A lovely trip to Brighton and a visit to the Opera


Ali and Colin in Brighton Well since I hung up my party frock and my dancing shoes, it's been another busy week!

Do hope you enjoyed the Easter break, although it sounds as if the difference in weather and temperature was a pretty random thing, depending on which part of the cloud cover you were under!

Luckily for Colin and I we had headed off to Brighton by train, and enjoyed albeit brisk breezes, some clear blue skies and bright sunshine.

We even managed to catch the sun mildly as we sat listening to a one man band – well, one man and a guitar – until we could listen no longer. Not because time had caught up with us, but because the guitarist knew just one collection of chords and after a couple of "you hum it, I'll play it" we knew it wasn't going to improve!

That said, we did then wander down the promenade and spent a very enjoyable half an hour in the Chilli Food Festival. The marinades we purchased from a rather fiery looking woman with a very odd accent were thrown somewhat unceremoniously into a plastic bag, soon to be accompanied by some chilli cashews – necessary, according to Colin to tide him over until we ate a little later!

The toilet in Jamie's Italian restuarant Which we did in Jamie's Italian – one of Jamie Oliver's incredibly successful restaurants that are dotted around the country – fab food and interesting decor! As you will see, he has somehow managed to procure some of the original flushing toilets.

Please don't ask how I got this photograph (left), just rest assured the next time I am on my knees in front of a toilet bowl with the door slightly ajar and a camera in my hand, I will make sure there are no three year olds around to ask me what I'm doing!!

The Welsh National Opera performing Carmen

That is however a question that Lucy and I asked ourselves a number of times last week whilst we were trying to get our heads around the Welsh National Opera's rendition of The Opera 'Carmen'. You may remember me telling you that Lucy had bought tickets for me at Christmas. What I am about to write I realise may lose me friends – realising as they will, that possibly I am NOT highbrow enough to enjoy the arts! However in my defence….SUBTITLES!!!!! What is this all about?

A fab cast stroll onto the stage with a crescendo of sound from the orchestra and we feel we have arrived! And then suddenly like the bouncing ball at the ABC minors Saturday morning cinema show, the words appear… above the stage…. in a kind of glowing orange colour. Nothing wrong in that you may say, but they appeared to bear no resemblance to the song and antics of those on stage!!

Lucy and I in our defense had read the programme and knew that Carmen was a woman loved by many, but owned by none (strumpet) who couldn't really make her mind up as to who she wanted to spend a significant amount of her life with! Men threw themselves at her in the same way a women might throw her weight behind a door she believed chocolate to be on the other side of….

But unfortunately for the men their attempts were thwarted. Not all were gentlemanly in their approach. At one point the words above the stage read, "That was very impolite of you, but I'll let it go…" Lucy and I squirmed in our seats.

Another high point was when, after at least twenty minutes of being scorned by our heroine, watching her fall into another man's arms, and then tell our hero she never wanted to see him again, he grabbed hold of her skirt and sang in French, words that translated read, 'So you don't love me any more??' To which the young girl sitting behind us said "Der??"

I think if the words had kept up with the singing it would have been easier, but it was difficult when you thought you were in synch and then the words stopped at a crucial point. Some poor soul who was forever chasing around after our hero with messages from his mum, tried to get him to come with her. He refused endlessly and loudly, so as a last ditch attempt she sang, "There is one thing I have to tell you… it's your mother… she wanted me to tell you…" What??

Lucy and I strained forwards in our seats to read the now blank screen! But nothing!! We were frantic. The Welsh National Opera surged forwards and sang in french, words that meant nothing to us. Then suddenly the orange words crackled into life again and we were told that Juan's mother was dying!!

But by then the chorus had moved onto a Spanish street scene, where they were singing in French about the impending bull fight, and before we could come to terms with the severity of the news we were distracted by the most extraordinary crowd scene which included a woman eating an apple in time to the drum rolls!

