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The Color Run Brighton in association with Living Social UK

We didn’t let a few clouds get in the way of some seriously colourful fun this Saturday when we joined up with Living Social UK’s awesome team of bloggers and journalist to take part in Brighton’s first Color Run (that’s their spelling, not mine!).

Team DBTH/Living Social!

Team DBTH/Living Social!

The run, fondly described by its myriad fans as “the happiest 5k on the planet” took place from the Marina at one end of Madeira Drive up to the Palace Pier and d back again. At each kilometre checkpoint, runners are covered head-to-toe in bright, cornflour-based powder paints; a different colour for each kilometre. The whole race ends with an impromptu dance-off and mega paint fight – it’s seriously fun!

Mr Heritage makes it over the finish line

Mr Heritage makes it over the finish line

Krystian and Tasha - thrilled with the experience!

Krystian and Tasha – thrilled with the experience!

Well done team Living Social!

Well done team Living Social!

Dan and Nicky - proud as punch!

Dan and Nicky – proud as punch!

We were lucky enough to spend the rest of the day with the Living Social team, enjoying a bite to eat at Oh So Social then heading to the marina for a totally awesome speed boat ride. We were ferried all day in style and comfort thanks to our very own Big Lemon bus, and the day ended with a little dilly dally around the pier with the team.

Ready to get wet?

Ready to get wet?

The day was awesome, and we can’t wait to work with Living Social on their next awesome blogger expedition!

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Guest Post: My Posh Pop-Up Picnic

We’ve got the gorgeous Aimee Claire guest blogging for us today. Aimee’s already written beautiful features for our sister sites live.love.space. and Kitchen Bitching, so we’re thrilled to have her back here on Db.

As my friends all know, I am pretty useless at organising anything. In fact, the words “organise”, “out of” and, “paper bag” are regularly bandied about whenever my name is mentioned. While I’m usually happy to sit back and let others do all the list-writing and chasing, there comes a point in any girl’s life when, for once, she wants to take some of the glory; for her event to have been the social highlight of the summer. It was with this thought, and some very Enid Blyton-esque nostalgia in mind that I decided to organise my very own posh pop-up picnic.

Alfresco eating - perfect!

Alfresco eating – perfect!

Now, the picnic part was simple enough. Everybody’s been to a picnic before and experienced the unrivalled joy of eating al fresco on a lazy summer’s day, while sipping juice straight from the cool bag; but how to make it ‘posh’? I jotted down a few foods I assumed one might have at such a ‘do, cucumber sandwiches and fruit, hummus and breadsticks, whiskey and wine, falafel and decided to add a nice sponge cake, strawberries and cream and some posh cutlery.

Posho!

Posho!

I’m afraid, dear reader, that this was the extent of my so-called organisational skills. I asked everyone to bring their favourite ‘posh’ food and encouraged a ‘summery with a hint of class’ dress code; pretty dresses for the girls, linen suits and espadrilles for the boys, and hoped I wouldn’t either be sat on my own or surrounded by mountains of sausage rolls. And do you know what? The day couldn’t have gone better if I’d planned it myself, which, hello, I did! Okay, so not everybody embraced my dress code, and we did end up with a few too many cucumber sandwiches, but I can confidently say that everybody had an absolute ball. We had food, we had lashings of ginger beer; okay, whisky, wine and lager, all served in appropriately grown up champagne flutes and whisky tumblers. We even had a little light entertainment in the form of a friend with a guitar and a game of rounders, both accompanied by a few utterances of “spiffing” and “jolly good show” for good measure.

Strawberries - a British picnic essential!

Strawberries – a British picnic essential!

And so to organising; the ‘where’ was easy, as a friend of mine has a rather handy field, which, most of the time just sits around doing nothing. The date was also fairly straightforward; with a royal baby due imminently and some of the warmest weather on record, the first weekend in July was the ideal time to celebrate being British. I’d even handpicked a vintage theme, conjuring images in my mind of the halcyon days of my childhood. Or, at least, the childhood I would have had if I’d been in the ‘Famous Five’. A few invites, fashioned out of old bunting, naturally, and a mass social media message later and the plan was set.

