Darling and Decaying: Brighton

When we asked Laura and Dan where we should take a day trip to explore outside the city, they both recommended Brighton. Even though it was November and Brighton is the beach town in England, they said it was still charming and we would enjoy toddling around town even if we couldn’t sunbathe.

This is where Brighton is compared to London.

We took the train down from London and arrived in the afternoon. A cold and blustery afternoon. We decided that first thing was first, check out the beach.

{sorry for the poor sound quality. video isn’t my forté}

Despite the fact that it was cold and windy it was still nice to be near the ocean, which is a big part of me-being from a beach town. And, it is interesting to see what a local beach is like. Brighton is totally different than the glassy yellow black sand of my home town, and the bright sable coral sandy beaches of Thailand and Vietnam. This is full of orange, brown and black pebbles that make the most soothing crashing sound as they are pulled in and out by the waves. The water here is steely and a bit thrashing. What you might not hear in the video Eric saying “It’s not everyday you see a beach with people in Peacoats” and I follow with “or Puffer jackets and boots.” Before we left for our trip I read a book called the Anglo Files all about British culture, written by an American writer who works for the NY Times (I believe) who married a Brit. One of the things she talked about was the British obsession with the beach. She said that despite how miserable and cold it may be outside, they will still make the effort to get out in the fresh air, especially at the beach!

I was reminded of this as we tromped along the beach in our heavy jackets. Despite it being blustery and chilly, people were out! Enjoying the sea air! I was truly impressed.

Don’t take this to mean that Brighton isn’t lovely and that it’s no fun on an Autumn day. It had its own seaboard charm that isn’t blown away by Fall winds. I thought the somewhat derelict nature of the Pier and boardwalk buildings was charming. {I’m serious!}

I loved these old seafoam street lamps.

Brighton Pier from the Seafoam Railing

We walked out to the end of the Pier to look out over the English Channel and take in the Carnival rides. There’s a beautiful old Conservatory building {reminds me of the Conservatory of Flowers here in San Francisco}, that’s now {unfortunately} a large arcade.

Brighton Pier

Ferris Wheel and a Seagull

Carnival Pier

Lone Seagull and the end of the Ocean

Sitting out at the end of the Pier was a strange feeling. Although I’ve looked out at the ocean countless time, this scrap of ocean seemed particularly infinite. Perhaps it was the fog that lay ahead, or the fact that we were high up on a pier…but something was in the atmosphere being surrounded by the brassy Carnival rides at seemingly the end of the ocean.

Lining the edge of the beach were open artist studios. In a stroke of genius, the artists had the prime real estate in town. We wandered in and out of a few of them, enjoying the collective creative spaces.

We walked back to the Lanes, the high street area of Brighton. After lunch at a pub we popped in and out of shops (I thoroughly investigated the beautiful Brighton Cath Kidston store).

Gorgeous All Saints window full of vintage sewing machines. I fell in love and went snap happy.

A classic never dies.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

We unknowingly came upon the Royal Pavilion. A pretty taj-mahal-esque set of buildings and gardens created for George IV when he was Regent (beginning) in 1787. It supposedly has beautiful {read: extravagent} interiors. We didn’t go in, but explored the area around the Pavilion thoroughly.

The Royal Pavilion

An entrance gate at the Royal Pavilion

At this point we were just about frozen through so we found ourselves a nice coffee shop, and warmed up with some hot cocoa.

They had the best hot cocoa!

Little Coffee Company

 We spent the late afternoon wandering through the rest of the Lanes, winding down little streets and visiting big and small shops alike. One store in particular that we liked was Art Republic, a shop selling a range of contemporary art prints ranging from very affordable, to fairly expensive. The beauty part is, they have financing options, interest free loans, and many avenues for you to own art in a way that works for you financially. It seems to be a chain but what struck me was that they really cared about getting art to the people. I may sound like I work for them {I don’t}, but I just really love the concept of their store. They also didn’t mind ragamuffin travelers like us having a good long look at all the art-they welcomed it! And were really interested in our trip as well! I hope the next time we visit we can pick out something we love from them.

The Lanes

At the end of the evening we made our way back to our London home by train. Despite the fact we were visiting Brighton in the off season, I could still see all of it’s charm sparkling under the overcast sky. In fact, if it gets as busy as they say, I’m glad we got to go there on a calm day and just wander around. I think the cold weather sort of suited the over all look of the town. An 1800’s sea-spa destination, lots of curling iron work and Victorian detail-somewhat decaying but darling nonetheless.

<3 Chelsea


2 responses to “Darling and Decaying: Brighton

  1. Those pictures are amazing, Chelsea! it reminds me of a French song by Cabrel about beach-front tourist towns in the winter. Love it…

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