There’s a smell of fried food in the air, and seagulls flying over our heads, scouring the beach in order to locate their next meal. As the waves come violently crashing on the smooth rocks, kitschy 80s music (think Madonna’s single Lucky Star or Simple Minds’ Don’t You Forget About Me) can be distinctly heard from the pier, and every now and then a man’s voice comes on to wish eager travellers a happy birthday. This, compounded with the sound of rides like bumper cars and ferris wheels, makes for a cheery atmosphere of laisser-aller and kicking back in the English sun. Welcome to Brighton!
Despite the on/off sunlight (those beautiful clouds can be torturous), the saline air is warm and much needed as we slowly slip into a food coma, courtesy of last hour’s fish and chips (…and tartar sauce. Soooooo much tartar sauce.). British boys are lazily lying in the sun and smoking to my right, I hear an Italian boy repeatedly scream “ragazzi!” from the deceptively cold water on my left, and cutesy naked babies can be seen on all sides of the beachfront, venturing into the chilly water with their watchful mothers treading closely behind.
…But more about the fish and chips! On our way to Brighton, we were indeed expecting to dig into a comfort food meal of greasy yet fresh fried fish and chunky chips, lathered in tartar and tomato sauce. And we got just that after discovering a small eatery about halfway on the boardwalk, The Bigfish Trading Co. As we gathered our small cardboard boxes and settled on a sunny outdoor terrasse, we slowly uncovered the treasure within our boxes and munched away, not caring for simple conversation, because why bother talking when you can eat? Exactly.
A little later we decided to explore more of Brighton and stumbled upon Brighton’s Royal Pavilion, which was converted into an Indian war hospital during WWI. The dome itself was a huge and impressive structure in the Taj Mahal style, overlooking a beautiful garden of colourful flowers and an open field where travellers had gathered that day around a musician.
It was with much reluctance that we departed after an afternoon of walking on the busy boardwalk, enjoying classic British comfort food, lazily lying in the sun, and taking it all in at once.
Brighton, I will be back.