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View to Brighton Pier from the New Steine, Brighton

Archive for August, 2009

A Girls and Boys Holiday

It can be exhausting adventure to have a mixed holiday. One friend wants to party, the other wants to drink on the beach and you just want it all too go away! It IS possible to have a good holiday in Brighton with a group, check out my blog written especially  for those heading out on  ”mixed” holidays!

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Beach Fest

I just had the best day ever in Brighton. Have you ever been to the Brunswick Festival? It’s a blast that happens every year in August. Between the food booths, second hand dealers and musicians, it’s a laid back affair with a  hippyish feel. I bought some mini animal figurines for 10p and got handed poetry by a man in an eagle outfit. The festival is two days (August 22nd and 23rd) but had a satellite day this year a week earlier where a dog show was held. aug09 009

If you love nothing more than lounging on grass and listening to music, you have got to go to the Beachdown festival. It’s four days of outdoor festival madness over the end of August  bank holiday. This year’s festival is headed by Grace Jones! I love Grace Jones. Beachdown could rival Glastonbury in the outdoor festival stakes, gourmet food tents and all.   Pull up to the Devil’s Dyke, baby in your long back limosine…

Update: The Beachdown Festival has unfortunately been cancelled due to unforeseen financial circumstances! AHHHHHHHHHH!

You might think that the festival season begins and ends with Pride but that is really not the case. This year we also hosted a vegan festival, a beer festival and the incomperable Brighton Fringe, where you can see a stripping granny and Queens park full of lanterns at night, amongst other things.  The festival goes on for weeks with some paid and some free events.

Another Brighton Festival worth a mention is the Great Escape, which is a music festival featuring a lot  top music acts. Most the festivals are during the summer but there is always something going on. I do want to mention that unfortunately Pride  is for all intents and purposes is a summer event. Winter Pride is nothing to speak of, it’s just a good excuse to go clubbing in Brighton. Actually, that IS something to speak of! aug09 011

I like to be thought of   as someone in the know, so let me tell you about an event you might otherwise miss. Bonfire Night in Lewes includes a fire lit parade through the centre of town. The historical day takes on a modern twist in this old town. Make sure to stop at Bills (like Brighton’s Bills) and have a nice snack.

One thing I want to mention about Lewes, don’t take buses from here. The buses stop running ridiculously early most days (especially Sunday) so be sure to carefully plan your travel arrangements.

For Autumn, I’m looking forward to the Brighton Food Fest, The Comedy Festival and Guy Fawkes in Lewes. Hotel prices are dropping for Autumn and cheap advance tickets are available on Southern again. Take an early September break in Brighton, miss the kids, catch the beach and get ready to get festive!

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Acessible Brighton- For Handicapped Visitors

Travelling with limited mobility is always concern. Based on personal experience wheeling my Nan around Brighton for 6 days, here’s what you need to know.aug09 040

First of all, Southern Railways which provides rail service to Brighton and Hove, offers a weekday service for disabled passengers, where if you book in advance, train attendants will help you get on and off the train for no additional charge. Additionally, the rail companies are required by law to provide wheelchair accessibility and Nan and I once got our cab paid for from Kings Cross to Mill Hill because Mill Hill is not an accessible station!

If you have a wheelchair, you are allowed on buses in Brighton and Hove. You will not allowed on with a mobility scooter. Don’t ask me why…it makes you want to run over the bus driver’s feet!

If you see a shop you want to go into in the North Laines or The Lanes, you may be surprised to find there are often collapsible ramps on hand for this purpose, even if the shop doesn’t look accessible.

Brighton is very hilly, especially near Churchill Square and it can be difficult to navigate. The best thing to do is ask advice from passerby and/or possibly take a bus. You won’t have a problem finding disabled bathrooms however, Costa Coffee will usually have one and GBK on the North Lanes will accomodate handicapped shoppers who are desperate. aug09 031

Unfortunately, it is difficult to see the Pavilion past the first floor if you have limited mobility.  There is no current concession for disabled persons, which is unfortunate. There is enough to see on the first floor to make a visit worthwhile, so don’t aviod the Pavilion on that account.

