So I’ve finally got round to trying to compile what my month in Brighton was like. Lesson learned, I should do this as I go along as there were lots of bits and bobs worth mentioning, but this will be a behemoth of a post if I do. I will attempt to keep it reasonable. Let’s start with getting there.
Goodbye Brum, Hello Brighton
That last week in Birmingham was kind of crazy, running around packing up my life, selling and giving away things, moving things to storage and to friends’ places. I think I must have sweated about half a stone, especially as it was a very warm week. One good thing I used that week was the pay as you go van hire service run by Enterprise rent-a-car. They basically took over the City Car Club service, which is like the shit version of Car-2-Go (oh how I miss you). You sign up, get a card and then you can use their app to find a car or van close to you, reserve it and then let yourself into the vehicle using the card and enable it with a pin you’ve set up. This was an absolute godsend when I needed a van for a couple of hours and could do so when I needed one, rather than hiring one traditionally and going through the faff of deposits and picking up/collecting etc. Anyway, that week culminated in me meeting and accumulating several different groups of people during my last evening for farewell drinks. It was a nice send-off, so thanks to everyone who came along.
Anyway, I tried the whole video diary/vlogging thing and didn’t get on with it so well,this post will contain my experiments in this area, but no more after this as it turns out, I can’t stand my face and my voice apparently. Here is a compilation of vids and pics I took that cover leaving Brum and that first weekend in Brighton with Charlotte & Rich. I warn you in advance, I just know you’re going to be impressed by my amazing video editing skills, they really are something to behold and my services will probably be in major demand after this.
Well then Brighton, what you got?
So that’s getting there, after settling into my new place on Sunday evening, my first week in Brighton was beginning. It was odd to be in a new place, having a normal working week but then navigating what to do with myself the rest of the time. Here’s another vid summarising my first week. It’s not really representative of the rest of the time in Brighton, it definitely calmed down and settled into some sense of normalcy. But I made my first friends in Brighton (outside of people I already knew) at that first jam night I went to, they also gave me a pretty thorough introduction to the Brighton jazz scene.
So that was week one! I was knackered after that. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I just started jotting down lists of things. Here’s a list of things I found I’d jotted down in my notes app about Brighton over a few days when I first got there. They are out of context, mostly a thought that passed through as I saw something, first impressions sort of thing. I will elaborate a little on a few of them below and some just have a note in brackets against them.
- Summer in September…yaaay!
- Lots of Co-Op supermarkets (seriously a lot, way more than Tesco expresses etc)
- 2 Waitrose’s (ooooooOOOH)
- Very white middle class (see below)
- Lots of homeless (this was really sad to see)
- Bohemian but samey (see below)
- Lots of dreadlocks and colourful hair
- Getting to know people you’ve spoken to online for a long time is weird & fun (this was about hanging out with the ProdPad guys in their office, most of our previous interactions were online or a couple of times at Mind the Product conference)
- Lots of London Expats
- Pricier than I quite expected (I blame the London expats)
- Some impressive looking churches
- Outside bin collection
- Girls with no shoes putting out their recycling…where did you come from….where are your shoes?
- Good brunches
- Very collaborative music making community – more live jam nights than I’ve seen in Brum for example.
- People with incredibly skinny legs (men and women)
- Friendly musos
So let me tackle the “very white middle class” thing first as it may have sounded a little contentious up there without any context. This was and is not in a pejorative sense but simply an observation. I think because Brighton is such a liberal place and perhaps being spoiled by a place like Birmingham where you see faces of every kind all the time, I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more ethnic diversity in Brighton. However, on thinking about it, it has a population of about a quarter that of Birmingham and is in the south-east, I think that is just a condition of its location and size. Brighton is the gay capital of England though I think, so there is lots of LGBTQ diversity there.
Bohemian but samey – I loved the bohemian feel and vibe of Brighton, but it loses its lustre somewhat and it just becomes a bit samey. But you could argue that about anywhere and its vibe, once you get used to it.
Things I enjoyed about Brighton
It humorously wears its political leanings on its sleeve – it wasn’t unusual to see things like this which made me chuckle.
People in Brighton – despite the difficulty I sometimes had with speaking with strangers, there is not a single stranger, I can remember, that it wasn’t worth the effort. Everyone was very approachable, open and I had some wonderful conversations. It was quite difficult to meet anyone actually from Brighton. It seems its the sort of place people go and stay for a long time, conversations, where I asked people if they were from Brighton, would go along the lines of “Oh no, I’m from <insert a place in the UK or further afield>, I moved here about <insert anything from 5 years upwards> and ended up staying”.
Street art in Brighton – there was lots of weird and wonderfully creative street art in Brighton. It makes me excited about going to Bristol actually as there will be even more there. I liked that some became like old friends giving you the nod when you were in a certain area, lovely to look up and see them.
Music in Brighton
The sound of Brighton was definitely Jazz for me! There’s a hell of a lot more types of music in Brighton, but I got a very good grounding in the Brighton Jazz jam scene thanks to a couple of muso friends I made very early on. The lovely Emily, a fantastic jazz & soul singer (who sings under the moniker of Farrah Joy…check out her dulcet tones here) and Jack Turnbull, brilliant bassist and sometimes rapper. They were kind enough to let me accompany them to the many jazz jam nights and gigs going on in Brighton town.
