Brighton In a Day

I had the utmost pleasure of a day trip to Brighton recently. This was a pleasure for several reasons. Most obviously it was my first trip out anywhere for quite a while. I popped across to Grantham whilst researching a piece on Brewsters a couple of months back, and this was my next Great Outing.

Brighton pier on a foggy morning

Reasons For Travel

Secondly, the reason for my visit was to take a portrait of a wonderful woman that I had enjoyed speaking to but never met. Cathy is a recipient of Meals on Wheels from the Bevy pub. They are a community-owned pub, the only one based on a housing estate in the UK. Cathy has never been to the pub, yet they have supported her and her grandson for over a year. It is an incredible story and one that I was able to tell in full thanks to some additional funding for my Women on Tap commission (read it here!) that came from the Guild of Food Writers Futures Fund.

Finally, visiting Brighton was a real source of nostalgia for me. I can’t remember exactly when I last visited, but I suspect that my age was in single digits. My Great Grandma lived in sheltered accommodation in Worthing so we would visit that corner of the world relatively regularly back in the day. Although she lived into her 100s, she sadly died quite a long time ago now and I have not been back to that part of the South coast since.

A seagull flies low in Brighton

Having A Paddle

The pebbly beach is particularly evocative to me of those childhood visits. My bookshelves were always littered with stones and pebbles I had picked up on our visits there. I made a beeline off the train for the coast. I don’t think I’ve seen the sea since we visited Sicily in September 2018. It is such a tonic, to feel the waves lap against your feet. How I have missed it. How I wished I could have brought Bam Bam with me. But a three hour+ train ride each way is a fool’s errand for any adult, nevermind for a tiny tot. I hope to take her to the seaside soon though!

I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

When I arrived the sky was grey and the sea was covered in a roiling mist. It was warm enough to sit without long sleeves though and as I sat and watched the waves lap against the shore that fog slowly lifted and the sun broke through. After picking up a cuttlefish bone (which I now don’t really know what to do with) I took myself just a few steps along the beach to the Shelter Hall, a recommendation for lunch from an old friend.

The Shelter Hall is a lovely (and only ever so slightly hipster) food court. I sat outside and ordered an eye-wateringly expensive pint of Lost Pier’s tasty pale ale. I had forgotten that all the London types take advantage of the hour-long train ride to visit Brighton on the regular – and everything is priced to match! But it was a treat and I paired it with my seaside must have – fish and chips.

Strictly speaking it was a fritto misto – a lovely nod to my last visit to the sea in dear old Italia – and it was absolutely spot on. Everything perfectly crisp and crunchy. White fish moist and melting inside the crispy batter. Whitebait full of flavour. And a generous serving of crunchy crisp chips with gallons of tartare sauce to dip everything in. I was quite taken away with it as I started out over the sea and munched happily.

Heading Inland

After that it was time to see Cathy and we had a lovely chat with her friend and my amazing contact Helen from the Bevy. They really felt like old friends as we sat laughing in the gardens of the Royal Pavilion. After this I had an hour or so before the first off peak train so I headed to the Evening Star – the Dark Star Brewery tap – at the recommendation of CAMRA superstar Gill Hough via Twitter. Obviously Dark Star is Asahi owned these days, but to be honest I saw nor tasted any evidence of that so I shall glaze over it for now.

Dark Star Brewery

The pub is just perfect. Right by the station, a little bit dark and very cosy. The bar staff are knowledgeable and extremely friendly, even within the confines of the current Covid restrictions. When I left I ordered a two pint jug of train beer and they managed to find me an historic CAMRA glass to take with me so I could be civilised in my drinking. I had said that I was fine with a straw….

A whistle stop tour, but a lovely day in Brighton. Plus thanks to asking on Twitter and the Guild of Food Writers forum I now have loads of recommendations to follow up the next time I visit!


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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