One place where you will not have trouble by the seafront. That area is all paved and very flat from Hove Lagoon to the Marina. Brighton Marina is also very flat as is the Undercliff walk. Also the Preston Park area is also fairly  flat as is a majority of Preston Park itself.

You will not have a tremendous amount of trouble in the Lanes either. The streets are narrow but do not tend to be cobble stoned. The curbs can be a bit high but it’ll  be a breeze by Dukes Lane which is paved.

Kemptown tends to be fairly flat and some of the clubs have ground floor action. You’ll have no problem at Charles Street Club, The Marine Tavern or the Queen’s Arms. The pier is also flat and easy to wheel over especially on certain lanes marked in green.

Brighton is not a difficult destination for your next trip if you have limited mobility. Just plan ahead and book in advance on Southern if you take the rail. And remember this “been there, wheeled over that guide” !

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It’s A Family Affair

So you’re taking your kids to Brighton. You need to keep them amused so you remain sane and so you can get good pictures for your Facebook. Brighton is a firm family destination, due to the sheer amounts of play-areas and junk food stands. aug09 016

For instance, aside from the ultimate holiday feature , the seaside, there are ample places for your kids to play. For instance, are you aware of Hove Lagoon? You can sit and watch the boats, while your kids take a sailing lesson or play in the playground or paddling pool.

A classic favourite attraction is the Sealife Aquarium in Kemptown. The aquarium is huge and you can easily spend 3/4 of a daty here alone.  This year features serpents and snake-like creatures in a brand-new exhibit. I’m personally dying to see this exhibit because I love anything slimy and strange! So don’t assume the sea snakes aren’t for girls!

Although Brighton Pier and it’s subsequent candy floss is arguably the biggest lure for families, there are more play-areas if you walk further toward Brighton Marina. aug09 015

The rides on the Pier include many rides for children and the indoor arcades have plenty more amusements. You’ll just have to explain after the 5th time you couldn’t win the oversized dolphin for her, although you tried.

Some people enjoy the Slot machine museum, which has historic slot-machine games which you play with old British coins.

The best time is usually had by people who just to stroll around. Virtually any park you go to will have a playground and most  bathrooms you use on the Seafront will have changing facillities.

If you walk further into Hove on the Seafront on weekends, you’ll often see market stalls where, in addition to finding African goods and cheap MAC cosmetics, your daughter can get her hair braided with colourful thread! I wish I had this done when I was a kid!

The best area for children is a paddling pool and jungle gym on the Seafront between Brighton and Hove. This area is extremely crowded during the weekends but fortunately, for mums and dads, you can rent beach chairs and have caffinated beverages whilst your kids play.

If you do end up in Brighton Marina, take Volks Railway there from the Pier to give your kids a fun ride along the seafront.

Once you get to the Marina (a life-saver in the rain) there is the Bowlplex and movie theatre to keep everyone amused. A good place to eat here is the family-centric Harvester which offers kids meals yet has plenty of choices for different tastes.

Although many people consider Brighton a place for adults, I believe the city is equally a family fun destination. You’ll agree. Especially when stuffing your face with candy floss.

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Sports In Brighton

If you fancy an active holiday in Brighton, check out my guide to Sporting in Brighton. Happy sailing, kite flying or swimming!

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(Ob)scenically Yours

If  you are dying to go ob-scenic, check out the wildlife scene in Brighton and Hove. If you think our town is just a seaside resort, you are totally missing the boat. Brighton borders the South Downs, some the most incredible park-land around. aug09 027

Let’s stay near the main path for a while. In Brighton Central, there is the enormous Preston Park, a perfect place to picnic or stop and play. Don’t miss the Preston Manor or the insanely beautiful Japanese rock garden across the street. Sit by the pond or climb up the rock steps and feel like a king/queen. Benches dot the garden so you’ll be sure to find a spot to sit and take it all in. This is arguably my favourite scenic spot in Brighton.

Nearby there is also the lovely Withdean Park and which has the most beautiful flower gardens and is a short 10-15 minute walk from Preston Park.

If you are looking to do a spot of Sunbathing in Kemptown, try the lovely Queen’s park. This park is huge! Check out the lovely lake or if you are really lucky, catch an event here. I went to a fantastic show here as part of the Brighton fringe festival, where the entire park with a-light with lanterns. It was amazing. This park also has 6 tennis courts if you fancy a game of doubles.

