That time we went to Brighton

If Bristol was to have a lovechild with a Cornish coastal town, I’m pretty sure Brighton would be the result. I’d heard Brighton was a hub for culture of all forms, but wasn’t expecting it to be quite so visually exciting. Every street and corner seemed to house a gallery, cafe, bar, wall of graffiti or row of colourful houses. The girls from Uni were the perfect companions to explore a city so rich with art and design. We don’t see each other often, and this was actually only the second time we’ve managed to coordinate our lives since finishing Uni a couple of years ago, but I always look forward to my time with these wonderful ladies!

I took charge of booking accommodation – our budget provided a limited selection which resulted in a rather average ‘hotel’. That’s all I’ll say about it for now, but it did the job! One of the girls came armed with a list of places to visit – mostly food orientated! It guided us to ‘Food for Friends’ on Friday evening – the most incredible (and actually possibly only!!!) vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been to. Considering we arrived after 9.30 without a reservation, the staff gave us a warm welcome and guided us to a table. The menu selection was difficult – everything looked and smelt so delicious! I opted for a strawberry lager to drink, then shared a haloumi and mushroom burger, and ravioli sent from heaven. It was open ravioli with a Brighton blue cheese sauce, roasted butternut squash, baby spinach, courgette and walnuts. It was one of those meals you never want to end! I didn’t even get a photo of it! Dessert was a molten chocolate pudding with strawberries, ice cream and crushed pistachios. Also delicious but I began to regret it on the walk back to the ‘hotel’!!!

We woke up to a rather miserable Saturday morning – not quite the crisp Autumn day we’d hoped to be spending on the beach! Nevertheless we wrapped up and headed out into the wet,misty air (after a brief disagreement with the ‘hotel’ manager about requesting a discount to make up for the dirty room we had slept in – the answer was no!). The Breakfast Club was our chosen destination for breakfast – I would quite happily have spent all day in the 80s world of flamingoes, clashing tiles and disco music. The girls opted for pancakes and I immediately regretted my decision of Eggs Royale – but I wasn’t disappointed!

Leaving the warmth and dryness of the 80s behind us, we spent a couple of hours meandering around The Lanes. Going from the old to new part was like stepping from Diagon Alley straight into Camden. Brighton really is such a beautifully diverse place! I couldn’t believe the amount of graffiti we saw – and not the hastily scrawled ‘Fuck the World’ or the ‘S’ shapes we used to draw everywhere at school – but carefully considered works of art. Most pieces were tucked away down side streets, or tastefully positioned in a more open area but it all just worked. None of it looked tacky or like it has ruined the rural landscape – it had become part of it. I’ve always been fascinated by graffiti artists and their ability to create amazing pieces from just a few cans of coloured aerosol!

After exhausting the masses of galleries and shops selling absolutely everything you could possibly want, we hit the pub for a pint before making our way to Patterns via the pier. Some quick obligatory pier photographs followed some overpriced and bizarre tasting crepes later we entered the wintery Narnia world created at Patterns for the festive period. I believe on a regular day it triples up as a bar/restaurant/club, but on this day it was hosting a lino printing session. Unfortunately we were too late to buy tickets, but were able to enjoy a few cocktails in the wintery world of Narnia before battling through the rows of fur coats and back out into the wet and cold.

Dinner was a mildly bizarre experience. We did in fact have dinner in da club. After discovering The Tempest as one of the places to visit in Brighton, we decided upon dining at The Crab Claw at the Tempest. It was an unusual experience. The building was pretty cool and was along the beach front, built under the roads that run above the beach. It reminded me a little of the clubs in Bath most of which are underground. The food was good but it was weird eating whilst the bar was full of Jaeger bombing hipsters!

Having originally wanted to stay at The Artists Residence (unfortunately bank balances didn’t agree!) we at least wanted to sample their renowned cocktail menu. I have never spent so long deciding on a drink – the menu was incredible and full of deliciously enticing ingredients! Two ‘Lucy in the Sky’s’ arrived with fluffy clouds of candy floss and I had a ‘Green Tea Phone Home’. Perhaps the most delicious cocktail I’ve ever had – a dusky pink glass full of joy! One day when I’m earning a little more money I would love to head back here to stay for a couple of nights – you almost wanted a day just to explore the building!

