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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Brighton Beach Memoirs.

Today I went to Brighton and have added the English Channel to my all time bodies of water list. I didn’t really have one, but do now. Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Irish Sea, English Channel and the Beagle straights or something in Ushuaia. I can’t remember.

Most of my day in Brighton was spent on the train seeing ALL of southeastern England. I got on the local train and not on the express, so I made nearly every stop between London and Brighton. That didn’t leave a lot of time for Brighton, but I walked down to the beach and then over to the Brighton Pier for fish n chips at the Palm House. I wandered around the arcarde and between the rides and family games at the end of the pier. I had American Style Donuts (incredible, oh my god.) and a Seattle Style Latte. And then I wandered back up the beach and to the train station. I just missed the 17:47 train to London and then got on the 18:26 train and was back in my apartment by 21:00 or so.

It was a relaxing day, I enjoy riding on trains as much as I like being in the destination. In this case I got to see at least two castles, a dozen pairs of swans, rabbits, hunting dogs, green fields, billowing clouds on a blue sky, snow, semi-detached houses painted different pastel colors, and lots of train stations.

The beach at Brighton is a stone beach, instead of sand. Depending on how close you are to the water, the rocks range from large pebbles to stones the size of your fist. If you look closely, you see shells and bits of seaweed. The remains of winter bonfires and the cork from a champagne bottle. Stone beaches are very hard to walk on and even harder to sit on. Very cold, very damp, and very, well, stoney and bumpy. Lots of couples were making a go at romance and lots of families were struggling with prams and buggies.

As was Mar Del Plata when I went in May 2000, most of the shops were closed or closing early. Winter is not a great time to visit a boarwalk. The sunset was subtle and beatiful. As it sank into the English Channel, the sun went behind a cloud. Instead of painting the entire sky pink and purple, it merely outlined one gray cloud with a fuscia lining. Accompanying the sunset were swallows returning to the pier. Great clouds of birds, numbers so high it could cause nightmares, were swooping around the pier and then diving underneath our feet and rising in a great cloud on the other side. Joining the birds that had flown overhead. Seagulls soared among them, eyeing the tourists for a forgotten chip or donut crumb. Everyone stopped to watch, because a thousand swallows over a subtle sunset in Brighton refuse to be ignored.

I selected no souveniers, no postcards from the one open shop, and played no games for a teddy bear or soccer kit. I took photos and enjoyed being alone for the first time in a couple weeks.

Alone and outside of London.

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