You might look at the photo below and wonder where we’ve been on our most recent trip. Which far flung land does that rather grandiose structure call home? If you guessed India, you’d be on the right track. Wrong continent, but right track. That marvelous piece of architecture was built about two hundred years ago in Brighton, as a bit of a playhouse for the Price Regent. Indian design was all the rage back then. Welcome to Brighton, the original quick-getaway tourist destination for the wealthy crowd of London Town! It’s less than an hour from London on the train. Or about two and a half hours along the coast from Bournemouth, our starting point for the trip.
Brighton, like most English towns and cities of any size, has a rich seam of history, intrigue and culture running through it. But today it is famed for being a centre of new media, its slightly hippy-ish shopping, fantastic wall murals, being the gay capital of the UK, and of course for its piers. One of which is grand. The other, sadly, is just a burnt shell now separated from the shore. Hordes of tourists still descend on the town (the twenty and thirty-somethings, usually in large packs) intent on a weekend of binge drinking and partying till the early hours.
We came for a bit of shopping and sightseeing, not the night life. And I for some photography. I’ve already written a couple of posts on my photography blog – click here. I used my phone camera extensively, but did snap a few shots with my Fuji for upload to Flickr – click here. Did we like Brighton? Yes, we did. Of course. Although. But. There’s just something about Brighton that’s a little bit…I don’t know.
A lot of English towns have had to reinvent themselves in recent years to adapt to a changing world. Brighton feels like it tried too hard. Which is ironic, really, because at first glance you’d have assumed everyone just got thoroughly stoned and went mad with a limitless supply of spray cans, then chilled out on the beach eating gluten free organic veggy pizza while braiding each others hair, before putting on a selection of mad hats and colourful clothing to strut around town. Someone encountering Brighton for the first time might wonder if the town inspired the book Alice in Wonderland. But this Brighton didn’t exist back then. So perhaps it’s the other way round. So, yes. We liked Brighton. But if truth be told, we preferred Bristol.