Jim and I took the train to Brighton a few days ago. I missed the sea and I was dreaming of ice cream cones, record-hunting, blue dresses from the 1960s, and walking down quiet streets lined with pastel houses. If you like vintage shopping, vegetarian food, or pretending you're in a Flamingos song, here is my guide for a day out in Brighton.
Rockola Coffee Bar is a 5 minute walk from the train station. Every wall is painted a different shade: lemon yellow, pale blue, mint green, and they're adorned with memorabilia of 50s and 60s pop stars: Elvis records, Billy Fury posters, Beatles collectables... Take a seat in the booth and order buttermilk pancakes and the tart fresh-squeezed pink lemonade. They also have burgers and a vegan menu. While you're waiting for your breakfast browse around the attached record store. Jim bought a rare Echo & the Bunnymen record while I drooled over an early Pulp 12 inch before the waitress popped her head in to tell us our breakfast was ready. Between bites you can pick out songs to play on the free jukebox. Before paying the (inexpensive) bill I bought an old book of pop star portraits and mod advice called 'The Boyfriend Book' for 4 quid. (I heard Food for Friends on Prince Albert Street has better vegetarian food but this Archie-comic-book-come-to-life is more fun.) 29 Tidy Street.
If you like vintage shopping walk down Upper Gardner Street to Sydney Street.
North Laine Market at 5A Upper Gardner Street is a random assortment of old cameras, furniture, photographs, some 70s clothes and a few treasures. It's like looking through your grandfather's attic and discovering that dusty bookshelf is actually a bar. I bought a large bamboo hatstand, which was a big hit on the tube back in London...
Wolf & Gypsy at 30 Sydney Street often has great stock though it's pricier than the others, about 30-70 pounds per dress.
Immediate at 34 Sydney Street caters to mod fellows.
Dirty Harry at 6 Sydney Street is more 90s than vintage. For jean shorts, Levis, and American-style jackets.
What next? An essential stop is Gelato Gusto on 2 Gardner Street. They serve delicious gelato and sorbet in exciting flavours. Try the peach melba, apple cinnamon, bacon waffle, or Ecuadorian chocolate. If you're more in the mood for a light drink swing by Hell's Kitchen, at 4 Gardner Street, for a bottle of ale or a Toffee Apple cider, which tastes like cream soda. Walk by the Brighton Pavilion on your way to the famous pier where spaniel-sized seagulls roam free. There you can find cotton candy, bumper cars, mechanical bulls and other rides. If you prefer a quieter scene try the old carousel on the beach. Lastly, lounge on the dusty rocks and kiss your sweetheart by the sea.
The view from Brighton Pier