Brighton, Oh Brighton

I’m rather fond of Brighton. It’s a city that intrigues me; known as “London-by-the-sea”, it’s nestled on the southern coast and has a pier with old-fashioned seaside attractions appending itself to every nook, cranny, and crevice. But then there’s the other side; a different vibe, a very metropolitan, modern edge to it. Money is clearly being invested; the Jubilee Library is gorgeous, the first vertical cable car – capable of ferrying you up 45 feet – is now open, and there’s a diversity to the place that has a genuine warmth from the moment you get off the train.

That openness is part of the reason that Brighton is famous, of course, and deservedly so; I applaud the ongoing efforts of all its communities to make it a decent place to live. I flick through the local paper when I’m there, and there seems to be a lot of community spirit.

I’ve spent time wandering the streets, meandering along the seafront, peering into tiny museums and information centres, chatting with locals, sitting in parks, and eating at local restaurants. My friends and I have sat in the park, wandered down to the Pavilion (but, I couldn’t push myself to spending all that money in order to look around), found a market, saw sand sculptures being made, and had caricatures made. It was very inviting; we’re always made to feel like old friends.

Have you ever heard of The Lanes? If you haven’t, shame on you. If you have; they’re fantastic, aren’t they? A rabbit warren of streets, courtyards, and squares, they’re interlinked in a confused (at least to me) outline, with little boutiques, shops and cafes supplementing the independent vibe. An entire afternoon can easily be whiled away round the shops, and I’ve even been caught for a caricature before.

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I’m starting to learn a little more about Brighton. I’ve walked along the promenade and was fascinated by the energy and dynamism of the front. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m conscious that every community has a downside, and that’s – sadly – a part of life. Brighton has a number of homeless people, there are a few boarded-up shops, and parts of the promenade is blocked up by chain fencing that seems to have been that way for some time. But … and it’s an emphatic but … the city feels alive. It’s buzzing with an energy that makes me feel that people care about the place they live – that they want to solve any problems the city has, and I rather suspect they will, one way or the other.

Go to this rather lovely and unique city that’s in the heart of the commuter belt and yet sits right on the sea; go and walk the streets and enjoy the sights and sounds and friendliness of the community. I heartily recommend it; I love the place, and will definitely be going back whenever I can.

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