Monday, July 14, 2008

Day Trip to Brighton

In Pride and Prejudice, Brighton is the town to which Lydia yearns to go, the town where she can flirt with hundreds of soldiers and generally have a great time. Since Jane Austen's time, Brighton has owned the title of England's #1 seaside resort. Yesterday Brett and I found out why.

After a train ride to London, a subway ride across London, and then another train ride into Brighton, we were happy to step out into the barely salty air of Brighton and head for the beach. Along with a few thousand other people! We walked the classic strip, making comparisons to Venice Beach in California (though Brighton is for the whole family - less street performing, more Boat Museums). Soon we cut up into the city in search of Bill's, a hot restaurant tip we found in a magazine about gourmet traveling Brett's sister Brie gave us in June.

After cutting through the grounds of a huge palace, the Brighton Pavilion, long ago designed to look as if it is in India (picture a tiny Taj Mahal in the middle of a bustling beach town), we found our way to perhaps the best restaurant EVER, featured in pictures #2 and #10 above. Bill's is a combination produce store, juice bar, dessert design boutique, brunch restaurant, and magical circus. Brett bought olives from the olive bar to eat in line as we slowly inched along the far side of the delicious insanity that was that large and crowded room. Eventually we were seated upstairs. I had smoothie #1 - Mandarin, Apricot, and Mango with Greek Yoghurt. Then Brett got Spaghetti with the best Garlic bread in the world (we decided "Garlic Bread" was an inappropriate name to give it on the menu, something like "Garlic Dream Slices" would be apter). I had porridge with berries, bananas, chopped up hazelnuts, and maple syrup. Other menu items included high piled English breakfasts, fruit salads with honey and almonds, muesli with yoghurt and berry compote, and pizza with a half dozen side salad possibilities. I felt sort of as if some far off person had designed a restaurant for us and then waited a half dozen years for us to move to England and feel like a day trip to Brighton.

Needless to say, we were feeling pretty happy when we walked out of Bill's. We cut into a packed little alley of shops and immediately stumbled into a new source of happiness. A juggling shop called Odd Balls. Here we bought six WONDERFUL colorful bouncing juggling balls from the man who designed them (and demonstrated their bounciness by bounce juggling eight at once). We'll use these on Wednesday for a performance in the pub at my school - every week there's sort of a hodgepodge of poetry, music, and other talents in the pub, and our juggling show has been requested. Now we can colorfully comply.

That was just the first of many wonders - we slipped into Independent record stores, candy shops, stationary stores, cupcake bakeries and more as we combed "The Lanes", a series of narrow alleys packed with all that might interest, amuse, and entertain Brighton's many visitors. When we found our way out, we headed back to the beach.

On the far side of Brighton's original pier, now destroyed by fire (see picture #3 to see a billboard showing what it was once like with the blackened version in the background), we found a lovely strip of beach to wander down as the sun finally emerged from the clouds. We watched kite surfers skipping off the waves into aerial leaps, Bocce Ball players aggressively knocking each other's balls away from the goal, beach volleyball players, basketball players, and even a happy bunch of waders in a thirtyish foot wide circular kids pool (60 degrees, who cares when you are five?!) The beach was full of life. There were even some fun jewelry stands sprinkled beneath the pier. I bought a tiny pair of silver rollerskate earrings which I love.

When we tired of exploring, we settled into the gardens at the Palace Pavilion for a nap / people watching session, lulled into peacefulness by the chords of a talented street (garden?) guitarist. We wrapped up the day with Japanese food and then took the three leg train journey home, tired but happy, as the moon rose on our left and the sun set on our right.

1 comment:

Father Bruce said...

Ironic that you'd find the best restaurant in the world in a country often stereotyped for bad food. What is bounce juggling and can you do it? If so, I hope to see a video posted in this blog soon.