PREVIEW: I’m a mummy and I need a spa day now

A cosy chair in a bay window with free gin and sherry

Gin and sherry by the sea in the bay window

Come see the spa they said. Have afternoon tea. What’s not to like?

My Mother’s Day dream gift is a spa day. I like to sit in hot rooms and bubbling water.

I headed off to the new Brighton Harbour Hotel, resplendent in the blazing sunshine on the seafront.

Afternoon tea for Brighton bloggers and freelancers and  a tour; it sounded like fun.

Looking around a hotel is useful as I’m often asked advice on where to stay, too, by friends coming down for the weekend.

This is when I’m useless as I’m from here, so family live here, too.

If anyone comes to stay they usually grab a spare bed with a relative.

Free gin!

When we looked around the superior rooms with a sea view our helpful guide Charlotte explained they included gin and sherry.

Yes! Booze not in the minibar (although we did look in the mini bar and it was very well stocked).

Sea view at the Brighton Harbour Hotel

One of the sea view rooms at the Brighton Harbour Hotel, with decanters of gin and sherry

The sea twinkled, the sun blazing down. It felt like a Mediterranean heaven. I could live in one of those rooms.

I was there for the spa, and that took us to the depths of the building and into smugglers’ tunnels.

There was the smell of essential oils and warmth.

It was pretty hot once you go past the treatment rooms and steaming once we went down to the pool.

While it’s not huge at 13 metres don’t think it’s designed with people swimming a kilometre a day in mind.

Hot and bubbly

Past the large hydrotherapy pool, bubbles and joy. I wanted to get in.

We headed down into the depths where the tunnels form a grotto.

Bubbling away were two large, wooden Scandinavian hot tubs with the corridors leading off to the sauna, steam room and private relaxation areas.

Hidden in the depths of the Brighton Harbour hotel, the sauna

Hidden in the depths of the Brighton Harbour hotel, the sauna

I like sitting in hot rooms. I can just imagine myself going from pool to sauna to tub to steam room. Ohhh heaven.

There’s a day pass and gift vouchers so my husband can expect heavy hints closer to Christmas and Mother’s’ Day and my birthday.

During the tour I did make mental note of the gym and treatment rooms, but for me only heat and bubbling water mattered.

Tea and cake

Leaving the spa felt quite refreshing as we settled down to tea, sandwiches and cake at the Jetty restaurant.

I’d neglected to tell them I’m vegan, so had a little wait while the other attendees exclaimed about the fabulous flavours of the dainty offerings.

Chefs work in an open-plan kitchen at The Jetty

Diners see the kitchen in action at The Jetty restaurant

Before showing us around Charlotte explained how the restaurant caters for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free, so I wasn’t worried.

My sandwiches were delicious, packed with plant-based flavour.

The Harbour and Jetty gave an excellent impression and a delightful couple of hours diversion.

Thanks for the invitation.


Review: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar ate through three plums

He ate through three plums, but he was still hungry

Captivating an audience of under fives is a miracle.

From the beginning the actor puppeteers caught children’s attention and imagination at The Warren.

It was the first of five shows at the Brighton Fringe venue, telling the Eric Carle stories The Artist Who Painted the Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse, The Very Lonely Firefly and finishing with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Dressed in white, the humans blended into the background as the beautifully crafted puppets stole the show.

The pink rabbit bounding across the stage

The pink rabbit from the man who painted a blue horse

With fluid movements the pink bunny bounded across the stage.

Lighting created an underwater effect for Mister Seahorse. The scene completed by the puppeteers wearing snorkel and masks.

It was fascinating to learn about male fish raising their families.

Mister Seahorse

Mister Seahorse

Concern for the Very Lonely Firefly was palpable as it flew around seeking its own kind, to find candles, cars, city light until finally it wasn’t lonely any more.

It was a moving piece.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar ate through one red apple

He ate through one red apple

When the moon appeared it was a great segway to lead into the main event. There on a very large leaf sat a tiny egg.

There were shrieks of delight as the tiny caterpillar popped out of his egg, before heading off to enjoy a banquet.

This was truly magnificent, beginning with a larger puppet took on a week of feasting.