In short, it was an experience that I completely loved sharing with my daughter and will be forever in her debt for having spent a rather large sum of money on the tickets. However, I think that possibly Michael Buble at the O2 in May could be a tad more my cup of tea.

Before I sign off I thought you might like to see how well the new members of our family are getting on (see photo below) – behold Dexter and Dash, Sam's little treasures – he tells me they have grown! I still have trouble seeing them with the naked eye… πŸ™‚

Have a lovely week and I hope the sun will shine for you.

Love Ali xx

Dash Dexter


  1. Marg April 10, 2010 at 5:54 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, I have never visited Brighton, but more than a few years ago Joe attended a conference there for a whole week. He found a lady doing charcoal and water colour sketches and by good fortune he had a little photo of my beloved Pekinese, so beautiful and only weighed 4.8 lbs (thats in old money).He was a sleeve peke,the courtiers in the Forbidden City carried them in the sleeves of their robes, well anyway she said it would be ready the next day,and it was,I still have it,beautifully framed as it was sold to Joe. So I have always had a soft spot for that town.
    I really enjoyed your telling of the Carmen opera,thats the kind of night you always remember,much better than an average production that you know is hmmmmm.My Carmen has a surname,Jones.I loved that film and have seen it many times,Pearl Bailey was superb,oh they all were, it was superb.
    It is lovely to see you with Colin looking so happy,a real tonic,just need a chorus behind singing’hello young lovers’ from the King and I, a perfect setting.Wishing you both many more happy times together.

  2. Kristina Moore April 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali, glad you and Colin had a good time in Brighton. It does get rather breezy on the front. We love it down there and usually stay in Arundel (do some shopping) and then travel round the area being nosey. There is a great shop in Brighton called “Two Feathers”. It has to be one of my favourite shops and I have very happy times hunting through their stock. They are well worth a visit.
    Have a great week.

  3. Kristina Moore April 10, 2010 at 10:08 pm -  Reply

    Sorry, I forgot a bit. I don’t get opera either and they seem to take forever to do anything. It takes all sorts to make a world and all tastes too and I hope we (meaning people in general) always remember to celebrate our differences as they are as important as our similarities. (Does this make sense? It did in my head when I started.)

  4. Jeannie April 11, 2010 at 12:33 am -  Reply

    I can totally relate to your experience of ‘Carmen’ Ali! When we were in Rome for my son’s wedding, he treated my friend and me to the Rome Opera House for a performance of Carmen. It was also sung in French BUT the subtitles were in Italian !!!!! I was even more confused than you and Lucy were!!

  5. alison keenan April 12, 2010 at 9:19 pm -  Reply

    Jeannie I think that would just about have finished us off!! πŸ™‚ A very kind thought though, and always fun to talk about after the event. Lovely to hear from you, and hope you’ve been enjoying the sunshine, love Ali xx

  6. alison keenan April 12, 2010 at 9:35 pm -  Reply

    Marg, your Joe sounds like a very thoughtful and kind man. What a lovely memento to have and to keep, long after photos have been put away or lost in the back of a drawer. Carmen Jones is a new one to me, although I have heard of Pearl Bailey, and glad that too has lovely memories for you. Yes Colin and I always have fun wherever we end up and even though the breezes were pretty chilly it felt sunny to me πŸ™‚ Have a lovely week, and take care of each other, love Ali xx

  7. Lynne April 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm -  Reply

    I love Opera, I am a member of the Welsh National Opera and support Greyhound Rescues throughout the UK. It’s time to rethink your blog.

