Two Go To Brighton
Friday was a rare day off for Catherine and myself, so we decided to take ourselves off to the seaside to soak up some sun, and with Brighton being an hour a way, it was there we took ourselves.
I first went to Brighton in Autumn 2002 with work where we spent most of our time in a conference room in the Brighton Grand (Apparently we’d been booked in a cheaper hotel, and the Grand’s spies heard about it and offered the organisers the same rate, which was nice) discussing the future of communities. But we got a paddle in the sea whilst we were at it. But having not seen very much of it last time, it seemed like a perfect place to visit.
Having grabbed our train tickets and enjoyed Southern’s artic-esque train air conditioning, we wandered out of Brighton station around 11am, straight for the beach, which we proceeded to attempt to walk along the pebbles, before giving up as it was hard work, and meandering to the bar-filled area that is the top of the beach, meandering towards Brighton (Palace) Pier.
They are an odd thing when you think about it – piles of iron and wood driven out in to the sea, for no real reason when it comes down to it. But we won’t worry about that too much, for Brighton Pier is still a bastion of the coconut shy, tin-can alleys and basket balls that look suspiciously heavy.
Of course there’s modern things too – a couple of roller coasters and a log flume at the end, and multiple stalls selling "American style donuts" (as opposed to a British style donut perhaps? Whatever one of those is).
One reason for visiting the pier though was to visit the recently opened Doctor Who exhibition, located in the Dome at the end of the pier.
At six quid a pop, it ain’t chep, but then you are greeted by the giant Trinny and Susannah droids at the entrance, as well as passing by a galaxy of Autons, Slitheen and the Moxx of Balhoon.
There’s a small area at the front with details of the past Doctors and some monsters as well – Cybermen do actually look scarier in the flesh than they do on screen!
The rest then features different episodes, with background information, costumes and models where possible. And it gave me the chance of a lifetime to converse with the fantastically friendly Face of Bo! Unfortunately the lighting of the area make me look very strange in the photo…
Next, a strange button saying ‘Do Not Press’… What on earth?
Only one person is obviously daft enough to push the button…
Thankfully the world didn’t end as the Dalek suddenly sprang into life telling all and sundry that it would exterminate, but due to the lack of a sofa to behind behind, we rushed on to other exhibits instead which included a rather battered 1960s original Dalek, and the model of the Emperor Dalek from the episode ‘The Parting of the Ways’.
And with that we were almost at the end – just time to pass a nice bug sign telling us how great the BBC’s Doctor Who website is, along with some computers where you could play the Last Dalek game. Oh and a sign that said ‘Bad Wolf’ just for good measure (which I forgot to photograph. Tsk!).
Back in the open air, there was only one lunch option – chips on the pier with, naturally, a cup of tea, before we strolled off along the beach.
Spying a small railway track, we decided to follow it away from the town until we got to around ‘Half Way Station’ and felt decidedly hot. The scenery wasn’t that great either, being near a coach park, so we adjourned to a higher level walkway called ‘The Max Miller Way’. This huge ironwork balcony was looking in need of some paint, but provided a nicer view for the walk back.
Some strolling later we headed towards the Royal Pavilion – intending to go inside George IV’s opulent palace. Instead we sat on the grass in some much welcomed shade, with a ice cream, before walking round the quite frankly odd Brighton Museum and Gallery. Odd because it combined pottery, clothing, furniture and a history of the town. Not a standard collection.
After that we strolled for some more, up towards the sadly neglected looking West Pier.
When I last visited in 2002, the Pier was looking sad and in a state of disrepair, but of course time has taken its toll. Along with arson and storms. Now it looks really sad – a tangled mess of ironwork, sitting forlornly in the middle of the sea. It’s one of the most iconic images of Brighton. Maybe one day it will be restored. We can but hope.
The BBC’s weather forecast had assured me earlier that day, that there wouldn’t be a cloud in the sky in Brighton all day. Which is why we took umbrellas. To be quite frank, I’ve given up believing the forecast of late. Unreliable is an understatement. And not trusting them with a bargepole indeed proved to the correct judgement.
With the heat of recent days, a storm was inevitable and late afternoon the dark clouds had drifted over, and there was some quite frankly spectacular fork lightning over the sea – sometimes several forks in rapid succession. It was a sight to behold.
After much display, the rain finally hit us, forcing us to run to a bus shelter to wait it out.
At the time we were out looking for Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack, as featured on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, but without a map we had no idea where it was. All I knew was it was somewhere near the pier – indeed close to the pier. So we spent around half an hour stumbling around trying to find it, until I jokingly went up a crappy looking alleyway next to the Thistle Hotel. Spying some quaint looking shops I ventured further, before bamm! There it was! Unfortunately it was also booked up all weekend. No soul food for us!
So we wandered around for ages trying to find somewhere to eat before finally opting for Food For Friends, a veggie restaurant where the food was quite nice, but ultimately at "4.95, the organic beer was just a bit pricey.
After that, we headed up towards the railway station – not to catch a train just yet, but to visit the Evening Star pub, brewery tap for the Dark Star Brewery.
This lovely little pub had a plethora of handpulls. Not only were there two milds on, but two ciders also. I enjoyed a pint of mild (which, I can’t recall) but unfortunately the large meal had taken its toll and we were just too full to finish our East India Pale Ales.
Still a lovely pub, and being right next door to the station, ideal for a few drinks before leaving. Not being trendy bar, and not selling any recognisable lagers (you won’t find any big names in this place at all) it’s also off the hen and stag party routes which make Brighton a bit of a nuisance at weekends.
Full from sun, sea, stones, beer and food, we wandered up to the station, and jumped on the 2149 Southern train for… well, home and a good kip.