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richardsgallery

October 2011

a personal view in words and pictures

a d a y trip to Planet Brighton

The Highs and Lows of a South Coast Hotspot


Welcome to richardsgallery Magazine

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warm welcome to the first issue of Richard’s Gallery magazine - a personal view of people and places told in my own words and pictures. Although I never try to mislead, this is not intended as factual reporting, there are plenty of places on the web to find facts. No, this is intended as an opinion, sometimes laced with poetic licence, and as such, is certain to chime with some people and not with others. However you find it, I hope you find it entertaining. This first issue is a portrait of a day trip to Brighton made in September 2011. The idea of a breath of fresh air, an al fresco lunch in the warmth of an Indian Summer sun and the sound of seagulls was a strong pull but did the day deliver? Read on to see what Planet Brighton served up. If you would like to see more of my pictures please visit my portfolio website www.richardsgallery.co.uk. And for a short and hopefully entertaining view on current topics that have caught my attention please read my blog ‘And another thing ...’ Finally, a big thank you for taking the time to read my first foray into magazine territory. I hope you enjoy it and would welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Best wishes Richard


a day trip to

Planet Brighton Words & Pictures by Richard Dunford

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Copyright 2011 Š Richard Dunford


H

ome Sweet Home is all well and good but where can you go for a short, sharp blast

of energy and fresh air when you need to give the cockles a blow? If you live in London and all points south then Brighton is an obvious choice.

Copyright 2011 Š Richard Dunford

T

he city’s long established reputation ranges from decadent excess to seedy and violent.

The place is magnetic South for even the hint of rebelliousness or a free spirit. But what happens when a city is populated with a bunch of people all intent on either escaping the orthodox, expressing themselves or simply having a good time? The mix is heady, intense, very crowded and takes some time to breathe in and absorb. Welcome to Planet Brighton.

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W

e

recently

celebrated

some

Indian

Summer sun with a trip to this other

world. The excuse was to visit the annual Art Fair but, in truth, the idea of having lunch overlooking the Marina was the real pull. We were lucky that

Copyright 2011 Š Richard Dunford

the traffic getting to Brighton was not too heavy and bitter experience has taught us to park well before the seafront. The trade-off is a much longer walk than perhaps necessary but the big bonus is that the walk is through the North Laines and what the tourist office calls the Cultural Quarter. The nearest we came to culture on a previous visit was growing in a jam pot at a tourist Tea Shop and judging by some of the smells wafting in the

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breeze, a few of the locals preferred a trip to a more horticultural quarter.


Copyright 2011 © Richard Dunford

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n my view however, the heart of the Quarter’s culture is not beating at the peacock landmarks such as the Royal Pavilion,

Brighton Dome and Theatre Royal. Instead, the North Laines are chock full of small shops and cafés that brim with energy, imagination and irreverence. The stage is set by the fantastically colourful shops flaunting goods from the outlandish to the outrageous and the theatre of life is played out by the cast of locals, who know how to dress fancy and are living the dream with a real-life street-level soundtrack. It is not a dull place.

Copyright 2011 © Richard Dunford

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Copyright 2011 © Richard Dunford

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any of us enjoy people-watching while

although I am enough of a fashion guru to avoid

sitting at an outside table with a coffee,

a cheeky sock and sandal combo. So, much as

but the typical English version of this is quite

I don’t enjoy dressing-up myself, it’s a genuine

a sedate affair. Not here. The endless stream

delight to see the locals dressed as fully-fledged

of characters from goodness-knows-what planet

stars in their own life cinema. If only I knew

is hugely entertaining and will leave you drop-

what the film was about.

jawed until your cappuccino goes cold. For me, this is where Brighton scores big. I am decidedly middle-of-the-road where clothes are concerned,

Copyright 2011 © Richard Dunford

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Copyright 2011 Š Richard Dunford

H

aving seen the sights in the Cultural Quarter we made our way to the Retail

Quarter or more appropriate for it’s size, threeQuarter. I accept that retail has it’s place in every town but in Brighton its place is everywhere. To be fair, however, scattered in amongst the high street dross are some little gems.

Somehow,

a few small independent retailers are surviving and have products on sale that are imaginative, interesting and contrast completely to the blandness sold in every-town chains.

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C

rowds! Don’t talk to me about crowds. We were lucky that this day out was a

weekday and so limited the number of shoppers to the merely ridiculous. Had we strayed here on a hot summer weekend the swarm of shoppers starts at pestilential and moves up to Biblical. This side of Brighton is less to my taste.

the swarm of shoppers starts at pestilential and moves up to Biblical

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nsurprisingly, on a hot day the hoards cover the beach as well but while the

number of people is enormous so is the beach. This means that on an off-peak day like ours the beach can easily cope with the concentration of amusements, ice-cream and standard English seaside tat around the pier. All this is good fun for kids and I’m all for it. The good news for us is that, as we head east along the front towards the Marina, the crowds disappear and we’re left with a peaceful promenade. Dull by many people’s standards but right up my street.

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Copyright 2011 © Richard Dunford

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here’s a little train that runs along the front which is utterly charming and as we are passed we fulfill our tourist duties

by waving to little passengers who are waving at us. This waving is all part of an unwritten tourist code that says that whenever a boat, train or any other touristy transport passes, both the passengers and bystanders must wave at each other. I always assumed this to be a hand wave until, while on a visit to York, I witnessed some Scotsmen on a river boat adapting it and using their kilts. It brought new meaning to the phrase ‘Seeing the Sights’.

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A

t the end of the line and thankfully hidden from street view is a designated nudist beach. One of the many curiosities

of life for me is that, in general, and I stress, in general, women on nudist beaches tend to find a spot, lie down and take the rays. Men, on the other hand, feel the need to walk along and around, and with hand on hip and chin up, they stand and strike a pose. Each to their own I suppose, but where’s a seagull when you need one?

Copyright 2011 Š Richard Dunford

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I

n an oddly appropriate coincidence we pass a middle-aged man bellowing into his mobile phone, “Yeah, but ‘e ‘ad ‘is balls sorted out 60 years ago.”. This

snippet left us with more questions than answers. For example, was he planning some sort of Diamond Jubilee celebration? Was the event so significant it was part of the 1951 Festival of Britain? Who knows? One thing was for sure, I was not having meatballs for lunch.

Copyright 2011 © Richard Dunford

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Copyright 2011 © Richard Dunford

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inally, and not before time, we reach the Marina. An outdoor lunch in the sun with a too drinkable glass of red, overlooking a sea of yachts and it’s

almost like being on holiday. And there’s the rub. We’ve walked to the very edge of Brighton, to it’s purpose-built-for-the-wealthy port, but we’ve left behind the essence of what Brighton is about - its locals. All we’re left with are tourists like us looking at boats and although it’s pretty, it lacks life, and while Brighton is full of many things, mostly what it’s full of, is Life.

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ate afternoon and we take a long, leisurely, tired stroll back to the car. As ever when I

leave Brighton I’m left with a mixture of up and down feelings. It offers a lot and gives a lot but

Copyright 2011 © Richard Dunford

it’s full-on and for me, best in small doses. As the famous voyager used to say “There’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.” Presumably he’d done Warp Factor 1 down the A23 for a day trip to Planet Brighton .

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Richards Gallery Magazine