August Adventures: Brighton

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.”Rudyard Kipling

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Our only photo from the carnival

When you work a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 (or 6, or 7, or later) kind of job, there is nothing quite like the joy of a three day weekend.  August 28 was a bank holiday in the UK, so Troy had Monday off.  We decided to stay in on Saturday and enjoy a quiet day at home to prepare ourselves for our weekend adventures.  On Saturday, we took in the Notting Hill Carnival. This festival celebrating African and Jamaican culture has been a community staple since 1965 and has grown to a two-day event with more than a million people taking in the music, food, and parades. Here’s a glimpse of the carnival: Fifty years in pictures.  We took exactly one photo, trying unsuccessfully to capture the enormity of the crowd, as we wanted to immerse ourselves in the experience. And our picture (let’s be honest) is terrible. You are really MUCH better off checking out the ITV News Best of Notting Hill Carnival or just googling it!  Our decision to arrive early and head home in the late afternoon turned out to be a wise one, as we later learned that more than 450 arrests were made over the course of the weekend.

Delightful music and dance aside, the highlight of the weekend was Monday, when we took the hour-long train ride to the beautiful seaside community of Brighton.  I was excited for this even before it was planned, as Brighton is referenced in Pride and Prejudice, my favourite novel, as well as in Austen’s Mansfield Park, George Gissing’s New Grub Street, and countless others.  We could not have had a better day for it. With only one quick detour into a sports shop for a new daypack for me, and new sandals for both of us, we went straight to the beach and right into the ocean!

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We stepped happily into the surf, and before long we were both soaked! We set our things down and took in the view for a bit.  The sun glistening on the calm sea inspired a feeling of equal parts serenity and joy, made all the more lovely by the shades of turquoise, blue, and sea foam green.  Happy to have brought my bathing suit, we took full advantage of the weather.  The water felt cool on our feet, but once we were all the way in and had waded past the break of the surf, it really did feel almost tropical.  I felt so buoyant in the water; it took almost nothing to float and enjoy the feeling of the large swells moving past us, lifting and lowering us gently as they passed. We returned to the beach, and spent time soaking up the sun, examining the beautiful rocks, and relaxing.

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I’m not usually one for pictures of feet, but below on the left you can see how peaceful our part of the beach was. Which was actually amazing because the beach was incredibly busy.  About 100 feet to both our left and right, it was absolutely packed.

When some ominous-looking clouds began lurking on the horizon, we decided to wander down the boardwalk a bit.

Not too far into our journey, the Lucky Beach Cafe drew us in with its busy beachside terrace, fragrant aromas of dishes as they passed, and an emphasis on local and sustainable food sources.  Be warned: this is where my Home Ec roots and inner foodie dominate the conversation.

We tried a couple of drinks: the Beetroot Lemonade, with beetroot candy syrup, sparkling water, lemon and mint; and the Elderflower Fizz, with elderflower, lime, dill, cucumber, sparkling water, and a pinch of smoked salt.  We enjoyed them both, but the Elderflower Fizz won the day. It was light, refreshing and had a unique yet enticing flavour.  I decided that it would probably pair well with a bit of gin, and Troy said that if gin didn’t taste like drinking a Christmas tree it would be quite excellent.

