Sussex produce. High ceilings and original features, lavish chandeliers and an open fireplace blend harmoniously with the décor’s warm colour palette, with crisp white table clothes and fresh flowers on every table bringing bright accents. This is a truly beautiful space with far-reaching views over Cuckfield Park. We sampled the ‘Sussex Menu’ which changes seasonally and features classic dishes such as Balcombe Estate Crispy Wild Duck Breast with Braised Cabbage, Broccoli and Almonds in an Orange Sauce and an Oat Crème Brulee with a Warm Chocolate Emulsion and Whiskey Ice Cream. To complement the fantastic locally-sourced food, Ockenden Manor is proud to serve 27 local wines, from the various local wineries in the surrounding area, including those of Ridgeview Estate, Albourne Estate, Tinwood Estate, Bolney Estate, Wiston Estate, Bluebell Vineyard and Nyetimber Estate. The Spa Modern in design but sitting harmoniously within the glorious nature of the Sussex countryside, the Spa at Ockenden Manor is a tranquil haven away from the daily grind. The overall feel is airy, cool and calm, with rooms overlooking the fields and the South Downs, all flooded with natural daylight.

Open to hotel guests and spa members, the spa’s star attraction is the expansive swimming pool that is half inside, half outside, with guests accessing the outdoor side of the pool by swimming through a door in the glass wall. Sun loungers and cosy sofas surround both sides of the pool, as well as both an indoor spa bath and outdoor hot tub, plus a walkthrough warm rain shower which is incredibly refreshing.

Eight luxurious treatment rooms, plus relaxation rooms and spaces all feature nature-inspired and calming décor and a fully equipped gym and fitness studio offer a broad timetable of classes. For those who seek ultimate rest, I’d recommend a visit to the on site Isopod, a floatation tank where saltwater suspends the body effortlessly for total muscle relaxation. The Spa at Ockenden partners with Elemental Herbology, a luxury skincare range which combines natural botanicals with innovative technology to bring ultimate indulgence and well being to your skin, and these products are used throughout the extensive list of treatments available. I can personally recommend the Ho Leaf and Rosemary Muscle Melt treatment for anyone who suffers from stress and tense muscles. Available at both 60 and 90 minute durations, this full body massage successfully relieves pent up tension within your muscles, enhancing circulation, very nearly sending you into a serene slumber! With a lounge serving refreshing smoothies, drinks and healthy bites, plus Ridgeview Sparkling Wine ready and waiting for those who fancy a celebratory tipple, visitors can spend a whole day indulging in pure relaxation and escapism.



SPAin Sussex The Crowd Although calm and restful, the atmosphere at Ockenden Manor also sings with excitement and occasion. There is an unmistakable feeling of positivity in the air. Guests are all visiting for a slice of indulgence, whether they are celebrating a special occasion, escaping it all, on a romantic getaway or seeking to spend some quality family time together. During our visit, the hotel was alive with romantic couples, family reunions, sophisticated girly groups, including many mother and daughter combos. The Special Touches This is what sets Historic Hotels, the owners of the hotel, apart from the competition. It’s those little extras that places Ockenden Manor on the map. The fluffy dressing gowns, homemade biscuits, Temple Spa products, eclectic furnishings and charming vintage style tea sets in each room cannot fail to make you smile and feel at home. The Deal

Ockenden Manor offers several packages throughout the year, including overnight hotel stays with breakfast, dinner, voucher towards a treatment and spa access from £299 per person. Day trippers can enjoy a ‘Fabulous Friday’ with a spa treatment, a delicious three-course lunch, glass of Sussex sparkling wine in the hotel, and full use of the spa facilities from £165. Be sure to visit the website for the latest offers, prices and packages. www.hshotels.co.uk

South Lodge Hotel & Spa In a nutshell South Lodge is an outstanding historic hotel in Sussex, offering the finest accommodation, cuisine and relaxation. Truly deserving of every one of its five stars (and more!), the hotel allows guests to escape and enjoy the luxury of the finer things in life, whilst celebrating the beauty of those that come free. With breathtaking views of the South Downs, award-winning dining, majestic rooms and the most amazing state-of-the-art spa, South Lodge has to be seen to be believed.

Hotel Elevated upon the rolling Sussex countryside, South Lodge Hotel is located just outside of Horsham and is a vast and magnificent Victorian country house, surrounded by 93 acres of opulent gardens and parkland overlooking the South Downs. As you pull into the impressive hotel grounds, you cannot fail but be impressed by the sheer scale and character of the building. The sweeping drive is surrounded by immaculate gardens and it is this attention to detail that sets the tone for the entire stay.



As I entered into the grand reception area, we were warmly greeted by the South Lodge front of house team, with offers of assistance and a speedy check in process. As the weight of our luggage was lifted from our backs, so too was the weight of the world outside. This is a haven away from the daily grind, where luxury awaits around every corner of the impressive and maze of opulence within. The décor is traditional and timeless, with fresh and modern accents. The history of the building itself is celebrated with artefacts that adorn the walls throughout, whilst contemporary additions such as the 3-AA Rosette restaurant ‘The Pass’ brings this once family home into the 21st century.

The Rooms South Lodge boasts 89 individually styled and designed rooms and suites, all with their own character, but all linked by the common theme of fusing the past and present. With a huge range of accommodation options to choose from, South Lodge pride themselves on going above and beyond to provide flawless attention to detail and homely charm in bucket loads, plus of course the most spectacular views over the South Downs.

No matter which room you chose, you can rest assured that every bedroom has ultra comfortable handmade mattresses, hand-finished duvets and even a pillow menu. Our family suite, named West Dean, was simply divine, with an expansive bedroom area, huge windows that framed the countryside beyond, traditional and cosy furnishings, plump cushions, luxe heavy curtains and a very impressive bathroom that featured a shower that could house a whole polo team, a TV for use in the bath, a double vanity and indulgent beauty products from South Lodge’s own brand ‘The Spa.’ The Restaurant Widely regarded as the ultimate dining experience in Sussex, Tom Kemble at The Pass is South Lodge’s premier dining hot spot. Unlike many onsite country house hotel restaurants, this multi award-winning exterior is modern and as innovative in décor as it is in cuisine. When we first arrive, it is immediately apparent how the restaurant got its name. Propped up on high stalls, guests are quite literally dining at the pass of the restaurant, right next to the action of the kitchen beyond. Making for a very transparent experience, not only are all ingredient traceable from farm to fork, but diners are able to watch the team of highly skilled chefs craft their meal effort their very eyes. One would assume that being sat next to the kitchen, the atmosphere could at times get rather chaotic, but in contrast, what diners actually witness is a kitchen run with precision, calmness and masterful focus. With space for just 28 lucky diners, The Pass offers an intimate experience, with a six course tasting menu which changes with the seasons. Looking around the room, it’s clear that every guest is on the edge of their seat, not only literally, but also with suspense. With so many ingenious dishes and interesting ingredients on the menu, there is an atmosphere of excitement and expectation.

Our culinary journey at The Pass begins with some canapés and an enthusiast welcome by the serving staff. The team are all experts at their roles, with an unfaltering knowledge and pride in the dishes they are serving their guests. As the first course of Delica pumpkin veloute, bay leaf and sage Chantilly and pumpkin seed praline arrives, we know we are in for a meal to remember. Every dish sings with flavour, is presented like a fine work of art and leaves the diner savouring every mouthful. Satisfying every taste, you’ll find huge variety within the tasting menu, with dishes such as Maitake mushroom risotto with 36 month aged parmesan and bitter leaves offering an earthy yet homely and warming experience and 50 day aged beef served with cevenness onion, pomme paillasson and black winter truffle offering carnivores pure rural indulgence.


For a more traditional option, South Lodge also offers guests the two AA Rosette winning Camellia restaurant where you’ll be served breakfast and come lunch and dinner time, mouthwatering dishes are on offer, all made with skill and flair. Using fresh vegetables from the hotel’s walled kitchen garden and the finest local Sussex ingredients, it has its own unique style in creating balanced, contemporary interpretations of traditional seasonal dishes.

“Brighton’s Best Roast”



SPAin Sussex

The Spa The Spa at South Lodge recently opened in the spring of 2019, having cost 15 millions pounds to build and is quite simply outstanding in design and offering . This is a place to meet, workout, relax and eat, making it a hub of mindful activity and so much more than just a hotel spa.

Sat within the pristine grounds of the hotel, The Spa at South Lodge is designed to blend harmoniously with the rolling countryside that surrounds it, with its roof following the natural contours of the land. Surrounded by wildlife, nature and peace, the 44,000 sq. ft. Spa champions and embraces the estate’s landscape, with both the external and internal design celebrating natural beauty, with a calming colour palette of pale blues, beiges and greens used across all walls, artwork and soft furnishings. This is an expansive, bright and inspiring setting that sees wall to floor windows bringing the outside in and producing a feeling of relaxation, harmony and peacefulness.

Guests to the hotel are offered full use of the spa facilities, including the inside and outside swimming pools, thermal spa areas, state-of-the-art gym and even attendance to the full schedule of fitness classes. As with the hotel, luxury is at the forefront of the offering at The Spa, with expansive changing areas being complemented with the very best in grooming equipment, including Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryers and Paul Mitchell hair straighteners. Elsewhere, the Ridgeview Beauty Bar offers manicure and pedicure treatments using Jessica products, a premium experience at high street prices – a one stop shop for all hotel guests and non-residents. When it comes to treatments at The Spa, you’ll find a whole variety of options available, ranging from signature massages, to glorious facials, reflexology and special spa day packages which allow the visitor to experience a combination of techniques designed to offer ultimate relaxation. Each treatment room is designed to encourage deep relaxation, whilst heat, light and sound mood pods are also available, as well as relaxation rooms for post-treatment chilling. A variety of thermal experiences are on offer, including a private mud room and infused sauna, as well as marble-lined salt steam and jasmine herbal steam rooms.

The piece de résistance of this spa has to be the trio of swimming pools, each offering a very different experience. Inside you will find a pristine 22m x10m indoor infinity edge UV treated pool, ideal for leisurely lengths whilst gazing out of the window paned walls, whilst outside, lounge chairs lead the way to a vitality hydrotherapy pool and beyond, The Spa boasts a serene heated wild swimming pool (complete with pond life!), with an attractive wooden bathing platform inviting guests to take a revitalising dip.



This is a luxurious haven of relaxation and indulgence for the rich and famous, the romantic couple, the gaggle of girls looking for some luxe pampering, the family reunion A trip to the Spa can be turned into a full day experience thanks to the popular Botanica restaurant, where healthy and innovative dishes, snacks and drinks can be enjoyed inside or on the outside terrace, whilst light bites, drinks and ice creams are available at poolside spot, The Watershed. A focus on plant-based, vegan and alternative foods is a passion for head chef Jonathan Spiers, who draws on the South Downs as a larder for fresh and seasonal ingredients. The Mediterranean-inspired recipes are a real talking point for members who gather daily to refuel over brunch, lunch or dinner. The Crowd This is a luxurious haven of relaxation and indulgence for the rich and famous, the romantic couple, the gaggle of girls looking for some luxe pampering, the family reunion and the sports star visiting Sussex. Wherever you look, there is a relaxed sense of occasion, a toast being raised and a memory being made. The Special Touches It is hard to pinpoint the special touches at South Lodge, purely because every aspect of this hotel and spa is outstanding, thoughtful, expertly presented and pure luxury.

The Deal Overnight stays are from £160 per person with breakfast/ brunch (based on two sharing). Annual membership at The Spa at South Lodge is from £2000 per person and spa days are from £145 per person. Be sure to visit the website for the latest offers, prices and packages. www.exclusive.co.uk







Absolute London Life It’s Showtime!

This season, Absolute London Life is loving all things glamour, glitz, musicals, entertainment, plays, theatre, comedy and festivals in the bright lights of London, proving there really is no business like show business in our magical capital, so get ready to sing your hearts out and get your dancing shoes on. Here is the very best of London theatre, the heart-warming musicals that will be worth every penny for a ticket, and infamous theatre productions to inspire, astound, amuse and entertain.