Strawberries and Cream - even better! (image courtesy of Jennifer Lyons)

Oooh Eaton Mess! (image courtesy of Jennifer Lyons)

I’ll leave you with this thought though; you can have the greatest of intentions when it comes to a posh pop-up picnic, but the minute one of your rag-tag bunch hurls a scone there is only one way the day’s going to go – food fight. I am pretty sure that, to anyone passing by, we must have looked like the rowdiest bunch of big kids that you ever did see; surely George, Anne, Dick and Julian had never descended to such behaviour, although I’m pretty sure Timmy would have done, given half the chance!. All that matters, though, is that we had a superb time, ignoring those work emails and enjoying each other’s company for a few sweet hours. Eton Mess comes out of clothing…right?

Vegas: The Suite Life

After our amazing adventure at The Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square, I decided to re-watch a Louis Theroux documentary about so-called high-rollers in Vegas. Staying in some of the most lavish suites in the world and being treated to insane freebies, these big-money spenders escape the stresses and strains of real life for a few days, replacing big business with big betting.

So, we can’t all escape to the bright lights and crazy times of Vegas, but we can certainly dream! I thought I’d investigate some of the most impressive hotel suites that Vegas has to offer … if you don’t spend all your time playing roulette or blackjack, of course!

Duplex Apartment at Encore Hotel

Duplex Apartment at Encore - around $8,000 per night (image via wynnlasvegas.com)

Duplex Apartment at Encore – around $8,000 per night (image via wynnlasvegas.com)

Flying high on the 63rd floor, this apartment sits beside the world-famous Sky Casino – reserved for high-rollers with a whopping $300,000 credit minimum. Boasting 5,800 square feet of living space, this apartment has three bedrooms and four bathrooms, a billiards room, private massage room, and even a dedicated private lift to take you between the apartment’s two floors. Perfect for when you’ve totally over-indulged on Champagne and caviar, I imagine …

Duplex Apartment at Encore - around $8,000 per night (image via wynnlasvegas.com)

Duplex Apartment at Encore – around $8,000 per night (image via wynnlasvegas.com)

Hugh Hefner Villa at Palms Hotel

Hugh Hefner Villa at Palms Hotel $40,000 per night

Hugh Hefner Villa at Palms Hotel $40,000 per night

This is the most opulent of the hotel’s “Fantasy Suites”, and it’s been named the Vegas equivalent of the Playboy mansion. With a massive 9,000 square feet of space (enough for around 250 of your nearest and dearest Playboy bunnies), and spread across two storeys, the Hugh Hefner Villa offers a modest selection of amenities including: private lift; media room; gym; dining room; private spa and three bedrooms. Oh, did I mention that one of those rooms features an 8-foot rotating bed?! You can also relax in the outdoor Jacuzzi that juts out from the suite, giving you uninterrupted views of the strip. Not bad … but this level of Playboy status will cost you $40,000 a NIGHT. Eek.

Hugh Hefner Villa at Palms Hotel $40,000 per night

Hugh Hefner Villa at Palms Hotel $40,000 per night

The Octavias Villas at Caesars Palace

The Octavias Suites at Caesars Palace

The Octavias Suites at Caesars Palace

Each of these villas cost the hotel a whopping $15,000,000 to build, and each offers around 10,000 square feet of space to get lost in. The Grecian-style villa boasts four bedrooms, a media room, formal dining room, gym, private balcony and, of course, the obligatory private Jacuzzi. You’ll also have a private 24-hour butler. So that’s $40,000 per night well-spent, then …

The Octavias Suites at Caesars Palace

The Octavias Suites at Caesars Palace

*this is a sponsored post*

DIGITAL review – The best night out we have EVER had! (expect much hyperbole …)

A few of you may know that I’ve been a professional reviewer for some years now. I’ve reviewed some of the finest restaurants in the world, the most incredible venues, five-star hotels, exclusive spas and some of the craziest events around.

It takes an *awful* lot to impress me.

As for Mr B, well – his deliciously northern stoicism means that it takes a fair amount of magic to get him really excited – so if I tell you now that at one point during this review Mr B was so in awe that he asked a perfect stranger if he could hug her – then you’ll start to get an idea of why this review is entitled “the best night out we have EVER had”!

The Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square

The Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square

We arrived at The Hippodrome Casino having done our homework – steeped in history, this fabulous building directly opposite Leicester Square tube recently underwent a £50 million refurbishment to turn it into a 24-hour casino complete with a restaurant, six bars (with a 24-hour licence), meeting rooms, private dining, shisha lounge, cigar lounge, circus and burlesque show.

What an entrance!

What an entrance!

Upon arrival we were whisked to the cocktail bar (always a good old place to start if you ask me). Now, being the pain in the ass that I am I always like to peruse the cocktail list then order off-menu … it’s the inbuilt reviewer in me – I like to catch people off guard. Plus, a simple dry martini is a pretty sure-fire way to get an swift idea of what to expect drinks-wise.

The menu we were offered had a small array of cocktails, but taking one look at the back bar I was pretty sure these guys could handle anything.  Of course, I was right. My dry martini was gorgeous – and their choice of gins was super-impressive (I opted for Sipsmiths and olives, in case you care). Mr B hit the floor running with a Sipsmiths G&T (can you guess our gin-crush of the moment?).

Now, what first hits you about the Hippodrome is the gosh-darn-it size of the place. Having been a formidable theatre in its (glorious and hilarious) past, you may wonder how everything works layout-wise. Well, to put it basically, (and whilst failing to do it justice); each floor remains as it once was – it’s just that the rings of theatre seating have been replaced with bars, a restaurant, gaming areas and, as you head into the gods, a poker floor. So, as you sit in the bar you can look down onto the large gaming floor below (one of many!), and across to what was once the stage. This, however, and rather cunningly, still *is* a stage. Now, though, the stage is inverted; hidden behind a very effective sound board – the shows take place facing in the opposite direction to how they would have back in the day … if that makes sense.

A perfect blend of traditional and ultra-modern

A perfect blend of traditional and ultra-modern

The second thing you get to learn about the Hippodrome (especially when you have the huge honour of being shown round by the truly amazing Simon Thomas – Chairman of The Hippodrome Casino) is the versatility of space. The sound boards can be swished out the way, opening the theatre area up to the rest of the space. More than that, each area is both separate and inclusive. This, frankly, is kind of hard to explain … but, putting it simply, you can manipulate the spaces in myriad ways, allowing you to accommodate, say, 1000 people for a film premiere after party, or a handful of birthday celebrants looking for a slap-up meal.

Oh yes, the food. Oh yes. OH YES. After being delightfully distracted by martinis and much meandering with Simon, we finally settled down for some food. Beautifully fresh asparagus, delicate tartlets, huge perfect hunks of steak topped with enormous king prawns … the food at Heliot Steakhouse really is superb.

Of particular striking note is the millionaire’s macaroni cheese. At a jaw-dropping £12, this SIDE ORDER (yes, this isn’t a main dish) of posho mac ‘n’ cheese was nothing short of a revelation. Topped with a glistening, perfectly poached duck egg and slithers of black truffle, this indulgent addition to my meal was really very special indeed. So much so you’ll excuse my Instagram image additions …

Fresh asparagus with duck egg

Fresh asparagus with duck egg

STEAK!

STEAK!

Millionaire's man 'n' cheese!

Millionaire’s man ‘n’ cheese!

After dinner we split teams; I headed up to explore the shisha lounge whilst Darren and the lovely Salvo (our host for the evening) headed off to take some more photos. After a while we regrouped, and suddenly, as if from nowhere, a rather striking redhead appeared at our table. This gorgeous gal was one of the Hippodrome’s resident magicians, and it was our very great pleasure to enjoy some close-up sleight-of-hand card tricks courtesy of this amazingly talented young lady. How good was she? Well, remember at the beginning of this post when I mentioned Mr B’s overwhelming desire to hug a perfect stranger? Well, it was either her magical skills or her frighteningly good looks – but so impressed with one (or either) of her particular assets was Mr B that he couldn’t resist requesting a little touch of physical affection upon her departure. And who could blame him?

