‘’Ah, dear Brighton, piers, queers and racketeers.” Noel Coward
So here I am in the city that is Brighton and Hove, a place lauded for its tolerance of all and its impeccable links to our capital city.
It is not known as ‘London by the sea’ for nothing.
A year ago I had never been to this most famous of British seaside resorts, but the vagaries of life have thrown me a Brighton link and the opportunity to stay on occasion without the expense of paying for accommodation.
I got one of my trains, or rather three of my trains, to get here.
It cost just over a hundred pounds to return to Preston, Lancashire, and back. Two hours on the Virgin Pendolino, a brief tube hop to Victoria station and the Gatwick Express down to Brighton.
About four hours all told and if you think about it, that’s an awful long way in a very short time, though if you do it make sure you book a seat on the tilting train.
Nobody wants wants to stand for more than two hours while waving from side to side next to the toilet cubicle. Nobody.
On arrival, Brighton is certainly a world apart.
Morecambe, my former work seaside stomping ground, it is not.
Brighton seafront @jabberingjourno
Part of Brighton’s appeal and perhaps its repellence for some is its eclectic smartness and shabbiness, its trendiness yet conflicting desire to be alternative.
Here the excesses of London are in plain sight as city boys and the very well-heeled mix with crowds that could just have spilled out of the gates of Glastonbury alongside tourists with residents, money mixing with absolutely no money at all.
This flotsam and jetsam of life engenders almost entire inclusivity, here anything goes and no-one need be a stranger because everyone and no-one is.
The joy of Brighton is the welcome to all, which can also be off-putting for those with less tolerance for humanity in all forms.
But it’s marvellous for the vegetarian, the gluten-free, for those seeking life away from the stifling norms and prejudices of small-town England or the conventions of London.
It’s a heady mix and for a lady based in Lancashire it initially felt a little unfriendly at time.
I so am trying to adjust and stop apologising for stepping on people’s toes and smiling at people.
Though that attitude which seems so normal on a London tube jars slightly in a place that for all its affectations, still feels like a medium-sized town by the sea with suburbs.
For the visitors Brighton is glorious in its offering, a seaside experience like no other, with miles of pebbly peaches and windswept sea, endless promenade with its beach-huts and ice-cream stands, the tacky salt n’ vinegary glory of the pier all sitting alongside the fashionable bars, restaurants, high end stores and the inexplicable British Airways i360 observation tower (the world’s first vertical cable car apparently) stretching into the skies above.
I haven’t been on it yet – there is so much else to do.
The sea is endless @jabberingjourno
The fashionable Lanes with high-end shopping and endless pubs and restaurants are just a hop and skip from the seafront and the railway station. Nothing is far away and accommodation options are plentiful if not cheap.
Brighton can be a cruel mistress, it welcomes all but only if you can afford it, which is why is so perfect for a visit.
With tiny flats selling at half a million pounds plus, a casual glance in an estate agent is heart-attack for a time-served northerner where the same buys a palatial detached pad.
The signs of big city poverty are never far away in Brighton, there are many homeless people, buskers, beggars but don’t be fooled, this is a place of many riches.
Brighton and Hove is young girl born to nice well-off parents and blonde ringlets with its unbeatable coastal position, transport links and access to the big city.
It is the rebellious child who took those natural advantages and thumbed up his nose to expected society norms.
Hard to know where to start when plumbing its depths but if like me, eating, drinking, shopping and walking on the beach and downs are your things, you will be well-served here.
I will be adding 10 fantastic things to do shortly!