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…




‘Normal for Norfolk’

I feel an immense sense of pressure for this first post to be something special. Like almost every single blogger I come across, I have long been searching for a creative outlet and somewhere to share and document my thoughts, experiences, aspirations and hopefully my own design work. This seemed like a pretty good place to start…

A couple of weeks ago we made a very last minute decision to embark on the (almost!) four hour journey on a Friday evening to spend the weekend in Norfolk and catch up with a couple of friends.The welcome from Toby and Eleanor was so unbelievably warming I completely forgot that this was only the second time we had met.

Having signed up to run a ridiculous amount of miles throughout September we decided to brave the rain and head out for a swift Saturday morning run. However after a few minutes we found ourselves running in an open field with absolutely no idea where to go, and more importantly where we were allowed to go. Just about to turn back to find a path, we spotted a small soggy terrier followed by a small soggy man jogging towards us and holding something close to his body. We were invited to join the small soggy man and his terrier for the rest of his route. He was on his way home from collecting blackberries to make jam – hence the strange package! We learnt all about how this chap lived not far from where we were staying, how he has his own honey bees and likes to crush and freeze his raspberries to make jam rather than boiling it. Returning to the house soaked head to toe I felt a little like it had been some sort of a strange dream – chasing an old blackberry picking, honey harvesting man through the fields and woods of Norfolk.

The beach was our next stop before lunch. The grey, drizzly weather actually gave the beach a lovely hue, and made it feel calmer. It was different to the beaches we are used to in the South West – there were no cliffs. The beach was surrounded purely by fields and greenery. We managed to spot the local delicacy – Cromer crab – but unfortunately the seagulls had got there first. All that was left was the odd claw or shell! We also spotted a cheeky seal, bopping up every now and then whilst making his way towards a couple of fishermen – no doubt planning to sabotage their morning!

Toby and Eleanor work at the Cafe and Restaurant at the beautiful Wiveton Hall. Having heard about the delicious menu and how the estate has been the focus of the BBC Two series titled ‘Normal for Norfolk’ we thought it would be rude not to visit for lunch. The decor inside the Cafe is refreshingly bright and vibrant, yet has a welcoming and homely vibe. We really were not disappointed with the food. I had the Welsh Rarebit and Dan had the Goats cheese, Fig and Walnut salad – always a winning combination!

After lunch we were shown the beautiful walled garden used to grow the fruit and vegetables for restaurant. We munched on deliciously ripe mulberries and figs as we took in the space before us that was absolutely full of  wonderful flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs. My favourite spot was the greenhouse used to grow tomatoes and basil – I like to think that growing the two together would result in some kind of basil infused tomatoes – yum! I also spotted the biggest pumpkins I have EVER seen!

Saturday evening was spent cooking. And I mean the entire evening. Dan, Toby and Eleanor share a love and knowledge for food that I am envious of. It’s not even just the eating that excites them – it’s the whole process of combining flavours and textures to create something delicious, especially if it’s a slightly unusual combination. We each decided upon a small dish to create, and dined on a feast throughout the night; grilled chilli corn on the cob, crab linguine, sushi, and jerk chicken with courgette fritters. Yum!

Sunday took us to a beautiful nearby village and the Duck Inn at Stanhoe for lunch. I felt a little sad that we only had two days in Norfolk, yet in that short time I felt so rested. Sometimes just a change of scenery can help to revive you, and make you forget about the worries and stresses of the week ahead. I would like to dedicate this first post to Toby and Eleanor, and to thank you both for making us feel so welcome (and giving me a wonderful weekend to write about!) I would also like to thank you for helping us to understand just what is ‘Normal for Norfolk’!