Day trip from London on May 2016
Yes, I am a massive Queen fan, yet after 5 and a half years living in Britain, I was yet to go and see the town … Until Sunday, that is. Having decided to stay in London for the bank holiday, we decided to get away for the day somewhere close by. We tubed it to London Bridge, battled the crowd to get in the train in platform 11 (get there early, as it is the same train that serves the Gatwick line) and suddenly we were on our way.
We were lucky to get 2 seats, although I am not so sure that we felt so lucky when the posh student in front of us kept on talking on the phone to her best friend (Abby), about her “amazing night out” in which “she had so much fun getting drunk” as she “totally wrecked everyone’s pictures” when she “kept on getting in the photo booth all the time”. Don’t worry though “it was ok” as she “made a lot of friends”. Despite that she asked her friend (Abby) to “look out for anyone giving out about her in pictures on Facebook”. To her credit, she did say “I totally hate myself when I am drunk” before she arranged to meet up next week for a drink or two.
Ok, enough about the posh student with no regard for herself, her surroundings or her phone (which she “totally smashed again – last time my parents had to post it to Thailand to get it fixed”).
Brighton is a seaside resort located merely an hour away from the hustle and bustle of London Town and it’s where Londoners go to escape the rat race to be met with a town with a very strong “laisser faire” attitude… Well that’s what I had always heard. As we stepped off the crammed train, we could see the masses going towards the sea and of course we followed.
As we got to the sea, I realised that this is not what I had expected. The seafront was being worked on, the promenade in front of the beach was extremely busy and, frankly, a bit tacky, and the pier looked like it would have been the most amazing thing ever … in the 60s. And as I started walking through it, I realised that Brighton’s seafront had become a victim of its own success: it now screams “tourist” anywhere you go. I think I only saw 1 or 2 little posts selling oysters (from Ireland!) or penny winkles and that was sort of it.
After spending some time by the sea and having gone through the pier (governed by both a fun fair and a massive amusement arcade), we decided to go and find somewhere for lunch. This is where we found the first signs of glory in Brighton: there are multiple, small, excellent restaurants. We were turned away from 3, (they were full), before we could get a table anywhere! If you go, make sure you reserve a spot for lunch or dinner in advance!
During our search, we went through what’s known as “The Lanes”, small snaky alleys that are the best thing in Brighton. They host small jewellery shops, tea shops, cafés… They are gorgeous. They reminded me a bit of the ones in York and they were beautiful. I have no idea how old Brighton is, but the lanes looked more than just a couple of hundred years old, they were so narrow. Situated just 5-10 minutes’ walk from the pebbly beach, yet they had few tourists in them – score!
Last stop before heading back to London was the Royal Pavilion and its gardens. We got there on the Sunday of the second May bank holiday, which is at the end of the month and of course coincides with Memorial weekend. This is a weekend of reflection, in which we should take time to remember those that fell during the Second World War while defending their countries. My country and my husband’s were neutral during the conflict (thank God) but living in the UK we can see just how much this is observed. Just outside the pavilion, there was a military celebration with a rather big audience. It was merely a speech, but a powerful one too, about how we should not forget what happened to ensure it does not happen again.
The Pavilion started being built in the late 1700s by George IV, who aside from liking Brighton, was prescribed to go to the seaside because he suffered from gout. He also had a lover, which mean that he needed the extra privacy, so the fact that Brighton was not connected to London at the time, made the town the perfect place to be. He slowly started to work on a building that got extended over the years and that changed to its current Indian style.
By the mid-19th century, Queen Victoria was in power and London got connected to Brighton by rail. The Queen, who was very private, did not like Brighton and I guess all those Londoners visiting all the time did not help either. The fact of the matter is that she ended up moving her summer residency and the building was sold… To the town of Brighton! Since then, the building has had different uses (it was a hospital in the First World War and today it’s a tourist attraction that you can visit) but has always been maintained by the town. Its beautiful gardens offer solace to those that try and get away from the sun or trying to gain some peace and quiet from the loud beach goers. There were street entertainers, lovers cooing over a picnic, families playing… It was all bucolic, really.
And that was Brighton for me – a place to escape the madness of London for a couple of hours, a place to enjoy some sun and some lovely fair over a glass of something… I love day trips!
Have you been to Brighton? What did you think?
See you next week