Travel: 10 Things in Brighton

Oh Brighton. With the exception of Edinburgh (and London of course!) it’s probably my favourite UK city. I mean, gorgeous shops to browse, sea to paddle in AND fish’n’chips to nom on?! There’s not a lot more this gal can ask for!

Now, generally I just spend a few hours. With one of my best friends living close to Brighton, the other in Kent and me in London, our meetups are split over the three locations. It generally means we spend a lot of time catching up (and shopping!) and not a huge amount of time enjoying where we actually are. That said, my main holiday of 2016 was a few days in Brighton – and there’s definitely enough for a short-break…

 photo Brighton 21_zps4jkp6pr4.jpg photo Brighton 20_zpsockypfb0.jpg photo Brighton 45_zpsfxebd8a1.png photo Brighton 51_zpsv5xrpxwk.png photo Brighton 49_zpsfjcw8fyq.png photo Brighton 42_zpsnopmehws.jpg

1. Go up the British Airways i360

Now, I’m in two minds about this one. We went up a few weeks ago, and whilst the views are stunning – it’s over-priced. At £13.50 for an on-the-day student ticket it was an expensive half-an hour. With no shade in the ‘holding pen’ before you board and it being basically a fish-bowl it was also extremely hot. Perhaps as a date-night (taking advantage of the cocktail bar) or timing it for sunset would be better!

 photo Brighton 53_zps2p6ljioz.jpg

2. Wander Around The Lanes

Oh, the lanes. My favourite part of Brighton. I’ve enjoyed many hours spent wandering around the jewellery lanes, staring at all the sparkly-pretty things. However it’s the ones further away from the seafront that I love. Cute homeware stores, vintage clothing, mulled wine in winter – it’s my idea of heaven.

 photo Brighton 16_zpsyvuva0xs.jpg photo Brighton 47_zpse55fm0zf.png photo Brighton 18_zpskkvftxgb.jpg photo Brighton 54_zpswbp4s1n9.jpg

3. Relax on the Beach & Explore the Pier

Obviously I can’t do a post on Brighton and mention either the beach or the pier! I’ve spent many hours on Brighton beach – watching the sunset with W way back in 2012, sunbathing, catching up with my besties and eating far too many fish and chips! If you’re there for the day then I recommend pitching up early to get a good spot (it gets insanely busy in the summer – though walking towards Hove means it’s a lot quieter!). I’d also spend the pennies on some chairs, at only £2.50 for the day they are definitely worth it.

Then there’s the pier. I can never resist a round on the two-penny machines – and whilst the rides are over-priced they can be fun. There will be forever a soft-spot in my heart for my first loop-the-loop rollercoaster!

4. Play Mini-Golf

I do love a bit of mini-golf, and Brighton’s one was a goodie – and not just because I won! I’d recommend avoiding the one half way down the Volk’s Railway as we thought it was horrendously expensive for a game!

 photo Brighton 14_zpsnzyzlbgw.jpg

5. Get the Train to the Marina

The Volk’s Railway, just to the east of the pier, is Britain’s oldest electronic railway. Originally built in 1883 it runs from near the pier to the marina – so is a great way to see more of the seafront. Note that it’s currently closed for restoration!

Fun fact: me and W took a picnic up to this end of the beach last year. We were halfway through before we realised we’d stumbled into the nudist area…

 photo Brighton 12_zpsw6qhh7pc.jpg photo Brighton 10_zpshsinwn87.jpg photo Brighton 8_zps1yoxxz78.jpg photo Brighton 7_zpsslceqx7s.jpg

6. Visit The Sealife Centre

Now again this is something that I question is worth the money – but only because I think the other centres are a little better – Brighton’s is a little small and cramped for my liking. That said we enjoyed a turtle feeding demonstration and, as we got in at 9am, it was a relatively quiet way to spend a few hours before the sun came out.

7. Walk Through the South Downs

I confess I’ve never actually done this – but this bit of countryside looks SO pretty from the train (and i360!) that I’ve always wanted to do it. There’s plenty of routes, plus the 100 miles of the South Downs Way to explore. There’s even foodie routes connecting pubs and afternoon-tea rooms! Perhaps that’s a goal to achieve in 2018…

8. Have a Night On the Town

Another one I confess I haven’t done, but Brighton is famous for it’s nights out. If you’re up for a quieter evening, try the alcoholic milkshakes at Burger & Cocktails, or All Bar One for strong cocktails and decent music.

 photo Brighton 15_zpsyhjl4sbl.jpg

9. Explore the Museums

Whilst I much prefer to enjoy my time in Brighton outside, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some proper English weather. Whilst not really marketed well, Brighton does have some pretty good museums. I’ve visited and enjoyed both the Booth Museum of Natural History and the Toy & Model Museum. The Booth Museum is not for the faint-hearted (it’s basically full of taxidermy) but it’s free and I personally found it super-interesting.

 photo Brighton 2_zps4pyzubez.jpg photo Brighton 3_zps7vbanp1z.jpg

10. Eat – Lots!

The key to my heart, if you’ve not already guessed, is food. I’m definitely one of those people who live to eat! Luckily Brighton has a vast array of restaurants to keep all tummies (and budgets) happy. It’s home to some great chain-restaurants (Wahaca and Franco Manca I’m looking at you…) as well as some independents. We’ve loved Wai Kika Moo Kau for vegetarian and vegan food, and there’s enough cake shops in the Lanes to try a new one each visit. We’ve enjoyed afternoon tea, fish’n’chips, and of course there’s Choccywoccydoodah. I’m also desperate to eat at The Salt Room too…

 photo Brighton 22_zps7qmtxtt6.jpg

Have you ever been to Brighton? Any hints and tips for my next visit?

