In Reviews

It’s oh-fish-al! Homeward Bound was a fin-tastic sea-themed weekend festival of music, food and culture – a shell-abration of the fishing and maritime industries with a selection of different events over the two days in many plaices across The Living Coast (Brighton & Hove sits within this area.) ‘What’s the Living Coast?’ I hear you ask, well, let’s sea – it’s a UNESCO World Biosphere Region. So that clears that up nicely. Any further questions? Ah, yes – UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) biospheres are areas with significant natural value, created to help us learn how to balance what people and nature need to flourish. Think Miss World beauty pageant contestant whose special talent is working as a (bream?) team, building beaver dams, using BTN Bike Share bikes across the South Downs, going on foraging classes with Brighton & Hove Food Partnership at Stamner Park but, above-all, she wants harmony and world peace…and will do anything for the Crown (and Anchor pub in Shoreham-by-Sea?)

Talking about beauty – one of the experiences included in Homeward Bound was spotting The Sussex Siren making an appearance at one of the brightest drinking establishments in Brighton - the Hand in Hand pub. She’s a golden, sparkly mermaid, also nicknamed ‘Goldie Prawn’ whose ‘land life’ includes burlesque performances as her alter-ego, retro goddess ‘Cherry Shakewell’ often caught shaking her stuff at Proud Cabaret in Kemp Town.

Smuggling is a huge part of Brighton’s history. Smugglers Tunnels run beneath the city, including the Old Ship Hotel on the seafront, but they had the good grace and forward-thinking to turn the tunnel into private dining room and intimate so-fish-ticated cocktail bar. Cheers! It’s appreciated! The oldest hotel in Brighton hosted a lovely ‘Smuggling Dinner’ including a cockle-warmer of rum, 3-course meal, wine and smuggling experience.

Photo of sea shanty band in Brighton

If you used your shell-like and heard a comm-ocean at the Fishing Museum it wasn’t a bad coral (quarrel – does that work or are you sick and tide of these beach puns?) that was the City Shanty Band. Led by festival curator Zack Mckraken ‘Son of sea beast’ who runs Homeward Bound Shanties, offering regular shanty experiences for private groups and businesses. I’ve had the pleasure of watching them perform several times and they always make me grin and, for some reason, join in too! The Wellington Wailers are also a fantastic Shoreham-by-Sea based shanty band who performed on the Saturday night. Sea shanties were motivational work songs specifically written to keep sailors pullin' and rowin' in their various tasks. They were sung to keep spirits high – we’re assuming that’s the rum.

Rottingdean – rotten name, stunning place. Perfect for a spot of rock pooling at low tide.  This was the location of The Smugglers Play – which went swimmingly. A beautiful large scale puppet theatre show created by artists Sugg & Davidson and performed by Touched Theatre tells the story of a Rottingdean Smuggler life. 

Do you seafood and eat food? Then maybe you’ve heard of Brighton Food Tours? Award-winning walking tours of the city with a passion for all things food & drink & (most importantly) independent. An easy way to boost your vitamin-sea (or Omega-3) would be on their Oyster and Seafood tour – 3 hours of seafood celebration with a sprinkling of local history and, on this occasion, more than a sprinkling of rain.

Ever a fan of the weird and wonderful, and wanting to stay current, I signed my family up to the (free!) Mackerel Lantern Making Workshop – funded by the Interreg BioCultural Heritage Tourism Project. Arriving at the ‘Fishing Quarter Gallery’ on the seafront we were welcomed by Paul Render from ‘Render and Make’ (great name for a creative) dressed as a fishwife in his headscarf and shawl. That’s amore (eel). He even arranged for a yellow weather warning so we would truly feel like authentic fisher-folk. THAT’s the attention to detail that I like. At no point did we not feel wet.

My seven-year-old twins have the combined attention span of a goldfish, so it soon emerged that my husband and I were going to be the ones making the lanterns. It took an interesting turn (pike) as we got a teeny tiny bit competitive over whose was best (mine). Which resulted in him losing an eye. (The mackerel – not my husband.)

Other organisations taking part in the Homeward Bound Festival were:

That’s a lot - it’s getting out of sand. Let minnow if I’ve missed any!

What is this blog post a-boat anyway?

The Living Coast (Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve) is one shell of a place – it embraces the wonderfully diverse stretch of the chalky south downs and the Sussex Coast between the River Adur at Shoreham-by-Sea and the River Ouse at Newhaven. We have something a bit unique here – a compact city sandwiched between the sea and the South Downs. They partnered up with VisitBrighton in a 3-year EU Interreg-funded project on Biocultural Heritage Tourism with a focus on responsible and experiential tourism. Sea for yourself at:

Before I wave goodbye! I’m going to finish with my favorite sea-related joke.

Cod this be any punnier?

Are you ready?

Shell yeah!

Here we go:

  • What do you call a penguin on the beach?


  • The Homeward Bound Festival was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund

Image of three logos


Homeward Bound!
Homeward Bound! - Zachary on stage

Homeward Bound is an hour long sea shanty learning experience either on land or out at sea, where you get to dress up like sailors, don a fake tattoo (if you still need one!) sip an optional cockle warmer of rum and gather in the round and belt your primal hearts out to a genuine traditional fun and easy sailor work song!



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