Sister Act The Musical. This summer Sister Act The Musical is in London for just 47 performances at The Event Apollo in Hammersmith from 21 July to 30 August. Starring none other than the legendary and awardwinning actress Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier and Jennifer Saunders as Mother Superior, this show promises to be a divine musical comedy. Sister Act The Musical. Theatre: The Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith. 45 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London, W6 9QH. Dates: 21 July to 30 August 2020. Tickets start from £29.50. Travel: Nearest Tube: Hammersmith. www.sisteractthemusical.co.uk/london/

9 to 5: The Musical. 100 Wardour Street is a super location for drinks, dinner and good Dolly Parton’s smash hit musical is now showing at the West Ends Savoy Theatre before heading out on tour in May 2020 with an allstar cast. So, grab your tickets for this great show at the legendary and iconic Savoy Theatre while you can. This hilarious musical comedy is based on the 1980s film, that tells the story of three work friends that seek revenge on their egotistical and tyrannical boss and go forth to reform their company for the better. This fantastic London musical is currently starring Brian Conley, Bonnie Langford, Natalie McQueen, Chelsea Halfpenny and Louise Redknapp. 9-5: The Musical. Theatre: The Savoy Theatre. Savoy Court, Strand, London, WC2R 0ET. Dates: Showing now until 23 May 2020. Tickets start from £20. Travel: Nearest station and tube: London Charing Cross. www.9to5themusical.co.uk



Only Fools and Horses The Musical.

This is one of London’s funniest comedy shows on stage right now in the West End. Based on the infamous comedy TV show, the Trotters of Peckham, Del Boy, Rodney and Grandad are now singing and dancing live on stage to delight us all. The book, music and original lyrics are by Paul Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan, and there are 50,000 new tickets on sale for May and June 2020. Starring Tom Bennett as Del Boy, Ryan Hutton as Rodney and the legendary Paul Whitehouse will be starring as Granddad until 2 May. Only Fools and Horses The Musical. Theatre: The Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Dates: Showing now until 15 May 2020. Tickets from £15. Travel: Nearest station and tube: London Charing Cross. www.onlyfoolsmusical.com

The Phantom of the Opera.

The infamous, timeless and award-winning Phantom of the Opera is now in its 34th year in the West End and has been seen by more than 140 million people. Originally a French novel, the story of Phantom of the Opera is said to be inspired by historical events at the 19th century Paris opera. If you haven’t yet been to watch this mesmerising London production, it will be on tour in the UK and Ireland from 22 February. The Phantom of the Opera. Theatre: Her Majesty’s Theatre. 57 Haymarket Lane, SW1Y 4QL. Starring Josh Piterman as The Phantom. Dates: Showing now. Tickets from £25. Travel: Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus. www.uk.thephantomoftheopera.com

The Woman in Black.

I first saw The Woman in Black at in the 90s, and this ingenious stage adaptation is still gracing the London stage in the West End after 30 years. This infamously gripping ghost story is haunting, clever and captivating. I would recommend reading the book and then watching the production, both are brilliant. You can book your tickets to this spine-chilling London theatre show until spring 2021.

The Woman in Black. The Fortune Theatre. Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2B. Dates: Showing now and booking available until spring 2021. Tickets from £21.50. Travel: Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus and near Tube: London Charing Cross. www.thewomaninblack.com

Agatha Christies The Mousetrap.

The superbly clever stage production of Agatha Christies Mousetrap is said to be the longest running show in the history of British theatre and has been at home in the West End for 67 years. During its time this award-winning fabulous mystery has had 474 actors and 279 understudies grace it stage. Do get yourself tickets to this brilliant production. Tickets on sale now from £19.50 to £99. The Mousetrap. Theatre: The St Martins Theatre. West Street, London, WC2H 9NZ. Dates: Showing now. Tickets from £19.50. www.uk.the-mousetrap.co.uk



Absolute London Lifestyle

Matilda. Absolute London Life is loving Children’s Theatre, and the capital is full of wonderful stage shows just perfect for all the family, for school holidays and weekend treats.

The Unicorn Theatre.

The Unicorn Theatre by London Bridge is the brilliant home of unique children’s theatre. A modern space that showcases children’s works shops and productions which are always great fun in the school holidays as well as free events throughout the year for young, creative and inquisitive minds. This children’s theatre is unique and has a living room type area on its first floor full of toys, books and activities for all ages, which is also great for weary parents who need to sit down on a comfy sofa with a coffee while the kids run round and play. This thoughtful venue has plenty of easy access baby change facilities, highchairs and bottle warmers, and its these little things that make going to theatre with a baby or toddler in tow so much easier. This lovely little theatre also offers free Wi-Fi and is more than happy for you to bring along your own lunch and snacks, which everyone with children will know is essential and far more cost effective when having a big family day out. Situated by the River Thames and London Bridge, the Unicorn Theatre is right next to the pretty area of Potters Fields, and just a short walk the large water fountains along London Bridge. There are great views of Tower Bridge with plenty of grassy areas and benches ideal for picnics, as well as plenty of cafes and restaurants. On the other side of the theatre you are just a stroll away from the Bermondsey Street cafes, pubs and local shops. The Unicorn Theatre. Address: 147 Tooley Street, London SE1 2HZ. Nearest Tube and train: London Bridge. www.unicorntheatre.com



This magical award-winning family musical from the Royal Shakespeare company, is inspired from the much-loved book by Roald Dahl. Tickets start from just £20 at the beautiful Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End. This visually brilliant production with amazing choreography captivates audiences as it cleverly tells the delightful tale of an extraordinarily brilliant little girl as she changes her destiny for the better. Matilda. Theatre: The Cambridge Theatre, 32-34 Earlman Street, London, WC2H 9HU. Dates: Showing now through 2020. Tickets from £20. Nearest station and tube: London Charing Cross. www.uk.matildathemusical.com


This production is the wickedly magical alternative and untold tale of the Witches of Oz, based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire. An exciting story of an unlikely friendship between Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s a truly wonderful uplifting show for everyone and recommended for children ages 7 years up. This fabulous production is the winner of three Tony Awards on Broadway and Three Olivier Audience Awards in the UK. Wicked is the ninth longest running musical in the West End and has been running at the beautiful grade II listed art deco Apollo Victoria Theatre in London since 2006. Shows are everyday Monday to Wednesday with extra matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Buy tickets online from the Wicked website from just £22 with no booking fee. Wicked. Theatre: Apollo Victoria Theatre, Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1LG. Tickets: From £22. Dates: Showing now. Travel: Station: London Victoria www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/

There is so much great music and entertainment in London this year

Mary Poppins The Musical.

The story of the infamous and eccentric nanny, Mary Poppins, is spectacularly brought to life on stage with an array of dazzling chorography, amazing special effects, stunning music, and full of the unforgettable songs that we all know and love. This multi-award-winning London musical is brought to you by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, now showing at The Prince of Edward Theatre. If you do one thing this season, you must take your family to see this brilliant heart-warming show. The cast is terrific, and stars the wonderfully talented Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins, Charlie Stemp as Bert, Joseph Millson as Mr Banks and Amy Griffiths as Mrs Banks. Mary Poppins The Musical. Theatre: The Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4HS. Dates: Showing now until 26 July 2020. Tickets from £22.50. Not suitable for children under 5 years, advised for children 7 years and up. Travel: Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus. www.marypoppinsonstage.co.uk

There is so much great music and entertainment in London this year, and too many super festivals and events to mention them all, but here are just a few London Life favourite music, lifestyle and creative destinations worth a visit for summer 2020 that happen to be found in pretty South London, an ever popular place for wonderful music, food and entertainment.

The Mighty Hoopla.

The Mighty Hoopla is one festival that I am so excited about this summer. Tickets for this pop extravaganza are selling fast so snap yours up now. It’s going to be a glorious day hosted in leafy Brockwell Park in South London, which promises to be full to the brim of pop stars, and decorated to the top with glitter, sequins and glamour, entertaining around 20,000 sparkly fabulous party people. The stages will host an array of stars including headliner Cheryl, along with Anastacia, Atomic Kitten, Gabrielle, Natasha Bedingfield, London Gay Men’s Chorus, Sonique, and the act I am loving right now, the brilliant Sink The Pink.

The Mighty Hoopla. Date: Saturday 6 June 2020. 12.00pm until 9.00pm. Tickets: Single tickets from £50 or purchase a bundle of tickets, 6 for the price of 5 - £250. Plus booking fees. Address: Brockwell Park, Norwood Road, London, SE24 9BJ. Travel: Nearest Tube: Brixton. www.mightyhoopla.com/

On Blackheath.

On Blackheath is two-day family-focused music festival that has been running since 2013 and stretches across a glorious weekend of July – exact July dates to be confirmed. It’s always a fabulous few days filled with great music, superb street food, workshops, pop-up stalls and heaps of entertainment and performances from famous

faces all thrown together in the middle of Blackheath right next to Greenwich Park in South London. This year’s line-up is yet to be announced but there always promises to be plenty of household names and new upcoming artists that will be gracing the stages at the 2020 On Blackheath. Favourites from last year were Grace Jones, Jamiroqquai, James Morrison, The Rag ‘N’ Bine Man, Morcheeba and Newton Faulkner. Try amazing tasty food from a variety of food stalls carefully selected from Street Feast, the clever team behind the legendary Lewisham Model Market (which you can read on about below). On Blackheath. Date: July 2020 Tickets: Price tbc Address: Blackheath Common, London, SE3 7BN Travel: Nearest train station: Blackheath and Lewisham. www.onblackheath.com/

The Model Market.

The Model Market is just fabulous. This popular and eclectic venue has been around for years in the heart of Lewisham open from around springtime to autumn. This popular South London social venture is always packed full of street food traders producing a wealth of tasty delights, great music and DJs, and loads of bars serving anything and everything from craft beer to speciality cocktails. The Model Market re-opens spring 2020. The Model Market, Lewisham. Date: From Spring 2020 Tickets: Free entry Address: 196 Lewisham High St, London, SE13 6LS. Travel: Nearest train station: Lewisham over ground and DLR. www.streetfeast.com/market/model-market

Pop Brixton.

Pop Brixton is a brilliant community initiative and local project with an aim of bringing prosperity to the local area through enterprise and collaboration. It has cleverly turned an area of disused land in Brixton into a useful space for 55 independent, local businesses and start-ups specialising in food, design, retail and offering an array of entertainment and music. Pop Brixton is open every day in the heart of Brixton 9am until late. There is plenty of entertainment, workshops and classes lined up ready to join including children’s craft classes at the weekends, music classes for adults during the week, urban gardening at the Pop Farm, weekly dance workshops and creative music events, well-being classes, and drawing workshops. There really is something for all interests and everyone can get involved, with most classes free or with a small entry fee. Pop Brixton. Dates: Open now. Tickets: Free entry. Address: 49 Brixton Station Road, Brixton, London, SW9 8PQ. Travel: Nearest station and tube: Brixton. www.popbrixton.org/ Charlie McBrien



BBC Good Food Magazine ‘Britain’s 12 Best Indian Restaurants’ SIBA Awards 2019 ‘UK’s Best Craft Beer Restaurant’ Waitrose Good Food Guide 2020 ‘Local Gem’



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Glasgow A tough reputation.. a warm embrace.. and pretty bloody brilliant..