In Hove, there’s choice between Hove Park or St Anns Well Gardens. St Anns is an underrated park with a playground, flowers and the annual Crofts dog show. Hove Park is comprised of a small cafe and rolling fields. Across the street, in a blink and you might miss it way, is a Bridlepath which has a nice wilderness feel.

I had a friend visit me recently and she really felt such a sense of bliss biking in Hove Park and eating dried fruit from Tescos. This park is also great if you have family because there is a playground here and Toys R US is across the street.

Without mentioning the seafront which is obviously ob-scenic, there is also Hove Lagoon where you can take a sailing class. This area is very family-centric with a wadding pool and a children’s playground. On another note, if you aspire to be a “yummy mummy” or like hanging out with them, they are all at Vbites eating meatless meats, whilst their kids play.

If you are hitting the most scenic of attractions, the sea, don’t swim if you see a red-flag. That means the water is dangerous to swim in.  Lifeguards at situated at several points and dog-friendly or barbeque-friendly beaches are marked. So you’ll find the right spot to go (ob)scenic in Brighton and Hove. aug09 023

For more information about all the parks  in Brighton and Hove, click here.

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Off To The Marina and Beyond

Brighton Marina garners many responses. If you aren’t  a big fan of modern architecture or Pizza Express, you will still enjoy heading over to this part of town.  First of all, the Marina on a sunny day is a prime sunbathing spot. Head over to Mermaid walk and bask in the sun, have a cocktail at one of the chain restaurants and sit out  and watch the boats. aug09 025

Or if you fancy yourself a gangster moll, get really dressed up to the nines and head over to the nearby casino for a Dicky Tracy or Madonna moment.  My soul purpose for coming to Brighton Marina usually is to go for a cycle ride on the Undercliff path which leads all the way to the nearby town of Saltdean. Sometimes I detor off this path and head into Rottingdean, which is a historic little spot, famous for it’s real windmill.

The whole Undercliff Path lines the sea and is never very crowded. I don’t know if words can really convey how great this place is on a bicycle or on foot. You can actually rent bikes in the Marina complex at Go Cycle. You will find it EXTREMELY worth it.

If you don’t really venture out of the Marina, sometimes in the square near the Reebok store, there is entertainment or food stalls. I bought some organic vegetarian food here recently, so you may luck out on a weekend at the Mermaid Market.

My best memory in this area was actually at the Naturist Beach after the Naked Bike Ride this past May. What an exhilarating experience! This beach is usually empty but if you fancy a skinny dip, you legally can!

Some upcoming events at Brighton Marina, include a boat race in September and the Brighton Triathalon where participants swim, bike and run to the max.  Every weekend there is a car boot sale in the Marina,  that has over 200 stalls and is the biggest antique market in Brighton.

If you find yourself in Brighton Marina and it begins to rain, don’t worry as you can catch a movie at the Odeon Cinema quite easily or head over to Bowlplex, where you may realise the lightest ball is still to heavy for you and attempt to beat your more experienced friends to no avail, whilst binging on chips.

With the exception of ASDA, most of the stores in Brighton Marina are boutiques and clothing outlets. I think this area should not be known for it’s shopping but more for ambiance and weekly Mermaid Market. aug09 045

During your trip to Brighton,  the Marina is definitely somewhere you should stop. Whether you end up on a bike path or the movies, you’ll have a good time here.

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Brighton Shopaholics Anonymous

aug09 024If you like to spend money like there is no tomorrow, a visit to Brighton will n0t tame your addiction. You can stay on the beach but the moment you hit the town your wallet will be out and you’ll be spending.

One particularly good thing to buy in Brighton is vintage clothing. Head to Snooper’s Paradise on the North Laines or visit the outdoor weekend antique market. If you are staying in Kemptown and want to go retro-active, go head to Kemptown village and go to the indoor antique’s market (you can’t miss it) or go visit my friend Peter at Paros Antiques. He sells paintings, memorabilia for the home and vintage jewellery. He’s also nice to have a chat with.