The smoking terrace and shisha lounge

The smoking terrace and shisha lounge

All about the atmosphere ...

All about the atmosphere …

After yet another delicious cocktail it was time for pudding (that mac ‘n’ cheese had left no room for dessert so we opted to enjoy something sweet a little later on), and the Boom Bang Circus show. We took our seats inside the cosy but spacious theatre area behind the sound curtains, sipped on the rest of the lovely red wine we’d held back after dinner, and waited for the show to begin.

Once again, when it comes to circuses, it takes a lot to impress me. Having quit school at 13 to gallivant off to deepest darkest Eastern Europe to explore my options as a trapeze artist, juggler, unicyclist and all manner of other crazy pastimes (after three years I concluded that my options in these areas were probably reasonably limited and returned to school), I know my shows. My surname may be Barclay but Billy Smarts blood still runs through my veins, so it’s skill and grace rather than pomp and puff that gets my carnie-senses tingling.

Jonny Woo - Ringmaster extrordinare

Jonny Woo – Ringmaster extrordinare

The Boom Bang Circus was really quite spectacular. Considering the relatively restricted space, and the need to please all manner of visitors, late in the evening, this show was feisty, sexy (but never sleazy), exhilarating and tremendously skilful. Bravo indeed – I’d definitely like to see it again.

Quite honestly, we had a totally amazing time at The Hippodrome Casino, and we will certainly be back. Even if gambling just isn’t your thing, you can find myriad spaces in this cavernous, labyrinth-like building to suit whatever mood takes you. The staff are courteous, friendly, accommodating and helpful. The management are savvy, excitable, fun-oriented and incredibly knowledgable. The atmosphere is … well, you’ve read the review … really you’ll just have to go along and see for yourself.

For show times, events, restaurant information and all other enquiries head over the The Hippodrome Casino website.

Many, many thanks to Simon Thomas, Ian Duncan and their incredible team for making us feel so welcome.

DIGITAL review – HYPER JAPAN 2013 and Ibis Hotel Sheperds Bush

It’s been a while since the core Db crew headed out and about on the review trail, but last weekend we hit London town running to indulge some of the awesome that the big smoke has to offer.

Whilst the mini Bungalowers were off enjoying some summer holiday fun courtesy of their grandparents, Mr B and I hopped on a train bound for Victoria. Enjoying all the heavenly treats that Southern Rail has to offer (the lingering scent of commuter sweat, precocious teenagers with Topshop on their mind and lukewarm, weak coffee); we were still chipper, and glad to have a few moments to ourselves.

After a quick hop, skip and jump on the tube we found our way to our first stop – Earls Court 2 – the 2013 home of HYPER JAPAN.

We arrived just a few moments before the gates opened, and as a consequence it took a while for the atmosphere to really take hold. However, the small venue quickly filled up with gamers, Harajuku wannabes, foodies, comic book fanatics and curious passers-by, and our experience started to take shape.

Perfect for gamers - the Nintendo chill out zone at Hyper Japan 2013

Perfect for gamers – the Nintendo chill out zone at Hyper Japan 2013

As regular readers will already know, we’re big about food here at Db – so much so that we launched our own dedicated food site (for wannabes) Kitchen Bitching a couple of years ago. We’re also mad fans of Japanese cuisine, so it’ll be of no surprise that our first stop was the food zone. From a sushi competition featuring some of the world’s most accomplished sushi chefs, to simple, delicious noodle dishes; piles of edamame, flavoured ice, bubble tea and even one of our favourites – Japanese whisky – there was a wealth of delicious treats to choose from.

The sushi competition in full swing

The sushi competition in full swing

Sushi chefs hard at work

Sushi chefs hard at work

Sushi chefs hard at work

Sushi chefs hard at work

NOODLES!

NOODLES!

Gamers of all types were out in force at Hyper Japan 2013 – from the ‘Tendo-Heads to more those taken with card-based pursuits (we had no idea what was going on, but it was fun to watch!) …

Playing cards (you lost us at Top Trumps ...)

Playing cards (you lost us at Top Trumps …)

We think he won ...

We think he won …

Drum-based gaming ... *this* one we quite fancied a go at ...

