• Sarah Mullaney

Bohemian spirit meets cultural cool – it’s a day out in Brighton

Last weekend, my family and I took a cute little day trip to Brighton. My dad and brother, James, support West Bromwich Albion FC, and since the club were playing an away match, me and my mom thought we’d tag along and do a bit of exploring. Considering we’d never been to Brighton before and only had a day to get acquainted with the city – I’m pretty proud of how much ground we covered!

As well as wanting to go somewhere new (I think a regular change of scenery does you the world of good), there was another reason why I was so keen to visit the seaside city.

In my role as a copywriter, I write a lot of travel content and I genuinely can’t count the amount of times I’ve written about Brighton, how it’s a hip and bohemian city etc. etc. But, I’d never actually been there and could only write based on what I’d read from other people. That’s why I was so glad I got the opportunity to go. As well as having a really lovely time with my mom, it was a great learning experience and I feel like I can give a more authentic account of Brighton in my writing.

And so, before I keep you any longer with my witterings – BEHOLD, here is Brighton!

The Lanes

First on our list was a stroll through the twisting and turning alleyways of the city’s historic quarter – the lovely Lanes.

As the pathways got thinner and the buildings cast a shadow over us, it really did feel like we’d jumped back into some sort of Charles Dickens novel. But of course, in a Charles Dickens novel you certainly wouldn’t find a shop called Choccywoccydoodah!

Choccywoccydoodah is a chocolate lover’s paradise. It kind of reminded me of a real life Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – you could easily believe that things like the walls and the staircase were edible (but I wasn’t willing to test that theory).

Whilst I managed to (somehow) resist temptation and not buy anything, I loved all of the designer artsy cakes; they were incredible! I really wanted to steal the ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ cake. Intricate writing, glittery red roses and a skull for good measure, it’s edgy AF and would be a proper head turner at an actual wedding… am I right? I don’t know, maybe this is my inner goth child coming out…

We continued walking down the Lanes and were met by a whole range of independent shops, boutiques and unique eateries (with brilliant names – there was a Thai restaurant called The Giggling Squid, I love it!), all of which were decorated outside with pretty pastel coloured bunting.

For lunch, my mom and I were in a sandwichy mood and only happened to stumble across the best sandwich shop in Brighton. Literally – it’s been awarded that title (although I’m not sure who by…). The café, called The Little Shop, was tucked away in one of the Lanes and was run by the loveliest old man who was always full of smiles. Come to think of it, everyone we encountered in Brighton was so friendly – it’s a very happy city!

Anyway, back to lunch. We sat outside (a bit chilly but brilliant for people watching!) and I treated myself to some amazing smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches. *Drools* They were little pieces of heaven in sandwich form. My mom had smoked salmon and egg sandwiches and she too was in sandwich ecstasies (we were clearly in a very salmony mood that day too).

Brighton’s literally oozing with character and charm and while we ate, we enjoyed background music from a busker who was singing and playing bluesy rock on an electric guitar. Seriously, how cool is that?!

I’m conscious I’ve talked a lot about the Lanes, so I’ll wrap it up by saying that we also stopped off in Sugardough Café. It’s super cute and I had the amazing crumbly goodness known as raspberry yum yums (basically shortbread with a raspberry icing inside – sooooo good).

Royal Pavilion

Just five minutes from the Lanes is the Royal Pavilion, an exotic palace built as a gift for King George IV in the early 1900s. It’s a breath-taking combination of British regency and the visual styles of India and China, and is seriously worth getting a picture (or 10) of. Since me and my mom had so much of Brighton that we wanted to see in such little time, we didn’t actually go inside, but if it’s anything like the outside, the inside must be absolutely bladdy gorgeous!

North Laine

Eeeek – this was, without a doubt, my favourite part of Brighton and I could have quite honestly spent an entire day here. North Laine, in a nutshell, is Brighton’s bohemian and cultural quarter. It’s made up of a few streets full of the most quirky, vibrant and eclectic independent shops and eateries you can imagine.

Seriously, it’s got everything. Stalls selling gypsy-like jewellery, vintage clothes, a cinema, art shops, a vegan shoe shop (with the line ‘a treat for your feet if you don’t eat meat’ – why didn’t I think of that?!), a sex shop – EVERYTHANG. Basically if you want to ‘stick it to the man’ and find something unique away from all the huge commercial retail chains, North Laine is the one for you.

If anything, North Laine’s character and flair was reflected the most by the people soaking up the area. Misfits, indie kids, boho babes, goth queens, rock feinds – there was such a mish mash of people, all of whom were unique with their own identity.

Before visiting Brighton, I’d seen a picture of the Komedia building and I knew that, even if I didn’t go inside, I had to see it and get a photo. The Komedia is a comedy, entertainment and music venue and, as you can see, has a pair of legs and red shoes on the roof. I don’t know why I love this so much, I guess it’s because it reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. So when I accidentally stumbled across this in North Laine, I was ridiculously happy.

Side note: I told my mom in the car about the Komedia and she said, “Ooh, that sounds like something rude!” *Sigh*

Street art

If North Laine sounds like your kind of thing, then you’re going to absolutely adore Brighton’s street art. I only saw a fraction of the street art painted across the city, but everything I saw was again, oozing with cool, character and pure, unadulterated passion. It rivals the street art I see by my work in Digbeth, and I envy people who are lucky enough to be able to look at that every single day. I loved all the art I saw, but my firm favourites were the meerkat building (can I have them painted on my future house, please?) and the Wonder Woman #shevotes wall.

Brighton pier

Before the end of the day, we also had a quick walk along the beach and pier. Yep – me and my mom managed to fit a lot into one day! I can’t really say much about these, the pier was very touristy and the beach was having some maintenance work in places. But still, the pier was great to get a photo of and was another thing I was very keen to tick off my list! Even though I’m not big on the whole touristy aspect of it, the pier was lovely for a little walk and a change of scenery. It’s free to enter too – so you can’t argue with that!

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I think it’s safe to say that I have a soft spot for Brighton. Can you blame me though? It’s not every day you find an artsy city brimming with quirk and character, oozing cultural cool and kicking ass with its unstoppable bohemian spirit.

Brighton, it’s been a pleasure – can’t wait to visit you again soon x

Copyright © by Sarah Mullaney 2020