A British Beach Day

Never mind the fact that I’ve unfortunately had to bid a goodbye to dear Britain (more on that later,) alas, the travel posts will keep coming! As I toil away at work in the good old US of A in the blistering heat of summer, a part of my soul is already itching to be roaming around Europe again, and as Los Angeles chokes and coughs with drought and wildfires, I’m yearning particularly for a crisp Atlantic Ocean breeze and proper British beach day, torrential downpours and all.

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Even with its technicolor pier, Brighton Beach is no Santa Monica. And despite what some of its fun-loving inhabitants might have you believe, its isn’t England’s answer to the Jersey Shore, either. At least, not on the day I visited, when sideways rain and hurricane-like gusts of wind and easily the best scones I ate in all of my time in the UK made Brighton a distinctly British experience.

As an Oregonian, I consider myself to be pretty tolerant of wind and rain, but I knew from the moment I stepped off the train on England’s South Coast that the weather would likely try to put a damper on my beach day. Still, having grown up with a Pacific shoreline that was more “coast” than “beach,” I thought I knew what I was in for, and thankfully, despite being a beach city, Brighton is still fairly well-equipped for rainy days, and frequent stops for tea and warmth made the biting sea breezes more bearable.

The day was mildly warm, even sunny, right up until when we made our way to the shore and out onto Brighton’s famous pier, at which point the winds picked up and even walking became a struggle. I managed to get in just a few snaps of the beautiful arcade signs and carousel that make Brighton beach so iconic before the weather drove us further inland.
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Umbrellas were no match for the gusts of wind, so the best option was to run from place to place, seeking shelter from the rain. Also distinctive are the city’s labyrinth of winding, narrow, cobble-stoned streets, slick with rain, glittering with antique jewelry, and sweet with the smell of ice cream, fudge and saltwater taffy.

A few favorite stops along Brighton’s streets included a tasty Thai lunch at the Giggling Squid, an hour or two spent at the the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery (the Brighton wartime and fashion exhibits are especially worth checking out,) and an afternoon tea at Mock Turtle Tea Shop that was memorable for good company and the freshest, fluffiest scones I had in all of my time in England.

Brighton is certainly a far cry from the beaches I’ve come to know living in Southern California, but its charm, even in the most charmless of weather, speaks to the enduring magic and mysticism of long-fabled afternoons spent by the English sea.

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