5 Sep 2016

Travel: Brighton City-Guide

Everything I recommend here is right in the heart of Brighton - not in Hove or any nearby towns. There's nothing more annoying than reading a city guide and finding out that all the recommendations are a cab or bus ride away from the centre. If you're making a flying visit somewhere, then you want to know what the city centre has to offer - am I right? So, everything here can be comfortably reached on foot, meaning you can cram as many of them as you like into a single trip if you so wish!
I've tried to put together a bunch of recommendations that I think would give you a great trip to Brighton, covering places to eat and drink, things to see and places to shop. If you use just one of these recommendations I'd love some feedback in the comments! 
Eat . . .
Brighton of course boasts an abundance of restaurants and eateries. We've been to so many over the years but it's hard to keep up with what's been, gone or changed hands. So, for the purposes of this post, I will guide you through some we have personally tried and loved recently. For street food-inspired Indian dishes, head to Chili Pickle where you will get amazing flavours and a vibrant atmosphere - though be advised it's always busy so make sure you book! Oki-Nami serves delicious Japanese cuisine and is situated right near the Pavilion Gardens and Theatre Royal, and for delicious Thai food there's Sabai Thai right near the Pavilion or I've heard Giggling Squid is good, though I've not been there personally. If you want something fancy-free there's Burger & Cocktails on North Road - this is a subsidiary of the Giraffe chain, but the staff in the Brighton branch are all friendly and welcoming ... and the food and drinks really hit the spot, particularly after an afternoon lost to many of Brighton's fine drinking establishments! For tapas, you can't beat Casa Don Carlos - though, again, I would advise you to pre-book a table as it's always busy.
For seafood, Fishy Fishy used to be our favourite but unfortunately that's now gone. So next on our list to try is Riddle & Finn's which now has two Brighton locations - the original cozy oyster bar in the Lanes, and a new branch right by the beach. Speaking of which, there are a couple of little huts on the beach selling fresh seafood - my boyfriend loves getting a seafood bowl from one of these pretty much every time we visit!
If it's a lunch you're after, there are many fabulous independent cafes in the Lanes / North Laines well worth a try. A new find of ours is the Croque Shop on Duke Street. Their sausage rolls are quite simply amazing! For dessert, you won't regret checking out Gelato Gusto or Boho Gelato!
Drink . . .
Our go-to Brighton pub is The Black Lion. It's a good size, plays decent music, serves decent food and booze and has a beer garden out the back. The Black Lion also hosts DJ sets from some of the city's top names and is open late pretty much all week. You can't go wrong! The Hop Poles on Middle Street is another good, laid back pub - though a bit more compact than the Black Lion. Meanwhile down on the seafront there's Brighton legend The Fortune of War - the only proper pub amongst the plethora of bars and clubs down by the sea. Up on Queens Road there's Hope and Ruin. Upstairs there's a gig venue where the likes of Adele cut their teeth, whilst downstairs there's a decent, newly refurbished pub. Nearby, the Prince Albert on Trafalgar Street has an amazing mural on its exterior paying tribute to many great musicians. It regularly hosts gigs and is really close to the train station if you ever have to make a quick get-away to catch the last train home! As with restaurants, there are of course, loads of pubs and bars - but laid back pubs are our thing so that's all I can really recommend. Others of note include The Fountain Head (classic yet contemporary), Mash Tun (cheap, cheerful, studenty) and Fiddler's Elbow (homey, Irish vibe) - but just explore and see where you end up - that's the best advice I could give you. There are pubs and bars everywhere in Brighton, so there's bound to be something for everyone!
See . . .
There's plenty to see in Brighton - from the famous Brighton Pavilion, to the labyrinthine Lanes / North Laine shopping streets, the seafront and the iconic East and West Piers. A new addition to the skyline is the i360 viewing tower (pictured below) - which I've yet to try but which promises spectacular views over the city and the sea. The Pavilion won't fail to impress - inside it's a sumptuous fusion of Georgian meets Eastern style, with stunning chandeliers with dragons wrapped around them and all sorts of extravagant flourishes. Behind the Pavilion you will find well-kept gardens that are free to enjoy and which lead to the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, the Brighton Dome - a great concert and event venue and further through to the nearby Theatre Royal. If it's shops you're after, you'll find most of the mainstream suspects up at Churchill Square, whilst the Lanes and North Laine offer a wonderful mix of more independent shops and boutiques. Aside from all that, Brighton boasts a Toy Museum and an ever-changing array of fantastic street art!
Enjoy!
I hope you've found this guide useful and that you have a fabulous time in Brighton. Having grown up nearby, I've spent a lot of time there and still do! If you have any questions, leave a comment and I'll do my best to help out.

