A trip to the seaside, though not the familiar Hastings, or even Dover, but the vibrant Brighton. The may not seem to be an ideal time to be heading to the coast but things were actually bright and warm as we headed off on the complicated rail journey (three trains and a walk between stations—why do we always seem to hit the engineering works?) down to the seaside.
Having eventually reached Brighton we found our way out of the station and did what all good tourists do, stopped off in a pub to recover; in this case the uninspiring Queen’s Head. From there it was a stroll down the hill with the sea in front of us and along to the pleasant enough hotel.
Settled in we headed out and down the last remaining bit of hill to the sea itself. There on the shoreline, visible from seemingly everywhere around, stands Brighton’s latest attraction. a tall, slim column with a doughnut sliding up and down. It’s the British Airways i360, the donut It’s historically doughnut but I’m going to use donut interchangeably because I’m lazy like that acting as an observation platform. It really takes its name of “British Airways” i360 to heart as well, the staff dressing in aircrew style uniforms and security to actually get on the thing more akin to an airport than seaside attraction. Once inside the capsule forms a complete circle, curved glass running completely around (though unfortunately without a section in the floor to look straight down). There’s also an overpriced and limited bar. The flight (yes, it really is referred to as such) takes an age to slowly climb up the central column, Brighton being gradually laid out below. While offering a nice view over the town and surrounding country the coastal location does of course mean that about half the view is actually out over a pretty featureless sea (the remains of the old west pier stick up like the bones of some giant sea creature just off shore below, and it’s claimed the Isle of Wight can be seen on a good day, but still). The curvature of the glass also makes it pretty difficult to get a decent photo even if one can fight through the crowd to an unobstructed view. The effect of the slow climb and 50% view is that the top is a bit anti-climatic and, to be honest, quickly boring. Perhaps that’s why the climb down seems to come fairly quickly, the entire experience taking about half an hour. After the obligatory browse of the gift shop it was out and away, along the seaside.
It’s obvious strolling around Brighton’s beach area that it’s undergoing some redevelopment; it’s also obvious that it probably needs it (even taking account of this being out of season by now). Still, the building works seem to be leading to modernised areas, with interesting sculptures and quirky little shops. To Heather’s delight the shore front carousel was still in place, which meant of course she had to have a ride.
We made it as far along as Brighton’s second, still standing, pier arriving as it was beginning to light up in the fading light. Beyond that we found the under renovation Volks Electric Railway and a zip wire. Thoughts were beginning to turn to food though and so we headed inland. The pubs were surprisingly busy given the time of year, even for a weekend, but we managed to squeeze into the Pump House. Food though had to wait until we wandered back towards the now rather windier and wetter seafront. We decided that as we were at the seaside fish and chips would be in order, so stopped off at Buddies, who promptly failed to meet any sort of standard for good fish and chips, never mind ones by the sea (their website also makes them look much grander than we found them).
A pit stop at the hotel was called for before heading further into the night. There was a stop at The Quadrant (remembered from years ago), which had a bit of an over-friendly bouncer. Looking for somewhere to go Heather found The White Rabbit (which fits in nicely with our love of Alice). Once we’d taken our time admiring the wall art in the area we found the Rabbit to be a wonderful venue; loud and partying in the best way. We hung around and relaxed for a while before supposedly heading for bed.
We were interrupted however by the presence of further pubs. To be honest things get a bit blurry about then. There was a bar, and The Walrus which given the earlier pub we just had to go in. Eventually we did stumble to bed!
Having seen some of the art in the darkness the day before we decided to start the day off by heading up to North Street for a better look at the graffiti. Rather than being a sign of decay or detraction the brightly coloured artwork adds to the vibrancy of the narrow streets with their lively store fronts. One lane behind houses was an entire array of artwork, beginning with a giant Wonder Woman piece and taking in various portraits and robots. Just down from there a Tidy Street (which we felt must be said with a Welsh accent) offered some fluffy clouds. Everywhere in the area is another delight, from meerkats to a mosaic of dogs. There was even a chance to come across a Brighton snowdog! Amoung the little shops and market like stores one warehouse of a place drew us in. Snooper’s Paradise is a warren of little display cases with every retro, antique and just plain weird item imaginable. The place is also seemingly huge (there’s an entire upstairs we never made it to); We wandered in some sort of bizarre fascination at the sheer range of stuff on offer, wondering at times if we would ever leave. We did make our way out eventually though, and recovered in The Fountain Head.
