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Beside The Seaside In Brighton

brighton_pier_sign.jpgOne of England’s iconic seaside towns down on the south coast, Brighton has much to offer the visitor. We took advantage of all the bank holidays this year to have a great family break there over Easter.

Beach life

If, like me, you’ve never been to Brighton, you might be surprised to find there’s almost no sand. Instead there’s a huge pebbly beach, thankfully all smooth so they don’t hurt your feet. It was hot when we arrived so we headed straight out there with the crowds.

Brighton is well used to looking after visitors so there are plenty of facilities and activities. It still has a traditional feel with its long promenade, and down on the beach stacks of coffee shops (top quality most of them!), postcard and bucket & spade sellers.

A tale of two piers

We stayed in the Holiday Inn, just across the road from the burnt out shell of West Pier. Wrecked in a storm and then attacked by arsonists, it’s still a landmark, and a viewing tower is due to be built overlooking it in the next few years. A bit further along, Brighton Pier is still in full swing. It’s lined with little shops and amusement arcades if you fancy it, or you can take a stroll along the boards. We also got some extra excitement when a group of daring young chaps climbed onto the shop roofs, took a running jump and leapt into the sea before the security guards could catch them.

Brighton Pavilion

Weird & wonderful but somehow not out of place, Brighton’s most famous building was the seaside palace of the Prince Regent, later George IV, in the early 19th century. It was sold by Queen Victoria in 1850 who stripped it of everything
including the wallpaper. Luckily, Brighton & Hove Council were enlightened enough to buy it and begin the mammoth task
of restoration. With an Indian themed exterior and Chinese themed interior, it’s no faded museum piece but vibrant, bright & sumptuously royal palace. Cool!

Around town

Brighton is compact enough to walk around comfortably. You’ll find the usual major chains, but also a great mix of all sorts of smaller shops in the winding maze of little old streets known as The Lanes. Buildings are elegant, and fish & chip shops second to none! We dined on fish & chips by the seafront a couple of nights, and for a bit of a change one evening, strolled along to Stekis Greek restaurant which had some of the nicest waiting staff I’ve come across.

Places to go & things to see

There are theatres, galleries, seafront games and many, many cafes & restaurants, but for families, the Sea Life Centre should be on the to do list. You can see stingrays close up, handle of some of the smaller creatures, walk through the glass tunnel with water on three sides and take a trip across the huge tank in a glass bottom boat. The Centre is also the world’s oldest aquarium. For a change of pace (literally), we went to Brighton Racecourse, just a couple of miles up the hill. The Racecourse is very family friendly and seeing horses thundering past at 30mph is much more exciting live than on TV.

Around & about

The South Downs are right on the doorstep - beautiful rolling English countryside, glorious in springtime. We had a few trips out. We found the Jack & Jill windmills (both shut unfortunately) and Michelham Priory, and if we’d had more time
would have got to Drusilla’s Park – a zoo with other attractions & activities for children. Leicester has a lot going for it, but
one thing it definitely lacks is a beach. If you feel like a trip to the seaside a bit further afield than Lincolnshire, then Brighton is an easy & pleasant place to spend a few days. It took us around three hours, with stops, and as we came back on royal wedding day, even the M25 was clear.

By Nichola Pell

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