My eyes felt heavy. My whole body tired from only six hours of restless ‘sleep’; the previous night spent socialising on The River Thames, with the best of people. It was the Tuesday of last week I booked a day trip to Brighton; a beautiful, well-known coastal town on the southern coast of England.
Dawn marked an early start; by 7.00am I was halfway to St Pancras getting increasingly more excited to see something other than the familiar brick buildings of London. As the train crawled it’s way out of the underground tracks into the fresh air above, it hit me that the day was going to be beyond beautiful. I don’t tend to find any train journey a hardship; I like to absorb my surroundings, and to admire the people in these little towns going about their days. I respect their ability to live so isolated from city life. I am such an urbanised being.
I stepped out of Brighton Station just before 10am, looked at the glistening water at the end of the long stretch of road, and aimed true. The sun was already proudly taking its place in the empty sky of blue, creating little diamonds on the rim of the horizon.
When I reached the barriers at the top of the steps – the only thing between me and the beach – I stood for a second and closed my eyes.
I took a huge breathe in and could smell the salty sea air; I could hear seagulls conversing above; I could feel the warmth on my skin, and immediately it felt like home. It wasn’t long before my moment of sentimentality was broken by bustling families, all ready to take the prime spot amongst the pebbled beach. It was my time to go do the same. I took my shoes off, went down the steps, and hobbled along the smooth, hard stones and sat down to finally fully admire the view. People were already out sailing the glassy sea, at least 5 boats. I could see the famous Brighton Pier, I contemplated running off to see it straight away but decided with a full day ahead I wanted to take my time. I laid on the stones until I was surrounded by people dragging the ‘Hire Me’ deck chairs and loungers to their stony destinations. Being so close to the water, I almost was glad to be forced off my perch and towards the crystal blue. It was refreshing – cold enough to make me squeal in lack of anticipation – finding it’s way between my toes, forcing a smile upon my face. I stood here, mesmerised by how translucent the sea could be.
Keeping my shoes off, I then wandered up and down the 24°C heated pavements and wooden pathways of the Brighton beach front. The souls of my naked feet being radiated with every step. I explored the Brighton Pier, looking out at the never-ending clear blue waves, whilst capturing the smiles of kids on carousels and bumper cars. This was an amazing place; a miniature theme park suspended above the water on 116 year old wooden stilts. After moseying around the Pier until I had seen all I wanted to see, I continued East past the Pier before turning around and walking past it all again. Seaside themed boutiques, stalls and food stands. Children gathered around a puppet show. And, what really caught my eye: live music. Because of my hunger, I decided on some lunch before returning to listen. I saw a packed Fish ‘n’ Chip shop on Kings Road; what a perfect idea. I ordered the battered sausage and chip combo, received it in my paper cone, splashed on some vinegar and walked back towards the excitement. Being the documenter I am, I held it out camera at the ready – sea in the background, perfect lighting – and a pesky seagull swooped in and stole one of my sausages. I can see it now, this seagull flying off with my sausage within its beak – was a humorous highlight to my day. After a handful or two of the perfectly cooked chips, I resolved the 25°C heat with a small tub of Cornish ice cream. With the coffee latte and chocolate flavoured perfection, I sat with my back to the sun, listening to the amazing male duo. I gave all ears, mesmerised by the raw talent and stage presence until I’d realised too late that I was well sunburnt.
Time for some shopping, a good excuse to get out of the sun. I wandered up to the famous North Laine, and The Lanes. Two well known shopping streets. Narrow cobble stoned pathways, windows filled with gorgeous displays of hand-crafted jewellery and artwork. From here I headed to the Royal Pavillion. This building was beyond describable. The only way I feel I can describe it, is that it didn’t feel like I was in England. Reminded me of an Indian palace; indo-saracenic architecture. A definite must-see.
Time flew by, with all the shopping, the sight-seeing, and the photographs. I realised then that the small time between my wandering through the gardens before the Royal Pavillion, and my train back home, needed to be spent tasting a local craft beer. This I ordered at The Seven Stars on Ship Street (trying saying that fast, ten times). I stayed here until I had the perfect amount of time to slowly wander back up to the hill-top perched Brighton Station. I ended up arriving with just enough time for a relaxing coffee, then home-time.
As the time to depart back to London came around, I was amongst a crowd of Londoners having spent their day the same way as I. The carriage was full of beached-out bodies, crying babies, and limbs sun-kissed from a day by the sea. Beneath the salty heads of hair, and the tired faces, you could see the happiness that a day soaking up valuable sunlight and freedom could bring. As the train pulled out of Brighton station, the residue a top of the train gracefully trailed its way down my window; as if representing the tears of going back to reality. Being alone, I plugged my headphones in and watched the countryside swim by. The trees a medley of greens; the very tips glistening limes as the last shift of the suns beautiful work came to an end. As we neared London, and as we slowly merged with the smoggy orange horizon, I realised that I was leaving quality and joining my life amongst quantity. Then something amazing happened. I saw the London Eye as we rode in Blackfriars Station, over The Thames. It shot a spark of excitement through me, the same feeling as the first time I saw it. It reminded me of how amazing and privileged I am to live in such an amazingly beautiful and unique city.
This really has slowly become, and is now, my new home.