I have lived in the city of Brighton and Hove for just over ten years now. I came down from London, as a lot of us have, with dreams of living by the sea. At the time I didn’t know if I’d stay, but the city has a unique vibe that drew me in. Since being here there are a few things I’ve learnt.
1. Avoid Churchill Square and surrounding areas on Saturdays – particularly in the summer months . As with any town, the town centre becomes very crowded on a Saturday and this is exacerbated by tourist season. If you want a quite mooch around the laines, try going in the week instead.
2. The seagulls, although large will not hurt you. Some seagulls will be bigger than your children. The adults stalk you on the beach if they have sniffed out food, or, they will stare you out whilst stood on the top of cars as you wander by. If you come in the spring/early summer the grey speckled chicks will be wandering around aimlessly. They haven’t learnt yet as they amble across the road that the bus will flatten them, so they take their time.
3. When you visit and park your car, or walk down West Street from the station, the beach around the pier is not the only beach there is. In the height of summer, the national papers often post pictures of this beach accompanied with comments on how crowded the beach was due to soaring temperatures. If you walk a little way along in either direction you’ll find a very different story, even on a bank holiday in August, the rest of the beaches are not so crowded, but shush don’t tell anyone.
4. If you like flea markets and vintage, there are few places as good as Brighton. If you’ve not visited Brighton and Hove before a meander through the North and South Laines is essential. From the junction of West Street and Queens Road facing south turn left onto North Street. Take your fourth turning on the left into Bond Street. Carry on through into Gardener Street, then at the end take a right then immediate left into Kensington Gardens, Snoopers Paradise is on your left a few shops down. Here you will find an array of nic nacks from vintage TVs, to fur coats from the 60’s. It is also worth looking upstairs and browsing through the array of vintage clothes and accessories on offer. Talking of vintage clothes, there are several shops in the North Laines, but the most significant one has to be Beyond Retro on Vine Street a short walk away. The shop boasts an impressive array of vintage clothing and accessories, if you want something authentic, you’re bound to find it here. Before you depart from the North Laines make sure you visit Vegetarian Shoes on Gardener Street, Get Cutie on Kensington Gardens and stop off for soy latte and a piece of cake at Coffee@33 on Trafalgar Street. If you’re heading back to the station it’s a short walk from here. If not, you need to check out the South Laines too.
The South Laines holds the more exotic and unique shops in its heart. Here you can buy antiques, vintage jewellery, and amazing chocolate! No visit to Brighton would be complete without a trip to Choccywoccydoodah. Yes you heard that right. This is probably the most famous shop in Brighton. Here you will find amazing things sculptured from chocolate. Check out their website here Choccywoccydoodah . I challenge you to visit their restaurant upstairs, order a price of chocolate cake and a hot chocolate and finish it! It’s very rich!
5. Watch Quadrophenia before you arrive and check out the locations from the film. The film was shot in Brighton and if you’re lucky enough to stay at The Grand Hotel you’ll soon realise that’s where Sting played a Bellboy. See if you can spot the other locations, let me know what you find!
6. Be prepared for anything in regards to how people dress. One of the best things I love about Brighton is the laid back attitude of ‘anything goes’ and it literally does. If you currently stand out in in your village or town, you’ll blend into the crowd here.
7. There is ALWAYS something on to do with the kids. Throughout the summer there is something on every weekend, be it Paddle Around The Pier, an event where people are invited to enter by dressing up, making a boat and entering a race before they fall out, or their ‘boat’ collapses. The full marathon, the half marathon, gay pride (an event in August you shouldn’t miss), the naked bike ride, the London to Brighton bike ride, the London to Brighton Mini run, the London to Brighton vintage car run, the Mods and Rockers run, the Brighton Festival in May and so much more. There is barely a weekend that goes by when something isn’t on. A really good source of info is Child Friendly Brighton a website dedicated to all that’s on for kids.
8. There is an in joke in regards the whether you reside in Hove or Brighton. I live in Hove, but I will often say Brighton because most people wherever they are from have heard of it. If you ask a local and they reply with ‘Hove actually’ it has become a bit of a joke as the phrase refers to the fact that Hove is generally very middle class. Anyway, like I said it’s a joke, we are all lovely wherever we live.
9. The Downs. We are very lucky here in Brighton and Hove. Not only do we have the beach, several lovely parks, the city, but we also have the rolling countryside a stones throw away. A very short venture out of town will take you to the rural hills just beyond the city where you can walk for miles along National Trust protected guide paths. Venture a little further towards Lewes and Barcombe and you can stay on a little known campsite aptly named ‘The Secret Campsite’. There are several other larger sites in the area, but I stayed there recently and loved the simplicity of it all. Please see my earlier blog about The Secret Campsite. You can find details here The Secret Campsite .
10. The city is a little insane. That is one of its qualities. Whether it be the Father Christmas or Super Hero fun runs, or the New Year’s Day swim, you’ll always find something often slightly off the wall, and predominantly creative here. Come and visit and let me know what you think.