We made landing in Brighton’s Premier Marina (name of the organization that runs it) Tuesday, September 2. The marina is okay; but, Brighton proper, on the other hand, is a bit of a wonderful trip, beginning with George IV’s extravagant Royal Pavilion.
First, the marina. And, please keep in mind, ALL of this is what a friend of ours calls a First World Problem, i.e., no biggie on the loving life scale.
Premier can’t help it if the only way to offer berths and safe resting places is this completely fabricated facility a mile from town. Plus, they’re so busy they have hired young people who haven’t really been trained in the art of welcoming paying visitors. Lastly there are so many locked gates, turnstiles, and bars, I feel like I’m going through a prison’s security check to exit and enter.
We’re on pontoon 11, so first you push a button (if you’re heading out; if in, use your magnetic key.)
Walk down to the shower area and laundry block which are locked, too,
female shower & toilet area…
the arm-and-a-leg laundry…
finally, freedom on the other side after you press a button to go through, one at a time…
So, to come in and use the toilet, check laundry and get back to JUANONA it’s four locked gates. Makes you wonder about crime around here.
But, as I said above, this is so very minor compared to once you’re in town because…
Brighton proper is pretty wonderful.
Starting our walk by leaving the marina’s gates where Max showed me something he said he wanted to buy for me,
I politely told him ‘no thanks’.
We followed the boardwalk along the beach, which is composed of small beige and orange rocks, at least by the walkway. Unfortunately, there are many homeless people, no doubt attracted to the relatively warm winters here. We saw many tents set up under bridges and under arches as we continued heading towards town.
Weedy greenery decorate part of the path, and I finally got my bunny photo (been trying to nab a live shot of those since we saw them hippity-hoppity around the Azores. Remember Pedro?… Alas, Tricia, no dwarf donkey… :).
We spotted some familiar icons once we reached downtown.
The temperature was getting really summery causing Max, who’s in love with these pants he first saw on Martin in Sao Miguel, to disrobe. No problem here. He’s got some legs on him even if I do say so myself :)
Getting into the town center we stopped for a quick brunch-breakfast. You can tell we needed some nutrients.
Ordered a bottle of water and thought of our niece and nephew, Sarah and Iain, whose boat’s name is Blue.
Plus, I’m fascinated by organizations supporting sustainable water, and this company does so with a clever, subtle dare to other bottlers.
Locating the local library for Internet usage (and loo), I immediately thought of my Curtis Friends pals, Marcy and Carol. You guys, this library is amazing: enter through a little gift shop with this monitor to your right:
Walking into the main part, we were greeted with this airy and bright, large expanse of library books, multi-media items, and signs for other areas to explore.
Facing the entry is a screen asking for your thoughts on the Jubilee Library.
Everyone was helpful (we were greeted as we walked in), and we received a three-day, temporary library card allowing us use of the library, including book and DVD borrowing.
I spotted folk eating and sipping java and realized they had a little cafe tucked around the corner.
All I can say is THIS is a wonderful place to be. (I returned the next day to upload the blob blog while sampling a few of their cafe’s wares.)
After running some errands we wandered to George IV’s Royal Pavilion. Ellen, YOU would absolutely LOVE this place. And, you’d be explaining what all of the decor was.
Once again, I was very much surprised to enter such a fascinating world. Like the MARY ROSE exhibit, I thought we’d tour three or so large rooms, do a been-there-done-that tour, and leave for other Brighton parts unknown.
Wrong. With the free, I might add, audio guides we ever so slowly strolled through room after room, gasping at some of the extreme decor this indolent Duke of Wales-then Prince Regent-then, finally, unfortunately, king used British funds for. He piled up so much inexcusable debt, George IV incurred the contempt of the people and Parliament. With his lavish lifestyle he created this opulent ‘home’ to entertain without a thought to the cost or message he was sending to those paying for all of it. Hmmm… I could go political here, but I won’t.
This is how I’m sure he’d love to be remembered:
In reality, not so much.
But, it would have been fascinating to observe one of his parties. He employed French chefs throughout his life here; and, subsequently, this guy got so fat he had a tunnel built from his residence to his stables so people wouldn’t ridicule him; one meal featured over 100 courses.
To go in, you enter through a very calming, green room, which spills you into a long hall where the oriental motif really starts taking shape. We saw Chinese, bobble-head figures, roughly two-feet tall (he had over 30) and, then, voila! His dining room.
George IV evidently appreciated more than French food. He also liked the French dining etiquette of having guests serve themselves from the multiple dishes set on the table itself. Another French manner was mixing men and women versus men on one side, women, the other. Of course, the audio guide said this also facilitated easier intimacy. He sat in the middle to ensure he was in the thick of the conversations (probably easier to reach the food, too).
The chandelier dropped out of painted and wooden plantain leaves,
followed by a breathing dragon 12 feet long.
This guy also relished surprising people, so a lot of his decor was comprised of magical effects. For instance, the stairs leading upstairs had a railing painted to appear like bamboo but, was in effect, iron.
His music room wasn’t too shabby either…
The kitchen had all of the modern conveniences at that time, which George liked to show off. He even held one of his dinner parties amidst the pots and pans.
His bedroom was moved to the first floor when he couldn’t manage the steps anymore due to his weight.
His private quarters included a lovely library as well as another sitting area (he was a great fan of art and literature, which is one reason why he was so attached to his music room.)
Unfortunately, his niece Queen V, felt too exposed walking around Brighton; plus, the pavilion really wasn’t set up for a large family; so, she sold it in 1850 and, with Prince Albert, build a retreat across the way on the Isle of Wight. She stripped the Pavilion of all the possessions, almost all of which have been returned, to prevent thievery. Yet, I believe the audio guide said she kept a bobble head or two.
Fortunately, the town bought it, kept it from being demolished, and now possess the only royal palace not owned by the royals or the government. Pretty nifty.
A few days later one of our NZ mates, Jane Smallfield, joined us in Brighton. We were fortunate in that her work brought her to Winchester, a two-hour train ride from Brighton.
It was a wonderful meet-up as the last time was in the US when she was also traveling for work and ended up in Boston. We picked her up in Connecticut where she was watching a game starring one of her daughters, Caitlin. Caitlin is attending school at the University of Hartford and plays for its team, The Hawks (and, is doing really well with their opening season… have to throw that in for Max and I feel like a proud aunt and uncle). So, to meet up in England was amazing and wonderful.
Like with all good friends, the agenda didn’t matter, just the ability to be together and talk. And, so we did.
After lattes and some pastries (coffee goes down better with those) we wandered down to Brighton Pier so she could get a glimpse and feel of the city.
The pier is definitely honky-tonk with its vending machines,
cut-out photo ops,
and tossing games that taunt one to win some stuffed creature.
Deciding to head to the marina, we saw some BRIGHTON-HOVE MOTOR CAR time trials occurring just on the east side of the pier. The road along the beach was filled with colorful observers and vehicles.
People peered over the wall from the street watching as cars zoomed by. Must admit, it was pretty difficult not to.
Security was fairly tight, which could have come from Britain’s raising the terrorist threat last week.
Reaching the marina, we had lunch aboard
then headed back towards the train station for Jane’s 5:19p to Winchester.
It was an absolutely splendid way to spend our last day in Brighton, this proud city which is a bit worn about the edges but carries on with head held high and a welcoming smile.