Where you from?”, you ask the friendly guy you’ve just struck up a conversation with in the pub/train/toilet (ok, maybe not the last one). “Glasgow”, comes the reply. Pause. Breathe. Try not to give anything away. Because let’s face it, even after all these years, it’s still a word - a place - that strikes, if not fear, certainly a level of caution, trepidation, even nervousness, into what was up till then a perfectly nice - safe - conversation. It’s a city with a reputation, that’s undeniable; football; drinking; ships; fights; art; music; Billy Connolly (for the latter deserves his own category). All true.. but what’s it actually like now though? What happens if you, say, decide to spend a weekend there? We thought we’d find out..  We were only there for two nights - so being bang in the centre of town was handy, but maybe not too central; Malmaison fitted the bill perfectly and as an introduction to the city, it has a pretty good pedigree; it opened in September 1994, a month after the very first Malmaison arrived in arch-rival Edinburgh. It makes quite an impression - a striking building, the hotel is housed in a former Greek Orthodox Church dating back to 1838. The rooms are luxurious - on the right side of opulent; classy but also incredibly comfortable and welcoming; downstairs, their cocktails are a must (and there’s plenty of choice – the porn star martini was our favourite), and the restaurant specialises in grilled meat and seafood; we tried the fillet steak - easily one of the finest we’ve ever had. All in all, it’s the kind of hotel you don’t want to leave.. but you know you have to, because there’s so much more to see. Top of our list was The Gallery of Modern Art - which has become a Glasgow institution, in no small part because of the statue of the Duke of Wellington, which sits right in front of the building; for the past 40 years, the Duke has rarely spent a night without a traffic cone on his head, due to this becoming a rite of passage for drunken revellers, despite the best efforts of the authorities to prevent such blatantly disrespectful behaviour. Inside, you’ll find an impressive sample of work from some of the best contemporary artists in Scotland, many of them graduates of the worldclass Glasgow School of Art, located just a few streets away, and in the process of being rebuilt after a major fire. Just as important is a stop at The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, possibly one of the most interesting and eclectic attractions you will ever visit, and a place which is hugely popular, and a source of pride, for ordinary Glaswegians; it’s a stunning building, in a beautiful Victorian-era park, right in the west-end of the city; here you will find ancient Egyptian mummies alongside incarnations of Elvis, stuffed elephants and Salvador Dali - a range you will struggle to find anywhere else in the world.

“What is really notable is no matter where you go, you will feel welcome - and we don’t say this lightly.”







‘Proper’ Scotland - and by that we mean lochs, mountains, pine forests is only around half an hour away from Glasgow.

There’s no shortage of drinking holes in Glasgow.. but what is really notable is no matter where you go, you will feel welcome - and we don’t say this lightly; we visited two pubs, a short walk away from each other; the first, The Dolphin bar, in Partick - a proper old-school pub, by any description; the welcome, on a normal Saturday afternoon, couldn’t have been warmer - a room filled with chat and laughter, tv’s in the background, pictures of Celtic legends on the walls - a place that hasn’t changed for 50 years, and won’t for the next 50. And later, at Oran Mor, a former church converted into a bar and restaurant, was buzzing with excitement. We’d heard good things about a relatively new restaurant, Ardnamurchan, which specialises in locally-sourced produce and celebrates the best Scotland has to offer food-wise, from the very best beef, to the finest seafood; Glasgow hasn’t really been seen as a place to go to for food, and these guys wanted to challenge that; well, on our experience, they nailed it; the Sea sharing platter, of freshly-caught monkfish, crayfish and mussels was outstanding. And here’s a thing.. ‘Proper’ Scotland - and by that we mean lochs, mountains, pine forests - is only around half an hour away from Glasgow; we rented a car for a few hours and drove to The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel - situated in Luss, a stunning little village in the Loch Lomond National Park - and had an amazing lunch in what felt like the Highlands of Scotland. Not bad for weekend break; culture, classy food, warmth, history, stunning landscapes, and most importantly, laughter - we laughed a lot; turns out Glasgow’s pretty special; don’t tell anyone.









espite her young age, Chanel Joan Elkayam is the youngest fashion designer to have already showcased a couture

collection in Paris Fashion Week (18 years old), New York Fashion Week (19 years old), London Fashion

Week and Milan Fashion Week (both at the age of 20 years old). This feat makes Chanel Joan the youngest fashion

designer in history to complete the big four fashion weeks

by the age of 20 years old and within the first four years of her career as a fashion designer.

Every Womenswear collection designed by Chanel Joan

Elkayam combines both sophistication and glamour. The

simple and timeless appearance of her collections appeal to all tastes with their slender silhouettes, alluring cuts and sensual fabrics. Notable pieces within her designs have been embroidered with diamonds, Swarovski crystals and glass beads.

Her designs have appealed to the global press and media. She has been interviewed on television in China, India,

France and Israel. She also received acclaim from global

journalists and fashion bloggers after her showcases. In addition to that Chanel was selected to participate in a

project by the Chinese national television as 1 of the 100 most interesting people from across the globe.

As well as showcasing her designs at the big four fashion weeks, Chanel Joan Elkayam’s designs have been shown on other prestigious catwalks such as The Women in Business Expo, The International Quilt Show, L’Oréal Colour Trophy, Babyliss Stylist Pro Hair Show and

Manchester Fashion Week and she has already been awarded The

John Carters Award, Young Designer of the Year UK (2015) and the

International Designer of the Year 2016 (Awarded by the New York Fashion Awards).



I create designs that last and don’t follow trends. I start trends.”

How has the advent of social media impacted on you, I can see from your online presence you seem to embrace this? I believe that social media can be a very good source if you use it in the right way. Whilst many millennials are now wasting time on social media, with no real purpose, just looking at who’s in a relationship with who or who has what, I am using social media for professional purposes and to push my brand further.

With so many accolades already under her belt and with an even brighter future, Absolute Magazine were only too thrilled to accept an invitation to view Chanel Joan Elkayam’s latest collection at London Fashion Week and meet with the rising star to learn the story behind the success. Tell us about the start up of your brand and your journey into the world of fashion. How did it begin? I started my brand when I was 16 years old. My mother inspired me to chase my dreams and not to delay anything. She gave me confidence, teaching me that age should not be a barrier to starting my career. I think it is important to pursue your dreams. How has the business grown to be where it is now? What has contributed to your success? Over the last 6 years my brand has grown from strength to strength. After starting my brand at 16 years old and showcasing my first collection in Manchester, I was invited to showcase my second collection in Paris Fashion week. From there it was like a domino effect and I kept climbing in the industry. I showcased in the big four fashion weeks before I turned 20 years old. My determination and a lot of hard work has contributed to my success. I put many hours of work into each design. What inspires you and your designs ? All my collections have emotion and there’s meaning behind them. It is all part of my design aesthetic. I enjoy gaining inspiration from stories, people, places and conceptual thoughts. I create my designs thinking about how it will highlight the beauty of every woman. Now you’re recognised globally for your designs and collections, have you worked with any big names or commissions you can share with us ? I have some really amazing projects coming up, for which I can’t reveal details yet!

What materials do you enjoy working with most ? I really like working with heavy weight weaves and lighter weight fabrics such as silk, organza and chiffon. How do you stay relevant and current? I believe that my collections are timeless. One design can have the label of being from my 2017 collection, for example, however you can wear it now, in ten years and in fifty years time. I create designs that last and don’t follow trends. I start trends. Which project’s are you really excited about for 2020. Are there any future plans you can share with us? I am very excited about my current collection which is due to be showcased in London Fashion Week on the 13th of February 2020. I am also very excited to be graduating from Central Saint Martins in June; the worlds most prestigious university for fashion design.

Why are your designs loved by so many people globally ? Explain what a Chanel Joan Elkayam client gets. The Chanel Joan Elkayam client highlights the best of her character through my designs. In particular my bespoke services. She is an independent woman who believes in the empowerment of women. She is a boss. Feminine, seductive and elegant. Fearless and unstoppable. Powerful and comfortable in her own body.

How has your time at Central Saint Martins impacted on your style? Do you feel the schools high creativity levels and past students have contributed to further your success? Central Saint Martins has really shaped me. The university focus around self development and individual work management where you need to push yourself by yourself and then take a few words of advise from the tutors. I feel this method has really brought out the best in me, creatively. I really enjoy walking through the doors each morning and seeing all the wonderful creatives around me. Everyone is always striving to be the better designer. I feel I have taken this energetic creativity into my designs but at the same time my pieces are wearable. This results in my designs having a very unique creative element, making them unique but ready to wear. www.chaneljoanelkayam.com













CuckfieldBathrooms The Clockhouse, High Street RH17 5JX • Telephone: 01444 414 888

‘Strato’ in Wild Oak by InBani Strato an extensive modular program of minimalist shapes, the Strato Collection, allows for the adaptation of the furniture to fit each professional project. The collection is their most versatile and practical.






PORTFOLIO IMAGES BY DAVID FREEMAN davidfreemanphotographic.co.uk

























Winter. Rain. Dark mornings. Storms – Brendan, Ciara and Dennis. Dry January. More rain.


ometimes the first few months of the year are just a bit.. well, dull. Sometimes, after what seems like endless wet, cloudy days, it all gets a bit much. Sometimes, drastic action is needed; throw caution to the wind and your hard-earned savings (savings??) to the dogs, and treat yourself; let your pallid wind-lashed face be healed in warm sunshine, and your aches and pains dissolve away in tropical azure blue seas.

Sound good? It did to me too. So let’s go. But where? Well, I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s called Sri Lanka. And if want perfect temperatures, stunning deserted beaches, the friendliest, warmest people you will ever meet - and food to die for – then this is the place. We step onto the plane at a wet, wind-lashed Heathrow and 12 hours later we step into the sunlight and heat. Oh, and what a heat; glorious, smile-inducing, overwhelming feeling of well-being type-heat; like stepping into a mouth of happiness.

So, in keeping with this vein of well-being (and trying to rescue our slightly mis-firing dry January detox), our first stop was Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions, a mere 20 minute drive from Colombo airport and two just minutes’ walk from the beautiful beach of Negombo; this is the place to go for holistic healing for the mind, body and soul – a tall order in our respect, but nevertheless a challenge we were willing to accept.

Ayurveda is the ancient science of healing, and dates back many thousands of years, with its origins in India. At Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions, these ancient treatments are put into practice by trained professionals and doctors within the precincts of a peaceful resort. The Ayurvedic method is exclusive and every treatment is different – personalised to your needs in your own villa, and to your body which is identified through pulse reading. The resident Dr Dinesh was quick to find my pain from a riding accident and also my insomnia – all with gentle pressure on my head – and what followed was a massage to beat all massages; our jet lag, and the aches and pains you get after a long-haul flight, disappeared after 2 hours with the resort’s skilled practitioners. Our first day in Sri Lanka happened to be National Independence Day, and the streets came alive with noise, and the beaches set light with colour, as families left work and school early to celebrate what is a hugely important day in this fiercely patriotic island.





SRI LANKA Our first day in Sri Lanka happened to be National Independence Day, and the streets came alive with noise, and the beaches set light with colour, as families left work and school early to celebrate what is a hugely important day in this fiercely patriotic island. If there are two words that I would choose to describe Sri Lanka it would be colour and warmth (of both people and weather) and this explosion of both was the first vision of the beach. Independence Day is a national holiday celebrated annually on 4 February to commemorate the country’s political independence from British rule in 1948. It is celebrated all over the country through a flag-hoisting ceremony, dances, parades and performances and we paused for a moment as the sun went down to just soak this in. It was special. In a nutshell we would say that at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions, the world is locked out and tranquility is locked in, along with the therapeutic powers of traditional Ayurveda. After two days of the most delicious vegan food and clean living, and we were ready to move on to our next destination. Our driver told us to sleep as it would be likely to take us four hour’s drive; in usual circumstances this would be enough to allow a doze, but as we began to move out of the town the country of Sri Lanka opened up to us and it was hard to rest, even if we’d wanted to; from buddhist temples to immaculate mosques, grand catholic churches to school children dressed in their pristine white outfits (complete with plaits), a road trip in Sri Lanka is an experience in itself. True to his word - exactly four hours later, we arrive at Saman Villas. I have been to this island a few times now and am lucky to have travelled to some amazing hotels, but few locations in Sri Lanka can match Saman Villas’ superb panorama-blessed promontory, which benefits from infinite views north to Bentota, south to Induruwa and deep into the Indian Ocean. Not only does the position command oneof-a-kind coastal views and extreme privacy, but it’s accessible too – you can wander down onto one of two beaches for a stroll or a seasonal sea swim. Designed by Jeevaka de Zoysa, a student of Geoffrey Bawa (who designed many of the Jetwing Hotel properties) the hotel is reminiscent of traditional Sri Lankan temple design. Although It is about to undergo a massive renovation, the classically styled Sri Lankan interiors will remain true to form. This is, and always has been, a sanctuary for romantics and honeymooners alike, and the fact that only children aged 11 and above may stay here, makes the atmosphere feel exclusive, private and extremely tranquil. We dine in the restaurant on night one which is perfectly positioned at the centre of the headland, and while the menu offers international dishes, it’s the wonderful flavours of Sri Lanka that it really champions. Food destinations range from in-room dining (all suites allow this and we made sure we had at least once meal here) to spectacular spots around the hotel – the infinity pool pavilion, a deck cantilevered out over the sea, or on the beach below. There are two bars yet – one which is a designated sunset bar – complete with cocktails. Just what is needed after a full day of doing nothing. On day two we decide (post traditional Sri Lankan breakfast) to wander down to the beach where we are greeted by a friendly fisherman – wide smile, few teeth; he advises us that his catch of the day has just been delivered to the local restaurant – a stone’s throw from the hotel and run by local brothers that were keen for us to give them a try. Here we were shown two fish – caught that morning and cooked directly for us – where on earth else in the world could we get such service? It was – unsurprisingly – one of the simplest yet tasty dishes I have ever had. In a world where people pay thousands for caviar, I would take locally caught fresh fish and plain rice any day. We leave early next day as I am excited to see our next spot – the newly launched Jetwing Safari Camp next door to the famous Yala National Park.



