Qype: Cath Kidston in Brighton

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Girly, flowery, stylish… I don’t believe that there’s any self-proclaimed ‘girly girl’ out there who dislikes Cath Kidston. From the signature baby blue and pink flowered designs to stripes and polka dots, everything sold in this place is absolutely gorgeous.

I’ve long been in love with Cath Kidston’s nightwear, particularly this gorgeous dressing gown, which is so chintzy it’s brilliant. I could totally see myself lazing around the house drinking tea in this. For £65 though, I think I had better save my pennies first.

My other love affair of the Kidston range is with the luggage bags, my favourite being this one – so pretty, but undeniably practical. So I’d feel far less guilty if I were to spend £85 on it. It’s an investment after all, right…?

Guys, if you want to get your girly girlfriend a special present she’ll absolutely love, then this place is an absolute failsafe bet. Trust me.

Check out my review of Cath Kidston – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

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Qype: Cargo Homeshop in Brighton

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I was a big fan of Cargo Homestore when it was on East Street, but now it’s moved to the bigger and better premises on North Street, I’ve got to say that I love it even more. Spread over two large floors and stocking everything from soft furnishings to snazzy picnic hampers, this place has everything you could ever need for your home and garden.

Prices range from reasonable to expensive, but you can find some real bargains in the sales – last time I was in here I bought some plain white espresso cups with saucers for the bargainous price of £1.80 each. Result.

Upstairs, past the sofas and beds, they have a lot of similar and often identical stock to the smaller, independent shops like Bert’s Homestore – including the fantastic range of Colour Works brightly-coloured silicone kitchen wear, almost everything you’d need to open your own in-house bakery and funky Cath Kidston mugs.

I would quite happily spend a LOT of money in here, as I’m rather obsessed with both kitchen items and fuzzy cushions, both of which Cargo stocks in abundance. If you’re looking to kit out your home in style, then this is your one-stop shop.

Check out my review of Cargo Homeshop – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Peacocks in Hove

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So new that the store isn’t even listed on their website yet, the newest branch of Peacocks in Sussex opened on the site of the old Woolworths on Blatchington Road, Hove at the beginning of this month.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love Peacocks – having gone from a cheap, tacky store that few people would consider shopping in a few years ago, this place has grown into a great value, high-street fashion store with both a revamped logo and shop layout.

I was lucky enough to procure some 40% off vouchers for the opening weekend of this store (most other people only got 10% off – ha!) and consequently came away with £60 worth of clothes for well under £40. Bargain. Their clothes are better quality than Primark and H&M, but not as good as New Look if you’re looking for comparisons.

The real strength of Peacocks lies in three areas I would say: summer clothes, chunky winter knitwear and highly affordable shoes. This store has far more stock and variety than its smaller counterparts on North Street and London Road, so I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re needing to upgrade your summer wardrobe on a budget.

Check out my review of Peacocks – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Brighton Dome in Brighton

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Probably Brighton’s most famous arts venue, the Brighton Dome is my most frequented place for an evening’s entertainment. I’ve seen everything here from stand-up comedy, to music gigs, to my very own graduation ceremony.

Incredibly well-laid out so that there isn’t a bad seat in the house (I’ve never sat in one, anyway) this stunning mid-sized theatre is a truly brilliant space with great acoustics. You wouldn’t think this fantastic concert hall was originally home to George IV’s stables, would you?

Check out my review of Brighton Dome – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Grocer and Grain in Brighton

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Formerly a rather tacky video rental place, this shop has recently been transformed beyond all recognition into this lovely delicatessen-come-grocer.

You could easily walk right past this little place en route to Brighton station if you don’t know where to look for it, as it’s tucked away in one of the side streets off Queen’s Road. It’s well worth hunting out though especially if, like me, you’re a big fan of independent local grocery stores.

Selling stuff like locally produced Sussex cheese, the most delicious looking freshly prepared sausages, gluten-free pastas, chutneys, jams and organic fruit and veg, this is a must-visit for all you Brightonians determined to buy local but looking for something a bit unique.

Check out my review of Grocer and Grain – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Browns in Brighton

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Browns is one of those rare places where it’s impossible to go wrong with anything that you order. One of Brighton’s most well-known restaurants, it has a well-deserved, excellent reputation. Although slightly at the pricier end drinks-wise at between £5-£8 a cocktail, the food offers undeniably brilliant value for money. At around £5-9 for a starter and £10-£18 for a main course, it’s not a particularly cheap evening out, but it is an excellent value one.