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The food was even better.  Troy chose the LBB (Lucky Beach Burger); a dry-aged local organic sussex beef with kombu cheddar cheese fondue, ketchup leather (don’t ask me what that means), lardo fried onions, and housemade pickles on a truffle bun. The onions added a subtle sweetness, and the flavours came together beautifully.  On the side, we enjoyed the garlic fries with a garlic aioli dip.  I had the Truffle Mushroom Swiss burger, and let me just say that it was the BEST burger I have ever eaten. I even had to finish my drink first so that the last flavour in my mouth would be my delicious burger – it was that fantastic.  It was the perfect marriage of taste and texture, with grass-fed organic beef, truffle cheese, thyme-roasted portobello mushroom slices, soy-baste, soft-fried organic egg, truffled aioli, and veg, on a seeded bun.  The richness of the egg yolk complemented the mushrooms perfectly. I could have eaten three!  I’m salivating just thinking about it.  At this point I must apologise because you deserve to see pictures of this food, but we were far too busy enjoying it to bother picking up our camera. Besides, our fingers were covered in sauces and egg yolk.  A summer feast is no place for decorum!  Let’s just call the lack of photos my gift to you; the sight would make you far too jealous! If you want to torture yourself a bit, go back to the link and scroll down to their photo gallery. If you drool on your screen, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happily stuffed, we decided to head back to the beach for a bit. The weather had cleared up  again so we thought we’d make the most of the sunshine.

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Enjoying a bit more time at the beach before we went home.

Resuming our wandering a little while later, we came upon Brighton Pier.  I struggle with how to describe it, because it is: a- massive; b- a destination unto itself, boasting an amusement park and playing host to various events throughout the summer; and c- it was so packed that neither of us wanted to wade through the crowd to get a closer look. Instead, we carried on along the boardwalk.  After much distraction with a most intriguing and eclectic collection of customised mopeds (read: dozens of headlights, name plates, funky colours, etc.) we checked the departure time for our train which resulted in a brisk walk (almost a jog, really) back to the station.  Our long weekend ended perfectly, curled up on the couch with a quiet dinner (Tesco Indian take-away for the win) and some Netflix, sans chill…

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4 thoughts on “August Adventures: Brighton

  1. Sounds and looks like you’re having a blast. You’re Home Ec roots – ha ha. Love the Tesco Indian take away. You will have much better Indian food anywhere there than in the Lower Mainland. Biren’s aunt and uncle took us to a Chinese/Indian restaurant in Hendon (neighbourhood in London) when we were there. I was a little skeptical when I saw the restaurant itself – but OMG, the best Indian food I’ve had, other than at Biren’s family meals – be it in Kenya, London or Langley. His family cooks Gujarati style, not Punjabi. See if you can find that style – and then be prepared to gorge.

    PS – I was asked for a referral. Hope you got the job.

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    • Definitely having a blast! We will have to find a Gujarati style place so we can give it a try 🙂 Yes- I got it! They verified with a third reference because they said it needed to be recent, but whatever yours said was enough for them to follow up for the third reference so thank you!

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  2. You and Troy sure know how to make the best out of a long weekend! The Notting Hill Carnival sounds like spectacular fun, although I’m not sure if I’d enjoy the crowds. I’m sure happy you left early! Although, having to fly there to post bail sounds like an adventure I’d be up for 😉

    Brighton! It seems as though you found it as restorative and exciting as many of our favourite fictional characters. What a lovely description of the beach; I felt as though I was frolicking in the water with you! I have a somewhat mundane logistical question. Rick and I enjoy many beach days. How do you and Troy stash your valuables while you are in the water? Rick and I bring the smallest amount of things needed, but still we have a credit card, bit of cash, car keys, driver’s licence, one phone, and sometimes my camera. Any thoughts? So far we’ve just been trusting and keep the valuables out of sight in a bag under a towel and try to swim in the vicinity of our spot on the beach.

    What a yummy experience at Lucky Beach Cafe! Haha…I feel the same way about gin as Troy does. Forever Nuts, one of favourite David’s Teas, is also sweetened with beetroot. At first I was slightly afraid, but it’s delicious! The burgers sound divine. The locally sourced and organic ingredients remind me of Big Feast Cafe in Maple Ridge, albeit the Big Feast lacks the oceanside appeal.

    Thanks for sharing your memorable long weekend with us! ❤

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    • We do the same- bring as little as we can, stay close, try to get a feel for the vibe around us, and dig a little hole where we put our things so the blanket still lays flat. I’ll have to give Forever Nuts a try!

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