If there are two words that I would choose to describe Sri Lanka it would be colour and warmth (of both people and weather).






“We’ve all had people tell us about the just-perfect holidays they’ve had, only to visit the place and it doesn’t even come close to expectations; I’d bet my life that your experience of Sri Lanka would be just as good as ours.”

Here we are greeted by Jetwing’s very own animal-whisperers, Thalini and Chamara, who advise us of the do’s and don’t’s of the safari tents. As we are literally in the jungle (and wild animals are welcome) there is the obvious “do not feed the animals”, to “there is a wild elephant that sometimes likes to lie under the tree outside your tent”. Ok… This elephant is the famous Natta Kotta who became an internet viral sensation when footage was posted online in the Hotel Yala lobby (sister hotel to Safari Camp) last month. Initially a seasonal visitor to the hotel near Yala national park on Sri Lanka’s south-east coast, Natta Kota would appear for a few months, visiting a number of other coastal resorts in the area, before disappearing back into the bush. However, he took up permanent resident at Jetwing Yala a few years ago where he is allowed to be at peace, spending his days sleeping in the shade and taking walks along the hotel’s footpaths. There is something rather lovely about this story, for many reasons, and I wait patiently on my veranda for a sighting until dusk calls me inside. Sadly, not elephant, but a close encounter with something a little smaller, but no less charming, was just around the corner. We woke 4.45am to a gentle knock on the door from our personalised butler (I could get used to this) and went to freshen up in the bathroom only to be met by a rather alarmed frog in the sink! He clearly felt we were intruding on his jungle (in fairness he had a point) and sat with his head poking out from the sink watching as we collected our belongings for the safari ahead. On our first Sri Lanka safari and we’re spoilt by the abundance of wildlife. We marvel at elephants up close, as well as water buffalo, wild boar, deer and crocodiles. Suddenly our driver gets word that a leopard has been spotted and this is the moment we realise we are not so alone, as several jeeps screech to a halt beside us. Undeterred, a breathtakingly beautiful leopard slinks out of the bush and saunters nonchalantly past us. One for the bucket list for sure. Yala offers three camps and our guides later tell us that those willing to travel to Block 2 or even 3 will benefit from a much quieter experience with less vehicles – we weren’t in peak season so we didn’t feel too enclosed but its good to know for future reference. The day ends with a relaxing cocktail by the Yala hotel pool (guests are encouraged to use all the benefits of Yala hotel as well the serenity of the camp itself) before an excited life guard tells us to come to the beach; there, we are greeted by a sea-turtle, digging a hole in the sand in which to bury her eggs. I feel honoured to see such a sighting and we sit in group, respectfully far back, and watch in awe as this prehistoric creatre endevours to create a sheltered home in which her babies can be born. Another day and another hotel to discover. To the reader this may seem like a full itinerary but it’s really a state of mind. The week is nearly at a close we both agree that this is by far the best way to understand and appreciate, but we agree that for some places – certainly one as varied and open as Sri Lanka – to stay in one hotel would be quite simply a waste. We travel on the new highway back to Colombo and arrive at Jetwing Seven to watch the sun go down over the rooftop pool. There is something quite fitting about the end of the holiday being here – in this pool with the sun setting on this fantastic trip. Colombo Seven is definitely a good hotel for an airport stop off but it is so much more than this. Amazing food and rooms that look over the bustling capital serve perfectly as a relaxation stop off before returning to everyday UK life. We’ve all had people tell us about the just-perfect holidays they’ve had, only to visit the place and it doesn’t even come close to expectations; I’d bet my life that your experience of Sri Lanka would be just as good as ours. If not better. It’s a pretty special place.



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A cosmopolitan resort with an insatiable vibrant and lively atmosphere, Kurumba Maldives’ is a private island resort offering a 5 star blend of luxury and tranquillity that tempts many a visitor to its sandy shores time and time again. Offering warm and friendly service, elegant guest rooms, exhilarating excursions and a variety of delectable dining options, it’s the perfect backdrop for a dreamy island getaway.


urumba is conveniently located just 10 minutes from Male International Airport and offers weary travellers a heavenly blend of powder soft sands, the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, lush gardens ablaze with frangipani, hibiscus and bougainvillea stretch across the island and shady coconut groves that loom over 180 luxury bungalows and villas. Luxury comes in many shapes and sizes with no less than nine categories of accommodation. What they all have in common is a fresh and modern design, plus plush state-of-the-art facilities. Whilst the introductory Superior and Deluxe rooms have a graceful contemporary Maldivian style with open air showers and sunny ocean-side balconies, the resort’s signature Deluxe Bungalows and Deluxe Beachfront Bungalows each feature their very own private garden containing an outside shower and spacious decking veranda for sunset tipples. The bungalows themselves are hidden amongst the lush fragrant tropic flora just yards from the pure white beaches corralling the island. Each boasts a giant free-standing bathtub, a luxurious dual-basin bathroom, a glasswalled shower and king-sized beds. Guests seeking ultimate opulence and privacy can opt for Kurumba villa rooms, starting with the Private Villa with Jacuzzi, and the Garden Pool Villas that offer plunge pools within your private open-plan courtyard with rain shower to cool off. Kurumba’s Deluxe Pool Villas are even more sumptuous with the additional luxuries of a large private pool with a waterfall, day bed and wooden terrace. If you want a slice of celebrity lifestyle, the largest and most extravagant villa on the island is the Royal Kurumba Residence. Measuring a whopping 768 square metres in diameter and housing two bedrooms, two private pools, a huge living area and veranda, this opulent suite has played host to celebrities, local dignitaries and even heads of state. With a total of 8 restaurants based within the resort, each offering an eclectic selection of the world’s finest cuisines, thoroughly spoilt guests are well catered for. Deciding whether to visit the main restaurant for unhurried all-day dining, to savour fareastern sushi and teppenyaki at the over-water Hamakaze or to feast within the palatial Lebanese décor of Al Qasr is not an easy decision to make. Making a choice between the delicious Indian, Chinese and Italian menus of Mahal, East and Duo, respectively, is equally as difficult. One could eat solely at Vihamanaa, the main buffet restaurant; serving varied range of gourmet food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Café offers freshly baked pizzas, delicious salads & sandwiches along with a range of Maldivian specialties.






Those seeking an extra pinch of Maldivian romance can induge in a private dining experience for two, on an idyllic, secluded beach

Ocean-side gourmet restaurant Thila offers a delectable premium breakfast, replete with free-flow sparkling wine, a wide range of a la carte options and a luscious breakfast buffet, featuring (among much else) warm baked pastries and a variety of honey! Gusts can indulge in a signature coconut Kurumba coffee in the fresh morning air and watch the sun sparkle off the sea. Dinner at Thila is a feast for the senses, dining by the sea, under the stars, by candlelight with a menu brimming with the freshest ingredients, prepared with flair by the chefs in the open kitchen. For seafood lovers the expansive open-sea aquarium allows them to choose their lobster. While for true foodies, the offerings also include Australian Wagyu Beef and exclusive Mottainai Carrot and Olive Fed Lamb. Its no wonder this fine-dining restaurant has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor users every year since its opening. Speciality restaurants on the island offer a range of fine dining options to suit every palate; savour sushi and Teppanyaki at the over-water Hamakaze or dine on MiddleEastern delicacies within the opulent Arabic dÊcor of Al Qasr. Choose between delicious Indian at Mahal or explore modern Italian cuisine at Isola. If Thai is your preferred cuisine, make sure you visit Khing Thai to ample the beautifully spiced, aromatic dishes om offer. Those seeking an extra pinch of Maldivian romance can induge in a private dining experience for two, on an idyllic, secluded beach, out on a yacht or, for the ultimate in romance and privacy, on their very own desert island. The Sounds of the Sea is a favourite treat for guests on a gastronomic voyage of discovery. Sumptuous courses arrive matched with the finest wines at the table, set for two, by the water’s edge, under a starlit sky watching the spectacular Maldivian sunset. For that sunset cocktail, or an after-dinner (or afternoon) drink the resort also features three bars; Athiri, set on the beach for the best sunsets, Kandhu, where guests can unwind in the company of live bands, local dance and fabulous cocktails, or Fez for a wide range of flavoured shisha and colourful cocktails.



Dinner at Thila is a feast for the senses, dining by the sea, under the stars, by candlelight with a menu brimming with the freshest ingredients, prepared with flair by the chefs in the open kitchen.






Kurumba, Maldives, blends luxury and tranquillity in an incomparable way, which tempts many to return to the paradise island time and time again.

Finally, those wishing to make the most of their private garden, balcony or hired yacht can request an intimate dining experience for two. Voted 2015 World Luxury Spa Awards as Best Luxury Resort Spa - Country Winner and surrounded by soothing reflection ponds, the resort’s Veli Spa is an oasis of serenity in the heart of the island. Here, guests can enjoy a dedicated yoga session, unwinding in the relaxation lounge, de-stressing in the single or couples treatment rooms or indulging in reflexology and exotic body wraps and polishes. For a more romantic experience “The Spa Under the Stars” offers couples a chance to watch the sunset whilst enjoying a unique cowrie shell massage using local hand-pressed Coconut oil. Life at the Kurumba Resort isn’t just for the sun and spaseekers – the sporting and adventurous amongst us have a whole smorgasbord of activities to entertain. The Sports Centre offers a fully-equipped gym, pool, and three floodlit tennis courts and if water sports are your passion the Dive School offers a full range of PADI diving courses. Explore the spectacular dive sites of The Maldives as dazzling shoals of iridescent tropical fish, (friendly!) reef sharks, manta ray and turtles wait to greet you. Once you’ve met the fishy locals, try your hand at Kayaking, water-skiing, windsurfing and parasailing at the spectacular Water Sports Centre and keep the littl’uns entertained with the Fun Tubes and Banana Rodeos. This is all in addition to a wide-range of fascinating local excursions including a Sand Bank Picnic, the ever popular sunset cruises and even nightfishing under the stars. Kurumba, Maldives, blends luxury and tranquillity in an incomparable way, which tempts many to return to the paradise island time and time again. Having pioneered tourism in the Maldives, as the first private island resort, Kurumba has remained one of the finest; visitors can while away days on the pearl-dust beaches, swim in the protected crystal clear lagoons, explore the vibrant underwater house reef encircling the island, and indulge in a wide variety of exceptional culinary experiences. With the idyllic backdrop of the Maldives, Coconut palm fringed white beaches, crystal clear water and year round summer temperatures, the Kurumba makes for a picture perfect setting or a wedding and an unforgettable experience not only for the bride and groom, but for their guests as well. Two guests or 20? Barefoot or formal? Day or night? Kurumba understands that the devil is in the detail and that is why an assigned wedding organiser will help plan all the arrangements, making the process worry and stress free from beginning to end. Whether it is a declaration of love in front of family and friends as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean or a private ceremony for two in the overwater gazebo, couples can craft their own dream wedding, reaffirm their love, or get engaged in a romantic setting. Deciding to say ‘I do’ at Kurumba Maldives is an easy choice.