The interior of the place feels distinctly continental – bistro-style seating, lots of plants, a huge floor-to-ceiling window, specials written in swirly writing on chalk boards and incredibly friendly, well-trained staff. I actually cannot fault the atmosphere of the place. It isn’t stunning, but it complements the menu and food pricing perfectly. In the same way as the food, you get what you pay for in atmosphere too.

Goat's Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

You want a bit more detail about the food? OK then. As an aperitif cocktail, I ordered a chilled white port with Fever Tree tonic which was absolutely delicious and not bad value as far as the rest of the drinks menu goes at just £4.25. For starters, I had the goat’s cheese stuffed mushrooms (£5.25) which were served with a garnish of rocket. I’ve got to say they were gorgeous. I don’t know what the goat’s cheese was flavoured with, but it was marvellously sharp and tangy. As a main course, I went for the prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast stuffed with telagio, accompanied by wilted spinach and butternut squash (£12.95) with a side of chunky chips (£2.95). It was to die for – the strong taste of the telagio had spread through the entire chicken breast, which had been pan-fried to make it go deliciously crisp. Mouth-wateringly good. The chunky chips, which were hand-cut and tasted almost garlicky, were so delicious I’m craving them again just writing this.

Prosciutto-wrapped Chicken Breast Stuffed with Telagio

The service, although a tiny bit slow, was impeccable otherwise. Our waitress was lovely, and when my friends’ sparkling wine was served in a chipped glass (which she didn’t realise until half-way through the drink), another brand-new full glass was brought over in the blink of an eye. Top marks from me – I’ve definitely got to go here again soon.

Check out my review of Browns – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Sex and the City 2: Trashy, sexy, funny… and just a little bit racist?

**SPOILER ALERT**

Last night – like millions other women – I got dolled up, went out for dinner, drank a few cocktails and headed to my local cinema to watch the eagerly anticipated Sex and the City 2. As much as I was so desperate to love it, so desperate to emerge from the cinema in floods of happy tears feeling empowered and sexy, I just felt more than a little bit bemused…

For the first hour, the film had every promise of being even better than the first one. Samantha was on top form, popping hormone pills left, right and centre; Charlotte’s perfectly polished exterior was gradually cracking due to a permanently screaming child; inevitable tensions were beginning to emerge in Carrie and Big’s marriage; and Miranda was sliding back into her crazy workaholic personality that drove Steve to have his affair in the first movie… Oh, and Liza Minelli performed Beyonce’s Single Ladies at the gay wedding of the century. Utterly genius. I could feel myself being drawn in at an unstoppable pace, luxuriously enjoying the most self-indulgent chick-flick ever.

Then, it all just went wrong for me.

In some bizarre twist, Samantha was given an all-expenses paid holiday to Abu Dhabi by a wealthy hotel owner/film-maker. Again, for the first 20 minutes of their holiday, this all seemed an incredible stroke of genius, where else to put these four impossibly glamorous women than amongst gorgeous desert scenery, luxuriously decorated surroundings and in suitably ludicrous outfits?

That was before it all declined into a slightly racist farce.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an open-minded kind of gal who enjoys edgy, borderline-offensive comedy as much as the next person. But this movie just went a step too far for me, coming across as a depiction of four ignorant forty-somethings outrageously voicing their prejudices by making some incredibly rude assumptions about women in burkhas and other traditions of middle-Eastern countries. It wasn’t even done in a satirical way – Carrie genuinely seemed to think that a woman lifting her veil to eat french fries was something that should have been in a zoo. That made me a little uncomfortable, I don’t know about anyone else. At least I think it made me uncomfortable… or was I spectacularly missing something?

Another distinctly cringe-inducing element for me was the fact that Samantha seemed to turn from the outrageous, sex-obsessed woman that we all know and love into a mutton-dressed-as-lamb, menopausal, nymphomaniacial banshee. Of course, this led to her being arrested, which bizarrely led to her having the most frightening condom-waving breakdown in the middle of a marketplace.

There were, to give the trashy chick-flick its due, some incredibly funny and touching moments such as Charlotte and Miranda’s heartfelt mum-to-mum exchange, Carrie and Big’s tearful make-up and Stanford and Anthony’s wedding vows, just to name my personal favourites. I just can’t help but feel that over all it tried far too hard to better the first movie, which was wonderful in its simplicity just like the television series. I wish they’d all just stayed in New York where their personalities actually belong.