Brighton up

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Another treat of a weekend away, this time in Brighton. I don’t know that much about Brighton, nor do I have any particular ties to the place. But with plenty more visits to Hove (actually) on the horizon, I can envisage myself becoming quite attached.

There’s something rather melancholy about old English seaside towns – as if they’ve turned to ashes settling around their former glory. In fact, Brighton Pier and Brighton Pavilion are both victims of fire damage (although there’s some kind of arson / naming scandal concerning the Pier that escapes me). But refurbishment and development projects (not least the new Brighton and Hove Albion superstadium) give Brighton a sense of regeneration. Throw in a contemporary city centre and a bunch of bohemian businesses and you get yourself a rather unique (and delightful) town.

Friday night saw Graham and I journey to stay with friends Scott and Emma in Kemp Town. Their flat is lovely: very cosy and colourful. We headed to their local (literally, a one-minute-walk-away local) and nattered away until last orders.

Saturday, and a refreshing walk along the seafront succeeded in slapping some life into me. There’s something about sucking in salt air (especially when it’s such a novelty to a city girl like myself) and going “Ooooh” at the sea. That’s twice in a short succession I’ve been treated to a coastal walk (Wales a couple of weekends ago), and I’m becoming rather partial to it.

In the same way that Wales was an excuse to stumble down my university memory lane, Brighton was an excuse for Graham to jaunt down his. Ever the informative guide, I would’ve been lost in Brighton without him (literally lost; I have all the spatial awareness of a goldfish).

Brunch was at a place called Bill’s, right next to a bar we had visited previously for Scott’s birthday drinks. Enter through the farmer’s market-style entrance, and you come into a bustling café with fresh produce and cheerful colourful decorations (did I mention that Brighton is a fan of the rainbow?!). After what can only be described as some of the best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever tasted, we made our way through Brighton’s famous Laines (mysteriously spelled both ‘Laines’ and ‘Lanes’), weaving in and out of jewellery and food stalls, trendy t-shirt shops (Graham’s paradise) and a few high street delights for me.

Then it was drinks with Jason, a work colleague of Graham’s, before heading over to the old Brighton and Hove Albion stadium. OK, so the Emirates it ain’t (massively unfair comparison there), but needless to say I was relieved that although it was rather cold, it wasn’t raining. Only 50% of the stands are covered, and we were rammed into a roofless porta-stand behind an athletics track. Still, I’m enough of a football fan to appreciate the game, and felt lucky to be part of the club’s history; this was one of its last home games before it moves across to its shiny new home on the way out to Lewes.

A Seagulls victory (4-1) put Graham in a good mood – almost dampened by a slight altercation with a steroid-pumped Neanderthal driver who thought it would be appropriate to block a line of buses by just hopping out of his car while the traffic (and bus commuters) looked on. Good on Graham for at least saying something to his face.

Back to Scott and Emma’s flat for a quick change, before some swish drinks at the Royal Albion Hotel to celebrate Shireen and Ian’s 25th wedding anniversary. Most of Graham’s family (and partners) were in attendance, and it was an undeniably great evening – made all the better by an outstanding meal at The House Restaurant. When I say outstanding, I mean I felt like I wanted to give it ten Come Dine With Me marks out of ten.

A saddening work schedule meant an early exit back to London on Sunday, but at least we were back in time for the 14th. Not going to elaborate, but needless to say, the boy done good.

With the prospect of Birmingham this weekend, it’s safe to say that an entire London weekend is a bit of a rarity at the moment. Long may it continue.

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