I didn’t know quite what to expect from Brighton.
My whole reason for going was that a couple of people had told me I would love the atmosphere down there, so I reserved a few days of the itinerary for this town at the bottom of England.
As I’ve mentioned before I’ve always felt an intense pull towards the ocean, like it’s somehow part of my psyche.
There are so many places I’ve enjoyed exploring inland – mountains, cities, forests, villages – but eventually there’s this intrinsic need to gravitate towards the coast.
The need for salt and surf and bracing ocean air.
It didn’t matter that during my first impression of Brighton it was intermittently drizzling, that sky and sea were a hundred shades of grey and that we were almost bent double in semi typhoons along the top of the promenade – I immediately understood why people said I would love it.
As an Australian, the idea of having a fairground built out upon a pier into the sea is just totally foreign.
On that day, the main pier extended out into the swirling storm of the ocean and from a distance was almost completely shrouded in sea mist.
It was quite early in the morning and standing on the shore, seeing the faded colours through the rain and watching its slender wooden frame almost engulfed by the elements was quite haunting; like a deserted, long forgotten fairground on the edge of the world.
Further west are the bare iron remains of the old pier, the grand skeleton of a Victorian marvel upon which Charlie Chaplin once performed.
I walked right out to the foaming shoreline to capture some photos (a lot of which were obliterated by sea spray on my lens – so very authentic reminders of the experience!).
Mum caught this of me walking back through the rain.
By now some of you may be thinking, ‘God lord, she must be mad to have enjoyed THAT!’ and whilst I will admit it was surreal holidaying in a seaside town during ‘summer’ with stormy seas and cyclonic wind speeds, the sun at least made an appearance in the afternoons and well into the evenings.
The pier did come to life eventually, the rides lighting up and that quintessential fairground music piped out over all. Stalls selling rainbow-coloured candy, fairy floss, fish and chips and doughnuts were crowded with students and foreign tour groups.
Rem bought a bag of freshly cooked doughnuts and we watched as the batter rings were piped into the hot oil, making their way through the mechanical flipping arms to ensure perfect cooking on each side. Finally, he was presented with a paper bag of hot, crispy, sugarcoated goodness… heaven!
Happily, Brighton has a wonderful selection of places to eat and I was especially surprised by the variety of international cuisines on offer.
One of the most memorable meals I ate was a dish of linguini alle vongole from Casalingo, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Preston Street. Full of garlic, chilli and golden olive oil, it made the most of a sample of the local seafood.
Before signing off, I just wanted to leave you with a splash of colour.
The park across the road from our B&B was putting on a show with some absolutely beautiful foxglove flowers and they looked particularly striking with pearls of raindrops after the frequent showers…