If you are a choco fiend, head to Roly’s fudge in the North Laines. I don’t even like fudge but I love this place. You can get Brighton rock or toffee apples on the seafront/pier but this is top of the line “junk”. Roly’s makes their fudge in the store and it is possible to obtain fudge so recently made it is hot and chewy.

If you are a really girly girl, you’ll love Velvet on the North Laines. This is a “satin, lace and potpourri sachet” in the drawer kind of place. My friend drooled all over the notecards and dresses here.

If you are looking for leather-less leather looking shoes, Vegetarian Shoes is of note. This is one 0f the few places in the country to find truly vegetarian shoes. After a visit to Animal House where all the toys are so realistic and cuddly, you’ll hardly feel comfortable buying leather unless you can seperate the two in your mind. Seriously, Animal has every animal toy you can think of.

Brighton is truly a city of boutiques but all the chains are alive and well here including Heals and TKmaxx. If you’ve had a cocktail at Browns around the corner and want to be able to make one yourself, buy a professional cocktail shaker at Heals to take a bit of Brighton home with you.

Another shop worth a mention is Evolutions, which sells earthy/inexpensive things for the house. It is often possible to obtain keepsakes in here for just a few pounds and jewellery from foreign lands at low prices. The outlet for this store is on Western Road and has even better deals than the regular North Laines location.

For a more risque present for yourself or someone else try Taboo near the station. This shop has a great video selection and good selection of toys. Taboo has won awards for the qualityof it’s merchandise.

No matter what you are looking for, you’ll probably be able to buy it in Brighton. Look for me at TKmaxx by the handbags. aug09 031

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Budget is not a dirty word

There are some ways you shouldn’t try to conserve money. Paying a little bit more for a hotel which treats you well or an incredible meal is worth it. You can’t really relax on a hard bed. :)  Let’s face it though, we are all feeling the pinch a little bit. Here are some tips to make your Brighton trip fun and easy on the purse.

  1. A picnic is romantic and cost effective. Head over to Waitrose and get some  gourmet cold platters. Until August 19th, they are offering a special deal which offers shoppers a free beach blanket after buying 4 picnic products. If you like Marks and Spencers, you can get 2 cold salads for 5 pounds. Try the soybeans with chili for a light, healthy side dish.
  2. Don’t feel the need to plan your holiday to Brighton down to a T. Some of the most lovely moments are spend just wasting time with your loved one, going on rides, staring at the ocean or walking hand in hand. aug09 016 Wasting time window shopping in the North Laines also recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Check out the lunch specials. Many places in Brighton offer mid-week lunch offers and special deals around lunch time. Most of the popular restaurant chains have a branch in Brighton and often have special deals. Additionally, on Sundays La Tasca offers unlimited tapas for a tenner each. Wow!

4. A bus tour is wonderful but not necessary. Brighton is a small city and a fantastic walking city. You do not need to invest in a sightseeing bus tour to get a sense of the action. If you are looking to go further afield, buy a SuperSaver or Saver bus pass and travel around Brighton to the surrounding areas.  The lovely town of Lewes is small but worth a visit as is nearby Eastbourne. Note: Brighton is really the cosmopolitan heart of the South East so a journey out will be more for scenic value.

5. One of the best things about Brighton is that the clubs don’t usually charge a cover charge. You can avoid any extra costs by heading out earlier. I recommend catching some free entertainment at the Queens Arms in Kemptown where they do cabaret shows on the weekend. aug09 050

 

6. Book your train fares in advance. Through a loophole in the system, it is possible to score tickets between London and Brighton for 3-5 per way. Check out Southern’s website for more details.

Your trip to Brighton need not be expensive at all. Come mid-week, book in advance, look for meal specials, go out clubbing earlier and have your hard earned dosh for important things like your hotel. After all, you’ve come to Brighton to lay back and enjoy the change of scenery. Scenery is priceless.

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Cafe Culture

aug09 033There are many myths about England. One of them is that London is foggy. Another is that there’s some sort of “stiff upper-lip” thing going on. You’ll see just how reserved British people are when you venture inside any pub on a Friday night.

The only stereotype I’ve found to be true is the national obsession with tea. There’s nothing like a “nice cuppa tea” as my nan says. There are loads of choices in Brighton when you are “gasping” (thanks Nan) and can’t access an IV caffeine drip. Read the rest of this entry »

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