I recently spent a weekend in Brighton, on England’s south coast. It is a favourite place of mine to go for a weekend away, I would throughly recommend it to anyone reading this.
Situated on the East Sussex coast, an hour by train from London, Brighton has the vibe of both bustling city and relaxing seaside town. Many other words can be used to describe it, such as; atmospheric, cool, picturesque, bohemian, unique, accepting, diverse, exciting, stylish, interesting, fun, quirky and arty. Where else, for instance, would you find a shop selling vegetarian shoes, an eccentric royal pavilion, an opera themed restaurant complete with a live opera singer and Volks, the oldest working electric railway track, which runs a short distance along the seafront. There is so much I could write about Brighton itself, but for this post I am going to stick to my favourite part, which is the amazing seafront.
Before I write about the seafront I feel I need to do a mini review of the restaurant mentioned above. Little Bay is a brilliant place to eat out if you are looking for something a bit different with amazing food. Looking out to sea, the plain red exterior shows no sign of what you will find inside. The entire venue is decorated to make you feel you at an opera. Downstairs there are large group tables, but if it’s a table for two you need there are tables upstairs which really make you feel you have your own box at an opera. It’s such a fun place to be, you need to experience it!
The food itself is very affordable, desserts for instance are just over £2.00! (the desserts at my local pub are about £6.00!!). I ordered garlic mushrooms for starter, duck with spiced red cabbage then the cheese board for dessert. The duck was really tasty and the spiced red cabbage was GORGEOUS, but incredibly spicy, so be warned! I could have eaten more of it! And yes, as advertised, an opera singer was in attendance from 8.30 pm. Eating amazing food, whilst entertained by a wandering opera singer, made for a great evening out!
Back to the seafront, which is where I tend to spend most of my time when I visit Brighton. I’m instantly drawn to it but also find it hard to leave!
Up until 1750 Brighton was seen as dilapidated, depressed and not worth rebuilding. In 1750 a physician in Lewes (a short train ride from Brighton) wrote a paper suggesting that bathing in sea water could cure most ‘human ills’, whiten teeth, clear the head and was good for the bowels! The papers became highly influential and Brighton’s townsfolk saw an opportunity to make money from the sea. Brighton, especially its seafront, became very popular. Bathing machines, or huts on wheels pulled by horses, became a regular site and many in number. You can read more about this in a lovely little book called ‘The Neat and Nippy Guide to Brighton’s History’
These days Brighton seafront is a mixture of art, sporty pursuits, souvenir shops and many bars. Although there is a very busy main road running alongside the seafront the atmosphere is still one of a relaxed, fun nature. I love to sit down by the beach, take in the atmosphere, great views and people watch.
Brighton is also known as the ‘gay capital of England’ which makes the mix of people so varied. It has a feeling of people just being able to be themselves whatever their style, sexuality, age or interests. I think its diversity is the thing I love the most about Brighton.
The iconic piers are a talking point. The West Pier is now just a shell of what it used to be. In 2002 part of it collapsed in a storm, in 2003 more of it was destroyed in an arson attack. There is no funding available to restore it but the remaining shell is an iconic sight, it is made even more iconic at dusk when starlings can be seen circling around it. They are an awesome sight and one of the things I most remember about my first ever visit. If you’d like to see the starlings there are a few videos on youtube, I have added one to the bottom of this post. Brighton Pier is now the main pier and exactly what you’d expect a pier to be like, it’s fun and brash and makes a lovely walk. The two piers are opposites in every way but the two of them together are an impressive sight.
A new seafront feature is a big wheel, which is worth travelling on for the amazing views. You also get a history of Brighton as you go round, told by the comedian Steve Coogan! It is very interesting but the ride includes several rotations, which means you get to hear the same history a few times!
There is so much more I could write but I feel this post is probably long enough as it is! So, I will leave you with the video of the starlings. Enjoy!