Tag Archives: england

Music at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall

Most people go on holiday to snorkel, ski, and catch some sun. This summer, we were not that family — ‘we’ being myself, my mum, and my dad. Oh no, we were the family who travelled all the way to Cornwall… to see a tribute act.

In our defense, and before you judge, it was a Fleetwood Mac tribute act, so I think we can be forgiven! The act in question, Fleetwood Bac (I wanted to make a joke about how witty this was, but I couldn’t bring myself to — they made enough of a joke picking that as a name anyway!) were performing at The Minack Theatre. Now that’s the main reason we were going — for the gorgeous, rocky, sea-salty theatre that is the dramatic heart of Cornwall. This may be turning slightly ‘Shakespeare’ in its romantic declarations, but it is a truly beautiful place.


The Minack Theatre embodies drama, not just in the shows it holds but in appearance too.(Photographer: Fimb; Flickr)

The epitome of a British Colosseum, if such a thing existed, it flows in great stone circles — stone, grass, stone, grass — until it reaches a sandstone stage surrounded by arches and clear blue water. When the sun goes down they light the arch, giving it an angelic look, like some sort of three-dimensional stained glass window: a doorway to heaven if you will.

Before that though, and as I’ve briefly mentioned already, there was daylight, in which the theatre was just as spectacular. Flowers and trees, exotic and exciting, were planted around the entrance, hiding the winding flagstone paths so it looked like something out of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (if the book The Secret Garden was set on a tropical island somewhere far away from the real world). Continue reading

Mark Ingle

Brexit: The day Britain left Europe and we left Britain

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Three Months, Two Students, One Motorbike

Being a university student, and so tied to one place for most of the year, it’s easy to get itchy feet. After our last minute decision to ride our motorbike from Wales to Marrakech last summer, my girlfriend and I decided this year to be more prepared: more savings, more planning, and most importantly, more time. The question is, will three months really be enough?

A year of talking, months of planning, weeks of preparation, and we were still running late the morning we were supposed to be leaving. We woke to the news that Britain had voted to leave the EU, and were still wrapping our sleepy heads around the idea that our savings, the fruits of nine months’ labour, were worth ten percent less than when we fell asleep the night before. After all the build-up to our departure, it felt like our balloon had been burst; money aside, we felt foolish getting ready to embark on this great European adventure whilst the rest of Great Britain collectively raised two fingers to our continental cousins.


Remember when the pound fell after the referendum result came through? The financial consequences of this affected more people than many care to admit. (Photographer: TaxRebate.org.uk; Flickr)

Hours after we had planned, we were finally ready to leave. We clambered onto the bike, our luggage making us hop awkwardly to get into place. I gave all our bags one last shake  to make sure they wouldn’t move, and twisted my torso to see Charlotte behind me.

“Ready?” I shouted through my helmet, despite the fact her head was inches behind mine.

“Yalla!” She shouted back, with a thumbs up for emphasis.

This was an Arabic word we had picked up in Morocco and continued to use. It simply means ‘Go’, and is something the donkey drivers shout to their donkeys to encourage them to move. Given how loaded our bikes always seem to be, it seemed appropriate that we took it for ourselves.

I slipped the bike from neutral into first, released the clutch, and we began rolling away. Like opening a window in a stuffy room, I could feel the cool breeze on my face blowing all the morning’s worries away. Nothing behind us mattered now;  we were away!  Continue reading


5 Tips for Cheap Travelling

Have you noticed that there’s nearly always one person that seems to be relaxing on a different beach on a different continent every time you check Facebook while you’re all snuggled up with a cup of tea in your hands, trying to escape the rainy weather at home? Do you find yourself just sitting there wondering how they manage to travel so frequently while you’re about to head to sleep as your alarm will go off in 6 hours?

Well, here are some tips that’ll help you travel more for less money and help you to not even bother about that alarm going off soon, as you’ll be daydreaming about your next trip while working.


So you’re fed up of your alarm clock and checking social media, only to find everyone is having more fun than you. Do something about it: don’t be scared! (Photographer: murdelta; Flickr)

1. Stay up-to-date. Always.

Stay updated with travel deals, check the webpages of airlines, bus companies etc. regularly and you’ll find some mind-blowing deals. Figure out which companies/pages you like best and subscribe to their newsletters — that’s how I managed to fly from Germany to London and back for €1.98.

2. Don’t be picky

You found a great deal to go to Andorra next week? You might have no idea where exactly this place is, it might not impress your friends and you might have no idea what to expect, but the deal is amazing? Well then, go. Go and see it for yourself. If you’re trying too desperately to go to one specific place, you’ll find it hard to keep it cheap. Flying to Bangkok on the first day of your holiday might be super expensive whereas flying to Canada two days later might only cost a hundred bucks, and both would be an adventure. Besides, isn’t being surprised what travelling is all about? Continue reading


‘Funny Girl’: experiencing the Menier Chocolate Factory

Recently, I had the pleasure of going to see ‘Funny Girl’ at one of London’s most unique theatres, the Menier Chocolate Factory. It is one of the best theatre experiences I have had to date, which is quite the claim considering I have been lucky enough to experience the world of stage and screen from a very young age.

