When Brits think beach, they think Brighton. This seaside town sits on the south coast of England and has been a popular seaside resort since the late 1700s. The town even gets a few literary mentions with Jane Austen’s famous Pride and Prejudice flirt, Lydia, proudly stating that all her sisters should pay a visit. “They all must go to Brighton. That is the place to find husbands.”
As England experiences its driest and probably hottest summer on record, never has there been a better time to head to the seaside. Day trips when you sit shivering under an umbrella, looking out at the grey waves are not an issue in the summer of 2018. A trip to the beach is certainly in order, and so to Brighton we must go.
If you plan to make the journey by car, the A23 or the A27 motorways are your yellow brick road, but if you would rather not be stuck in the congestion the train is the way to go. Just over an hour from London and on the weekends costing no more than £12.20 for a return ticket, it’s a quick and cheap option. The station exits directly onto Queens Road, where you step out onto the street and just keep walking: the road will continue on, at some point changing its name to West Street, and lead you directly to the sea.
With its Victorian railings, the promenade is exactly what every seaside town should be. Strolling along the road above the beach, there are multiple fish and chip shops, beach stores too. These sell collections of seashells, a magnificent variety of Brighton Rock (a hard sweet in a cylindrical shape with writing stamped through the middle) and fudge, a lot of fudge.
When you finally walk down the steps onto the beach front you will be surprised by two things. Firstly, underneath the promenade are another hundred restaurants, fish bars, beach shops and even art stores. Secondly, the beach, which looked like it was covered in small pebbles is actually composed of smooth, medium-sized stones. The experience of walking over these is second to none. If walking across a soft sandy beach is not hard enough, attempting to make your way from A to B while your feet sink into endless piles of stones is something else entirely. The sensation is even stranger in bare feet, and for those who are ticklish the over-stimulation of the soles of your feet creates endless, almost painful laughter.
But your shoes must come off if you are to head into the sea. On a bright, hot, day the sea is an endless blue that blends into the sky. There is no guarantee that the water will be warm, but the number of Brits braving it suggests that the plunge is worth taking.
After a swim, or perhaps a paddle, it is time to explore the famous Brighton Palace Pier. At 582 metres in length, it opened in 1896 as a pleasure pier with arcade games and rides for all. The fun-fair still stands, though today you are more likely to hear Katy Perry blasted out over the speakers rather than the mellow tones of an organ grinder. Ride a roller coaster, or the helter-skelter, buy yourself some candy floss or simply pull up a free, striped, deckchair and enjoy sitting above the sea.
Of course, there is more to Brighton than the beach, so take time to wander the back streets and explore. Within half a mile of the sea front there are three clothing stores, multiple cafes and restaurants and a variety of independent shops. Beautiful old buildings decorated with bunting transport you back to another time.
What is a trip to the seaside without at least one ice cream? Boho Gelato is the ice cream parlour not to miss. The gelato is made fresh daily, and sports an amazing range of sorbets, ice creams and even vegan ice creams. Fancy a saffron flavoured scoop? Or what about peanut butter and salted caramel, completely dairy free - but you wouldn’t know it. There’s even a carrot cake gelato and another called afternoon tea, an ice cream containing jam and scones. A scoop in a cone or cup is only £2.50, and flavours change daily so you never know what new delights you might find.
For those looking for a slightly more informative tour of Brighton, the Brighton Fishing Museum can be found along the seafront. And not far away, amongst beautiful gardens sits the Royal Pavilion, with its south-west Asian inspired architecture, and the Brighton Museum.