Today is another bright sunny day and we are off to Brighton with our friends, J and A. First, the matter of breakfast. Now that we no longer have the late lamented Pane Vino at our disposal, we have transferred our affections to Cafe Alpino, an Italian cafe, also in Chapel Market. The walls are covered with sports photographs, mostly of football but also motor racing and boxing and the service is friendly but efficient.
After breakfast we caught the 43 bus to London Bridge where we were to meet our friends and take the train to Brighton. We arrived just in time to see the paddle steamer Waverley manoeuvering with the help of a tug and then passing under Tower Bridge, raised to allow it through.
We joined the ticket queue around 10am and bought tickets for everyone to save our friends the chore when they meet us later. They sent a text that they were on their way so all we had to do now was sit and wait. Trains to Brighton leave every 15 minutes.
Our friends arrived and we caught the 10:41 for Brighton. The journey, 58 minutes long, passed without incident. On arrival, we headed down the hill roughly in the direction of the Royal Pavilion because A wanted some up-to-date photos of it and the sunny weather seemed ideal for the task.
In Sydney Street we stopped for coffee then, while Tigger stayed seated in front of the café, the rest of us went off about our various business. Mine was to go to Vegetarian Shoes in Gardner Street to buy a new pair of shoes. I have only one pair and it is showing signs of wear.
I found what I wanted, slip-ons called Kalahari. I always buy these because they are comfortable and reasonably resistant to wet conditions – important in England!
It was now high time for lunch which we took in a handy branch of Giraffe. This was out first visit to this company. The service was friendly and I would say the food was of adequate quality without being anything to write home about. Then again, I am used to finding that there is less choice and less imaginative choices for us vegetarians on cafe and restaurant menus.
We then continued on towards the Pavilion. On the way, we visited the public library. In my day, the library shared accommodations with the museum but it now occupies a splendid modern building of its own. It is impressive both in its size and in the advanced technology used for issuing and returning loaned material. This is automated and no staff are required in its operation.
The Lanes used to be a wonderful place to visit, being full of small but interesting shops. It gradually became a good place to go to hunt antiques, curios and jewellery. In recent times, however, it has begun to change. There are still antiques and jewellery shops but many have been replaced by more popular touristy shops. I find it a rather disappointing place to visit now, remembering how it was. I realize that conditions change and shops must respond by adapting but it still seems a pity.
After tea, we walked to the sea front and went for a stroll along the pier. I say the pier though there are in reality two or, rather, there used to be. The pier with the most entertainment was the Palace Pier, near the Old Steine and the Aquarium, now called Sea-Life. To the west, towards Hove, was the West Pier. Quieter, it was nonetheless preferred by those who were less inclined to the raucous funfair delights of the other pier.
After a series of mishaps, some suspicious, the West Pier is now an irreparable wreck. Plans were mooted to save or replace it but all fell through for lack of funding. Unless a decision is made to demolish the ruins, time and tide will accomplish the task themselves. To those of us who remember the West Pier in its heyday, this is a sad outcome.
Today, only one pier survives. It is called “Brighton Pier“, but older Brightonians will remember it as the Palace Pier and even refer to it as such. After a series of mishaps, some suspicious, the West Pier is now an irreparable wreck. Plans were mooted to save or replace it but all fell through for lack of funding. Unless a decision is made to demolish the ruins, time and tide will accomplish the task themselves. To those of us who remember the West Pier in its heyday, this is a sad outcome.
We stayed on the pier for some time, exploring and watching the various rides. At around 6pm it began to feel like evening, a feeling encouraged by the appearance of the first flocks of starlings who spend the night under the pier.
As we had walked a lot, we considered it fair to take the bus from the Aquarium to the station. Traffic was heavy and the bus travelled so slowly that we could probably have completed the journey faster on foot. No matter, as we were not in a hurry.
I am writing these words at 7:30pm on the train back to London Bridge. It is now dark outside after a spectacular sunset.
We separated from our friends at London Bridge. All agreed we had had a good day out. The weather had been kind, the food had been good and we had fulfilled our respective expectations. As a bonus, because Tigger bought all 4 train tickets together, she had obtained the price for group travel, making the tickets cheaper than if bought separately.
We caught the 43 back Angel and on the way called Spices in Chapel Market. Our table was ready when we arrived.
A good day rounded off with a good Indian dinner. Had could you possibly improve on that?!