18 Jul 2016

Coldplay - 'A Head Full of Dreams' tour

Here are a few photos I took at one of Coldplay's recent 'A Head Full of Dreams' Wembley Stadium gigs. As mentioned in a previous post, I was there as a judge for the awards to take a look at the work of the tour's video director. It was a fantastic show that had no problem at all filling the vast stadium with an incredible party atmosphere. The colours, the enthusiam of the band, the ever-popular light-up wristbands . . . it was a real joy to behold! I was lucky enough to watch the show from one of the Front of House positions and got to watch the lighting and video crew at work throughout the show - always fascinating and my thanks go to the team for making me so welcome.  

11 Jul 2016

Mumford & Sons, Hyde Park

A summer evening in Hyde Park. 
A little overcast but warm enough. 
Alabama Shakes followed by Mumford and Sons. 
Thousands of people sing in a happy haze of cider, beer and whatever else.
Flares melt into the sunset.
New friends are made.
And this is work? 
Perfect.

8 Jul 2016

Photography: Wildlife

Here are some photos I took on a recent visit to Farnham's Birdworld. I'm really pleased with how the shots have come out - especially considering I mostly just had my camera on auto and clicked away hoping for the best! Really pleased with my Sony A5100 - it's light and compact (compared to my bigger Canon camera) and takes great quality stills and video. Do recommend! The only thing I would say about it is that in brilliant sunlight it is hard to see the display screen and there is no viewfinder alternative - but I have only had that problem once so far when I was in very sunny Spain last summer - and I still managed to get some great shots! Anyway, back to birds - it was a pleasure to see such a variety of birds and animals up close and to spend time photographing them just for the sheer joy of it. I hope you enjoy the photos - and do let me know your thoughts on the A5100 if you have it too!  

8 Jun 2016

Work: Judging You . . .

Career news! In my role as Deputy Editor of LSi, I have been appointed as a judge for the Concert & Events category for the Knight of Illumination awards. I feature in the press release announcing the new judges which you can read here. I have to say, I am very flattered to have been asked to join the judging panel as these awards are really highly regarded in the lighting and video industry. I really can't wait to get stuck in to this - the first show I'm off to see is Coldplay when then their tour visits Wembley Arena next week. It will be great to spend some time with the production team before the show opens and find out more about the creative thought process behind the current tour - everyone knows Coldplay always put on a good event! 

1 Jun 2016

Re-Focussed

I've realised this blog has been slightly neglected of late and for that I must apologise. In truth, I haven't felt as passionate about jewellery and homeware (traditionally this blog's main subject matters) recently so the will hasn't been there to update the content. Don't get me wrong - I still love jewellery, homeware, accessories and all sorts - but the main focus of my creative output of late has been my own writing and photography which I wasn't sure had a place on this site.
However, since this is my site and I am proud of the content I've built up here over the years I have decided to stick with it and just give it somewhat of an overhaul! You'll notice a cleaner, simpler layout which I will continue to tweak over the coming weeks and months - and you'll also notice a slight shift in focus for the content. I want to share some of my fiction writing here (if I'm feeling brave enough!) as well as my photography, opinion and non-fiction features. I also want to share more about my work life - something I have kept strictly separate from this blog since its inception. Originally I kept it separate because I was shy of my own personal interests and didn't want anyone from 'the industry' to find me in this little corner of the web. But do you know what - this is me. Take me or leave me - this is the stuff I'm interested in. I toyed with the idea of changing the name of the site - but Lily Labyrinth is my online identity in so many places (Instagram, Twitter etc) that it would be a pain to extract myself from it. Plus, I'm still not entirely comfortable about exposing my full name to 'the internet'. However, if you know me in real life and stumble across this site - please do say hello in the comments! I'm not hiding any more, I am just keeping one foot in the shadows. It's nice there. We have cake.

15 Mar 2016

Jewellery: Alexis Bittar


- Jagged Marquis Crystal Clustered Ring - £120 at Liberty
- Two-Part Paired Cocktail Ring - £206 approx
- Adjustable Dangling Tear Ring - £73 approx
Pave Shield Cocktail Ring - £87 approx

New York-based jewellery designer Alexis Bittar is perhaps best known for his Luctite bangles, but a quick browse of his website and it was the collection of jewel encrusted rings that caught my eye! Comprising goldtone, ruthenium, crackle glass, crystal, black mother of pearl - all sorts of beautiful materials - the rings have a somewhat raw, natural quality to them that I'm drawn to. 

