Berlin, Germany
14th - 17th August 2017

Berlin - we just can't stay away! This time, we discover a floral paradise in the outskirts of east Berlin and culture galore in the beating heart of the City!

Friday 11th August - Red-jet to Southampton then train up to Southampton Airport. Fly to Manchester and hire a car, drive to Rotherham. Fish and chips in evening with John and Jean.

Saturday 12th August - early family breakfast to celebrate Dave's Birthday. Then drive to Brodsworth Hall and enjoy the wonderful gardens, next up a short drive to Wakefield to visit the Hepworth Gallery. We are blown away by the works on show in: Howard Hodgkin: Painting India. We round off the day by driving over to Huddersfield to visit Mark and Chris. In the Eve we taxi out to restaurant, eat delicious Italian nosh then walk home.

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens 

Dave enjoys the Romantic Garden at Brodsworth

Bombay Blues - Howard Hodgkin 

Letters from Bombay - Howard Hodgkin

Sunday 13th August - relatively lazy morning as we breakfast late and get ready to enjoy Gin-fest with Chris's parents. Lovely way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Monday 14th August - an early start as we drive back to Manchester to return hire car before boarding flight to Berlin. A pleasant hour and 45m mins in the air and we arrive in good time to catch train to Neuköln. Unpack, freshen up and head off out to explore. We end up in central Berlin and enjoy a sunset drink while relaxing in deck chairs.

The cable car at IGA Berlin

The Chinese Garden

The Korean Garden

The Mediterranean Garden

Tuesday 15th August - a fabulously sunny morning as breakfast in the flat. Today we are heading east, an hour out of Berlin, to visit the International Gardens of the World show. An amazing day full of beautiful planting, fabulous gardens and fun times in the sunshine. We round off the day with a couple of beers by the lake before heading back to Neuköln.

Wednesday 16th August - today is a little wetter than yesterday... It's actually pouring with rain. Luckily, today is all about indoor activities. A culture fix is required! First up, the Academy of Art. We enjoy the Käthe Kollwitz award. This year, the prize is scooped by Katherina Sieverding. Her photographic montages, large scale prints and video installation are interesting and memorable, a worthy winner!... Next up, the Hamburger Bahnhof Art Gallery. This contemporary collection, in the renovated train station of the same name, is certainly worth the €14 entry. We enjoy a good three hours exploring and getting to grips with the permanent collection and temporary shows. The Rudolph Belling exhibition gives a fascinating glimpse into this German designers stylish world. In addition, Moving is in every direction, Environments - installation - Narrative Spaces gives a fascinating insight into the world of installation art. We round off the day with a walk through the North Neuköln district before sitting in the sun and relaxing with a beer.

Thursday 17th August - A pleasant day as we rise early to clean the flat and prepare to depart to the Airport. We fly back to London Gatwick near enough on time. Train back to Southampton and catch red-jet to our dear little Isle. Phew!

10 out of 10


Tristan Bates Theatre, London
8th August 2017

Sari: The whole 5 yards - A play about a 62-year-old woman who reclaims her life after 40 years of pretending. Warm, funny and full of nods to a very interesting culture.

Bhanu is getting ready to go to her 40th “surprise” wedding anniversary party. She has the most seemingly perfect life (six-bedroom detached house, two en suite bathrooms, great kids, granddaughter, generous husband…) that is until, the truth slips out. She begins to unravel. When the truth is out, there is nowhere to hide... Written by Preethi Nair

Thank you to Martin for taking me along to this thoroughly enjoyable hour of live storytelling! I have walked past this performance space many times. Just off 7 dials in Covent Garden, this Theatre is casual, cool and filled to the brim with an intoxicating mix of the performing arts.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments, we also had to miss another piece of Theatre on the Isle of Wight. At Quay Arts, Busu and the damask drum promised to be an intriguing evening of reinterpreted Japanese Theatre. 9th August 2017.