For the ultimate romantic gesture, the 300 sqm Presidential Pool Villa provides privacy and intimacy craved by newlyweds. With a private pool and ample living space, couples can hideaway for their entire honeymoon. For those who choose to venture outside, temptations include private island excursions, dinners on the beach and couple’s spa treatments. Kurumba offers three different vow renewal packages with each including as standard, a master of ceremony, venue hire, decorations, wedding certificates and a photo CD. Premium packages, in addition to the standard inclusions, come with a welcome tropical fruit basket and bottle of wine upon arrival, a Maldivian Bodu Beru traditional dance performance, the bridal bouquet, wedding cake, canapés at sunset, two bottles of sparkling wine, Kurumba’s Signature Sounds Of The Sea Dinner with wine, a commemorative renewal of vows carved wood plaque, bride and groom local sarongs (Feyli), a 90-minute spa treatment for the couple and a premium breakfast for the couple at Thila. It’s worth noting that vow ceremonies in the Maldives are symbolic and not legally binding. This however does not deter the many couples that choose the idyllic backdrop as the location for their special celebration, with the legal formalities being conducted before they venture out to the paradise island. www.kurumba.com







Across the sky-blue waters of the Indian Ocean lies an island renowned for its natural beauty; Kuramathi Island Resort. From the 1 km long sandbank that extends from the tip of the resort to the stunning house reef with promising encounters and its wide sweeping beaches offering panoramic views of the ocean, this is a majestic paradise.


aving kicked off the 2020 award season by scoring 4 major wins, 3 recognitions by travel giant TUI, and another from the travel review website, HolidayCheck this world-class resort promises outstanding hospitality, customer service, facilities and an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Upon arrival you will feel like you are on a remote island, however this resort is easily accessible as transfers from Male International Airport take just 20 minutes by seaplane and 90 minutes via speedboat. How you choose to spend your time on this magical island is up to you. Whether you want peace and quiet whiling away hours in the spa and lazing in the tropical sun, adventure exploring the natural majesty of the Indian Ocean or glamour socialising with fine food and good company or perhaps sipping a cocktail by the ocean’s edge or simply, Kuramathi Island Resort will undoubtedly be an unforgettable memory. Villa accommodation on the island blends contemporary design and nature. Choose from Garden Villas and Beach Villas nestled in lush vegetation, Deluxe Beach Jacuzzi Villas that face the lagoon and new Sunset Pool Villas. The new Two Bedroom Beach Houses are expansive duplex-style villas with separate living spaces, located just a stone’s throw away from the water’s edge and able to accommodate up to 6 adults; ideal for a getaway with friends or a family holiday. Alternatively, couples can find complete bliss in Deluxe Water Villas and Water Villas with Pool, both featuring spacious bathrooms with glass-paned doors leading out on to the expansive sundeck over turquoise waters. Mirrored on the west side of the island, the Sunset Water Villas with Pool are just steps away from the resort’s iconic sandbank, perfect for a romantic stroll. Sunset Pool Villas inhabit the beachfront, each boasting endless views direct from the bedroom to the azure sea, a luxurious bathroom with freestanding bath and outdoor rain shower, and a sundeck inset with 18sqm private infinity pool. For added pleasure, all of the new villas also include expanded mini bars with a wine chiller housing over 30 hand-selected, international wines, perfect for total indulgence or a festive toast. The Honeymoon Pool Villas are one bedroom villas with a separate living area and an air-conditioned dining area. The villas are furnished with modern day luxuries, and feature oversized open air bathrooms with twin vanity, LED-lit shower, and freestanding baths. A 10-metre lap pool completes this piece of haven.






Dining options are diverse and All Inclusive guests are allocated a buffet restaurant determined by the location of their villa. If you book the Select All Inclusive package, you’ll have the option to eat at other restaurants offering a great choice of cuisine. The resort boasts an impressive 9 à la carte restaurants all offering diverse culinary experiences. A firm favourite with visitors is the classic Reef restaurant, known for its seafood dishes and the fresh catch of the day concept showcasing reef fish such as grouper, mahi mahi, rainbow runner, red snapper and trevallies. It is located on the lagoon side of the island, set in splendid grandeur over water. The middle of the restaurant is truly unique story with teppanyaki grills on the left and right hand side; a new dining experience named Kobe offering authentic Japanese cuisine and finery of cooking meats and vegetables on an iron grill. The al-Fresco terraced restaurant Inguru offers stunning views over the ocean and enticing light dining options during the day and Asian fusion cuisine at night. Perhaps the most exciting and majestic new addition to the resort is the Champagne Loft, overlooking the splendid Indian Ocean. Adding to the many bars located throughout Kuramathi Island, Champagne Loft is a special place for couples to imbibe in a glass of champagne from an eclectic selection of over 45 varieties. Furnished with an elegant ambience and interior; local architecture is inspired and infused with a contemporary touch. Chic furnishings are splayed around the lounge from comfortable loungers to wooden tables that can seat small groups. Appealing to mainly honeymooners and those rekindling romance, the Champagne Loft features an extraordinary assortment of carefully selected champagnes.







There are activities a-plenty available at the resort. If the adventurer in you is keen to explore, exciting times lie ahead as you travel to the mysterious aquatic realm of the Maldives without even dipping a toe in the water! A brand new red semi-submarine seating 12 people offers the chance to sight the beauty of the famed prime dive/ snorkelling spot of Madivaru twice a week. A variety of water sports, diving and excursions are also available. The house reef offers hours of adventurous snorkelling and when you have had enough of being active, try some of the innovative therapies available at the Kuramathi Spa. With the cerulean waters as a backdrop, the spa consists of thirteen treatment rooms. Rejuvenate, revitalise and beautify with blends of diverse therapies including signature organic marine-based Voya products. Kuramathi is also blessed to have the world-famous Hammerhead Shark Point a mere eight minutes away by boat – one of the few remaining places in the world where you can still see these magnificent creatures. Comfort and convenience for divers is assured with fast, modern dive boats that reach more than 20 spectacular dive sites within just 15 minutes. Daily trips are supplemented by twice-

weekly full day safaris and half day trips to dive some of the best sites in neighbouring North Ari Atoll. The resort is also well-supported by the Kuramathi Medical Centre and Hyperbaric Chamber. The staff at the resort are truly customer satisfaction focused and experts in their respective fields. They offer a welcoming and friendly service and are there to cater to your every need. Add to all these luxurious facilities, amenities such as a sports centre, gym, swimming pools, medical centre with hyperbaric chamber, boutiques, laundry, library, wi-fi internet and you have the perfect blend to create a retreat that offers unique experiences for everyone in a natural setting. For young guests, the Bageecha Kids Club is available for a fun-filled holiday. Engage in Beach Games, hone culinary skills on Barbeque Day and make a dash for a splash on Pool Day! Kids have lots to do on Kuramathi as they are given new experiences in every direction, from Bubblemaker diving programs, wind surf lessons or even guided tours of the house reef together with the marine biologist.






Being an island devoted to maintain its immaculate state, Kuramathi takes pride in its environmental initiatives and campaigns. Kuramathi’s Eco Centre was established in 1999, following that years’ El Nińo and the subsequent coral bleach, the management of Kuramathi wanted to better understand this fragile ecosystem and how best to protect and preserve it for the future. Led by a team of professionals including a Resident Marine Biologist and Horticulturist, the Eco Centre operates year-round and plays a vital role in providing Kuramathi’s guests with an improved understanding and experience of Maldives, ensuring guests are aware of proper snorkelling behaviour, and offering guided snorkelling safaris. The Eco Centre also plays host to a variety of detailed presentations about the fascinating underwater world through visual presentations and microscopic presentations. One of the most striking features of The Eco Centre is the unique sperm whale exhibit complete with facts about this fascinating species. This unusual specimen, aptly named ‘Snow White’ is amazing in itself but the story behind how it came to become part of the Eco Centre is truly remarkable. The environmental hub also features a wide range of information about the flora and fauna, and life under the sea that will help develop knowledge of the island’s stunning surroundings. Other programs carried out by the Eco Centre include conducting coral reef research, monitoring sea water temperature and maintaining a coral nursery. In the waters surrounding Kuramathi, the marine life is diverse and abundant, including several different types of sharks, eagle rays, stingrays, manta rays (November to April), turtles, barracuda, tuna, Napoleons, morays, schools of jacks and trevally, leaf fish and even the occasional whale shark. Back on land, Kuramathi is encouraging visitors to explore the island’s interior flora and the native fauna it supports; through a range of walks including the Botanic Walk, Nature Trail and a Hermit Crab Walk. On the Botanic Walk visitors will find an array of interesting plants including edible plants, plants used for medicinal value, plants rich in fragrance and those used for its ornamental properties along an expansive and informative pathway. The Nature Trail is set in an untouched area of tropical Maldivian rainforest. The circular Hermit Crab Walk explains all about these adorable little crabs and is a great experience for both kids and adults alike. In the heart of the Kuramathi, the Hydroponics Garden is a remarkable facility which provides over 70% of the fresh salad leaves used across the food outlets on the island. This garden is run by a greenhouse system which produce a range of herbs and leaves, including coriander, arugula, mint, green basil, purple basil, dill, sage and lemongrass. This efficient and eco-friendly method of growth facilitates rapid harvesting where plants grow within a month’s time, under the careful supervision of our resident horticulturist. However one chooses to spend their time on the island, whether it be wandering through the majestic rainforest of the island, learning about the complex eco system of the Maldives at the Eco Centre, exploring the marine lie below the waves; Kuramathi and its team endeavour to educate their visitors about the fragile and multifaceted environment that makes the Maldives so special, and how we can all make changes to ensure it remains so. www.kuramathi.com







Family Friendly Portugal. Introducing Martinhal M

artinhal is the name behind the portfolio of award-winning holiday resorts that promise luxury holiday experiences with high class family-friendly facilities, in some of the most prestigious areas in Portugal. From beaches and sophisticated golf areas and Lisbon city centre, no matter what resort you choose, you can be sure that Martinhal have the perfect blend of families and luxury securely in mind. Having built their first hotel in Sagres in the Algarve, they must be doing something right as they have now expanded their empire into Cascais, Lisbon city centre and Quinta do Lago.

It is all too often the case that one struggles to find a balance between family and adult-friendly when searching for that perfect holiday, and so the idea of fusing luxury with a family resort appealed no end. But can adults really experience relaxation and plush surroundings and cuisine whilst maximising very precious family time? Lured by the exclusive golf and beach resort of Quinta do Lago, we chose to stay 3 nights there, followed by 5 nights in the beach resort setting of Sagres, and set out to experience for ourselves this fantasy holiday scenario.

Anyone with young kids knows just how impossible it can be to travel light, or indeed travel any distance at all. Nappies, sterilisers, arm bands, travel potties….kids come with kit and lots of it. Fortunately Martinhal is one step ahead and offers an ingenious ‘Baby Concierge,’ making hassle-free travelling with babies and small children their specialty. This progressive company offers you the opportunity to pre-book baby equipment – from small items like door protectors, potties, bottle sterilisers & warmers, to bigger items like safety gates, baby cots and baby baths. Not only that, they also offer a wide variety of lotions, nappies, and other items for purchase from the reception.



Martinhal Martinhal Quinta

We chose to fly over from London Gatwick with EasyJet, arriving early evening at FARO Airport, with two very tired little ladies. We were swiftly transferred over to Martinhal Sagres by an extremely polite and efficient Martinhal driver in a spacious and air conditioned people carrier, all geared up with ageappropriate car seats. With its 300 days of sunshine a year, and over 100 beaches, its no wonder the Algarve makes such a perfect family holiday destination. Just 20 minutes from the airport and a 2 minute drive from Faro Beach, Martinhal Quinta is the perfect place to use as a base to explore the Algarve’s 200km stretch of coastline and get to know its many quaint towns and villages.