Approaching the theatre is rather underwhelming; the exterior is in need of some serious renovation, the location is a fair distance from the glamour of Shaftesbury Avenue and the theatre district where its more opulent neighbours live, but don’t let this put you off. The multi-storey building, quite beautiful in its faded 1870s glory, is located in Southwark Street and is quite the local treasure. It has a very affordable restaurant on its ground floor bursting with character and charm; the walls are lined with vintage theatre posters and beautiful old light-fittings, giving the impression of having stepped right into the Doris Day-era of the silver screen.

The Menier Chocolate Factory may not be in London's most famous theatre district, but when you step inside you'll be more than pleasantly surprised. (Photographer: David Holt; Flickr)

The Menier Chocolate Factory may not be in London’s most famous theatre district, but when you step inside you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised. (Photographer: David Holt; Flickr)

The staff are wonderful and the fact that they serve proper food, including the glorious gourmet burger that I chose, makes this particular establishment a winner in my opinion — and we haven’t even got onto the show yet. Oh, and for dessert we had real Menier Chocolate Factory cheesecake with ice cream and swirls. It was good enough to make you forget about the unnecessary calories! Up in the auditorium they also sold Menier chocolate, but this time we passed. The in-theatre bar had far more appeal. I feel I need say no more on this front — how much explaining does a large glass of Chardonnay require?

My parents and I had seats in the third row, which remarkably were almost close enough for us to touch the performers. And the show — ah, the show! I don’t like to fangirl too hard, but it may be one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. The music is something quite fabulous; the only thing that would’ve made it better is if we’d witnessed it sung by Streisand herself. The set was simple, but in the most satisfyingly understated way. There were mirrored wings allowing for clever ensemble illusions and, my favourite aspect, an ingenious piece of engineering: the rolling conveyers to take dressing tables, liquor bottles and suitcases on and off stage.

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An Armchair Explorer’s Guide to England

Four years of student living and several periods of fruitless job searching have taught me that sometimes travel, even local travel, can be pretty darn expensive. In these situations, I choose to explore a new place from the comfort of an armchair in my bedroom by turning to books. In my experience, the setting of a novel can play such an important role that it feels as if it is a character in itself. A landscape, a city or even a single building can become so intrinsic to the atmosphere of a novel that it feels as if I am actually there and consequently the book becomes a window into a new place. It also has the advantage of being considerably cheaper than a train ticket. In this spirit, I have trawled the literary landscape and I begin my journey with a partial and completely biased overview of some of my favourite and most evocative English novels.

The Wild and Windswept North

If you are looking for beaches and breezy romance then Yorkshire’s most famous literary exports, the Brontë sisters, are probably not for you. Their tragic lives and enclosed rural upbringing are reflected in their stories and Wuthering Heights by middle sister Emily is arguably the novel most rooted in the landscape. It relies heavily on the ‘perfect misanthropist’s Heaven’ of the exposed, turbulent North York Moors to provide a fitting backdrop for Cathy and Heathcliff. Children of the moors, they are just as untameable and destructive as the land they inhabit. As I sit in my cosy bedroom reading Brontë’s description of the ‘bleak winds and bitter, northern skies,’ I imagine the characters at the mercy of their emotions on the desolate heath below, screaming insults, throwing punches and hurling crockery.

Yorkshire, the land of 'bleak winds and bitter, northern skies...' (Photographer: Lefteris Heretakis; Flickr)

Yorkshire, the land of ‘bleak winds and bitter, northern skies…’ (Photographer: Lefteris Heretakis; Flickr)

Meanwhile the remote settings in eldest sister Charlotte’s Jane Eyre are not quite the same as the jungles of South America or the food markets of Asia, but they perfectly reflect the young governess’s coming of age. The depressing Lowood school squats on a frozen hill and emphasises her physical and spiritual deprivation. I can picture her: a drab, friendless little sparrow, yet she refuses to be cowed and eventually becomes as resolute and unyielding as the ‘grey and battlemented’ Thornfield Hall. After developing a crush on her rather morose employer, she proves to be more than a match for him and after some stirring prose, a big misunderstanding and the death of a conveniently rich relative, everything works out for the best.

Alternatively, for a more cheerful view of the pastoral north, try Frances Hodgson-Burnett’s classic children’s story The Secret Garden, where the spoilt Mary Lennox discovers the hidden beauty in a severe landscape and learns some manners along the way. Then there’s the James Herriot series All Creatures Great and Small, the true tales of a country vet who spent years wandering over hill and dale, meeting strange folk and spending far too much time with his hand up a cow’s backside. More recently, in 2012, Andy Seed produced All Teachers Great and Small, which has a similar premise and records his first year at a rural primary school and the various mishaps he encounters trying to assimilate into the local village. These books explore a placid way of life, perhaps more meaningful to me because they portray a landscape I am familiar with. They may not depict the most glamorous or adrenaline-fuelled side of travel, but the dry stone walls, unpredictable weather and hordes of marauding sheep are spot on.

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