Friday, 31 May 2013


With Summer approaching (fingers crossed!) we started thinking about daytrips to the seaside and those naughty seaside postcards which always made us smile - even when we were too young to fully understand all of the rude jokes! We also found out that the saucy seventies sitcom star Francoise Pascal is making a guest appearance at the Roxy Bar and Screen tomorrow (Saturday 1st June) for a screening of her bawdy horror comedy "Burke & Hare" (1971) alongside classic Peter Cushing horror "The Flesh & The Fiends" (1959). Tickets are only £6 for BOTH films and Francoise will also be signing copies of her autobiography "As I Am" and chatting to fans!

So todays Funny Friday is focusing on those saucy seaside postcards and naughty jokes to celebrate Summer holidays and the lovely Francoise Pascal

You can buy tickets for the classic movie screening HERE! 

Thursday, 23 May 2013


Shops in high streets across the UK are closing at an ever-increasing rate turning towns and cities into "no-go" areas; ghost towns of boarded-up buildings and empty litter-strewn pavements. Our high streets are the hub of our communities and the beating heart of British society and this decline should not be allowed to continue. Here at the Happy Zone we believe in positive thinking backed up by positive actions and if everyone in the UK pulls together on this, we can turn this depressing decline into an exciting new beginning - a fresh start for towns large and small that had been considered dead and buried.

The Happy Zone has put together this 10 Point Action Plan that we would like every single one of you to share with your friends, families and above all your local councils, shop owners and town planners. Email them, phone them, tweet them, leave messages and comments on their websites and Facebook pages until we get them to listen and take action! 

Let's all get together and make our high streets and town centres go from this... this! We know which picture we prefer! 


  1. Appoint a High Street Ambassador - something that every local council should be doing which we urge you to write/email your council to suggest. A 'High Street Ambassador' would be a full-time position employed by each council to act as a project manager to bring business and footfall back to YOUR high street. Their goals would include making sure that every single empty shop is filled, organising events and festivals and liasing with the local community to see what local people really want to see happening in their high streets.
  2. Town Action Committee - a team of volunteers whose role is to support the High Street Ambassador in all of their aims and goals to bring their high street back to life.
  3. Free Parking! - this is an absolute necessity for most towns in order to generate footfall and compete against the large out-of-town shopping malls. This of course would be up to the council to implement and we understand that this may only be able to happen on weekends and after certain hours midweek - but this has to start happening!!
  4. Pop-Up Shops - if there are so many vacant shops and buildings in town centres then these can be used for temporary 'pop-up' shops selling a variety of goods and fulfilling a variety of needs. They needn't be shops but could be pop-up cinemas, galleries or art installations - anything that makes positive use of an empty space and encourages people to come to your high street.
  5. Events - regular high profile events that involve the entire community and  the wider population outside your town can only be a good thing! Examples include - food festivals, children's carnival, all-night arts festival (where the shops and cafes also open all night), gay pride mardis gras, film festivals, Easter parade, Halloween street party....the list is endless! 
  6. Regular Markets - more and more small towns and communities are hosting farmers markets and vintage craft fairs as these draw in the crowds and attract customers from miles around.
  7. Support Independent Shops - over the last few decades our high streets have become filled with more and more generic chains all selling the same thing and offering nothing new or different to anywhere else - too many Tesco, Sainsburys and other mini-supermarkets that are leaching the life out of our local butchers, newsagents and corner shops. Too many corporate tax avoiders like Starbucks offering watered-down, overpriced "coffee" and disgusting factory-produced muffins. We need to be encouraging vibrant independent coffee and tea shops, gift shops, fashion boutiques, book stores and the like. The towns and cities that are weathering the economic storm the best are those that offer interesting and varied independent shopping destinations like Brighton, Lewes and Whitby. Support your independent shops and you support your local economy, leading to less unemployment and a brighter, more friendly community. 
  8. No Empty Shops & Premises! - we cannot express strongly enough the importance of this. Encourage greedy landlords to let out premises for free for a year to traders who can bring something valuable to the community. Encourage new businesses that are different to anything else in the area. As we've said above, encourage pop-up shops, galleries and community centres - as long as those that occupy the spaces keep them clean, bright, attractive, tidy and respectable they can only lift your high street out of its doldrums!
  9. Community Engagement - get everyone in the local community involved in setting up and attending events - local schools, newspapers, churches, theatres, cinemas, arts groups, libraries, pensioners, youth groups, charities - anyone and everyone who would like to get involved in a positive way.
  10. Publicity! - even if you manage to achieve even half the things in our 10 Point Action Plan you still need to get the word out there by any means necessary to encourage people to come along! Why not set up a High Street website or blog that can keep up a record of your journey as well as publicise your events, new shops etc? Email your local newpapers and 'what's on' magazines, tweet about what you're doing, set up a Facebook page or group, let the Happy Zone know what you're up to, write to The One Show, local celebrities, Mary Portas, local radio...there are so many ways to get publicity these days and you never know who might be willing to step in and help you!