Quinta do Lago itself is one of the most exclusive areas of the Algarve, offering 5-star luxury with an impressive array of top quality restaurants, including many with Michelin stars, worldclass golf courses, sophisticated bars and exclusive boutiques, all targeting the affluent and VIP residents and visitors to the area. Set in Ria Formosa Natural Park, everything about Martinhal Quinta is designed with families in mind. Stylish and designorientated, Martinhal Quinta offers families the chance to unwind in the unspoiled Algarve, with high-class family-friendly villas, restaurants, bars, kids and leisure services that put families first. Martinhal Quinta offers an exclusive 4-star private collection of independently owned luxury villas - each with a private garden and pool area. Upon arriving rather late in the evening, the Matinhal reception team swiftly checked us in and took us, by golf buggy (delighting the kids!), to our 3 bedroom townhouse. As each townhouse is independently owned, they vary a lot in décor, but thanks to Martihal’s high standards and expectations of owners, you can be sure of high quality furnishings and finishing, with light and homely décor, all sparkling clean, well-maintained and fully equipped with everything you could possibly require to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible. Each townhouse is fully serviced and has a large kitchen complete with a stove, dishwasher, washer-dryer, fridge and crockery, cutlery and pots and pans.

It was incredibly comforting to arrive so late into the evening to accommodation that truly felt like a home from home, featuring every facility you could possibly require with a young family and bags of space for the little one to move about in! As with all Martinhal resorts, a super convenient Baby Concierge is offered and the team even provide a welcome basket of snacks, treats and essentials like milk to kick start your stay.

For those looking to self-cater, the onsite shop Mercado offers a wide variety of take-away breakfast options with freshly baked bread, croissants and pastries, coffees, teas and natural orange juice. Here you will also find fresh fruit and vegetables, high quality deli items and a wide range of drinks. A full range of cold take-away dishes are also available through the day. If cooking in your apartment isn’t on your holiday to-do list, you’ll find O Terraco located on top floor of the ‘Pool Hangout’ area. This restaurant is the perfect place to start your day,



It was incredibly comforting to arrive so late into the evening to accommodation that truly felt like a home from home, featuring every facility you could possibly require with a young family.

with a full buffet breakfast prepared every day to cater for all tastes and an ingenious kids’ corner to keep little ones entertained while parents can finish their brekkie in peace!

For those seeking lunch or those all important snacks throughout the day,M Bar is located next to the Pool hangout and offers a pool side dining experience with delicious snacks, salads, pizzas, paninis and a wide selection of drinks. Keeping to their mantra of providing for all the family, Martinhal offer a menu designed specifically with children in mind, with healthy dishes and snacks for toddlers and beyond, as well as a purée menu for babies experiencing their first tastes! Perhaps the most popular place for my little ladies to visit was the Gelataria, next to M Bar, where mouth-watering homemade ice cream, crepes and waffles are available for those wanting to indulge in a refreshing moment by the pool. Speaking of chilling by the pool, we need to discuss the Pool Hangout area itself. This immaculately clean, heated resort swimming pool and toddler/baby pool area is a dream come true for any parent. The toddler pool is perfectly shallow enough for your little one to splash about safely and relatively unaided and features a fun water feature to keep them entertained. Back in the deeper pool, you’ll find a slide aimed at young children, which provided my daughter’s with endless giggles and hilarity!

Right next to the pool area, you’ll find a splash pad for the kids, a trampoline, sandpit and the signature Martinhal camper van for the kids to play in, all without having to change out of swim suits. Much like the resort, the pool area is perfectly secure and is staffed with the resort’s kids club team who do a fabulous job entertaining the troops, without disturbing the peace! Although we didn’t use it, there is also a onsite kids’ club available at an additional cost, which is filled with age appropriate games, activities and toys, providing endless fun for babies and children up to eight years old. Older children are equally as well catered for with their own games room, featuring everything from consoles to table tennis.

For those families travelling en mass, an exclusive 4-star private collection of independently owned luxury villas are available, with large living spaces on the ground floor are characterised by decorative and well-appointed interiors and feature fully fitted kitchens, air conditioning, satellite TV and Wi-Fi. All bedrooms are en suite. Each property is positioned in its own landscaped grounds overlooking a private garden and swimming pool. Before long, it was time to pack up and head, via private transfer arranged by the team, to our next destination; Martinhal Sagres.



Martinhal Martinhal Sagres

In a stunning position overlooking Martinhal Beach and set within the most picturesque natural parks in Portugal – Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort is located close to the historic town of Sagres on the unspoiled Western Algarve and features a five star hotel and a selection of spacious family homes.

My family and I stayed in one of the Ocean Houses, which command a prime position right at the heart of the resort. Carefully arranged in small terraced groups at the front of Martinhal Village, Ocean Houses are singular in their character and form. These spacious and beautiful village houses are built upside down, with living spaces created upstairs to take full advantage of the fabulous panoramic sea views. Our Ocean House had its very own private verandas where we enjoyed many an al fresco meals overlooking the ocean and was positioned within the a perfect location with the beach right on our doorstep and all the resort’s leisure and entertainment facilities a stone’s throw away.

Ocean Houses are just one option out of a whole variety of accommodation options, to suite all party sizes and tastes. You’ll also find Garden Houses, Vilas Mimosa which are stylish 2 or 3-bedroom townhouses with private gardens, Luxury Villas that are independently owned and are positioned in its own landscaped grounds overlooking a private garden and swimming pool, plus Bay and Pinewood houses and even a hotel. Carefully positioned at the beach within the grounds of the resort, the hotel features 37 rooms, including two duplex Beach Suites, all with private balconies or terraces that afford impressive ocean views. The building itself sits at one with its surroundings, combining a natural simplicity with contemporary style to create a building that appears organic, as if born to nature. The Martinhal Sagres resort itself is breathtakingly beautiful, with clean and spacious ultra-modern interiors, complete with floor to ceiling windows on nearly all external walls, successfully bringing the calm outside landscapes in. The staff are all trained to offer a fun and friendly service to the youngsters and a professional and attentive service to the parents.

Based on a philosophy of using authentic Portuguese produce of the highest quality and following time-honoured methods of preparation, the resort is one of the best places in the Algarve to appreciate delicious national cuisine. There are three onsite restaurants, all offering luxurious surroundings, cuisine and faultless customer service. Somehow, each restaurant manages to maintain a relaxed setting where families can calmly eat together without the worry of their children disturbing other tables. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed in a sophisticated dining setting. So how does Martinhal successfully ensure a stress-free setting? It’s actually quite simple. Firstly, they make sure there are enough high chairs to go round. Each menu not only offers healthy and delicious dishes for children, they also offer home-made baby foods for a variety of age ranges. Then there is the children’s play



area that features in every dining area – an ingenious corner of supervised craft, toys and reading that successfully limits the capacity for impatient little diners to get fidgety waiting for their dishes to be served or the adults to stop nattering. O Terraco restaurant offers buffet breakfast and dinner featuring some typical Portuguese dishes with a twist. Os Gambozinos, an Italian Trattoria, does the traditional family favourites of pizza, pasta and other typical Italian dishes for lunch and dinner. The As Dunas restaurant commands an enviable location overlooking the beach and is where you’ll find a tempting lunchtime menu, serving snacks during the afternoon and dinner in the evening. The restaurant is renowned for its wide selection of fresh fish and seafood, all cooked and presented in a typical Algarve fashion. A shaded outdoor terrace allows for meals al fresco – candlelight dining at its finest with the sound of the sea lapping at the shores. As Dunas is the ideal place for families with an extensive children’s menu, fenced-in sandy play area and trampoline for little ones. It is the kids play areas and the pool facilities that truly sets Martinhal apart from the rest of them. There are an impressive 5 pool areas dotted around the resort to ensure that guests can enjoy pool time with their kids in the pools. The Pool Hangout is located just above the beach and is sunk into a stylish wooden terrace. This was our favourite spot for whiling away the day. As our little one’s paddled in the toddler pool, splashing about safely with their buckets and spades we had purchased at the village store, we were actually able to lie on a sun bed for a spell! OK, I didn’t get to read any of my book I had brought with me, but I did, however, actually get a tan. Now if that isn’t testament to a relaxing holiday away with toddlers, I don’t know what is!

The Village Pool area is set in the Village Square and is ideal for families all wanting different things! One generously sized pool spans indoors and outdoors, whilst adjacent is another smaller pool designed for the toddlers of the family. The Oasis Pool can be found surrounded by the Garden Houses, you’ll find Club 98 by the resort’s sports centres featuring both a standard and toddler pool and Martinhal’s fifth pool area is located at the entrance of the resort. The 18m pool and adjacent baby pool are open during the summer months for the exclusive use of the Vilas Mimosa guests.

With kids being central to the resort‘s philosophy, Martinhal Sagres have created 5 different but equally superb kids clubs, covering the ages of 6 months to early teens. This is a facility where kids can be looked after by the fully-trained, caring and responsible staff in a safe and secure space while parents can enjoy some time out. The various areas in the Kids Club have been created to interest and stimulate different age groups, ensuring the needs of babies up to teens have a full range of toys, playthings, creative areas and entertainment – from playmats to Playstations! We enrolled our daughter for 2 hour sessions over our stay, which gave us a short time to be able to sit in the sun, book in hand in the village square, sipping upon a well-earned cocktail. In addition to supervised kids club areas, there are several unsupervised playgrounds all around the resort where parents can play

with their kids, or in our case, the kids can play with the parents! Trampolines, table football, ping pong, climbing frames, slides…..you name it and they have it.

If you prefer to have your children looked after in your villa or room, baby-sitting can be organised for any age from a few months old upon request, should you wish to indulge in a little adult time.

On the subject of adult-time, Martinhal Sagres guests are also spoilt with a beautiful spa known as ‘Finisterra’ meaning “end of the earth”. Positioned in its own secluded grounds at the centre of the resort, this oasis of calm with only 6 treatment rooms is a place where the art of relaxation is taken seriously. Using a selection of local aromatic oils, ointment, spices and exotic herbs, the therapies and treatments offered bring together ancient and contemporary techniques in perfect harmony. The spa offers five treatment rooms, sauna and steam room to help guests relax before and after their treatments, so if you get the opportunity (think kids club), then be sure to take a visit and escape to the ends of the earth for a spell or two. The spa is truly a sanctuary of calm and one that can be enjoyed by yourself, as couple by booking a couples massage or treatment, or with your little ones! Family spa experience options are plentiful, with sessions such as a mum & child massage, facial or manicure, or a soothing father & child back massage. The perfect bonding experience for little ones on holiday!

For those who like to keep active on holiday, Martinhal have a multitude of activities on offer, including water sports at The Water Sports Centre which is located on the Martinhal Beach. Here guests can hire equipment for windsurfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and much more. If you’re more comfortable on terra firma, then be sure to hire bikes at the Bike Station, situated just next to the village square. Powered by AlgarveCycling-Holidays, Martinhal Bike Station offers high quality bikes to discover the stunning surroundings at one’s own pace, including the Natural Park for mountain biking, trekking and road biking. Active holiday makers will also love the tennis courts, Pump Track and fully equipped gymnasium just above the Village Square.

In addition to in-resort activities, the surrounding area to the hotel offers a wide range of options which Martinhal are happy to arrange for their guests. Hiking and wildlife tours are particularly popular, with hot air ballooning and skydiving on offer for those who want to take to the sky. Local day trips wills e you horse riding along he beach, exploring Sagres in a Tuk Tuk or getting to grips with the wild expanses of the Costa Vicentina National Park, which is right on your doorstep.

