Beauty and the Beast - Devonshire Park Theatre - 12 December 2014 Written and Directed by Chris Jordan Choreographed by Sam Spencer Lane Lighting by Douglas Morgan Fairy Formidable - Ellie Leah Malevolent - Carley Stenson Jean Jacques - David Alder Belle - Emily Bull Potty Pierre - Tucker Dame Derriere - Martyn Knight Prince Gallant/The Beast - Adam McNab

This is the third Christmas since I left Australia and each festive season, I have made a point of visiting that most British of institutions, the Pantomime.

For the uninitiated, Pantomimes could be broadly described as musical stage shows, taking place exclusively over the Christmas period and with a particular appeal to a family audience.

But in reality they are so much more than that – they are part of the wonderful eccentricity that makes Britain great.

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Driving home for Christmas


Several weeks ago, I met up with an Australian friend who has recently relocated to the UK in search of a new adventure.

He was experiencing the lead up to his first ever cold Christmas, following a lifetime of festive barbecues and Santas on surfboards.

It was all completely alien to him, but I found one of his observations particularly interesting. He said that for the first time in his life, he truly ‘got’ Christmas.

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Brazil 2014


So, tonight’s the night. After all the talk and extensive media coverage, the action is about to begin on the field.

32 teams, 736 players, 64 games, 32 days and the world’s single biggest trophy to play for.

Excitement and anticipation is all around. Conversations are focused on the same topic wherever you turn. At work, at home, in the pub, on the train.

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Summer on the Downs


Whilst the official start of summer in the UK isn’t for a few weeks, I always think that June 1st has a symbolic, start of season feel to it.

And, as if in agreement with this sentiment, what a glorious day it was – warm, but not too warm and accompanied by a gentle breeze to propel the fluffy clouds across the sky.

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The Grand National

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The British sporting calendar is sprinkled with iconic events – Wimbledon, FA Cup Final, The University Boat Race, British Golf Open, Henley Regatta.

Events with a status that somehow transcend the sport upon which they are based.

Another such event takes place tomorrow – The Grand National.

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Doctor Who?


When I was growing up, most of the Kids’ TV shows I was allowed to watch were pretty harmless – Blue Peter, Magpie, John Craven’s Newsround, Crackerjack – not much there to set the pulse racing, to be fair.

But there was one notable exception that stood out like a scary colossus in the generally bland landscape of British kids’ TV shows. And that show was Doctor Who.

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This weekend sees the Glastonbury 2013 take place down in deepest Somerset, one of the most iconic music festivals in the world, let alone Britain.

I’ve been struck by how many different music festivals there are on the English summer calendar, catering for just about every life stage and musical taste, but ‘Glasto’ remains the jewel in the crown.

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Easter in the forest

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One of the many positives about returning to live in the UK is the easy access it offers to a wide range of different types of holiday.

In recent years, I have to say my Australian holiday experiences (or those that didn’t involve a trip home to the UK) had become somewhat limited by a diminishing passion for either long haul flights or, dare I say it, the beach.

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The Brits


From a young age, I’ve always loved music.

Top of the Pops, Radio Luxembourg, NME, Old Grey Whistle Test…they all played an influential role in my music education as my ‘tastes’ went on a rollercoaster ride through phases of pop, glam rock, new wave, prog rock, heavy metal, trip hop…the list goes on.

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