Many of the above ideas and more are already being championed by retail expert Mary Portas, who was commissioned by the Prime Minister David Cameron to lead an independent review into the future of the high street. This has resulted in a funding scheme known as the Portas Pilots, whereby towns can apply for support and funding from the government in order to make positive changes in their high streets. You can visit Mary's website to read more of her ideas and more about the Portas Pilots but we do urge you to watch all three episodes of her Channel Four television show Mary Queen of the High Street while it's still available online to see how these ideas can really work if people just make an effort and work together!

Please add your comments below and let us know about YOUR positive action to boost your local shops and your own high streets. Feel free to email us at using "Save Our High Streets" as your subject line!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


You've all heard of the phenomenally successful Edinburgh and Brighton fringe festivals which take place every year to ever-increasing audiences offering an eclectic mix of theatre, music, cabaret, stand-up comedy and other "non-mainstream" performing arts - well now an exciting new fringe festival is about to launch in the beautiful Surrey town of Guildford! 

Initially the brainchild of award-nominated Musical Director Niall Bailey and Musical Theatre star Nick Wyschna, the Guildford Fringe Festival has now been taken under Nick's wing and is up-and-running from the 1st July, promising a whole month of eclectic entertainment!

Taking inspiration from the Edinburgh Festival, the Guildford Fringe Festival is a celebration of the art. It takes place between 1st and 28th July 2013, on a small scale for its first year with all the events taking place at the Star Inn on Quarry Street in the centre of Guildford.
The Festival will include theatre, cabarets, stand-up, quiz nights, comedy speakers, jazz, debates and musical theatre produced by some of the most up and coming companies around." 
To book tickets for any of the Guildford Fringe Festival events and shows follow this LINK.

Check out the Guildford Fringe Festival website HERE.

Follow Guildford Fringe Theatre Company on TWITTER.

Like Guildford Fringe Theatre Company on FACEBOOK.

Join the Guildford Fringe Festival 2013 on FACEBOOK.

Check out the Guildford Fringe Theatre Company WEBSITE

Monday, 20 May 2013


Something amazing and exciting has happened in an area of Brighton, East Sussex, not renowned for its cultural or artistic ventures apart from the beautiful old Duke of Yorks cinema on Preston Circus. A brand new professional theatre has opened up on London Road, home of the charity shop and boarded up ex-shops! In fact, the whole area seems to be undergoing some sort of regeneration of late; the almost-derelict Open Market is being given a multi-million pound revamp, as are the abandoned old Co-Op department store and The Level, a public green space which is also in the midst of a massive face-lift. Not to mention the brand new ethical supermarket, HiSbe Food, about to open up just down the road.

But I digress...Emporium is a new professional theatre which has opened up on London Road high street in the long-disused old Methodist chapel. They are still in the midst of renovations but have opened up a few months early in order to take part in Brighton's ever-growing fringe festival and the "distressed" look actually works in its favour, giving an edgier feel to the place, particularly effective in a "fringe" context. The main space as you walk in is a relaxed and comfortable tea room selling exquisite cakes and delicious loose-leaf teas. The whole area is very large and spacious and the perfect place to chill either before a show or to just pop into for a gossip during the daytime. 

The entertainment on offer at Emporium is eclectic encompassing theatre, cabaret & chat and various workshops & classes. During Brighton Fringe, the wonderful Fake Bush, an inspired Kate Bush comic tribute, makes her triumphant return to Brighton after almost two years away from these parts. There are also shows from international soprano Miranda Keys, The Speakeasy Three, an all-singing, all-dancing performance group and later in the year Emporium will be a partner venue for Brighton Pride's first Film & Arts Festival

So whether you want to attend an all-day creative workshop, share an evening of cabaret and fine dining or just want to relax over tea and cake one morning while out shopping, pop into Emporium on London Road...I can guarantee you'll be back for more! 

For booking information check out the Emporium website HERE.

Follow Emporium on Twitter.

Like Emporium on Facebook.

Sunday, 5 May 2013


If you love tea and cakes then you will really love one of the newest additions to Brighton's burgeoning independent tea shop community - B & R on Trafalgar Street in the North Laines. It's only been running for a little over six months but already B & R is gaining a reputation via word-of-mouth as one of the best independent cafes in Brighton perfectly situated on a corner just a few doors up from The Great Eastern pub and overlooking a pretty residential garden on the opposite side of the street. 

The atmosphere is calm and inviting with chilled-out jazz playing quietly in the background, big spacious windows so that you can watch the world go by and a marvelous selection of loose-leaf teas. But the biggest draw for me is the delicious array of absolutely gorgeous home-made cakes including the best Chocolate Guinness Cake I've ever tasted! I cannot recommend this highly enough to all you cake connoisseurs out there - if you're not a local, it's worth a trip to Brighton just for B & R's cakes! 

So far they've been keeping it old school but a little bird tells us that B & R will soon be entering the digital age with a website and Facebook page so that they can stay in touch with their customers and keep them up-to-date with any new cakes, teas and special events! Watch this space....

Friday, 3 May 2013


It's a lovely sunny Friday so here at the Happy Zone we thought we'd share a couple of Twitter Funnies with you all to brighten your day even more! Have a great weekend!