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Brighton

20/10/2014

Tomorrow I fly to Germany where I will spend time in the city of Berlin then possibly travel further afield.

Apologies to any committed readers who might have been hanging out for more news of my travels but I haven’t taken a laptop with me so postings have necessarily been intermittent as I find one to write on. Having extended apologies I don’t want to apologise for not posting every day as my view is this would be over kill, it is my preference to only post on something worth writing about.

Taking all of that into account, this post is about Brighton where I enjoyed a very pleasant three days staying with my sister who is living in the centre of the city.

My first indirect encounter of Brighton was in reading Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, a dark tale featuring the unscrupulous Pinky who is a criminal on the make in the seaside town’s seedy underbelly.

I hope readers will be pleased to know I experienced none of the seedy underbelly which Greene had written about in the 1940s rather I had a pleasant time taking in the sights and enjoying the vibe  of the place.

Brighton today is more known as the gay capital of Europe as well as being a place where Londoners can escape for a “dirty weekend” as it was put to me. Perhaps reflecting this particular modern culture Brighton definitely has an artistic and alternative sort of a vibe from paintings on walls to a piano placed in the train station (the first person I saw play it was quite good). The city also has a reputation as a testing ground for comedic talent and I understand a number of comedians have played at the Brighton Dome or Komedia before cracking the big time.

The city is also building something of a reputation for interesting craft beers. My first night in Brighton we ate at the Craft beer company where options ranged from the now ubiquitous Indian Pale Ale to the much more adventurous Juniper and Hemp (I sampled this option but went for the IPA instead).

Accessible is another word as its small size (certainly compared to London) makes getting around pretty easy with good cafes and pubs never far away.

Friday served as my only real tourist day in Brighton which began at the Brighton Pier then carried onto the Royal Pavillion. The Brighton Pier represents the classic image of a seaside town in so much British literature I remember (not so much Graham Greene but more Richmal Crompton who wrote the Just William series and PG Wodehouse of Jeeves fame). The pier features a roller coaster, bumper cars and other rides, sadly none of which were operating on this day. I was informed there is a distinction between high (summer time) and low season (the rest of the time) which indicates when the pier is most busy.

There was little time for me to sulk about not getting a ride on the roller coaster though because it was swiftly off to visit one of Brighton’s better known tourist sites, The Royal Pavillion. The Pavillion is an opulent palace built as a getaway residence for George the Prince regent in stages between 1787 and 1823.

The Prince Regent was fond of parties and probably enjoyed a dirty weekend or two which reflects the grand nature of the palace. His parties must have been legendary as a menu on display shows 100 dishes prepared for a dinner by Marie Antonin Careme (a french celebrity chef of the time) speaks to the decadence of such affairs.

Another passion for George was art and architecture and interestingly much of the decor of the palace is in the chinoiserie (Chinese) style popular at the time from the bobbing heads of chinaman dolls to a chandelier featuring a stunning dragon hanging above diners at his dining table.

Queen Victoria was ambiguous about The Royal Pavillion and made moves to sell it in the 1840s. In 1849 the town of Brighton recognised the character of the building and made moves to buy it. However many townspeople must have opposed the decision as a referendum found in favour of the purchase by a mere 36 votes.

Nonetheless the decision was passed and today many tourists can pass through the palace and wile away the hours in the pleasant surrounding gardens.  Overall pleasant was how I’d describe my stay in Brighton -close to London and with it’s own distinct vibe making it a place worth visiting.

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