I did manage to see music other than jazz whilst in Brighton. I took in 2 festivals as well as accidentally stumbling upon a local Brighton band called Clever Thing. I’d popped into a pub called The Globe, just for a drink and went off to investigate some noise I could hear coming from downstairs. I was pleasantly surprised and greeted by a riotous dirty rock band which was very reminiscent of Deap Vally, whilst at the same time, their singer was seriously channelling some Karen O. They definitely had a Yeah Yeah Yeahs vibe on their last song which reminded me of Warrior by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Speaking of Deap Vally, I’d booked tickets to see them in Brighton, even before I got there. Deap Vally at the Concorde 2, was my last gig in Brighton, and what a musical send-off it was, those ladies are something sexy & fierce!
Another nice surprise was rocking up to a night by one of the best freestyle rappers I’ve ever seen called Gramski. He is a bona fide genius, a more than skillful rapper, who can be set any challenge and can freestyle about it completely impromptu whilst also being incredibly comedic with it. He had a few friends come up during the course of the night also who were all very good as well.
September was just generally a very good musical month, between all the gigs, I also listened to the new albums by Deap Vally (Femijism) and Warpaint (Heads Up). YES!
I really enjoyed having the beach so close. It was a really nice way to wind down the day, even if it was only for half an hour. It was also a really good way to start the day, on the mornings I managed to get out for a run. I don’t think I’ll ever get on with pebble beaches though, it’s got to be sandy for me.
Other bits & bobs
Roomie bonding moments – I learned to make sushi
One of my favourite roomie bonding moments was drinking red wine in our kitchen with James, and learning about how he ended up moving to Brighton for love at the age of 65….the story started in 1975 and was just wonderful! 😍 My other favourite roomie bonding moment was with Mariko, who taught me to make sushi! It’s surprisingly easier than I imagined, but I bet if I tried to do it on my own it would take forever.
There are too many places to even begin listing them. I didn’t try as many as I would have liked or I would have been skint, I had to limit eating out. One thing I need to conquer is my inability to go into a fancy restaurant and eat on my own. I really have no problem with eating on my own, but I do find it difficult to go into a fancier sort of place to eat on my own. If you are a foodie, Brighton, and Hove in particular, are very good places to be.
The Brighton Pavilion
I finally went to the Brighton Pavilion, I think it was in my third week. Talk about excess and ostentation,no wonder they didn’t like George IV – turns out he was a bit of a fat prick, not a very nice bloke. Fun fact about it – it was used as a hospital first world war 1914-1916. Brighton was very proud of itself for looking after Indian soldiers here. Not sure how altruistic it was vs. a big PR event according to one of the quotes in Sussex newspaper at the time,or perhaps that’s just me being cynical. Another fun fact, it’s the only royal palace that is not owned by the Crown but by the local authority.
The cream tea on pavilion balcony is nice though, as are the Pavilion gardens, which had lots of locals lounging around, some very good busking musicians, and a really chilled vibe. There were also some hovering and unafraid, brutish looking pigeons and seagulls pacing around picnicking humans. Said humans seemed fairly used to them though and kept a watchful eye out.
Observations about myself in Brighton
#1 – I’m less of a bus snob here, probably had more bus trips here than the last 3 years combined. Why is that, well, no journey is actually that far, they have very easy to navigate routes, an app to buy tickets on my phone, nice announcements on all the buses that tell you where you are and what the next stop is and there seemed to be fewer bus cranks. You all know what I mean…there is a special brand of crank you get on buses, but I didn’t find any in Brighton. Thank Google for Google Now, maps and public transport navigation. Number 7 bus route, woop! Having said that, Brighton is also infinitely walkable and I walked a lot, I should get one of these Fitbit things so I can track my steps.
#2 – I ran more (not as much as I’d like), than I was doing in Birmingham. Need to keep building on this as I move to new places.
#3 – Forming good habits is hard (I knew that anyway) but I think some habit and routine is going to be important when my location, environment and people around me will be in flux. However, that latter point also makes forming good habits hard as you have to remain somewhat flexible to take advantage of any opportunities that arise to try new things, see new places, meet new people. That is not always conducive to maintaining a routine or habit.
#4 – Meeting people is hard – sometimes it was hard to speak to strangers. I really did have to push myself through that barrier to doing it a lot of times.
#5 – I missed hugs. We all take them for granted, seriously, give someone you’re close to a hug after reading this. You take it for granted that you see your friends, your family, your significant other and getting a hug is just a given. When you don’t have close friends or family around, you notice the absence of hugs, well I did anyway. Anyone who saw me during or just after Brighton probably got an extra special hug from me, hope I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable holding on for dear life…LOL!
#6 – It’s ok to sit in and read a book or watch Netflix – I struggled with this feeling that I should be out doing things, meeting people, having experiences (FOMO anyone?!). I mean otherwise, why uproot myself from my life and go live in these different places. Well, doing that all the time is not normal, and it’s exhausting. Once I accepted that, I fared a lot better. I’m in Mallorca now writing this, sat indoors, fighting the same feeling, but I’m just batting that away.
#7 – Getting old sucks. At some point during the move, I did something to my back that I didn’t quite notice at the time. It made itself known during my first weekend in Brighton but I ignored it for about 2 weeks. After that, it became unbearable by the end of a day sitting at a desk. After a massage did nothing, I ended up seeing a chiropractor a few times before I left Brighton, which seemed to do the trick and helped it to improve.
#8 – I can’t hula hoop for shit. I always knew this, but I forgot and got reminded at one of the festivals I went to. Unlike this person, Andrea, who can hula very well. In fact, I think she was showing off a bit.
So farewell for now Brighton
I loved my time in Brighton, it was full of exploration and discovery. As it was my first month of the life nomadic, I was definitely figuring stuff out and really excited to just explore. It’s safe to say I don’t think every place I go to will be like this, but that first month will always be special because of its significance as the start of the journey and the lovely people I met right at the beginning. I will definitely be heading back to Brighton sometime.