A number of years ago, we were off to America from Heathrow Airport. We drove down the night before, checked into the hotel, and with Brighton only 90 minutes away, we decided to head down and take a look.
It was a fleeting visit, mainly around the pier, but we liked it, it was the typical Seaside sort of town, but being around 5 hours from home, it’s somewhere we weren’t likely to be back to any time soon to find what we had missed.
So, roll on a few years, during the summer holidays in 2015, we found ourselves staying in a little hotel not too far away from Heathrow airport for a short break, and took the opportunity to head back to Brighton and spend the day there.
The drive is painless, until you hit the outskirts of Brighton, and the traffic really builds up. On driving through the outskirts, it started looking like we had made a wrong decision, boarded up shops, graffiti strewn buildings, it looked like a complete tip. Nevertheless, we pressed on, and suddenly burst out onto the seafront, and there was the Brighton we remembered, the pier in front of us, the fish and chip shops, the Brighton rock, yeah, we could look forward to a good day.
It was around 11am by the time we hit the seafront, and finding a car park is no easy task. Given the amount of traffic, it was a real challenge. Add to this, the astronomical amount some car parks wanted, an NCP car park just off the front wanting £18.50 for 4 hours – yes, that’s no mistake, £18.50 – it was a good thing we decided to pull up around the corner and my wife run in to check the prices before we were trapped, for there are no warnings until you cross the barriers.
Other places were around £11 to £15 for 4 hours, but we found a little underground car park, up near to the new Brighton i360 which was offering car parking for £8 for four hours, a tad expensive, however, the cheapest we could find, and I don’t think I could have driven the sea front another time, it was getting tiresome.
So, parking the car, we headed out, and from here, it was a 10 to 15 minute walk to the Pier, however, we took the chance to check out all the little seaside shops, most of them filled with kiss me quick hats, or rock, or I love London t-shirts – I suppose there is more money in I love London than I love Brighton tat.
Walking the seafront was great, there were street entertainers, and ice creams, doughnuts, candy floss, and for a while we took a walk on the beach – however, don’t bother with the bucket and spade, this beach is very much a pebble beach, no sand to be found anywhere.
Getting to the pier, we took a walk along, and it’s pretty nice, nothing too posh, just your typical seaside pier, fortune tellers, sideshow games and a huge arcade are all waiting to explore. Right at the end of the pier, a number of rides wait, a couple of roller coasters, and some other white knuckle rides mixed with some kiddy bits and bobs, we have been to Theme Parks with less rides than the pier, and a wrist band means you can go and do everything, most of the things with zero queue.
Coming off the pier we headed to Harry Ramsdens fish and chip shop across the road, and for £16 we all enjoyed fish n chips, including a childrens version which wasn’t that much smaller than ours. Afterwards we headed up and into the shopping area of Brighton. Your typical shops await, Boots, Sainsburys, Next, Bonmarché – all the sort of shops you would expect in any town, and then a few others, more independent where you can really discover some hidden surprises.
We left Brighton with a good feeling, we had had a great British seaside experience. Sure, parts of it was a little run down, and for some reason, a homeless group of men were using a traffic cone as a megaphone to welcome people to the town, the car parking prices are a complete joke – please do your research before you head out, traffic is a little heavy, but we didn’t leave with any other thoughts than it would be somewhere we would return in the future.