All in all, Martinhal, whichever resort you choose, have got it absolutely right. The team have found a way to balance luxury with home comforts, family time with relaxation and organised entertainment with freedom to explore. In doing so, Martinhal have achieved total perfection when it comes to family holidays. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.martinhal.com






TEXAS Fri 30 Oct




80s CLASSICAL Sat 14 Nov









UB40 Sun 13 Dec

IL DIVO Fri 18 Dec











Travel Agency

Brighton Mum leads the way in a New Revolution of Luxury Home Based Travel Agents!


ophie, 31 is Brighton-based and a mum to 3 year old Reggie and 18 month old Frankie. Having initially come across the travel business whilst looking to book a trip away for her husband’s birthday, she is now well on her way to becoming a leader in the UK’s fastest growing home-based Travel Agency. Aware of the immense difficulties that mums today encounter when finding work that fits around family commitments and inspired by Sophie’s journey, Absolute Magazine chats with this busy mumpreneur to learn about the secrets to her success story. Here is Sophie’s story, in her own words. “I contacted a friend online that had recently started their online travel business and upon receiving a quote, I was also offered to take a look at the business to see how I could travel more for less, whilst also earning an income from my own travel. Being a busy mum of 2 and owner of 360 Hair Clinic, I wasn’t intentionally looking to start another business but when I saw this new and exciting opportunity, I just knew that I couldn’t let it pass me by. I started my first business at 19 and I have a diverse background ranging from Events, Beauty Therapy and, for the last 7 years, Hair Loss. Despite the online travel business being a complete polar opposite to my other full time business, I could see how this opportunity could fit within the little time that I have, and also have the potential to grow in to an empire! There are many ways of earning in the travel business. First and foremost, if you are booking any travel at all, then you are doing this anyway! Every hotel, flight, transfer, excursion that you book online has commission built in to the price. So, if you are the travel agent, then you earn the commission. Secondly, as an independent travel advisor you can book travel for you friends, family and associates. Looking to find them a great deal, whilst also earning the commission with each booking – everyone wins! In addition to this there is an opportunity to expand your business into your own franchise, building a residual income. With it being well documented that the most successful business owners tend to have multiple income streams, this was the area that sparked my attention! I am really enjoying the mentoring side to the business. I have a goal to help a minimum of 300 people to start

their own travel business and create an exciting career and future for themselves! It can be a hobby. It can be a career. It can be anything you want it to be. There are no quotas you have to meet or classes to attend. You learn about the travel industry online, interact with other advisors and uncover new places you can journey to. The Travel Agency launched 25 years ago in the USA. This reputable company has worked hard to form great relationships with every major supplier in the industry, allowing its agents’ access to the world’s best resorts, hotels, cruise lines, car rental and tour operators, gaining ABTA membership and booking through suppliers with ATOL protection. To date the company has over 40,000 Home based advisors in the USA and just over 6,000 in the UK. It has never been a more exciting time to join the business due to the timing and positioning of the company. With over 66 million people in the UK, the market is still almost untouched which makes this a once in a lifetime opportunity! There is an affordable set up fee of £142 to start your business, and a monthly fee of £32 with no contract. This provides you with your travel agent license, ABTA membership, personal travel booking website, access to our travel suppliers and unlimited free training and support. For anyone looking to save on their own travel, and travel more for less then this is an opportunity for you. Maybe you have a business, and have been looking for a way to travel smarter. We also have a Profit Guarantee which means that if you do not save and earn more in commission than fees, our company will reimburse the difference. For anyone looking to build an income in the most exciting industry (part or full time) then this is definitely for you! We also have a 30-day money back guarantee so if you get started and decide within the 30 days that it is not for you, you can request a refund of your set up fee. With no set hours or targets, and unlimited free training, everything really is at your fingertips if you want to become the UK’s newest Travel Business Owner. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to find out more about this opportunity - You won’t regret it! email: sophies.luxury.travel@gmail.com





My Fab House

SERVICED ACCOMMODATION REVOLUTION Whether you are a fan or not, no-one can deny the rise and rise of the Airbnb platform over the last few years. Airbnb, along with other providers, have revolutionised the serviced accommodation industry and the guest experience has been transformed.


his is particularly prevalent in seaside destinations such as Brighton; a popular choice for holiday makers and business travellers alike, as well as for hen weekends and stag parties. All of which are very lucrative in terms of potential income for the City. This can provide an opportunity for property owners, as well as potential issues for neighbouring properties, depending on how the property is managed.

The Downside of short-term rentals Having a short term ‘holiday’ let looks good for income, home owners see pound signs flash in front of their eyes, but there a downside. Managing an Airbnb is intensive work, with high levels of guest turnover and property maintenance. Gone are the days where Airbnb meant just a spare bedroom, now dedicated properties are set up specifically for tourist and professional visitors alike. Guest expectations have also risen, basics such as fresh linen and sparkling cleanliness are a minimum. For the property owner, there are a stack of maintenance issues and general management that is required to keep the Airbnb running efficiently. On top of this, owners need to ensure guests follow house rules and proactively manage the property, to prevent any disturbances to neighbours. Back to the positives of Airbnb However, while there undoubtedly some costs and pitfalls of an Airbnb holiday let there are plenty of positives. Thanks to Airbnb and similar providers, these advertising platforms are well known and secure. The property owners not only benefit from the extra income, but also retain tighter control of their property. Additionally, there are also certain tax



benefits too, compared to traditional long term lets. Overall it all makes sense, but there are challenges that many property owners struggle with; finding time and having the knowledge to set up and manage their Airbnb property effectively. How to effectively manage your Airbnb property Many property owners struggle to manage the process themselves. However, savvy owners look for a company to assist with this often-daunting process and to help manage their property, to take the weight off their shoulders. Such companies have dedicated housekeeping and maintenance staff to ensure their properties meet the standards expected by guests.

Savvy owners look for a company to assist with this oftendaunting process and to help manage their property, to take the weight off their shoulders.



Taking an Airbnb property further There are numerous companies that can assist property owners manage their short term let, most have been specifically established to service the Airbnb phenomena. After a bit of research, we have found a company that seems to tick all the boxes. They manage every aspect of an Airbnb holiday let, to ensure a unique customer focused experience for the guest and maximum hassle-free income for the property owner. Founded by Viktoriia Khorish, My Fab House is no ordinary Airbnb management company. With a passion for bespoke interior design and providing a unique customer focused experience, Viktoriia is starting her own mini revolution in the City of Brighton. Expert knowledge Not so long ago, all short term let accommodation felt very much the same, with bland dÊcor, predictable art prints and average customer service. My Fab House company is small, so it really focuses on each property in its portfolio. This unique company takes a property and using their expert knowledge work at every stage with the owner, to maximise its potential. If required the entire property can be given an interior design makeover with high quality furniture, funky dÊcor, all topped off with five-star quality linen to ensure supreme levels of comfort. Bespoke extras such as a hair and make-up bar and chill out areas can be included, where possible, to enhance the guest experience. Most companies don’t go this far in creating an Airbnb holiday let but Viktoriia and her team dream big. They then analyse the market to maximise occupancy and rental income. My Fab House ensures a guest experience and exceptional levels of service and management. They also employ a security company, so regular patrols also ensure that the guests are behaving in the property and vitally that neighbours are not being disturbed.



My Fab House company is small, so it really focuses on each property in its portfolio. This unique company takes a property and using their expert knowledge work at every stage with the owner, to maximise its potential.

My Fab House

A unique guest experience My Fab House know their customers and they understand the challenges faced by every Airbnb holiday let owner. There is huge competition, with thousands of holiday let choices just in Brighton alone, so the successful owner has to make their property stand out from the crowd. This starts with the interior design, but other little extras really help. Guests are provided with tea, coffee, fresh milk and a quality pod coffee machine as standard. They also have access to Netflix as well as an Amazon Echo linked to the Amazon music library. But the guest experience goes further‌ Pamper partners Guests also have a choice of a range of in-house pamper packages as an extra. My Fab House’s pamper partners can really add value to the overall experience; guests can have their own private chef, a yoga instructor, or they can learn to make cocktails. They can even have a full hair, beauty and spa salon come into the home, so they can look like a million dollars for a night on the town. Suddenly what was once an ordinary Airbnb becomes an entire experience, this makes a My Fab House property stand out above the competition. The perfect partnership Viktoriia and My Fab House have set a new standard in the Airbnb sector for both property owners and their guests. Today, people want something different, they expect more than just the basic comforts of home and they demand the very best. My Fab House delivers a unique and outstanding experience for the guest, which translates into increased profits for the property owner. www.myfabhouse.co.uk.







Amstar Europet

Amstar Europet is an international pet transport company and a family run business that sees three generations working together to provide a safe and stress-free journey for your furry friends.


mstar started transporting pets and rescues four years ago. The family had taken their dogs on a trip with them and on the return decided on taking a ferry part way. The journey being around eleven hours meant that Amber, Charlie and Trigger had to go into kennels on board which were situated on the car deck. Although they had their blankets and bedding it was very clear the next morning that the journey had been extremely stressful and all three couldn’t wait to be back with their owners in the familiar comfort of the car. The family spent the rest of the drive through France and Spain forming the idea of providing comfortable, far less stressful transport for all the other beloved pets that were relocating or holidaying with their families in Europe. After looking around for a suitable vehicle they found a Mercedes Sprinter van which had already been converted for transporting pets. The vehicle had 18 cages including two larger ones which eventually went on to carry at least three Mastin Espanol or Spanish Mastiffs which are the most beautiful but huge dogs, each of them were rescues and all made it to their new homes in the UK happily and comfortable. They then had their Mercedes Vito converted and that provided an extra eight cages as the company started to become more well known. In the beginning Amstar Europet we were transporting people’s pets, dogs and cats relocating or taking extended holidays in Spain and the UK. It was abundantly clear from the start that all of the families looking for transport for their much loved pets considered them very much a part of their family and wanted to know that they would be cared for and treated as they would be by themselves. In situations where maybe the pet was older and perhaps had a certain diet or important medication the family wanted reassurance that this would be adhered to on the journey. This was something the team are happy to provide. Owners also wanted to make sure that their pets had the comfort of their own blankets and favourite toys to make the journey a happier one, again this is never a problem. The team will gladly do as much as they can to ensure a safe stress free journey for all of their passengers. Although as an anxious owner you of course will worry about your beloved pets while in transit it may help to be reassured that once the door closes and the journey begins, they all go off to sleep. They are woken when the van stops for the regular four hourly break when each of the dogs will be walked in turn and offered water during the day. It is worth noting though that your pet, whether it’s a dog or cat, will probably not want food on the first day as their stomachs settle on the journey. Usually most will eat a light meal on the second evening as they are more relaxed by then.

Although as an anxious owner you of course will worry about your beloved pets while in transit it may help to be reassured that once the door closes and the journey begins, they all go off to sleep.



The team will gladly do as much as they can to ensure a safe stress free journey for all of their passengers.



Amstar doesn’t only transport pets but also welcome rescues as well that are being re-homed with either foster or hopefully their forever families.

Amstar Europet provide a service that is door to door, so your gorgeous pets are collected from you, cared for by the dedicated team and delivered to the destination home address.



