On a cold, foggy day, Brighton became a spontaneous destination for another of our regular day trips around the UK. The ancient settlement of “Brighthelmstone” pre-dates the Doomsday Book, and a popular destination as a sea bathing resort during the 1800’s “for one’s good health.” Brighton was also used by the Prince Regent, George IV of England as a seaside retreat. One ingenious invention, the steam railway, arrived in Brighton in 1841 and brought with it a growing interest from a rush of London day-trippers, many of which fell in love with the area and built up businesses in and around Brighton which remain successful today.
The shingle beach has been used by generations of fishing families to bring in fishing boats full of fresh fish in all weathers and for sale at the beach front location. There’s a great family owned fishing museum under the arches which has free entry. Next door, and also run by the same family is a well-stocked fish mongers. On the beach some excellent seafood is available at the Sea Haze beach kiosk, a family run business for generations which I can honestly say sells some very tasty cockles!
Regardless of the grey foggy weather, the relentless drizzle and the short few hours available to us on our Brighton daytrip we certainly found plenty to amuse and enjoy ourselves with. One thing was certain, we couldn’t come to Brighton without sampling a bag of fish and chips and a stick of Brighton Rock!
After a late lunch of fish and chips on the promenade, eaten under the cover of a shelter, and of course shared with the dog, we decided to spend more time on the beach. The first view that instantly draws the eye is the Old West Pier, built in 1866 by Eugenius Birch. After several unfortunate events, storms, and fires, very little remains of this structure, but I feel it still adds to the atmosphere and features of the Brighton seafront.
The only remaining Brighton Pier, or to call it by its official name, Brighton Palace and Pier, opened in May 1899 and I think the pier will have to be explored by us further on our next Brighton adventure as time was running thin, so maybe a summer visit will be in order. Meanwhile Max enjoyed his time fetching a Frisbee that was found on the beach, and my husband dipped his toes in the freezing sea water, crazy as he is! I can certainly advise against a dip in the sea during the winter, the waves are high and the tides are strong. There were regular beach patrols by the R.N.L.I by quad bike on that winter’s day and to me that showed how dangerous the sea must be during such bad weather conditions.
We had just a small window of time to look around and enjoy the beach, and then as we turned to leave the beach, I found one of my favourite features of the lower promenade, The Artist Quarter which is located under the arches, and features some wonderful artists. On this cold foggy day one of the artist units, called Vivid Palette caught my eye, and what a perfect name, with such vibrant and individual artwork on display under the arches on such a dark, damp day in January.
I feel a need to return to Brighton because it has so much to offer, but it a will be a mammoth task to explore it thoroughly. I have a long list of places to visit; firstly the pier needs some exploration to sample the funfair and the fish & chip restaurant. The Famous Royal Pavilion is also a biggie on my list, which on the first week of January was still being used as the venue for Brighton’s Christmas ice skating rink, and the grandeur was lost behind the ice rink marquee. The Lanes, a part of Brighton’s historic quarter is not only a perfect area for some shopping and a coffee, but also to delve into more of Brighton’s historic past. A ride on the Brighton Eye sounds exciting too, and what a view there must be from the top. There will also be a return to the artist’s quarter on my next visit, that’s a sure bet!
To be honest it’s quite exhausting just thinking about it all, but I must return to explore and discover more of Brighton during the summer months and with less time constraints, it’s such an exciting and vibrant location.