Recharged we made our way over to the Royal Pavilion, a riot of Eastern architecture resplendent with domes, minarets and twiddly bits. There I left Heather to go and explore the interior while I killed time and wandered some more of Brighton. After a quick stop back at the hotel I walked the rather damp coastline, stopping off at the Tempest Inn along the way. A bit of a wander around the very narrow and confusingly connected Lanes followed, but I found my way out in time to make it to the massive Ye Olde King & Queen which turned out to be an excellent venue to watch the football. Having finished her exploration of the pavilion Heather joined me there part way through the game and after the match we set off reunited to find some dinner. That turned out to be in the delightful Zafferelli, with good Italian food.
After dinner we decided to take a walk along the cliff tops to the distant marina. Though there was purpose to our decision it began to look unwise as the marina never seemed to get closer however far we walked through the darkness. Eventually though we did find ourselves crossing a deserted supermarket car park and finding our destination. Globalls offers glow-in-the-dark dinosaur themed crazy golf. What is not to like! The course may be short but it was very enjoyable, making that walk along worthwhile. Afterwards we hung around the nearby pub (one of the few things still open) until there was a bus to save us the walk back to the hotel.
The next morning we decided to have a proper, daytime, look around the Lanes. The streets (if they can be called that) are certainly quirky but to be honest they don’t seem to have the shops to match, unless one wants very expensive jewellery. There is the over the top Choccy Woccy Doodah and a shop selling ducks but it seems a bit of a missed opportunity to be more touristy. From there we found the Old Steine Gardens, which were pleasant to have a rest in, dominated by a large fountain supported by disturbing dolphin sculptures.
Just beyond the gardens sits the seaside and the pier. We walked down the pier before stopping to enjoy the sun in the bar (sitting in glowing sunshine on a pier is one of life’s pleasures). The pier also had another carousel for Heather to enjoy. From there we were supposed to go and find somewhere nice for lunch. However, we ended up panicking a bit and so found ourselves in Wetherspoons (well, there always has to be a visit to ‘Spoons I suppose).
Onwards we went back to the seaside. I led Heather up Middle Street to look at the artwork I’d enjoyed there when wandering by myself the day before. We didn’t have much time of the day left though, as we had to head back to the hotel to get ready for the evening.
Of course woman tend to take longer to get ready than men so I went and awaited Heather in the nearby Prince of Wales, which probably wasn’t the nicest pub I could have picked. It was onwards though to the peculiar venue of the Brighton Centre. It’s a cavernous and echoing place which feels more suited to the sort of political party conference it had just hosted than as a music venue. It was for live music we were there though, with The Libertines.
Support came from the Dead Cuts (who we didn’t really see), Lucie Barat (who at least proved she wasn’t on the bill just because she’s Carl’s sister), and the fairly forgettable Yonaka (there was also an awful magician in there somewhere, of all things, who wasn’t aided by plucking someone out of the audience who barely spoke English). We were there for The Libertines though and they didn’t disappoint, putting away any thoughts of who the support had been anyway.
was a bright and sharp morning as we left bags at the hotel and headed the “other way” around along to the coast to take in the bandstand, peculiarly raised up to promenade level above the beach. We followed the coast again, past the towering i360, and the little lonely shops to the pier once more. We carried on going, following the route of the Volks railway. The walk seems a bit lonely, the long arched terrace beneath the road above obviously neglected (complete with signs begging to help save it). It did however lead to the most wonderful crazy golf course—complete with a nice cafe with elevated seating area where it was lovely to stop and have a drink and some food before hitting the tee. Jungle Rumble is two eighteen hole courses, one of which takes to the heights—the only course I’ve played where knocking the ball down a flight of stairs is a legitimate shot. Fantastic!
The end of the golf was really the end of the holiday though, even if it was a wonderful way to finish. Once we’d laughed our way around the courses we headed back to town, with just enough time to stop at the distinctly average Font for some food before collecting bags and heading home.
There were, inevitably, many more pretty pictures