Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brighton! Pleasure Capital of The Empire!

We've wandered down from Canterbury to Brighton, and will wander off to Salisbury tomorrow. Well, when I say "wandered", I mean that we caught a couple of trains down and then have spent a lot of time wandering around Brighton. I'm hoping that the rest of our experience with trains is as good as we had coming down from Canterbury, as it was just like catching the suburban Brisbane trains in terms of simplicity and convenience, except they were comfortable, roomy and ran on time.

One thing we've not done much of is take photos, and I'm resolved to go a bit silly in Salisbury with the camera. I'm actually quite relieved in a way that we haven't taken hundreds of photos yet, as it means we are looking with our eyes, rather than seeing the country through a camera. Which means you're saved from huge numbers of photos like this rather lovely one by Bob trying to show off the afternoon light over the Atlantic:

That's Brighton beach. It consists of small pebbles and cold. On the other hand, it's the Atlantic Ocean, which is something I've never seen. It's a different colour to the Pacific, and the eddies go around the other way.

We didn't go out on the (new) Brighton Pier, as it looks to be just a big amusement park, and the old Victorian pier is now just a rusting skeleton 500 meters off to our right from where we were. Yes, you're right, it was a bit chilly - brilliant blue sky, but the wind was coming up off the ocean a bit and for the first time we felt our cheeks turning rosy. Today has been a bit mucky though, and is the first time we've had what Eddie Izzard describes as a Great Blanket of Meh.

If you look at the map of Brighton, the place we are staying is on Grand Parade just across from the Royal Pavilion. The area behind the Pavilion is a maze of small lane ways, with very cool shops. And a lot of tacky ones. We've spent a lot of time wandering around, and the town feels like the good parts of Melbourne, the tacky parts of the Gold Coast, and a country town. It looks like the prime market for the stores is the summer tourist trade, followed closely by hippies, hipsters and students.

It's very hard to adequately describe the Royal Pavilion, and you really should go and Google it for pictures. It's a bizarre faux-Indian, faux-Chinese pleasure dome built by fat George IV as somewhere to hang out and have dinner parties. The interior is absolutely jaw-dropping - and was intended to be - and the exterior looks like a very large Indian restaurant. The place has undergone a lot of changes since it was built, and there's a huge restoration and conservation project under way to return most of it to the way George built it, apart from some parts that they are restoring to how Victoria made them.

The other bit of stuff what we done was to go and visit the 1595 Club, a very nice group of people studying Saviolo. Chris Chatfield started of as a boxer, and has taken his understanding of body mechanics as a point of entry into the swordplay. What they are doing is nicely fluid and very interesting. We were more than a little relieved to discover, as this was our first visit to a school here, that indeed the language, humour and passion among historical swords people is universal. A really fun evening, followed by chatting, silliness and cider in the pub afterward. At 11pm! People, the pubs here Don't Close At 10!

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