This should have been five nights in London but having observed the lack of effort the city has made in relation to Covid, I decided to have a change of plan. You have to go back to May 2020 for this one.
Back then, Airlines were offering bargain deals for consumers all the way through to 2021 to make up for the money lost in 2020. A few more weeks, and Covid will be over by the start of Summer 2020. Remember such optimistic times.
I logged on and booked flights for five days in London in July 2020, get out of Belfast during Silly Season and be in London for the weekend of the European Championship Final to see if I could blag a ticket (although most of the crowd at Wembley that night managed to get in without one) and even if I didn’t, I would have a weekend exploring London and all that.
It soon became obvious that London’s Covid response of “Fuck it, we’ll wing it” wasn’t really working, I decided to just give it a miss and change my flights to later in the year, and downgrade my trip to three days in Brighton. Downgrade in number of days only. I think i’ve just spoilt what my verdict on Brighton is going to be.
The last time I was in London, in 2018, I regretted not sneaking in a day trip to Brighton, so that’s why I slotted in an extra day to the London trip, which would have been Monday 12th July if all had gone well.
As it turned out, the Sunday I should have been in London was widespread public unrest due to the football, the, um, highlight of which was someone shoving a smoke bomb up their bum.
Then on the Monday, there was torrential rain in London which resulted in Brian May’s house flooding, as well as some other mortals who weren’t in Queen.
I’m guessing that the flooding was bad as there where a lot of posters in Brighton to advertise that his wife is doing Panto in Brighton this Christmas.
It looks like I made the right decision giving London a swerve that weekend. It’s almost quite impressive for a place to be so bad that you’d rather spend mid July in Belfast.
I’ve got a milestone birthday coming up in early 2023, so i’m looking at ideas for places to go. Seriously London, can you get your act together?
I decided to go ahead with this trip. I could have just been constantly putting the trip off and off forever.
This was my first flight since January 2020. I have a lot of observations about flying out of Belfast.
The first one is getting there. My flight was at 8.30am, so I got the 6am bus to get me there for around 6.30am. That was the first bus of the day. There were flights leaving before mine, so if there were people looking to get there for one of the earlier flights by Public Transport, they would be cutting it fine.
Belfast International Airport now has Water Refill Points, except, they don’t advertise them or have them signposted. If i’d known, I would have brought an empty bottle with me.
I did plan to get a bottle of water but after being quoted £2.70 at Fed And Watered, I decided I could live without it for a few hours. Seriously, can we stop using Covid as an excuse to take the piss with pricing?
It would be nice if people could learn how to walk on the left. It’s not that hard, it’s literally the first thing you learn in school. Especially so as Belfast International Airport isn’t the most spacious.
Also, masks over noses. You’ve made the effort to wear one, at least do it properly.
The mask ratio was a lot higher than a lot of other places I have been to, but it would have been more reassuring if it was a bit higher. Oh sorry, I forgot, quite a lot of people suffer from Maskexemptionitis.
It would have been nice if there was a pharmaceutical shop, such as Boots, Semichem, Savers or Superdrug.
As I had already paid for baggage, it was too much effort to change it, so I just went with it. If I was booking a new trip, I would have just taken a small wheelie bag and bought mini shower gel/toothpaste/etc at the airport. Well, I would have if there was a shop to buy it in.
Sometimes, I forget my toothbrush having brushed my teeth when getting ready and forgetting to put it in my bag, so I buy a £1 disposable one at the airport to do me. Well, if there was a shop where I could buy such a thing.
Information Screens could only hold one page of info but they publish two pages worth of information, and they stay on pages for a long time. At least with Ceefax, you could push a button on your remote to change the page.
If i’m there at 7am, I don’t really need to know about flights at 3pm. Or at least, get a bigger screen to cover two pages worth of information like Gatwick Airport has?
Whenever I was called to boarding, there was another flight boarding in the same area as mine. Hardly the most Covid secure idea to have so many people loitering about a small area, and they were both on the same airline. Surely they could have moved to another gate? And if people are called, get them on the plane instead of making them stand about and queue.
So, I arrived in Gatwick, before heading to Gatwick Train Station for the short journey to Brighton, accompanied by a copy of Metro.
I love Metro, probably because we don’t have it in Northern Ireland. Rush Hour Crush is my dirty little secret. They were blank on Monday and Tuesday. What was wrong with you England? I know Metro is available in Scotland and Wales as well, but it’s mostly (all?) people from England who post submissions.
There was a lot of submissions in Wednesday’s edition. There was a woman who had the horn for a man she saw eating a tuna sandwich.
Eventually, I arrived in Brighton, and dumped my luggage in my hotel, as I was a bit early for my check-in.
I stayed at Hotel Pelirocco, perfectly situated for both Brighton Beach and Brighton City Centre. It was easy to find too, being right beside British Airways 360.
Coincidentally, that would be my first place to go.
I usually avoid big touristy places but I made an exception for this. It’s an Observation Tower, allowing you to take in the sights of Brighton from a great height.
The best things is, you don’t have to walk up stairs or take a lift. You just walk in and the building moves upwards.