Busu and the damask drum. Quay Arts

9 out of 10


Malaga, Spain
10th - 17th July 2017

Malaga - the maritime City in southern Spain is evolving, it's becoming a fantastic and vibrant holiday destination. New cultural hot spots, plenty of wonderful experiences and guaranteed sunshine... what more could you ask for?

This is our second visit to Malaga, our last stay was in October 2009. It's amazing to see how much the City has changed since our last visit... our experience went a little like this: 

Sunday the 9th July - Up to London and staying in Deptford. Had a drink in sunshine by the river at the Trafalgar pub before meal at Bianco43 in Greenwich.

Monday 10th July - Up early to enjoy a walk in Greenwich Park before heading to Gatwick for our noon flight to Malaga. It would be foolish not to take advantage of a couple of hours to look around and purchase two Swatch watches before our slightly delayed Easy Jet departure. A leisurely 2 hour 20 flight. We are soon on our way into Malaga Central on the train from the airport. A quick walk up through the City and we arrive at our apartment, Calle Ollerías 16 Cuarta planta. We are met by a friend of our Airbnb host and instantly feel very welcome. A swift unpack and we are soon exploring the streets, and grabbing a few essentials to see us through. Our sunny terrace is the perfect place to watch the sunset, enjoy snacks, and to ease ourselves into the relaxed holiday state of mind.

 The beautiful Playa de la Caleta

 Invader does Carmen

 Invader does Picasso 

Tuesday 11th July - A sunny day unfolds as we take it easy and find our bearings. A trip to El Corte Ingles is essential and we pick up a few treats, including the all important Ibiza Mix 2017! We can’t delay a dip in the Med and longer, the beach is our next stop… and very relaxing it is too. In the eve we cook up sword fish and veg, washed down with a couple of glasses of Rioja! Perfect. 

 Pejac spotted in Soho district

Wednesday 12th July - Another warm and sunny day as we breakfast outside. Today we take a stroll down through the cool ‘Soho’ district of Malaga, the streets are full of very creative street art, cool bars and interesting restaurants. Great to spot the work of Invader, the French artist has produced a fab collection of ceramic mosaic works that are dotted around the City, this is his 71st invasion! We hang a right and walk further southwards until we reach our first culture stop, the Collection del Museo Ruso. This interesting collection of art is from the St. Petersburg State Museum in Russia. The show is divided into nine thematic areas: the old Russian art, the XVIII century, Romanticism in Russia, Realism, Realism with Russian topics, the movement of “World of Art” and Neoprimitivism, the Avant-garde, Socialist Realism and art in the Melting Era that was experienced after the death of Stalin… A fascinating temporary collection of works by Kandinsky tells the intriguing story of his creative development and never-ending love for his mother land. A short bus ride brings us back into the City, we return to our apartment and prepare for a much needed trip to the beach. We eat out in the eve and enjoy delicious tapas from La Bocacalle. 

 The cooling green of Jardin Botanico Historico

Thursday 13th July - Slightly foggy this morning, a mist is rolling in from the Med, we breakfast early and catch a local bus up to the Jardin Botanico Historico. This beautiful garden is top of our must do list, it does not disappoint. Set on a hillside, this spectacular site is home to a fabulous collection of native and world plants and trees… it’s a must for any visitor who wants to experience lush and arid planting in a pleasing location. The lunch stop was also beautiful, gorgeous food made from fresh local ingredients. We stay for a few hours then head back into town and down to the beach to cool off. In the eve, our neighbours, a couple from Austria share their leftover food with us. Such a kind gesture, they said it was a ‘peace offering’ after Brexit. We enjoy an eve on our terrace as the sun sets and the stars start to shine. 