Drum-based gaming … *this* one we quite fancied a go at …

Above all the highlight of the day was the CosPlay, Harijuku and traditional costumes. We lost ourselves for hours just watching these amazing outfits passing us by (whilst we feasted on plenty of gorgeous Japanese cuisine).

Keeping it simple ...

Keeping it simple …

Crazy CosPlay ...

Crazy CosPlay …

Geisha Gorgeousness ...

Geisha Gorgeousness …

After whiling away a good few hours pretending we were in Tokyo, London beckoned. We were heading briefly north, just up the road to Shepherds Bush. We were due at the Ibis Hotel, and our weary feet definitely needed a quick sit-down before our festive weekend continued.

Just a few feet from Shepherds Bush tube, the Ibis is a budget hotel that feels much more indulgent. We were greeted by a very friendly receptionist called Veronika, who had us checked-in in a jiffy (something that rates highly on our hotel wish-list). We were speeding up in the lift to our room in moments, and before we knew it we were safely ensconced in a simple, but incredibly clean double room.

Aaaaand ... relax!

Aaaaand … relax!

Our bed was comfortable, and the room spacious. The only rather odd area was the caravan-style ensuite. A sexily curved addition, this felt rather flimsy, and the only way to close the door was with a hefty slam; not ideal in the nighttime, as the noise reverberated throughout our room (and, undoubtedly, through to our neighbours too).

Great room, shame about the caravan addition ...

Great room, shame about the caravan addition …

Having had a chance to rest and regroup, we headed down to check out the restaurant, bar and reception. Lovely! The hotel lobby is stylish, sophisticated and modern – we loved the little details, bright colours and relaxed atmosphere.

Chilling at the Ibis ...

Chilling at the Ibis …

Reception - very chic!

Reception – very chic!

All-in-all we had a great stay at the Ibis Hotel, Shepherds Bush – and we’d definitely stay again.

DIGITAL guest: Could Underground Homes be a Reality for London?

Here at DIGITAL bungalow we love a taste of the weird and wonderful. So, we’re happy to have Tim Newman, Brighton-based seeker of the strange, lover of obscure content and Director of Lazerhorse.org, guesting for us today. Welcome to his world …

People have been constructing and living in homes underground for thousands of years. Across the globe, from Tunisian Berbers living in hand carved extended caves to Hobbits in middle earth; from the Amundsen-Scott south pole station to future Big Brother dwellings on Mars. Could this be the future of habitation in London? Maybe so. Land costs money, and London’s cost per square millimetre is rising by the second. Perhaps underground living is the answer?

Building underground is nothing new but what are the benefits of moving shop a touch closer to the earth’s core? Well, the positives are many: resistance to severe weather, a nice retreat from the noise of the city, constant temperature and the heating bills are rock bottom. Sounds good doesn’t it? On top of that they can be created more cheaply because construction work is subtractive rather than additive, and whatever you excavate can be reused or recycled. One housing project in Nottinghamshire developed five one story earth dwellings with 19 metre south facing conservatories. Each cost just £90,000 to make. Not bad at all. In case you need another reason to move in, home insurance premiums are lower too as you are less accessible to the good old fashioned cat burglar.

earth-house-underground-designs

A Whole New World …

There’s a common misconception that these types of houses would be damp and dark. In reality you have specialist ventilation installed which deals with the problem of damp and modern light tubes or sun pipes mean that you can actually have a pretty bright space to inhabit at very low cost. One danger is flooding, but there are specialist pump systems that can be installed in case of such a watery event.

underground_houses

Going Underground …

Before you get too excited, these types of property are a bit tricky to come by, you can’t just stroll into an estate agent and take your pick. Underground houses are most commonly inhabited by the person who constructed them, and as such they are less likely to want to move. This may change with time though, humans infest London like a plague of property eating locust, so something has to budge. In Russia currently there is more development below ground than above, and countries like Japan and China are already eagerly burrowing down in places where land prices are at a crushing premium.

fulham-broadway-and-fulham-town-hall

Fulham Broadway – home of the underground movement?

