I love Brighton. I like reaching the end of the trainline from London Victoria and stepping onto Brighton station. The energy of the city hits you immediately. I like dodging people down Queens Road, head straight on and you’re at the pebble front sea. Even on a grey day there is plenty of free things to do, pebble skimming, a visit to the Brighton Fishing Museum and for smaller children a trip to the West Pier Play area.
In the summer time the beach is chocka, full of holiday makers and day trippers enjoying the sunshine. Children riding the carousel, families browsing the local artists galleries under the arches and groups of friends having drinks or food in the seafront bars and restaurants. I remember arriving by coach thirteen years ago, heading straight for the seafront and spending half an hour people watching. I saw a young woman in a colourful skirt and shoes casually strolling past the seafront volleyball and basketball courts, she looked cool and creative.Take care of the gulls though, some are the size of small dogs and see no harm in snatching food from small children’s hands.
Brighton is a fantastic place for people watching. On a warm day take a seat outside the award winning, glass fronted Jubilee Library and watch the world go by, trendy mums and dads on their way to Baby Boogie, a free music session for babies and toddlers, and people passing through to go to the Prince Regent Leisure Centre for a swim. I worked in homeless services for a number of years. There are many wealthy people who live in the city, many who just about get by and those for whom the city does not offer a lot. Many people arrive into Brighton and Hove hoping to settle but the cost of living is expensive. The typical rent for a two bedroom apartment starts at around £800 per calender month.
Take a left from the train station, head down the hill and you are in the North Laines. Discover Infinity Foods, a thriving workers co-operative providing an extensive range of vegetarian food, much of it organic. There are plenty of cafes and pubs dotted around the North Laines and lots of lovely independent shops stocking anything from art, designer clothing, childrens toys to designer eyewear and comics. I really like Tribeca, a lovely boutique stocking labels like Isabel Marant Etoile and Spring Court trainers. I always have a peek in Nola, another boutique selling designer womenswear, labels like YMC, APC, Ganni and American Vintage.
Head a little closer to the beach and gawp in the window of Choccywoccydoodah, a cake show so fabulous it has its own TV show! Planning a visit with someone special? Perhaps pop into She Said erotic boutique, where you can find a little more than seaside kitsch. Here you’ll find designer lingerie, boudoir and burlesque accessories. Last year they held a nipple tassel flash mob!
Brighton is a very liberal, forward thinking city. being just a stonesthrow from the capital many people tag it as London-on-sea but is more than that. Amble up to Kemp Town and you will find lots of gay friendly pubs, clubs and bars, just further inland is Hanover an area occupied by families and students and beyond the train station there is Seven Dials. Sitting next to Brighton along the seafront is its more sedate neighbour Hove. Brighton and Hove together make the city. Hove is a little more relaxed, perhaps considered a little more upmarket but equally as expensive. I used to live here. It was along Hove seafront I saw musician Nick Cave, fresh from taking a dip in the sea with his family and nearly bumped into journalist Julie Burchill with my son’s pushchair. Zoe Ball and Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim, have a house with its own piece of private beach and I regularly saw boxer Chris Eubank driving around the seafront in his huge truck, sometimes he would get out and plough up and down on a scooter dressed in a tweed suit.
Anything goes in Brighton and Hove and thats why I love it so.
Catch a train south from London Victoria or Gatwick Airport to Brighton or Hove station.