Amstar Europet Amstar Europet provide a service that is door to door, so your gorgeous pets are collected from you, cared for by the dedicated team and delivered to the destination home address. Amstar doesn’t only transport pets but also welcome rescues as well that are being re-homed with either foster or hopefully their forever families. This is without doubt one of the reasons that Amstar Europet continue to love their job! There is nothing so rewarding as collecting rescues from the wonderful centres and people that have cared for them and watching them transform along the journey. The team have had many a frightened and nervous little boy and girl on board over the years and with each stop and each walk you see them becoming more used to you and more trusting. Unfortunately many of these poor little souls have been abandoned, abused and starved so to be shown continued love is something they desperately need but are nervous of accepting in the beginning. This is where the fantastic, caring people at the rescues with all of their volunteers that come to help walk them begin that journey, before Amstar Europet even meet them. Taking rescues on the journey to their new homes is a wonderful privilege and seeing them off at the end pulls on the heart strings, as you can imagine they are used to the team by then and not always keen to leave. However when you see the lovely people ready to take these poor animals into their homes and give them the much needed loving family environment they deserve, you can’t help but smile. The happiness and excitement at the arrival of their new pet is a delight to see. Amstar Europet have worked with several Rescue centres. Dog Planet in Cadiz, Paws for the Cause in Almeria, Tail Association in Torrox Costa are some of the wonderful people involved in rescue in Spain. But we need to mention the fabulous people that receive and home many of these rescues in the UK; the brilliant Chimney Farm in Guildford that the team have had the pleasure of dropping many dogs to over time. Amstar Europet actually bought an almost full van load of beds in many sizes, bags and bags of dog food, blankets and so much more that Chimney Farm had collected to send back to Spain to help the rescue in Torrox. Amstar has had to take a step back for the last year because of illness, but with the help of family and friends are extremely happy to be ready to finally resume their journey. Taking your much loved pets, old and young safely to their destinations. Rescues to their new families and a loving home. Amstar are continuously grateful to all of their previous customers for choosing them to care for all of their wonderful pets and look forward to meeting lots of new customers and their furry friends very soon! Amstar Europet is the name for the pet transport branch of A S Williams Haulage Ltd. A S Williams Haulage Ltd holds the DEFRA Type 2 Licence to carry dogs and cats within Europe over twelve hour journeys. Our Pet transport has been inspected and certified fit for purpose by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) in accordance with the Welfare in Transport Regulation 1/2005. www.aswilliamshaulage.com



11Rugby Road Dan Mackay and partner Adam Johnson are two halves of 11 Rugby Road, a Brighton based creative duo. Having opened their doors during the Artists Open House festival for the past 12 years, 2019 saw them being voted in the top 3 houses, focusing on affordable, local design and makes.


man of many talents, Adam is a multi-disciplinary artist having initially studied Sculpture & Glassblowing, but is also highly talented in ceramics (fired in their very own 11 Rugby Road kiln) and is a coveted illustrator. Dan studied graphic design, enjoys creating clean, flat artworks and can often be found with Adam’s sketchbook, turning his illustrations into work that people can enjoy.

With Brighton Artists Open Houses 2020 fast approaching in may, Absolute Magazine caught up with Dan Mackay to find out all about their journey, what its takes to succeed as an artist, their inspirations and what the future holds.

How has the brand grown to be where it is now? What has contributed to your success?

Although we have been a part of the Open Houses for quite a while, I started our online shop 5 years ago to allow us to reach people outside of Brighton, plus those who can’t make it (Brighton is so busy during May and Christmas goes by in a blink!) It also meant we could think about other things to make - Valentine’s is now our busiest period online as we focus of alternative cards that aren’t available. We make items and art that make us happy and it’s a nice feeling that other people enjoy it enough to want our prints on their wall too.

What inspires you and your designs ?

Living by the sea is amazing for feeling creative. Brighton inspires so much of our artwork. I enjoy stripping down landmarks (which have been drawn a lot) to their bare minimum, such as the West Pier made of thick lines balanced on a block of sea, or recreating the murmuration flock but drawing the birds as simply as possible. Adam almost likes doing the opposite - his line drawings are packed with tiny details as he tries to squeeze in locations from around Brighton or capture the ornateness of the Pavilion and Bandstand.



“Living by the sea is amazing for feeling creative. Brighton inspires so much of our artwork.”

Now you’re recognised for your artworks, have you done any gallery shows and have you worked with any brands or commissions you can share with us? I was asked by the Duke of York Picturehouse whether I could turn my minimal drawing of their rooftop legs into a wallpaper they could use in the refurbed sections of the cinema. It’s nice to be in a building with such a long history in Brighton! But collaborating with other artists and brands is something we’re both trying to do more of as it keeps everything exciting.

How has the advent of social media impacted on you. We can see from your online presence you seem to embrace this?

In addition to having my own social media channels, I update the @11RugbyRoad Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and @ BrightCraftFair is a market we organise. Even our dog @Egg_the_ Pug even has his own account! Social media has always been a great way of keeping people updated with what we’re currently up to and what’s planned for the future. It has taken over from email with the main way people get in touch, I think as it feels more personal.



11Rugby Road What materials or spaces do you enjoy working with most? I am often jealous of Adam when we are both working. Nearly everything I make is done digitally so I’m fixed to my laptop, but he gets to use his hands while working with clay or drawing. Illustrating with a stylus straight into a digital format seems to be the norm now, but all of his intricate drawings are pen on paper - so mistakes are harder to undo!

Which project’s are you really excited about for 2020 and are there any future plans you can share with us? Our calendar is booking up with creative events. We are signed up for the Artists Open Houses in May and Christmas and in July we open our garden in aid of Macmillan for an Open Garden Event. We transform our home during these times removing all our furniture to make it easier to navigate room and fill them with everything we make. In the past we have put on pop up shops in empty units around Brighton which is something I’m keen to do again, especially as there are so many vacant shops at the moment.

Why are your designs so different to other artists within the industry? Explain what a client commission gets?

We have found the most popular application for Adam’s fine liner illustration is pet portraits! Proud owners send over a photo and in return get a detailed illustration. Like the Brighton cityscapes, each is drawn onto paper before being scanned where I clean it up digitally and can add colour if the client wants. We will always favour pen and paper over drawing with a stylus straight into a digital format - it’s a longer process but the fine lines are captured perfectly.

How has being based in the south helped your business? Do you feel the regions high creativity levels have contributed to your further success? One of the contributors to our success is people knowing the huge difference that buying from local creatives makes. I get excited when someone wants to buy something I’ve made for 99p or £99. There is a nice community of makers in Brighton that always makes turning up to a craft fair or market more enjoyable. www.11rugbyroad.com/



“One of the contributors to our success is people knowing the difference that buying from local creatives makes.”





Fraser Renton is a Linear-Geometric Abstract Artist based in the Sussex Downs. Born in Edinburgh in the late 60’s, he and his family were relocated to Surrey where he was schooled until adulthood. After education and from the early 90’s, Fraser trained as a contemporary dancer that took him all over the world, performing in the countries of all 5 continents.


s well as performing as a dancer, Fraser progressed to dance and stage management and the creation of stage props, backdrops and promotional material. During this time his passion for creating became his new focal point. By the end of the 90’s, around the time of the .com boom, a change of direction towards designing and developing websites ensued and by the turn of the century, Fraser had taught himself how to use all the tools of the trade needed to create, manage and maintain websites. Using programs such as Paintshop Pro, Paint, Illustrator and the industry standard, Photoshop, these self taught graphic design skills have progressed into creating physical art from digital creations. In 2015 Fraser relocated to just outside Arundel, West Sussex where he now showcases his work in the physical form at his open house studio days and local gallery trails as well as events, fairs and exhibitions up and down the county. Curious as to what inspires Fraser in his work and his journey so far, Absolute Magazine caught up with this pioneering artist at his Sussex showroom.

Tell us all about how your love for art and particular style began?

As far back as I can remember I have always had a love for linear geometrics and colour field paintings. My fascination for both these art forms has inspired me for many years and have been influences in all aspects of my work before becoming a full time artist. Everything I have ever undertaken has been self taught. On leaving college, I worked within the entertainment industry together with pop groups, west end productions and touring cabaret troupes, performing with before leading to creating sets and props. After the .com boom a new direction into web development and graphic design commenced, all of which have played a key ‘creative’ part in the development of the art I am now making.



Staying dedicated to my practices and my work ethos has been major contributions in my development.

How has your brand grown to be where it is now? What has contributed towards your success? Staying dedicated to my practices and my work ethos has been major contributions in my development. My work is very niche but I have always had the belief that if you work hard and are prepared to get out there promoting and selling whether that be at an art fair, through a gallery, online or via social media, perseverance and confidence in your work will help towards becoming a success.

Who inspires you and your designs?

There are so many recent artists whom I admire but to name some of the greats, Iwould have to say Mondrian, Kandinsky, Pollock and Rothko. I feel that many of the works from these fine artists represent some of the most intellectually fascinating and visually stimulating geometric and colour field art ever conceived.

Now your name is recognised by artworks, have you featured in any gallery shows and have you worked with any brands or commissions you can share with us?

I have worked together with companies including Art in Offices, Caiger Art, Reem Gallery and View Gallery to name but a few. 15 pieces of my Linear Geometric works can be seen furnishing the head offices of First Abu Dhabi Bank in the city of London. Unfortunately there are certain people who wish to remain nameless, but I have also been fortunate to sell work to a select clientele within the entertainment industry as well as the head of a Global Oil and Gas Company whom has made several purchases of my works, one of which was placed in between and Picasso and a Dali!! It was overwhelming to see and a humbling experience.





How has the advent of social media made an impact on you? I can see from your online presence that you seem to embrace this? Being relatively new to the art world, the initial challenge was getting seen. As a new artist it was essential for me to keep updating my website and social media with my collections as well as showcasing my works at art fairs around the country. Having over 20 years of web development and graphic design experience has certainly helped in my progression and my knowledge of promoting website clients on various social media platforms has given me the tools necessary to grow my art presence quickly.

What materials or spaces do you enjoy working with most?

Linear-geometric abstracts with multiple colours, sharp lines, shapes with depth and optical illusions. For me there needs to be an edge to the works, whether that be using gradients, texture or simple subtleties in the colour. I also love sculpturing tactile Geomesh art, inspired by a late friend whom I collaborated with. When hand moulding aluminium mesh that has been precision sprayed with acrylics and varnishes, it creates a colour changing landscape of possibilities. Every piece is unique and the synergy when merging with linear-geometrics, can create some stunning results!

How do you stay relevant and current? Where do you get your inspirations from?

I see the world we live in as a place full of linear-geometric constructions with enhanced colour vibrancies. I currently work from my home studio in Arundel, West Sussex. It’s very clean, modular, there is a place for everything and everything is easily accessible. I initially prepare my visions digitally using colour fields and layers before transferring these creations to ‘one-off’ original pieces. For the geometrics, I work with acrylic paints on canvas, birch-ply or aluminium surfaces most of which are finished with a protective resin overlay. I then incorporated perspectives and depths into my visions giving my art an almost 3D feel followed by the methodology of mesh moulding to create tactile art.

Why are your designs so different to other artists within the industry? What does a Fraser Renton client get?

My aim to conceptualise, capture and create new and enticing art that delivers a capacity to generate fascination, evoke deep thought through beauty as well as engage great emotion and distill mood for the viewers.



“I see the world we live in as a place full of lineargeometric constructions with enhanced colour vibrancies.

Banana Island

I wouldn’t call my art designs even although my work starts as a digital creation, but being digital from the offset sets my work apart from the more traditional painting techniques I see so often at events around the UK. My work is very niche but the pieces I have created I often find are purchased to be ’stand out’ pieces placed in positions that make a statement.

Which projects are you really excited about for 2020? Are there any future plans you can share with us?

Recently, I have produced an ‘curvy edged’ range … linear geometrics within circular panels and frame work which I am really excited about showcasing at Affordable Art Fair in Battersea in March 2020 with Caiger Art. Also showcasing will be my latest ‘Jagular’ works - new origami styled concept art that has been complimented with bespoke frameworks each uniquely shaped to fit around the 3D effect geometric works. As well as exhibiting my works, I will also be organising a second year of events; Sussex Art Fairs at Goodwood Racecourse in May and Sussex Art Fairs at Brighton Racecourse in October. Last year I joined forces with Oliver Norris and Leah Michelle from Lemon Art to create these two events. Having identified the need and demand for large scale contemporary art fairs near the south coast, Sussex Art Fairs was born and attracted over 5,000 art lovers at our first events in 2019 who came to see over 250 exhibiting artists galleries and collectives and make purchases from the 1,000’s of artworks on sale. This year we are expecting an increased attendance and we are once again proud to be collaborating with our partners; Sussex Wildlife Trust, artPAKK and Cass Art.

How has being based in the south helped your business? Do you feel the region’s high creativity levels have contributed to further your success? I love living on the south coast and after having lived in London for over 25 years, moving down to Arundel as literally a breath of fresh air. Since moving here in 2015, I have really been able to put all my focus into the creative process without any of the distractions from the big city. I have been much more involved in community art with trails and fairs and have made many artists friends within the Sussex counties and surrounding areas. I am very much looking forward to seeing how my work progresses through 2020 and beyond. Watch this space!

www.fraserrenton.com FACEBOOK: facebook.com/fraserrentonart INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/fraserrenton www.sussexartfairs.co.uk



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ABSOLUTE Sussex Edition 148 Spring 2020  

ABSOLUTE Sussex Edition 148 Spring 2020