It’s fair to say I am a cinema passionista! I adore everything about going to the cinema and the more old skool, the better!
Occasionally, I will visit an enormous multi-screen but it usually leaves me penniless and feeling a bit empty. Okay, so the plush seats recline and you can eat and drink like a giant, but for me, I prefer a more eclectic experience.
In my teens I visited friends in Cyprus and on the Friday evening we all piled into the local cinema where the only place left to sit was in the aisle. This was considered perfectly acceptable. It was a haphazard place and the atmosphere was electric as we all waited for the film to start. People chattered all through the film and somehow this added to the laissez faire ambiance.
I have never needed a film buddy to enjoy the cinema (although it is always nice to have company) and don’t feel uncomfortable about watching films on my own. As a student and an au pair, I kept unusual hours and would often fill spare time in London and Paris in little side street cinemas that showed films I was desperate to see but had very little exposure.
I am always on the look out for cinemas which offer something different and feel that the UK has a terrific offering. For a long time, the Abbeygate Cinema in Bury St Edmunds was my local cinema and I can remember watching ‘Brief Encounter‘ there with the local vicar! It was one of the first places I had been to where you were offered a glass of wine (in an actual wine glass!) and a slice of homemade carrot cake!
Prior to this, I would visit the Duke of Yorks Picturehouse in Brighton. It is where I saw ‘Amelie‘ for the first time – the film that really introduced me to foreign film. It is still amongst my favourite films, along with ‘Little White Lies’, ‘Life is Beautiful’ and ‘Cinema Paradiso’.
I am a real ambassador of the Picturehouse group as they are so inclusive and even have ‘Big Scream’ viewings, so that parents with very young children still get to have an afternoon at the pictures without having to compromise on the film choice! They also have a Silver Screen club for over 60s, a kids club, Vintage Sundays, autism-friendly screenings and double bills.
I was lucky enough that when I lived in Lytham, recently, there was a wonderful cinema on the beach called the Island Cinema. I spent hours there as it only cost £3 to watch a film! My friend Nicole and I would make it a weekly event as she would collect me en route in her Mini Cooper. We would cry together watching ‘The Book Thief’ and gasp at Leonardo’s performance in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. I also like the fact that you can buy the old film posters, a great treat for enthusiasts.
A cinema that I was fortunate to go to a couple of months ago, was the Electric at Portobello Road. It had been on my wishlist for a long time and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Its small frontage hides the most magnificent cinema. There is a stylish bar where you can order posh burgers and champagne and you have the option of a sofa or cosy armchair with foot stool (which houses a blanket for your legs!). I have never seen so many people taking photos prior to the film starting. The whole audience were really excited to be there and it really is worth a visit.
Last weekend I travelled to Woodhall Spa as I had heard that the ‘Kinema in the Woods‘ was a great day out (via @MrsHound thank you for the top tip!). It was truly magical. As you travel through the woods you come across the alpine lodge cinema and as you step inside you are transported back in time.
The red foyer welcomes you with film memorabilia including a Dr Who dalek and there is a piano in the movie theatre, which I assume must get played before some showings. I was quite taken aback when half way through the film there was an interval and this absolutely added to the authenticity of the cinema.
This summer I plan to visit the Melton Mowbray Regal as it has come highly recommended (thank you Sarah at Stamford Beauty)…
…the Electric Picture Palace at Southwold, where apparently ‘God Save the Queen’ is played before the film…
…the Pillow Cinema, the ‘cosiest cinema experience this side of a fluffy cloud’ located in a former tube station and where you can take along your own pillow (BYOP – no pillow, no entry!) – as recommended by my friend Grace (the best hairdresser EVER!)…
…and the Burghley Film Festival, for a combination of great film, a magnificent setting and a picnic!
Are you a film buff? Do you seek out secret cinemas too?! Share the cinema love with your brilliant discoveries…after all, sharing is caring!