Sunday was typically beautiful. Due to trains leaving at around 1 we only had the morning to explore – but we absolutely made the most of it! Breakfast again was yummy, and fuelled us ready for a morning of beach walking and pier fun! After not winning millions on the 2p machines, the rides were calling. I was more than happy with a few rounds on the merry go round but instead we opted for the not so Haunted House. It was fun though. Not content with the thrills of our trip through the house, the Rollercoaster was calling us. I was not anticipating the fear I felt whilst on the smallest roller coaster I’ve ever seen. Being sat on the outer side, it felt like we were going to fly off the rails and straight into the sea at every corner! I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time – not since we bounced our way around the Bumper Car track in our first year of Uni!

The giggles and happy tears inducing roller coaster ride was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend away with some of the loveliest girls I know. Please let’s not leave it so long next time ladies, what a hoot!

PS…I took far too many photos so here’s a few more to share with you all…

 

 

Matcha, dumplings,walks and dislocations

I’ve really been trying to gather my life into some sort of routine – getting up at the same time daily etc to try and maximise productivity and make the most of every day! So far I am not doing too well at organising everything, but this is a new week so I’m going to REALLY try now! One thing I do need to work on is this blog. Before I started blogging I would read others and wonder why they only post once or twice a week, if that. Now I totally understand. I now retract my ‘I’m going to blog everyday’ statements. Fully. And I apologise for being to naive! So this is a little late, but here goes…

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Last weekend was full of promises of wonderful treats. I set of to Bath early Saturday morning to drop Dan at jiujitsu (I’m not entirely sure that’s how it’s spelt!?!) and made my way into town to visit some of my favourite shops. I went to Uni in Bath and lived there for a year so it’s a town full of nostalgia. I’ve said before I think it’s one of the only cities in the UK I would happily live in. I managed to mooch around Anthropologie and Hay before receiving a phone call from Dan to inform me he was in A&E with a dislocated shoulder. For a split second I was angry he had ruined my shopping trip (selfish cow I know!!) then I quickly felt guilty rushed to the car park to head to the hospital.

We had planned to visit Comins Tea Shop and after a couple of hours in A&E decided it would be a great way to chill and for Dan to relax a little after his morning’s antics! We met the owner at Abergavenny Food Festival and he introduced us to Matcha Green Tea – my new fave! Comins is all about the whole experience of tea drinking, and is not your typical tea and bun cafe. Each tea is served in its traditional teapot and receptacle, and comes with a timer and a flask of hot water (the temperature of water is again different depending on the tea). I first went for the Matcha – a fine powder which is sifted before being whisked into hot water in a small bowl. I won’t lie it looks a little bit like frothy pond water, but it’s such a deliciously fresh tea – and bang on trend! Dan had a Green Sencha which was served in a Japanese Kyusu teapot. We ordered some Japanese dumplings to go with our tea – the perfect accompaniment! I would recommend Comins to any tea lover – and in fact to anyone who is open to trying something different!

Our Sunday morning plans weren’t affected by Dan’s accident and we headed to Westonbirt Arboretum. The colours haven’t quite turned yet so we will be visiting again in the next couple of weeks for the gorgeous orange and red glows! One thing we weren’t expecting was the new treetop bridge. I’d read about it but because we haven’t visited for so long we hadn’t yet seen it. The bridge is pretty amazing and far longer than we anticipated. It was absolutely full of people though so it will be nice to go back at a quieter time. Westonbirt is such a beautifully maintained arboretum and I can’t wait for the Autumn and Winter events there!

Some friends of ours – Will and Kat – recently took over the Royal Oak in Leighterton. They’ve spent the summer stripping the pub back, redecorating, sanding, varnishing, building and accessorising, and Sunday afternoon was the first time we got to fully experience their hard work. They have done such a beautiful job to create a warm and welcoming feel – a traditional yet contemporary country pub. The selection of ales and cider has been as carefully considered as the decor, with a range of local Uley ales and Black Rat cider and perry among them. The Sunday menu was impressive and I opted for the tomato and mozzarella arancini, roast beef and bake well tart. The food was absolutely incredible, and the beef quite possibly the BEST I’ve ever had! I urge you all to pay the pub a visit – you will not be disappointed!!

I find the best way to help a big meal settle is an afternoon stroll. After gaining directions from a local farmer, we set off across the fields of Leighterton for a brisk walk to try and burn off some of the thousands of calories we had consumed!! I’ve never really explored the area before but in the early evening light it was absolutely stunning! Even more of a reason for you to go and visit the Royal Oak!