 Atardecer sobre la costa de Malaga, 1918 Guillermo Gómez Gil

Center Pompidou Malaga 

Muelle Uno at sunset 

Friday 14th July - The fog is back as we slowly come back to life after last night. It seems we had quite a bit of local vino! Poached eggs on toast certainly help. Today we do more culture. First up, the Museo Carmen Thyssen, this fine museum houses a wonderful collection of traditional Spanish art, Romantic Landscapes and hot headed brawls. Three seascapes stop us in our tracks… the work of Guillermo Gómez Gil is stunning. A temporary exhibition, The appearance of the real. Fifty years of realist art in Spain (1960-2010), is excellent and contains some beautiful works. A quick snack break in the museum cafe and we are ready for our next culture stop… The Centre Pompidou, Malaga. This is ‘the’ big new MUST SEE attraction in the City. Set in the spectacular new port-side redevelopment, this culture hot spot is sure to ruffle feathers. An interesting, and in places challenging collection of works from the Paris based Mother ship that manages to excite and baffle in equal measure. The Muelle Uno development has brought a vibrant and elegant air to this once run down quarter. In the eve we chill on our terrace and take a sunset walk to enjoy the local crowds promenading in the cooler climes. 

 Rando 2011

Triptych August 1972 Francis Bacon

Saturday 15th July - more fog as we breakfast. Today we are up early to make the most of our last few days in this great City. Firstly, a short walk up the road to the Museum Jorge Rando, a haven of expressionist masterpieces by this charismatic living Spanish artist. Next, a stroll through the ‘Soho’ quarter to take in the Street art... then over to the Centro de Arte Contemporaneous de Malaga. This excellent Gallery houses a body of work that comprises a journey through the different artistic movements and trends that characterise the 20th century, with a particular focus on the final decades. Regularly-changing exhibitions illustrate the eclectic landscape of contemporary art today. This visit we enjoy the striking paintings, sculptures and drawings of Santiago Ydanez. We also enjoy the fantastic video piece called ‘the way things go’ by Swiss artists Fischli & Weiss. Created in 1987, this work always makes us chuckle! later we chill back at the apartment and wait for the sun to break through the cloud… eventually it does and we simply must get to the beach for a dip! After a very refreshing splash around we head back to the apartment, this time to freshen up and prepare for a visit to The Picasso Museum. We did visit this gallery back in 2009,  now we are curious to see how it has developed. The temporary show on 'Bacon, Freud and the school of London' also grabs our attention! Our turbo visit to the gallery does not disappoint… the guy on the ticket desk suggested that perhaps we should reconsider doing the two shows with such a short amount of time left before closing… We whizzed around the Picasso to allow more time for the temporary show… Wow! we are both blown away! Iconic pieces from Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon leave us speechless (Triptych August 1972 by Francis Bacon knocks me sideways). We end our day watching the sunset on the quay with a beer before heading back to the apartment for snacks.

The Alcazaba

Dave waits for the sunset at the port

Alex also waits for the sunset

Sunday 16th July - A muggy morning as we breakfast early to maximise our final full day in Malaga. Today we off to the Museum of Glass and Crystal which is located just a few streets away from the apartment. We spend 2 hours enjoying the superb collection. The owner of the museum was our guide. Entertaining and passionate, Don Gonzalo fernández-Prieto has so much love for the collection, he was a complete joy! Simply can’t recommend this attraction enough. It’s getting hot and we enjoy the shade back at the apartment, we also take a moment to start the cleaning in readiness for our departure tomorrow. A swim later in the pm helps to cool us before we pay a return visit to the Alcazaba. Love this beautiful attraction and it’s a great place to enjoy the cooling sea breeze and take in the views out over the harbour and City. Later, snacks and vino on the terrace of our apartment help to bring a perfect ending to another wonderful day.

Monday 17th July - Up early today as we fly back home at 10:20am. A quick tidy up, breakfast and check out with our host and we are off on train to the Airport. We fly on time and arrive in Gatwick ahead of schedule. Then a train to Clapham before boarding train to Southampton where we get our Red Jet to the Island. Home again and 110% relaxed and refreshed.

10 out of 10


Apollo Theatre, Newport IOW
7th July 2017

Apollo Theatre - is THE Isle of Wight Theatre that consistently produces brilliant theatrical experiences. This classic ghost story kept us on the edge of our seats... a chilling way to spend a hot Summer night!