  8. Dorothy April 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    I have never been to Brighton but for our honeymoon we went to Blackpool the weather was gales and rain, but i always say its who you are with that matters. then for our silver wedding Laura booked us up at blackpool again, she thought it would be nice it was but the weather was just the same, but made the most of it,
    its the thought that counts. I can not see what people go on about (Opera)i just dont get it. Dexter AND DASH look funny little things but cute hope all is well.
    love best wishes.
    dorothy xxxx

  9. Dorothy April 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    just to say it was 29years on Sunday when we got married and when we came back we were snowed in, just hope weather forcast is wrong they say snow showers at weekend.
    love dorothy xxxx

  10. alison keenan April 15, 2010 at 4:40 am -  Reply

    Hi Tina,
    Sorry not to have replied sooner but thanks for your comments as always, and have made a note to visit the Two Feathers next time I’m in Brighton. What kind of things do they have there, or is it just a mix of all sorts? I did find a lovely little place at the bottom of The Lanes that sold all kinds of things made of driftwood, and I could have spent hours and a small fortune there! Enjoy the rest of the week, Love Ali x x

  11. alison keenan April 15, 2010 at 4:50 am -  Reply

    Hi Dorothy, hope the week’s going well for you, and lovely to hear about your honeymoon. I am sure the weather didn’t matter a jot then, and how kind of Laura to have arranged another visit for your Silver Wedding. I do remember going to The Sandcastle – a huge indoor aqua park – with the children when they were tiny, and although we were lovely and warm inside (almost tropical!) it was a very wet and windy day outside πŸ™‚ Dexter and Dash are very cute, but VERY tiny, and as they sleep all day with the heated lights on, and only come out at night when it’s dark, it’s very rare for me to see them! Have a good week, and I hope it’s been warm and sunny for you so far this week, Love Ali xx

  12. alison keenan April 15, 2010 at 4:54 am -  Reply

    Oh and Tina I meant to mention that Arundel was the very first place I stayed in as a girl guide on one of our trips. I think I’m right in saying we walked to Climping beach one of the days, and because I insisted on wearing my new sandals I had blisters the size of pennies on my feet at the end of the day! Fabulous Castle there though which was well worth a visit. Love Ali x

  13. alison keenan April 15, 2010 at 5:05 am -  Reply

    Wow Lynne, a member of the Welsh National Opera! Would you have been in the production I saw? Do hope you didn’t read anything detrimental into what I’d written as the production itself was flawless, we just clearly needed to speak French! I think Tina who commented just before you made a lovely point of saying we should celebrate our differences, something I’ve always done πŸ™‚ Thanks though for taking time out to read and comment on the blog. Ali

  14. Kristina Moore April 15, 2010 at 11:55 am -  Reply

    Hello Ali, Two Feathers sell Native American jewellery, jackets, blankets, fetishes (stones carved into the shape of animals with bundles on their backs), there is also some simpler jewellery, t-shirts and cds. Peter and Sara who run it are lovely people and they go and source their own stock from the Native Americans. They also have people running all sorts of healing courses there. It is well worth a visit. They also have a website.
    I love Dexter and Dash!

  15. alison keenan April 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm -  Reply

    Thank you Tina! Will definitely make a point of visiting them next time, and as they have the same names as my brother and his wife I’m less inclined to forget! Sounds really interesting. I promise to monitor Dexter and Dash’s progress for you – they are rather dinky aren’t they πŸ™‚ ali xx

  16. Hilary April 16, 2010 at 10:46 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison, the other day when you were on air your skin looked really fantastic, I noticed in your personal make up regime you mentioned you use defi lift moisture which one is that as there are performance and other creams I use the concentrate volume which there is a photo of and need some more moisture and thought I could give the moisture cream a go. Many thanks

  17. alison keenan April 20, 2010 at 9:29 pm -  Reply

    Hi Hilary, How very kind of you to say so!! The Gatineau Defi Lift I have been using is the Serum Defi Lift 3D Perfect Design Volume Concentrate followed by the 3D Perfect Design Performance Volume Cream. Ali Young recommended it to me when I pointed out how hollowed by cheeks had become, and I think it’s definitely made a difference. I have previously used to great effect the Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream, and also Decleor Experience De L’age which are both fab. As Ali always says you sometimes need a change when your life/stress/skin changes! Hope all is well and thanks for writing love Ali x

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