Two vagabonds on a lottery ticket. Part XX – Brighton, a love letter.

This is not a blog post. This is not a story. This is a love letter.

The two months spent in the Peak District have been amazing, but being among the giants of mountains, the green hills and the most stunning sceneries unfolding at my feet during sunrise, there’s something missing. It’s a kind of missing that comes from within, from the deep, from somewhere in my bones and my soul.

I still hear myself asking S if there’s any water in the area, because I miss water. I miss the sea, the waves, the sound, the lullaby that comes with it.

When we make it to our accommodation, I drop our things as quick as I can and we dash out the door. I couldn’t believe it when my host told me that we were less than 10 minutes from the sea front. I remember seeing the waves in the distance, the sun on our faces and quick as we could, we hurry to the beach, to the water and the sound of soft rushing waves rocking against the pebbles. It was too cold to go bare foot, but my shoes got wet enough. I remember standing there, closing my eyes and letting myself being wrapped in a blanket of purpose, almost.

God, I missed the sea.

We stay until it gets dark and we must get on if we want any tea that night. The following morning, we’re up earlier than usual and my biological clock must have been tuned into my desire. Before I know it, my feet are hitting the pavement and I can smell the salty air. The crushing waves are beckoning. The best way to start your day? Morning run. The absolute, most incredible, better than best way to start your day? Morning run along the pier.

We’re not the only ones and with the sun rising behind us, painting Brighton in the distance in a golden hue, I know we won’t be running here tomorrow because it’s too picturesque. But for now, we enjoy the moment. Mace is running along, glad to be stretching his legs on the concrete spread out before us, the ocean-wind softening his fur, his nose up in the air.

We missed the sea. We’re water-people. We need a regular dose of sea. And here it was, being offered on a plate dripping in sunrise.

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Leaving the station behind, we allow the natural steep flow of the streets to guide us down slowly, trying to take in as much as I can. I’m too busy trying to mesmerise every cute shop we pass, ever corner we take and every typical sea-front town image I see that I forget to take pictures. At the end of the road, we’ve reached the pier and we linger as I play the memories of a few years earlier in my head. Despite the fact that I’ve been here before and, let’s be honest, my love, you’re not that impressive, we still hang around the pier for a good hour.

We wander around until it’s near lunch time and I decide on an improvised picnic. I stumble upon Infinity Foods. I had read that Brighton was a gluten free heaven and great for vegans (or sometimes vegans, like myself), but I had no idea how true those words were. We settle down in the park, surrounded by more groups that have decided to enjoy this day. With a just purchased book in hand, we lazily lie around in the grass, the sun high in the sky, not caring about doing anything.

Brighton is something special. When I think of Brighton, I think of that long and straight street from the train station to the pier which is far from impressive and not reminiscent of Brighton’s magic at all. But when I think of this city, I imagine myself standing in that street, in the sunshine, my eyes closed and the sea-salt air on my skin. I’m not the only one but their faces are all a blur. And then, behind me, I can feel it, the ghost of Brighton. It approaches me from behind and before I know it, it’s got me wrapped in a warm embrace that says ‘Hey, you.’

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We’re suddenly surrounded by the people I’ve always pictured in my head. The hippies. The crazy people. The happy people. The free people. ’60s sunglasses, ’80s jeans, wide shirts, messy hair, worn boots. Laughs and smiles and tea and food. Shops are open and they offer a wide, never ending, never boring variety of oversized blouses, some with the strangest or coolest patterns. The buzz of Brighton lingers wherever you go. The Lanes, the creative heart as I like to call it, is a maze of magic and treasure. There are cafes, most of them offering gluten free and/or vegan food. Pubs on the corner with often fully seated picnic tables, pints in the sunlight. There is a constant flow of people, popping into stores, going for a bite to eat, a drink, or just passing through. It’s an unusual mix of people, but it’s good, you know? It’s right. I like this flavour, like tasting a new combination of things for the first time, something you never thought would work, and when you try it, you feel stupid for not having tried it before.

It’s like you never knew you were missing this.

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It’s our last day of our adventure. Brighton made me forget this, but late at night it dawns on me. Brighton served as the perfect band-aid, but all band-aids must, at some point, be ripped off. A little over 6 months ago, we embarked on this journey with our eyes wide open, our innocence up front and our inexperience at the back of our minds. I had no idea where this adventure would take me, but I hoped it would take me places. It did more than that, as it took me places I will never forget and those are the best kind of memories. As of tomorrow, we’ll still be travellers, but it’s different. Mum and Flynn are coming over and there’s plenty of adventure still in front of us, but for now, our solo-travel-adventure has come to an end.

Brighton almost made me forget. Yet, looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted to end this trip anywhere else. I’ve got one foot in London, the city that stole my heart and hugged my dreams with the most gentle and kindred touch of a lover, but the other foot is here, in Brighton. Whereas England has made me feel like I could finally fit in somewhere, Brighton has given me a glimpse of what it’s like to, yes, maybe, perhaps, belong.

The following morning, we’re up and outside at the crack of dawn, the golden lining of the impending sunrise slowly increasing in saturation like a painter is redoing his canvas. I can’t wait to show my mum the new things we’ve discovered here, to share this special place. It’s a good way to start a new adventure.

In two days we’ll be leaving for Dorset and Devon – there we go, here we come…

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