On the Friday, Valentine's Day, we took a train from Victoria Station to Brighton. We noticed that it was very express. This is because it was rerouted to avoid all the torrential flooding which is still affecting the South West (and South, a bit) of England. It took bang on an hour. We left central London a bit grey and threatening, and arrived in Brighton to massive lashings of rain and wind. It was brutal.
Here's where the plan fell down. When we arrived in Brighton, in the middle of a biblical rainstorm, we had used all our ready cash in London. The bus to our hotel was three pounds. Our Canadian bank cards wouldn't work in the bank machines. We didn't have the number of the hotel to call. We couldn't afford a taxi which would take us effectively 6 kilometres for approximately thirty pounds. And Matthew was very manly about dragging our one large suitcase.
So we repaired to the very nearest (and roughest, ew) pub, the Grand Central, for some emergency free wifi (and a beer for Matthew). We called the hotel (at huge expense) from my mobile and calmed the eff down. We found a bank machine which would accept our foreign bank card, and we hopped on the bus. Even in the countryside the buses are double-decker! Who knew?
Our dearest friend Aimee, a Brighton local, had chosen this hotel for us all (we were to meet her later). It was in a tiny hamlet outside Brighton, called Rottingdean. Aimee lives in the hamlet next door, called Woodingdean. And her nice boyfriend Scott, who we met, lives in the hamlet on the other side, called Newhaven. Our hotel, The White Horse, was right on the beachfront. The pub downstairs was cozy and light-filled, and the room upstairs was huge, comfortable, and very warm. We encountered a totally charming (and not surprising) dripping leak in the ceiling of our room. It was quaint and perfect.
Matthew and I bussed back into Brighton and had a superficial 'splore of The Lanes. We were captivated most by the windows upon windows of antique jewellery. All these beautiful little seed pearls and multi-gem rings. We went to one of the big fancy hotels for a drink, where we had arranged to meeting Aimee.
Aimee and I met when we started UBC together in September 2011. She graduated from the English program on time (yay!) and then promptly went home to England. I have missed her ever since. Matthew, Aimee and I had a good catch up over a bottle of red in the hotel bar (where they were offering a "Fawlty Towers Dining Experience"... why? Only in England.) and then we dived back into The Lanes and by some miracle located the Bath Arms (pub), where Scott was waiting for us.
Special thank you to Aimee and Scott for sharing their Valentine's Day dinner date with us. Very big-hearted!
|Us with our long awaited pub grub.|
The next morning, we rendezvous'd in the breakfast room in streaming sunlight. The waves were still crashing though. After breakfast we caught the (most prompt and impressive) bus into Brighton, and hopped off at the Brighton Pier. It was a bit empty because of the gale blowing, and because it was still early in the day. We wandered through the stained-glass gambling halls (seriously, it is gambling for children. Not even disguised. Just straight-up gambling. Only in England.) and out to the very end of the pier. It was a bit ghostly quiet, but in a good way.
|Overlooking the pier.|
|Water under the pier.|
|The West Pier, burnt to a shell. Matthew took this photo from on the other pier.|
After the Pier, we walked to the Brighton Pavilion. We intended just to stick our noses in, but it turned out there was a really nifty collection of art and artifacts in the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. So we stayed and took it all in, including the mummy room!
|All the cakes (and our luggage. bloody tourists.)|
|Oh cream tea. How I will miss you.|
After tea, we rolled around The Lanes for a bit. Aimee and Scott took us to an alternative lanes, on the other side of the main street. These lanes were more markety and fun (less antiques-and-boutiques). I had to resist a lot of awesome vintage stuff. And Aimee had to resist the most beautiful high-heeled oxfords either of us have ever seen.
|Bright houses in the lanes of Brighton|
Again, warmest thanks to Aimee and Scott for showing us their beautiful town. Brighton is on our must-go-again list!