11 Mar 2016

The Arts: Nothing but Neon

  Last summer, I happened upon an exhibition of neon lighting at London's Southbank Centre. I say exhibition, but it was more like a random display - I don't know why it was there or what it was in aid of, but it was free to wander around and enjoy the work, so I did! I forgot I had these photos until some idle laptop file sorting the other day brought them to my attention, so please excuse this post occurring some eight months after the event, but life has been busy and sadly this blog seems to have taken a backseat. Anyway, back to the neon! A little investigating suggests that the pieces on show may well have been from the collection of God's Own Junkyard's Chris Bracey - with some pieces certainly designed by the man himself. You can see below how one Chris Bracey piece went from concept to creation as there was a cabinet full of plans for a 'God Save the Queen' piece. It's always a treat to see the thought process behind creations, and this is no exception!
    From Concept to Creation:

9 Dec 2015

The Arts: Before The Dawn set and costume design

Currently on display at London's V&A Museum in an exhibition entitled Make: Believe UK Design for Performance 2011-2015, are set designs by Dick Bird and costume designs by Robert Allsopp for Kate Bush's Before The Dawn shows. 
Included in the display is an intricately detailed model box for Bird's set construction seen during the Ninth Wave section of the show when Kate performed Watching You Without Me in a mock-up of a family living room, whilst murky waves rolled around the scene. Surrounding the model box were black and white drawings and photos of the sets and production - similar to those in the Before The Dawn programme. It was fascinating to see the designs up close. Working in the theatre / entertainment technology industry as I do for my day job, I am rather fascinated by set and costume design and love to see all the intricate details up close - especially when they are linked to shows and artists as close to my heart as Kate Bush! I've tried to show the details of the set design in my photos, which I hope you enjoy. 
Also on show as part of the exhibition were two of the Lords of the Waves (Fish People) costumes in a striking display as you enter the gallery space. Designed by Robert Allsopp, the intricate masks extend from the head and curve down the spine of the wearer in a haunting representation of a fish skeleton. A statement from Allsopp on display alongside the masks reads: "Kate's vision for the dream-like Ninth Wave element of the show included two sinister Lords of the Waves. Their role was both to observe and to control the action alongside a team of masked puppeteers who manipulated huge volumes of silk as waves. Drawing inspiration from a fish skull reference Kate had found, I created masks for the puppeteers and the two Lords, for whom I extended the skulls down to a fishy ribbed spine and tail. These were designed to flex with the performers' bodies, enhancing their movements. The masks were constructed in my workshop, from polyethylene foam material. Much of the task was undertaken by long-time associates Anthony Mason and Simon Warren." 
 Details:
  The exhibition is open until 3 January 2016 - not long, so if you would like to see it then make sure you don't miss out! It showcases the work of numerous designers with various model boxes, costume designs, puppets and props on display. Well worth a visit this winter.  

More Kate Bush on Lily in the Labyrinth:
- Before The Dawn merchandise up close

All photos copyright Claire / Lily in the Labyrinth 2015. Please do not use without permission.

3 Dec 2015

Peg Dolls: Pinny's House

"In a little china house on a shelf in the sitting room, lives a tiny wooden doll no taller than a pin, and her name is Pinny . . ."
The reason behind my life-long obsession with wooden peg dolls, Pinny's House was broadcast on BBC1 from 1986 and told the story of Pinny - a wooden doll no bigger than a pin (hence her name) who lived in a delicate china house on a shelf next to a toy sail boat. Inhabiting the boat was Victor, the smallest wooden sailor in the world, and together the pair would go on fantastic journeys, often with the help of the children of the house - Tom and Jo. The tales were written and illustrated by Peter Firmin who also worked on such children's classics as The Clangers, Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. Each tale was animated and directed by Oliver Postgate, narrated by Matilda Thorpe and had music by Ar Log. Sadly it seems Pinny's House is often forgotten, but I remember it fondly and thank it for inspiring me, from a very young age, to find out more about wooden dolls. Though our dolls - Lily, Emily, Jessie and our very own Pinny - are not 'the size of a pin', they are from the same family of wooden dolls and share the same simple design, slim, jointed limbs and painted features. Over the years, I have also picked up three of the five published Pinny's House books - again, written and illustrated by Peter Firmin along with other miscellanea depicting these precious dolls, including a small, vintage mug featuring two dancing wooden dolls. My humble collection all began thanks to Pinny's House - a simple, gentle cartoon brought to life by the brilliant Postgate and Firmin. Long live Pinny! 
Above: My collection of Pinny's House books
Above: From the book, 'Pinny Finds A House'
Above: 'Victor is lonely' print by Peter Firmin
Above: The real Pinny and Victor - crafted by Peter Firmin from wood from a holly tree.

Watch an episode of Pinny's House:

More Pinny's House Online:
- Purchase Pinny's House prints directly from Peter Firmin.
- More information about Pinny's House via Little Gems.

Don't forget to check out my other posts on Antique Wooden Peg Dolls:
Peg Doll: Lily Labyrinth
Peg Doll: Jessie
Peg Doll: Emily
Two Dutch Dolls - Mini Pin
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