Although underground houses are not a common site in London per se, there has been a huge boom in so called “mega-basements” over the last few years. People who operate at the top of the property food chain and live in listed buildings can have planning permission issues. The new cool is to dig down and create or extend the basement you already have. The city’s rich are building tennis courts and swimming pools beneath their beloved homes and because the extensions underground are effectively invisible, planning permission is no problem at all.

This trend of excavating out basements actually started in the late 1980s, on Fulham’s Peterborough Estate and has now been passed on to top-end bankers, business magnates, footballers and film stars. Derek Taylor, head of development control for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, says: “Ten years ago, there were virtually no applications to dig large basements.” In the past three years, the borough granted 461 “digging-down” applications, rejected 42 and 66 are pending. So whether you’re thinking of burrowing your own cave, or moving into someone else’s, it seems that underground living may well be the next destination for Londoners. If your estate agent in Fulham can’t provide a cave, she can probably point you in the direction of the nearest mega-basement.

Home Sweet Home

We’re thrilled to welcome the lovely Aimee Claire as a guest blogger here at DIGITAL bungalow – she’s sweetening things up in the home this week:

I have always had a weakness for sugary delights, so I leap at any chance to include cakes and confectionery themes in my home décor. The current mood in interiors is for all things nostalgic and retro and a glimpse into modern kitchens reveals plenty of 1950s style fabrics and prints on display, as well as vintage inspired crockery. It is as if we are looking back to yesteryear for a little comfort – and what better way to cheer ourselves up than by filling up on cakes and sweets.

Start the day with something sweet ...

Start the day with something sweet …

Many of us remember standing in line at the sweetshop as children, waiting to order a quarter of our favourite sherbet lemons or fizzy cola bottles. The intoxicating aroma of sugar on the air as you walked in the door, the anticipation as you gazed up at the rows of glass jars on shelves, bursting with sweet promise – ah yes…. it takes me back to happy, simple times.

Sweet nostaligia

Sweet nostaligia

But there is no need to assign sweet shop memories to history – we can re-create confection perfection at home in our décor and accessories. The kitchen is the ideal room to pay homage to all things deliciously sugary and you’ll find a huge range of accessories celebrating sweet and cake themes readily available. Tea towels, napkins and tablecloths decorated with colourful candy and cupcakes introduce a playful mood into the kitchen. Dress the teapot in a sweet smothered cosy or don cupcake covered gauntlets to open the oven door. Sweet inspiration is everywhere.

coco kitchen does retro

coco kitchen does retro

Really go for it in the kitchen and put up some shelves lined with attractive glass storage jars. Glass containers come in many shapes and styles and look wonderful arranged where they could be admired. Although it would be nice, it isn’t necessary to fill all these jars with sweets. Ordinary everyday ingredients can be displayed just as prettily in clear glass containers, perhaps accented with a few sneaky jars of liquorice and gob-stoppers here and there.

Pastel Peppermint Candy Buttons

Pastel Peppermint Candy Buttons

I love wandering around flea markets and junk shops and I always look out for pieces of vintage kitchenware. Traditional cake and biscuit tins, enamelware, floral print tea sets and cake stands are always a joy to find. Look out for vintage enamel advertising signs that feature sweets or cakes – fixed on the kitchen wall these look great and become a central focus to such schemes. Choose really lovely furniture to complement the room’s style, a table to sit around and a traditional dresser that can be laden with jars and vintage crockery looks fabulous. Include a comfortable armchair by the window, upholstered in mouth-watering jelly tot fabric, the perfect spot to savour the flavours of times gone by.

Muffin Pouffe

Muffin Pouffe

Make the kitchen feel like sweetie heaven by pulling wall, flooring and furnishing colours straight from the goody jar. The soft pastels of sugared-almond shades contrast well with the boiled sweet tones of candy apple red and fizzy lemon. Pick and mix from glossy sweet wrapper shades and silky fondant icing tints and the results will be good enough to eat.

Macaroon chairs

Macaroon chairs

Ice cream lights

Ice cream lights

I must admit to following the trail of discarded sweet wrappers and now find myself the proud custodian of a sugary inspired kitchen, packed with charming accessories and homely touches that make it a pleasure to spend time in. Sweet indeed.

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