Brighton weekend

Last weekend, Damjan and I went to Brighton, England’s most famous seaside town. We had a great time. More than any city I’ve visited in the UK, Brighton feels like Melbourne — full of young people, relaxed, and multicultural. We arrived in time for Brighton’s food festival. So not only did we enjoy the tourist guide attractions of the beach, tacky seaside pier and King George IV’s extravagant Royal Pavilion, but we also got to eat ate lots of the best kind of ethical (free range, organic, international and local) food.

Brighton’s beaches are a poor substitute for Australian beaches. Instead of sand, there are pebbles. The good thing about pebbles are that they don’t get into your shoes and clothes like sand does. They can be painful to walk on. The English Channel also makes for cold swims. I only waded in up to my legs.

Walking out of the street of our hostel, directly in front was the wreck of Brighton’s West Pier.

A lady from the Brighton West Pier Trust told us that it was in perfect condition in 1975. Here it is intact, with its concert hall and pavilion on the walkway to the big bit at the end (whatever it is).

Its private owner wanted to turn the pier into a casino but the local council refused permission. Having no other plans for the pier, the owner offered it to the council for £1 but the council declined because it couldn’t afford the upkeep. The pier was left to decay. The West Pier Trust was set up to raise money for its restoration. They finally managed to secure funding from the Government and private funding (£15mil each) but in 2003, there were two fires. The pier was already falling apart so fire was the final straw and the structure was completely gutted. Also gutted was the funding from the government (bye bye, £15mil). The Trust now says they’re going to build a massive needle tower type thing in front of the pier that will somehow save the whole project. Erm. Right.

When we walked by the beach each morning, we saw this fellow with the metal detector. We once saw him stretching and flexing. He looked funny.

The Royal Pavilion was unlike any castle I had visited in England. King George IV was a party dude. He liked clothes, food, women, food, music and food. Over about 35 years, he turned his Brighton holiday farm house into this ‘fantasy palace’. They tried to make it look Indian on the outside and Chinese on the inside. I giggled at some of the attempts at ‘Chinoise’ styling by people who had never been to China.

Damjan’s favourite room in the palace was the huge kitchen. It had all the latest mod cons from the 1800s — self-turning spits, steam tables to keep food warm, exhaust vents. We saw a menu for one of the daily feasts. It had 36 entrées and many more dishes.

We didn’t know that the food festival was going on when we planned our trip. We had stepped out of the Royal Pavilion and suddenly saw tents in the garden. At the first tent, someone offered me a strawberry and banana smoothie. All I had to do was blend it by riding this bike. I was delighted that someone had also thought of harnessing the energy of stationery bikes. Imagine if we could have blenders on our normal bikes. We’d all have smoothies by the time we got to work.

At the food festival, there was a table full of sage plants. I never knew there was such a variety. Pineapple sage?

On the left are giant turnips. On the right are tiny pumpkins.

Like Melbourne, Brighton has laneways of shops, cafés and restaurants. We visited a nice art gallery, a very fun kitchenware store, a shop of well designed futons, outdoor adventure stores, ethnic grocery stores, and quite a few eateries and bakeries. The last three photos are from the Lego shop.

You can buy individual Lego pieces from these portholes. It reminded me of M&M land in Las Vegas, where you can buy every colour M&M in existence.

Even Lego figures like to play basketball and soccer.

Shiny transparent red and blue bricks.

While we were in the Lego store, Damjan and I thought, ‘They should make movies out of Lego!’ And then, what did we find on YouTube?

The Han Solo Affair

Indiana Jones (hehe, watch for the twist)

Amazing Lego dancing on Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller

And a rap music video, Circle Circle Dot Dot.

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