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An Impromptu Day in Brighton

The sound of waves breaking and kids playing on the beach, are probably two of  life's greatest joys.

"Oh shit! ... the tickets!" 
And so started our day-trip to Leeds Castle.
 
But the title says "Brighton"! Ok, ok, give me a sec.
We visited Leeds Castle a year ago and  we then found out that entry tickets last for a year - a year coming up next Saturday, we decided it was now or never if we wanted to go back.
Only, half way down - or rather round - the M25, I realised that I forgot the tickets...at home!
 
Laughter, shaking of heads and change of course: Brighton it is! 

We hadn't been to Brighton in years. I mean, it's cool and all, but it's gained a reputation for imitating Ibiza with a cross-over to 80's arcade leftovers, ergo not what comes to mind for a relaxing Sunday. Well, we were pleasantly proven wrong! 

Brighton is cool; that's true. But there is something different about it now, much more sophisticated. 
As we were driving into town, we spotted Pippi Longstrumfen walking down the street to the left, Bangkok Ladyboys Show to the right, then straight into Brighton Football Club supporters, across from the 10th Tattoo Convention and finally into a noisy mini parade of the local moppet club.
That's cool by everybody's standards. 

Left: The Old Pier ruins from i360. Right: A quick drink at the Hilton Terrace, with  a view of the Old Pier ruins.
 
Walking around...
 
Apart from the Pavilion and the Pier, Brighton's most famous attractions, there is plenty more to see.
Firstly, we treated ourselves to some Scampi & Chips with plenty of salt & vinegar; had to be done, only make sure you are quick, the seagulls love chips! 
Then we went straight for the sea, sat down and watched the waves break onto the pebbles. Life slows down after a couple of minutes and your senses are indulged to blue skies dotted with humongous white seagulls, waves relentlessly beating on the Pier stilts, kids playing all around and the smell of sea-salt, fish&chips and hot-dogs lingering in the air.

Then we discovered that the Beach Walk - the stretch between the new and old Piers - has been transformed to a vibrant, clean-cut pedestrian zone, to suit everyone's needs.
Smart, upmarket and relaxed beach-bars are scattered all along the Beach Walk, depending on your mood. Ohso Social Beach Bar seemed to be the spot where all the vibrant, young things (yes, I've been watching Downton again) meet up to mingle and enjoy a drink, with a view of the Pier and the sea; while further down the Walk the music turns up louder and louder, bars spot clever names such as the Krakken and you can even lounge and smoke shisha, on the beach; a bit of everything to suit all tastes and budgets.

In-between the beach bars, we spotted art galleries squeezed under the arches.
We even run into Brighton's Fishing Museum, entry is free and it's the perfect spot for kids to explore a whole fishing boat up-close.
We even got to participate in an "active art installation", throwing colourful pebbles on the beach, right next to "Afloat" or the Brighton Doughnut, as it's affectionately known!
This city is so alive!

We kept walking but as the crowds were getting bigger and bigger, waiting for Brighton football-team victory parade, we crossed onto the other side of the street and had a quick cocktail at the Hilton's Waterhouse Bar & Terrace. We were treated to a small cheerful tour of Brighton's moppet club, who made so much noise that I felt we were in Italy! So much fun!  


Left: The deck at BA's i360. Right: simple pleasures, scampi and chips, eat it fast before the seagulls do!

Left: Lounging around the i360 deck. Right: view of the Brighton football team victory parade from the i360 flight - and spot these cool arty rooftops too!
View of the seafront from i360's flight!

British Airways i360...

After our drink at the Hilton, still no parade in sight, even more Brighton football supporters gathering by the sides of the road, we knew it was time to escape the crowds.
"Let's go for a "flight" onto the new British Airways i360".
"Let's!"

You can't miss it, it's set up right in front of the old Pier ruins, towering over the elegant Regency Square. 
As we "took off" the ground, we realised that the procession honouring Brighton football team players was finally underway and we got to see it all from up high, we couldn't have timed it better. Close to 3,000 people were following the bus carrying the players, all very orderly but very, very proud.

The views were amazing.
The "flight" takes around 20 minutes, which would have normally been ample time for me to finish my G&T;  oh yes, there is a bar "in-flight" too.
But, I was so busy admiring the English riviera the whole time, running from side to side,  that as we were landing, I had to enlist my husband's help to finish my drink. This never happens!
The coast looks simply amazing from high up. I got a sense of California living, with all of the high blocks of flats on one side and the glistening sea on the other.

Walking away from the beach and into the charming Lanes for dinner.


My gorgeous dinner, such an array of flavours and textures

Dinner at...
My favourite part was finding Plateau, a French bistro in the Lanes.
The food was fresh, tasty and imaginative.

We tried merguez for the first time ever, a salami-type sausage made of spiced lamb, typical of north African countries. Beautiful and strong flavour alongside a vibrant tomato salad, topped with almond pesto. By the way, I tried this almond-tomato pesto on pasta at home and it was such a new flavour!

Wines and ciders are sourced both locally and from France but they are all "fresh", in other words they are not as matured as your average bottle. It is a very acquired taste, not convinced it's the one for me, it felt a bit dry or rather harsh, but I am not one for dry wines anyway, so maybe not the best judge.

But then, everything else faded away as I had the tastiest skate roulade, filled with herby butter, served with caviar. There were so many textures and flavours complementing each other, all on one plate. We loved that place, it made us feel that we had popped over to France for dinner.
  
The Pier at dusk and right on the beach, the "active art installation" made up of colourful pebbles.

After dinner we strolled along the seafront on our way to the car. Such a difference.
It was 10:30 at night, there was hardly anyone there, the Pier lights were glistening in the dusk and we got the peace and quiet we had come here for. 
We walked down to the beach and sat there listening to the waves for a while, we just couldn't get ourselves in the car after such a lovely day of sunshine, fresh air and open sea!  

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