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Brighton: A Birthday On The Beach

Having only been in London for about a month, Jess and I were far too broke to travel internationally. Turns out that the big city is even more expensive than people say. But never thee mind, nothing can beat a good old-fashioned British summer holiday.

But the age-old question remained – where we should go. Jess had already explored considerably more of the English South than I had, and seeing as it was her birthday, she had a majority say in the matter. Luckily for me, it was a choice I was hoping for – Brighton.

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Looking In My Own Back Garden

Being back in the UK is not quite as familiar as you’d think it would be for me. Though of course, I spent over 20 years of my life in the bum fuck middle of Wales, I hadn’t really explored as much as I should have.

I’d never travelled further north than Blackpool and the last time we visited London was at the age of 7 and with a child leash securely fastened to my wrist.

I had made the fatal mistake of taking my own back garden for granted, so now it was time to make things right.

Why Brighton?

Jess had already done the tourist must-dos – Stonehenge, Oxford, Cambridge and the like. Yet, even so, Brighton stood out from the map.

It’s always seemed like that cosmopolitan haven. A place where the different and diverse are celebrated. For decades it’s been seen as the centre of the LGBT in the UK. And much like other places of acceptance, it’s resulted in a creative haven where the expressive nature of oneself can be let out to its fullest degree.

After all, this was just a simple British seaside town, I didn’t expect to have my mind blown. But a cool tick off the list, nonetheless.

To The Seven Sisters

With a short hour-long train from the heart of London, we found ourselves on the UK’s southern coast. Though we had no time to take in the sights as we jumped on a bus towards the Seven Sisters.

These were a set of white limestone cliffs that stood before the English Channel. They looked much like the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, just a bit less mainstream.

To get there it took an agonizing 1hr 20-minute journey as we traversed the coast and beings lowly roasted behind the double Deckers pane-glass windows.

brighton cliffs

Once we got there, the heat was relentless. Bear in mind we had left a country that topped 30° on a regular basis with a humidity level that left your clothes dripping. I returned to the UK in search of salvation only to be welcomed by an equally intense heat. Naturally, as any British male would, any heat exceeding 20° legally required the removal of my shirt and a complimentary bright pink sunburn in return.

We trekked through pristine farmland and tranquil waterways that snaked towards the coast.

Hitting the Streets

Following our return to Brighton itself and the time ticking away, we headed to the variety of markets and diverse streets that Brighton had.

While walking amongst the likes of the Lanes, Brighton is exactly what you envision it to be. It’s bright, colourful, diverse and accepting. The only minority is the “norm”, a building without any character.

brighton lanes

Equally entertaining was watching the numerous character that was more colourful than the streets they walked through! Everyone was accepted, all shapes, colours and sizes.

We browsed antique shops, vintage clothing stores and everything the city had to offer.

A Royal Quirk

Brighton is certainly one of the quirkiest cities the UK has to offer. The perfect example of that can be seen with the Royal Pavilion. The name alone casts images of royalty walking amongst pristine gardens, and you’d be right. However, it doesn’t exactly look like a structure belonging to English royalty.

brighton royal pavilion

In fact, the structure incorporates Indian, British and Chinese designs! A very odd combination particularly in a British seaside town! Its history is even more fascinating.

It was effectively used as a royal shag-pad where King George IV would fool around with his mistresses while benefiting from a seaside life. During World War I, it even became a hospital for Indian soldiers! Quite a weird one.

A Day On The Beach

As our afternoon came to an end, there was one more must-do for any day in Brighton, spending some time on the beach.

As a hardened Brit, I find nothing more depressing than the idea of a British beach holiday. It casts images of Blackpool, a place you could easily envision during its 1950s hay day with its identical beachfront promenade and disused cabins.

brighton beach

To Brighton’s credit, it was British beach at its finest. Yes of course there was a certain level of cheesiness to it, though after such a long time abroad (mainly in countries with pretty jaw-dropping beaches), it was a pleasant novelty experience the best the UK had to offer on this fine day.

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A Culture Shock

Here in the UK, anything over 20˚ degrees brings hordes of males taking off their tops, back garden barbecues and of course, a day on the beach.

For us, it’s natural to take off as many clothes as possible leaving nothing but a pair of shorts or a teasing bikini if you’re a female. We Brits draw the line at getting your tits out, this isn’t Southern France!

Though despite that, this is NOT the norm in Jess’ Taiwanese homeland. I was always surprised why Taiwanese people would go to extreme efforts to ensure that not a single part of their skin was exposed to the sun. Umbrellas, underarmour, and balaclavas are the norm. People generally did not want to expose any of their skin, even on the beach.

Yet here we were, laying on the beach, and to Jess’ surprise, numerous groups of teenage school children were exposed to an insane degree.

“We would NEVER dress like that at that age.” She couldn’t believe it. She was surprised that we at that age generally hung around with guys and girls our own age dressed in the bare minimum. In the West, we enter that world pretty damn early compared to the rest of the world.

A Beachside Dinner

To top off the day, there would be nothing better than a decent seafood meal. Naturally, we had to find a place right on the beachfront, and we found the perfect spot.

Growing up on an island, there are a number of beaches on the coast that have the identical set of railing along the promenade with regular intervals where they’ll have benches, and if it’s fancy enough, some booths. Some of those booths in years past would have been used to sell ice cream and the like, a very typically British image. Yet we’d be visiting one that had been transformed into a luxury restaurant.

Due to its restoration, we were right on the promenade overlooking the beauty of the ocean and the iconic beach itself. It was the perfect way to top off our first-day trip in the UK.

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