Arnold Ridley's classic spooky drama was first produced in 1925 and filmed no less than three times. Better known as Private Godfrey in BBC's long-running Dad's Army, Ridley conceived the idea for this thriller horror on a deserted platform waiting for a train. The story begins when a young man accidentally strands six passengers at a small Cornish wayside station. Despite the stationmaster's weird stories of a ghost train, they decide to stay the night in the waiting room. Soon they regret this decision as a ghostly apparition terrorises the group. A detective hiding his true identity from the passengers soon discovers the real truth, but is it too late?

A strong cast of regular faces, a simple set and great period costumes helped to make this a totally absorbing night of live, (spooooky) local theatre.

10 out of 10


Chatsworth Estate, Derbyshire
9th June 2017

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show - the NEW horticultural day-out. It's the show that promised to break gardening boundaries and blend tradition with the unexpected. We go take a look!

The weather was not kind to the first RHS Chatsworth... Unseasonal heavy rain and very strong winds played havoc with the set-up and the first few days... But luckily for us, our visit was bathed in sunshine and was only a little moist under foot. Much better than the washout 24 hours earlier! The stunning Chatsworth Estate provided a majestic backdrop for this brave new venture... But, was the UK ready for another large scale flower show? It seems that the answer was a resounding yes!... The crowds did eventually come out to brave the weather and it looks like this could be a permanent fixture in the horticultural lovers calender.

The IQ Quarry garden

The great conservatory - designed by inflate

The Wedgwood Garden

The wordless cupboard - inspired by 'the stones'

We love the way that this new RHS venture has set out deliberatly to ruffle the feathers of the establishment. Surreal, bonkers and downright daft, it was all here to enjoy. The quality of the show gardens was high, perhaps not up to Chelsea standards, but there was lots of attention to detail and the quality of build was top-notch. The selection of exhibitors and nursaries certainly kept Dave occupied, we left with exciting new plants for our garden and lots of creative inspiration. Who knows, a return visit to next years show may already be on the cards!

8 out of 10


The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill
2nd June 2017

Vintage Trouble are an American soul and blues-rock four-piece. Reminiscent of Chuck Berry and Otis Redding, this California-based band give old-school soul music a new lease of life and certainly know how to rock a venue...

We enjoy a wonderful trip down to Bexhill and funk out to Vintage Trouble. Our chums Carl and Annette gave us the nod re this band, they are official 'trouble makers'. The seriously funky foursome raised the roof at the beautiful De La Warr Pavilion. Ty Taylor, the charismatic front Man, whipped his adoring audience into a frothing, funking frenzy... Fantastic! 

Here is some info about the band:
Vocalist Ty Taylor and guitarist Nalle Colt, friends of over 14 years, had regularly played together before forming Vintage Trouble in 2010. With the addition of mutual friend and bassist Rick Barrio Dill and drummer Richard Danielson, the group began recording in their own D.I.Y home studio in Venice Beach, California. Soon after, Vintage Trouble began playing local dates and late night speakeasies, delivering their brand of ’50’s soul and blues music that owes as much to Otis Redding as it does The Rolling Stones. Following three days of intense recording the group released their debut output “The Bomb Shelter Sessions” in July 2011.

In an attempt to make a name and history for themselves, the group headed to Europe and landed shows opening for Brian May and Bon Jovi on their huge arena tours. The shows raised Vintage Trouble’s international profile, as did an appearance on “Later… with Jools Holland” in early 2011. The band’s debut full-length subsequently rose to No. 13 on the iTunes Best Selling Digital Albums Chart.

Following shows opening for The Who in North America and Europe, the band released the album “The Swing House Acoustic Session” in 2014. More high-profile shows followed including supporting Paloma Faith and AC/DC before the band returned to the studio to release “1 Hopeful Rd.” in August 2015. The rest, as they say, is history... (in the making)...

> Earlier that same day, we enjoyed a quick visit to RHS Wisley. Always a favourite, this riot of colour, form and clever planting continues to blow our socks off... We will never tire of this important horticultural hot spot!

Beautiful Aliums at RHS Wisley

Prickly wonders in the Glass House

The spectacular Mysore trumpet vine

 The dream like Jade vine (and Dave)...

10 out of 10 for both!