03 February 2011

Finally, Brighton. As promised.

(Sorry this post is late...the wifi at my landlady's house has gone on bank holiday or something, so I had to get down to the pub today and mooch theirs to do all my internet-ing.)

This trip was the first for my “British Life and Culture” class. We departed from campus at 930am, piling into two enormous buses for an hour’s drive down to the coast, where we would experience the place they call ‘London-on-Sea.’

Brighton is an interesting place – a little seedy but still holding on to a lot of its original elegance, it's crawling with a cosmopolitan and terribly fashionable populace and it's also a bit rusty around the edges (thanks to that salt sea air, I would guess). Altogether, lots of fun. According to Dr. Woods, who acted as our tour guide as the buses moved into town, it’s known chiefly for its checkered history (lots of sleazy hotels and a booming escort service, especially back in the day when divorces were hard – unless you got yourself caught in bed with a prostitute), Prince George IV’s Royal Pavilion (which we toured – more on that later) and cure-all sea bathing tradition. Way back in the 1730s, this man,


one Doctor Russell, wrote and told his friends that there was something about the seawater at Brighton that would cure everything you had: arthritis, acne, cancer, the common cold…all right, so I made that list up, but people did believe that swimming down there would cure pretty much everything. So they did. And the town got a whole lot bigger, busier and richer after that. 

Fast forward a bit: though we were left to our own devices for most of this trip (a good thing, too, because the streets in Brighton are narrow and twisty, besides sloping down at least a 30-degree angle in most places. Our massed presence would not have been appreciated), the highlight was our guided tour of that Royal Pavilion I told you about.

The name is misleading. There are no royals living in it anymore, and it doesn’t look like any pavilion I’ve ever seen. The outside’s built in the fanciful, seventeenth-century-English idea of an Indian palace, and the inside’s the same, only Chinese-ish. It was great, though. They wouldn’t let us take pictures of the interior, because everything’s so old (and it’s hard to find pictures online unless you get lucky on a Google search).  Prince George had ritzy taste, to say the least; dragons, chandeliers, velvet, wrought iron, Eastern curiosities and gilt EVERYTHING.
In 1850, however, Queen Victoria sold the Pavilion to the Brighton city council. She wasn’t a fan of her uncle George’s style, with the flash and flamboyance and so on. She stripped everything out of the house before she left, though (a la the Clintons upon their White House exit not so long ago), and it took the restoration crews ages to get stuff back from the various royal residences and museums.

Just outside the Pavilion is the Brighton Museum, which we were allowed to take pictures in. I spent a fair amount of time in there (although not as much as Josh did), taking in the town’s history - that is to say, the history of its wealthy collectors . Picked up a friend, too; another study abroad student from our group, named Michelle. She’s here studying journalism.

 Michelle and I ended up leaving Josh at the museum and going down to the pier (once we found our way), where it was at least five degrees colder. You can see the funfair down there, as well as the rusted-out heap that was the old pier.

It was pretty overcast, as you can see, but we had fun looking in the little shops on the pebbly beach. I managed to restrain myself from buying anything, although I was sorely tempted once or twice.

The three of us also visited Brighton’s  trendy little shopping district, which looked a lot like a giant antique store/rummage sale had exploded across about eight blocks. Here, I obtained coffee.

I really wanted to spend money here, but Josh and Michelle were getting cold (and bored, I suspect), so there was none of that. Eventually, it was time to meet our bus to go home, and it was coming on twilight when we all (minus one person, who apparently didn’t show up on time and had to take the train home!) piled in and dozed our way back to Kingston.

Altogether, I really liked Brighton, in all its seedy, friendly, sketchy glory. I hope you have, too. 


  1. If this looked any cooler, I'd be airborne right now, paperwork or no. Seriously, we should think about hitting Brighton when we're up there. This was a great post! I think I still prefer your day-to-day blogs, but I get how you'd want to consolidate by theme. Whatever, it's just good to hear reports from the front! Hope you're enjoying Acting class!

  2. Hey Love! I like to think that I am tech saavy, but I am having a TIME leaving you a post!!!

  3. Okay, I think I figured it out. Welcome, Fran, to the 21st century. You don't know how many comments I have deleted to you (smile) OMG! I would have hug out at the flea market with you...were those sewing machines??? printing plates????fabric? ART??? And the pavillion is beautiful. The textural pattern of indian architecture is always inspiring to me. If you have more detailed pics of the building, email them to me. This adventure is really very cool! Can't wait for the next one!

  4. Ruth: We should. Maybe we'll run the costs on that when you get here, yes? Which I am EXTREMELY excited about, I don't know if you've heard...

    Aunt Fran: this cracks me up;) I'm glad you figured it out, though! I'll look back through the files and see if I've goe some closer pics of the architecture for you...don't actually remember offhand.

  5. Lauren, I had no idea you had a blog, either! I've looked through a bit of it (I'm currently on break between classes), and I like what you have - although I'm not the world's biggest fan of Blogger.

    Just because one has a fancy camera does not guarantee amazing photos. I've seen some incredible ones taken with a "cheapo" camera and crappy ones taken with a fancier camera. You've just got to work at it. On a related note, I never noticed that you took that photo of me in Brighton.

    And do you mind if I add your blog to my blogroll? It's a quick go-to place for me to keep up with everything.

  6. Michelle: Oh yes - my sneaky camera captured you. I hope you don't mind? And sure, feel free to add me to your blogroll!

  7. Okay,I'm just getting around to reading your Brighton post. I love it. Was that a worn leather portfolio? I looked like a lot of fun.


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