Since the UK is only about the size of the New England area, it’s easy to take day trips to numerous beautiful towns around the country. On a chilly weekend in early November, Kecia, her flatmates Abby and Caris, and I took a train about an hour south to Brighton, a lively city on the English Channel. Brighton is known for its rocky beaches, its trendy cultural scene, and its old-fashioned pier.
The train station is about a twenty minute walk or so from the beach, so we got to get a close look at the city-centre. More leisurely of course than bustling London, Brighton has a long history of being a resort town for the wealthy and the nobility. The city features a healthy portion of street art…
and bicyclists. It’s basically hipster central.
One of the city’s biggest draws is the 19th century palace known as the Royal Pavilion. It features common Indian themes of the time.
Finished in 1823, the Pavilion had been a popular resort destination for royalty up until Queen Victoria sold the property to Brighton in 1850. Since then, the Pavilion has been a beacon of Brighton’s seaside tourist culture. We walked right by it on our way through the city, but we didn’t go inside because it was a bit pricey. It was really impressive on the outside though!
Heading towards the beach, we started seeing really old cars pass by here and there. Then, a few more would come by in pairs before even more would bumble on past us. Little did we know that that particular day just so happened to be the final day of a customary vintage car ‘race’ from London to Brighton. The cars were not going very fast of course, but it was a lot of fun to watch them come down the final stretch to the finish line. My Grandpa Richard would have loved to be there, as the combination of the sounds of the early cars and the personalities of the racers made this a truly memorable experience. I was especially thankful for his part in helping me get to the UK that day. The racers were all really cool people, and they were very glad to see the spectator turnout at the finish line.
That was a really cool thing to experience, and it was incredibly lucky that we were exactly where the finish line was on the exact day of the event. Seriously, what are the odds?!
We made it down to the beach and found a nice spot to relax and enjoy the ocean, although there weren’t many people there, so we had plenty of spots to choose from.
When they say that Brighton beach is rocky, no one is joking. It’s so rocky, I swear I heard “Eye of the Tiger” coming from the waves. Sorry, I couldn’t help it…
The city was really pretty down by the beach with all of the white buildings glimmering in the sun.
One thing we were strongly advised to try was Brighton Rock. It’s a stick shaped candy, multicoloured, and surprisingly chewy (because of the name), about the consistency of a sticky, chalky Now-and-Later.
They’re probably around 10 inches long and about an inch in diameter, and they come in countless flavours. Some of the more interesting flavours were humbug and black jack. The latter of course is supposedly just like the chewing gum of the same name, so I didn’t dare mess with them. The humbug ones were unlike anything else, and even the shopkeeper didn’t know how to describe it without saying that it’s just humbug flavoured. I really liked the banana one I picked out for myself.
There’s Kecia in teal sitting with Abby and Caris standing just behind them. I think this was right before I decided it would be a great idea to take a little waltz into the water. BAD IDEA.
I know now how cold the English Channel is in November. I think it froze most of my leg hair off from about mid-calf and below, but at least I can say I did it!
Here’s Brighton Pier from a little ways down the beach. Apparently, it’s Grade II listed, so it’s protected as a structure of historical significance. There was a second one called the West Pier, but it was severely damaged by fire in 2003, after closing nearly thirty years earlier, and subsequently demolished. Brighton Pier features both an arcade and an amusement park. There’s also this…
it’s Zoltar, the fortune-telling machine similar to the one from the movie Big. Sorry about the glare!
This warning was just inside the arcade.
The pier was positively humming with activity come sunset. On the pier, Abby got a ‘small’ cotton candy, known as candy floss in the UK, and it was freaking huge! You can find a pic here on Abby’s blog. It’s at the very bottom of the October gallery.
The seagulls were even more ignorant and gutsy than usual…
And there was no escape from them!
You can see some of the amusement park rides at the far end of the pier. The large building with the dome in the middle is the arcade.
Overall, Brighton was a fun little day trip and a very nice way to let out some steam during break week! It was fun and relaxing, and it was yet another exciting adventure to a new place. There will be more! Same bat time, same bat channel. See yinz next Saturday!