Today, we went to Brighton. Surprised? That makes two of us. I was expecting to go to Frinton-On-Sea, which is where we’ve been with church for this beach trip the last two years. And if your grasp is geography is any good, you may ascertain that Frinton-on-Sea and Brighton are in very different parts of the UK so it’s just as well we found out about the change of plan before we left the house. I wonder whether any of the Americans we took with us realised just how many miles the plans had shifted – though 100 miles probably seems like a short stroll to Minnesotans.
The weather was the driving force behind the decision – it was due to be tipping it down all day in Frinton with possible thunderstorms. And Brighton was looking brighter tho it didn’t seem that way when we arrived:
Not that it put anyone off visiting for the day. I thought that it would be relatively quiet but no, Google Maps told us it would take 11 minutes to drive the final mile to the seafront and it wasn’t wrong. Obviously, a wrong turn at the roundabout by the pier didn’t help but to be fair, that is a very confusing roundabout. Who knew there was an extra road down there? It looks like you’re just about to drive into the sea.
Finding a parking spot wasn’t the easiest either, despite the rain. Neither was it easy to pay for parking – we had to download an app and create an account, all while wrangling over-excited kids and their buckets and spades. We were meeting the rest of the church folks by the adventure golf, which was a spot chosen for its proximity to the coach parking and not for its proximity to the naturist beach. Seems like it was a bit too cold for the naturists anyway. I certainly didn’t spot any. Not that I was looking particularly hard.
We found our people camped out slightly grumpily on a pebbly ridge near the shore, with some huddled under raincoats and some in the sea. I’ll let you guess which were the Brits and the non-Brits. Nathan chose to keep his leather coat on and be one of the former group, whereas I thought the sea sounded the warmer option. So I went to the Yellowave Cafe to buy Nathan a coffee, use the loos and change, hoping that the swimmers wouldn’t all have given up before I got back. The coffee took a while and so some had indeed given up, but not all so I still had some company. Reuben changed too, although I doubted he was going to enjoy swimming in cold water in the rain.
He did dabble a little with getting in but I wasn’t encouraging him to. The pebbles were painful to walk on and so standing in the shallows wasn’t totally pleasurable. And then once you were a little way in, there was a very sudden ridge after which even I struggled to get my feet on the ground. His swimming is coming on really well but I’m still not ready for him to be out of depth with no side to cling on to and no watchful lifeguards. When Eva came along in her cossie, I was even less encouraging, although I spent quite a lot of time paddling with her with our flip-flops on (no really, those stones were punishing). Most of the time I spent in the sea was watching to make sure other people’s kids didn’t drown…but I think that was probably time well spent. Over time, the rain even eased off a bit.
I took some time out of the sea to enjoy the very middle class picnic I’d packed – parma ham, rocket, berries, sundried tomatoes and four pots of houmous. Of course Eva wouldn’t eat any of the houmouses because the selection pack contained two caramalised onion ones instead of a plain one. So she mainly ate berries and a delicious “wrap wrap” – a tortilla wrap with salad leaves wrapped in…you guessed it, another tortilla wrap. In so many ways, I wonder how she survives.
After another dip in the sea and some close calls with the increasingly rough waves, I decided to dry off and accidentally went for a coffee with my pastor instead of hanging out with my kids. She asked if I wanted her to get me one, I went with her instead, they gave us the drinks in mugs not takeaway cups…what were we to do? So we spent a very pleasant hour in the cafe and got back to find that the kids of the church had managed to have a sandcastle competition, despite the lack of sand. They’d just dug down under the pebbles a bit. At this point, it hadn’t rained for hours and the sky was even looking a vaguely blue shade although not in a terribly convincing way.
Which obviously mean it was time to go home. We’d already added an extra hour to our parking through the app, to make it 5 instead of 4…but that was ticking away. Just time for a quick visit to the playground:
As we drove home, Eva spotted all the exciting things we’d missed around the pier so she’s made me promise to take her back another day. Maybe it’ll be properly sunny next time, just like it was on these previous visits in 2001 and 2007:
But we probably won’t go out clubbing and then sleep in the car like we did in 2001. Probably not. See you again soon Brighton!