I booked on the next available flight, which was 12pm, although I later wished I was on the next one at 12.30pm, so I could be on the 12.30 flight, like in Africa by Toto.
It was a great opportunity to check out the views of Brighton, with each section you go to having the sights and landmarks to look out for highlighted for you.
One of those, was The Amex Stadium. Unfortunately, it was an overcast day so I couldn’t added to my Football Stadiums Viewed From A Great Height alongside Windsor Park, Solitude, The Oval, Easter Road and Edgeley Park.
I did go past it on a train on the Tuesday though.
As it was a weekday in November, it wasn’t that busy thankfully.
I was trying to imagine something in Belfast, and then I remember people would get offended about it being sponsored by British Airways, then they would argue about where to build it and what should be considered landmarks. People in Belfast aren’t allowed to have nice things. At least we can walk up Cavehill.
The rest of Monday was spent walking along Brighton Beach and Brighton Pier, Kemptown, The Laines and North Laine. Nothing much, just taking it easy.
I’ve discovered my new favourite shop, Snooper’s Paradise. It’s self explanatory really, a Retro/Vintage/Junk Store that is great for rummaging around for bargains. It is my sad duty to inform Empire Exchange in Manchester that they are no longer my favourite shop. I still love them though.
After checking in to my hotel and then going for a bite to eat, I was ready to put my feet up for the night. Tuesday was going to be a busy day.
Breakfast at my hotel was at 8am. As I was up early on the Tuesday, I headed for a stroll along Brighton Beach just to kill time.
As I walked along, I saw a camera crew. I was curious who it was, naturally. I had assumed that it was BBC Breakfast or Good Morning Britain doing a Live OB.
I then spotted a man in mismatching bright clothes. It wasn’t? It only was, Michael Portillo filming a new series of Great British Railway Journeys.
There’s a little exclusive for you. And yes, I was giddy with excitement at such a celeb spot.
After a spot of breakfast, I headed to Brighton Train Station.
I had planned to take in a hillwalk while I was there, and Tuesday was the day I had in mind for doing it.
That would involve a train journey to Eastbourne to visit Beachy Head. There’s a separate blog on that.
I got derailed, excuse the pun, by spotting some Street Art, going to get photos of it, and going for a wander around Kemptown.
Eventually I made it to Brighton Train Station, just missing the next direct train to Eastbourne.
I was able to get a train which meant I had a brief stopover in Lewes, which I took, getting to spot The Amex Stadium out of my window, adding it to my list of Football Stadiums Gone Past On A Train which includes Windsor Park, The Oval, Seaview, Lansdowne Road and Edgeley Park.
My train also went past Hampden Park. However, it was not a detour to Glasgow, but an area of Eastbourne.
That stopover in Lewes allowed me to get some food stock for when I was walking Beachy Head.
I arrived in Eastbourne and had a quick ramble through the City Centre. It’s ok. Lots and lots of charity shops if Charity Shop Rummages are your thing. St Wilfred’s had a lot of old News Of The World Football Annuals if that is your thing.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check out Eastbourne Pier or Eastbourne Beach, so I can’t give that a review.
I then headed back to Eastbourne Train Station to get a taxi to Beachy Head.
Beachy Head isn’t actually that far from Eastbourne City Centre, but it’s not accessible by Public Transport during Winter. There is a service during the Summer though.
My taxi wasn’t too expensive, £7 each way.
I really enjoyed my visit to Beachy Head, probably because the weather was kind, before getting a taxi back and then a train back to Brighton.
After a brief return to my hotel room, putting my feet up for a short period, it was back out to see OMD at Brighton Centre on Tuesday night.
Wednesday morning, I was again up early, so I went for a stroll along the beach again to kill time before breakfast, although I didn’t spot Michael Portillo this time.
My brief walk escalated out of control and I ended up at Brighton Marina.
Following breakfast, I headed to Churchill Square Shopping Centre. Not for pleasure, out of necessity as my phone charge was broke and I needed a new one. I did make a note to come back though to the shopping centre and general area.
Upon my return to the hotel, came the worst part of any trip, packing up to go home. It turned out that I would push my 12pm check-out to the limit.
As my flight wasn’t until 8.25pm, I had a bit of time to kill, taking in Kemptown again, Churchill Square and The Laines. Basically, a wrap-up day.
Killing time at Brighton Pier, I decided to make the most of it being a nice day knowing it would be favourable conditions to get some sunset photos, starting at Brighton Pier and making my way along Brighton Beach towards Regency Square. There’s a separate blog for that.
And that was that, three days in Brighton with a lot crammed in. I’d really recommend a trip to Brighton if you get the chance, so much to see and do.
Any time I visit London (when they decide to get their act together with the whole not getting Covid thing) in the future, i’ll definitely put a day aside to visit Brighton.
If you are doing a day trip to Brighton, I would advise that you have an idea in mind of what you want to see and do, just to make the most of your time. More than one day, walk about, explore and stumble into things.
A trip that was delayed, and then altered, it was worth it, very enjoyable. Sometimes, ruined plans can be an opportunity to go in another direction.