He was still hungry

Children counted along with every fruit. One red apple, two pairs, three plums, four strawberries and five oranges.

Hearing the audience of young voices yell “but he was still hungry” was magical.

Munching through the picnic saw the puppeteers dancing with slices of salami, an ice cream cone and pickle.

Not forgetting the chocolate cake and lollypop.

A big fat caterpillar

He was a big fat caterpillar

Once again the caterpillar ate through one nice big green leaf to transform into a big fat caterpillar, the young audience recited the story.

Everyone was quiet as he built his coccon house before transforming.

As the giant butterfly filled the stage the multitude of children were enchanted.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly

He turned into a beautiful butterfly

This was an outstanding show. Perfect for young children and just as great for my nearly four-year-old.

I’ll give it five stars *****.

Tickets provided for review for The Argus.

Review: Dr Zeiffal, Dr Zeigal and the Hippo That Can Never Be Caught

Mouths of Lions show Dr Zeiffal, Dr Zeigal and the Hippo That Can Never Be Caught

Mouths of Lions show Dr Zeiffal, Dr Zeigal and the Hippo That Can Never Be Caught

Brighton Fringe has a bumper set of shows aimed at the under fives and out first outing took me and the wee one to The Warren.

It is amazing what you can do with a load of shipping containers, and The Warren turned a few into the Studio 2 theatre space.

Mouths of Lions production, Dr Zeiffal, Dr Zeigal and the Hippo That Can Never Be Caught, is an award-winning show pitched at young children up to aged seven.

It was a delightful romp with a great deal of audience participation.

Dr Zeiffal is a member of the Hippo Institute following sightings across the UK.

Despite her efforts she has never seen a hippo in the wild.

She has a multitude of equipment displayed on stage in the special equipment area.

It has great packaging. Always have great packaging.

Quality performance

Georgia Murphy’s performance was very engaging prompting an enthusiastic response from the young audience.

It’s a two-person show, with Oliver Weatherly taking on the role of hippo and Dr Zeigal.

There was a great deal of mischief surrounding his cheeky hippo.

This is a very physical slapstick show, with lots of running around and the main characters leaving the theatre box shreeking with enthusiasm.

After carrying out some research I discovered the two stars trained a the prestigous clown school École Philippe Gaulier. You could tell by the quality of their performance.

Delighting children

My daughter is nearly four and was captivated for the whole hour.

She joined in with the pantomimesque “he’s behind you” elements.

There is a rather chaotic ending and some of the children went on stage to help Dr Zeiffal.

Seeing her work around them was quite delightful.

But as she said: “Keep calm. Please stay in your seats. Everything is under control.”

The final performance is on Monday, May 8 at 4pm. Tickets are £9.

I give it **** (four stars)

Elliot and the Enormous Sneeze is their second show at The Warren: Studio 2 from June 2-4.

Tickets were provided via The Argus for a separate review.

See the list of 23 events at Brighton Fringe for the under-fives I curated for Officréche.

Review: Flyaway Katie


Waiting for the show to start

Taking your not quite three-year-old to the theatre for the first time is daunting.

Will she be okay? Will she sit through it? Will she mutate into a screaming banshee? Will she need a wee-wee five minutes into the show?

I picked Long Nose Puppets production Flyaway Katie, as its Brighton Fringe billing suggested it was suitable for three to seven-year-olds, and it was 45 minutes long.

As we entered the Big House at The Warren on Twitter, a pop-up venue within walking distance of home, I took a deep breath.

W knew she was going to a puppet show and was very excited.

When the light went down she squealed with delight and gasped when Katie the puppet appeared from behind the curtain.

From the first moment she was captivated.

It is such a delightful and positive story, about finding happiness and colour in your life with friends’ help.

Katie’s grey day is transformed, as is she, with the wonder of the imagination.

The story is based on the children’s book by Polly Dunbar with music by Tom Gray of Gomez.

I tried to encourage W to sing along, but she looked stunned when asked.

The songs were wonderful and gentle tunes, illustrating the story perfectly.

It was a magical experience.

Flyaway Katie is on at 10am and 11.30am on Sunday, May 15. Tickets are £8.