Today’s expedition was to Brighton. It looked a good day for it as early rain had given way to sunshine between white clouds. Maintenance work had closed Kings Cross Thameslink station to rail traffic so we took the bus to Blackfriars and boarded the train there. The train was late, and stopped several times en route without any explanation being given.
To our annoyance, the train was taken out of service at East Croydon and we had to take the next one. It was packed and we had to stand. We hoped seats would be vacated at Gatwick Airport but were disappointed. So we decided to sit in the First Class compartment and try to bluff it out if an inspector challenged us. As the train was packed we thought the inspector, if present, might not try to do his rounds.
In the event, we got to Brighton without being challenged. As we left the station, we found one of the car parks had been given over to a car boot sale. In fact, most of the traders seemed to be professionals and vans outnumbered cars almost entirely.
An amazing range of goods was on sale, most of it worthless. People were buying stuff, however, and scurrying away contentedly with their purchases. A few items attracted my attention – mainly clocks and jewellery – but nothing turned out to be worth a second look.
We now set off on foot for the North Laine area where there are shops, cafes and pubs and a relaxed atmosphere. We felt in need of lunch after our miserable journey and found a Chinese buffet restaurant (“Eat as much as you like £5.80”) which filled the bill.
After lunch we went for a wander and came to the museum. This usually happens and, as usual, we made a quick visit.
Then off to Gardner Street, the hub of the North Laine area. Here are eateries and shops of all kinds. For example, this is where Vegetarian Shoes is to be found, the shop from which I buy most of my shoes.
From Gardner Street we proceeded to Kensington Row and had drinks on the terrace of Wai Kika Mu Kau, a vegetarian eatery, as you no doubt gather from pronouncing the name.
While there, we were serenaded by a musician of sorts. His instrument, which was large and heavy enough to need to be mounted on a wheeled chassis, was described as an “X-Piano”, Reasonably enough, as it was the carcass of a piano, which the “musician” played by striking and scraping the strings with a number of homemade hammers. I put “musician” in inverted commas, possibly a little unkindly, as no music was really discernible, just a repeated series of sounds which lacked overall shape and never seemed to go anywhere. Reminiscent, perhaps of wind chimes.
The journey down had been uncomfortable and we thought the return might be more of the same if we waited too long. So we caught the 16:16 train to Blackfriars. The train was uncrowded but we found ourselves sharing a carriage with three noisy children, supervised by one of those ineffectual parents who keeps telling his children to sit down and be quiet but is ignored.
Fortunately, this annoying bunch got out at Three Bridges, taking their noise and door-obstructing bicycles with them. I sometimes think people should have to pass a child discipline driving licence before being allowed to take children out in public.