9:30am 24th January 2012.
Early in the morning.
I’m at the Brighton Seafront walking along the beach to the Pier.
It’s a unique , moving experience seeing a beach in the winter.
The waves roll in and keep receding with that same mesmerising rhythm.
There is no warmth on offer.
Still, the winter sky is the clearest you will see.
A piercing blue that will sterilise the foggiest, darkest thoughts of winter.
The bracing wintry sea breeze is an icy facial- painful yet bringing me to my senses and quite exhilirating.
The sand is not powdery warm and soft as in summer.
Slightly thicker and clumpier, rich in moisture but still pristinely clean, the beach has a certain austere beauty.
Even in winter, the Brighton Pier looked stunning.
I got lucky taking the shot above: just as I approached the sun was breaking through the clouds.
However seeing the Pier empty , without the masses of people, an air of melancholy sweeps over me.
I suddenly wish summer was around the corner.
Then as I depart the Pier, the sun suddenly hides beneath the clouds and the rain comes from nowhere.
Welcome to my 48 hours in Brighton, possibly one of the few, truly original classic British seaside resorts in existence.
Help is at hand from the sweeping waves of rain.…
A quick brisk walk from the seafront brings me into the narrow maze of Brighton’s historic Lanes which offer some protection from the elements.
Originally the heart of the old fishing town of Brighthelmstone, the Lanes are now home to a heady mix of antiques, expensive jewellery and upmarket fashion labels.
After a brief wonder my next stop is a hot date at Brighton Museum + Art Gallery ( £ Free entry) with Mae West.
Mae West’s lips to be specific.
I’m here at the Museum to check out it’s prized exhibit, one of the 20th century’s most sensuous and iconic pieces of furniture: the Mae West lips sofa by Salvador Dali
My first impression was like ‘Wow’
It’s not something I expected to see in Brighton.
The story behind the lips sofa is an interesting one.
The sofa was a collaboration between Dali and Sussex based, wealthy art collector- Edward James.
James, with the help of Dali transformed Monkton House, a Lutyens Dower house on his family’s West Dean estate in Sussex into an extravaganza of surreal fantasy.
In hindsight now at the time of writing, it is no surprise to see Dali’s works in Brighton.
I am not sure if Dali ever visited Brighton.
He would felt very much at home and enjoyed visiting this quirky, eccentric and very alternative city.
Other highlights of my visit to the Museum was a cracking Art Deco exhibition where I got the chance to see fantastic works like Armand Albert Rateau’s Day Bed and Screen.
Rateau studied cabinet making at the Ecole Boulle and worked for number of wealthy private clients like fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin and the composer Cole Porter.
Other quirky Art Deco pieces that caught my eye included the cool table lamp circa 1925 designed by and made by Max Le Verrier.
There’s something about Art Nouveau art-really exudes class and sophistication.
Attached to the Brighton Museum is the Royal Pavilion -possibly the most dazzling and exotic buildings in Britain.
Dali surely would have approved of this place.
Unfortunately at the time of my visit, the Pavilion was closed for refurbishment.
‘You either love it or hate it’
was how Chris Giles, resident of the city for 30 years and part of the city’s fantastic Greeter scheme, summed up the Pavilion.
The Greeter allows visitors the chance to be shown around the city by a local greeter for free.
It’s a fantastic idea and in Chris, I had the perfect local guide- extremely passionate about the city’s cultural and artistic heritage.
Chris’s indepth knowledge, insight into the history of every crook and corner in Brighton really made a big difference to the Brighton experience.
Like helping me discover the Brighton’s awesome streetart scene– something I will share with you in my next instalment of my 48 hours in Brighton.
Brighton’s Greeter Tours is a free service provided by Visit Brighton and operate from the Brighton Visitors Centre.
For more information or to book a tour (it’s best to book 7-days in advance) check-out Visit Brighton’s website.
I stayed at the uber cool hip budget hotel – umi Brighton where you can get a double room, ensuite for as little as £40 with breakfast in the off peak season. Review of my stay here will appear later in the series.
A big thank you to Visit Brighton and Steve Lowy for making this trip a reality and sponsoring our stay
A big hug and thanks to the the awesome #GoBrighton team of bloggers: Julie Falconer from a Lady in London blog, Nicole Lee Smith from Bitten by the Travel Bug, Simon Falvo from Wild About Travel, Sophie Collard from Sophie on Track and last but not least Dylan Lowe the Traveling Editor
Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by Visit Brighton and umi Hotels but the views represented here are entirely my own