Review: Choccywoccydoodah Bar du Chocolat, Brighton

I mentioned in a recent foodie round-up that I’d finally managed to try Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton – and I alluded to the fact that it didn’t disappoint. In fact it far exceeded my expectations.

 photo Choccywoccydoodah_zpsqd1ojbgu.jpgAdmittedly my expectations were low to begin with. I’d always thought of it as a tourist trap. A bit tacky. Too much sugar-craft and poor ingredients. Expensive and tasteless. I’m happy to admit I was wrong on all accounts. Well, maybe it is a bit tacky, but in a good way.

The shop, in particular downstairs, really showcases the cake-decorating talent of the team. From someone who can’t ice to save her life, I was so, so impressed. There is also a range of wedding cakes to browse,perfect for a budding bride – although I’m sure they cost far more than our cake budget! Still, a girl can dream…

We weren’t there to wedding plan though. Nope, for us it was all about the chocolate! We headed up to their little cafe upstairs and surprisingly got seated straight away. There was a queue pretty much throughout our stay though, so go prepared to wait! Service was quick and friendly until we were nearly finished. We got presented with our receipt (without asking – but it felt a bit like a hint), but we waited for a good 10 minutes with our purses out before having to head up to the counter to pay. Still, at least I got to gawp at the massive 6+ layer chocolate cakes!

 photo Choccywoccydoodah Brighton 9_zpsygc7zyk0.jpg photo Choccywoccydoodah Brighton 7_zps9hptap4t.jpg photo Choccywoccydoodah Brighton 4_zpso9yubtie.jpgAll 3 of us ordered a chocolate dipping pot each (a mistake – 2 between 3 would have been plenty!). We all went for milk, though I wish I’d been brave enough to go for dark. Served with marshmallows, honeycomb, rocky road, coconut madeleines, strawberries, shortbread and some kind of fudge cake it was huge. The milk chocolate was delicious, though I think dark would have cut through the sweetness a little better. The only poor point on the plate was the honeycomb, being a little too chewy and lacking crunch.

The chocolate was (surprisingly to me) oh-so-good. Creamy, rich, just the right amount of sweetness and with a lovely deep cocoa taste. By far one of the best milk chocolates I’ve tried in a while!

 photo Choccywoccydoodah Brighton 3_zps7wb2viev.jpgBeing the greedy piglet I am, I also ordered a praline milkshake. I ask for it without chocolate; a good shout as it was light and refreshing. By far and away the best milkshake I’ve had. Next time though? I’m definitely trying the cake!

Have you ever been to Choccywoccydoodah? What did you think?

Review: Burgers & Cocktails, Brighton

Seriously, could there be a more perfect combination? Other than perhaps “tea & cake” I think not!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 5_zpsxez9ugj2.jpgWhilst wandering the North Laines of Brighton we stumbled upon Burgers & Cocktails (part of the Giraffe group). Drawn in by mention of two of my favourite things, we clocked the tummy-rumble-inducing menu, spied the student discount sign and our evening meal was sorted. We strolled up just before 7 to find it virtually empty; a sign that ususally puts us off, but we pererved as I really wanted a good burger. I’m glad we did. A good burger I definitely got.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 1_zpsupvfjljp.jpgStarting with Mojitos (my cocktail of choice, sweet, sharp, strong and yum), we deliberated over burgers and combos of sides for far longer than socially acceptable. Burgers are a serious business, you guys! W eventually went for the Green Chilli Popper Burger, described as a little on the hot side. With a beef patty, green chilli relish, cream cheese stuffed jalapeño poppers & fondue raclette cheese this wasn’t a small burger! We were initially disappointed at the flat ‘McDonalds’ style patties, however it really worked well in both of our burgers. They were definitely good quality despite the thinness, with a good beef flavour coming through – and there’s no way you could eat these with a thick patty!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 3_zpswh5asdg3.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 4_zpszyta5fwn.jpgFor me, there was only one real choice (though I did have a little food envy at the sight of the fondue raclette cheese!) – the Mac Mountain. A self-confessed mac’n’cheese addict, this one had had my mouth watering all afternoon. Allergy info checked, thanks to our fab waiter who said it had “red bits” he needed to check weren’t tomato, I was soon tucking into “beef patty topped with mac ‘n’ cheese, special sauce, smoky relish, lettuce & pickles” minus the sauce, relish and pickles, plus two rashers of bacon. Because everything needs more bacon. This was perfect, pure carbs-on-carbs indulgence. The bacon was perfectly cooked, crispy without being dry and brittle. The brioche bun squished well around the filling.

The mac’n’cheese deserves a special mention. Spiced up with jalapeño and chilli (the aforementioned red bits) this was lighter than expected, but still wonderfully cheesy and rich. The side portion W ordered came crisp with breadcrumbs, my portion tasted wonderful in my burger.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 2_zpsa5og87zm.jpgAs I was already on double-carbs, I avoided fries on the side. Not for the salad option (we were on holiday) – I demolished a portion of the best onion rings I’ve had the pleasure of eating. I’m a huge fan of them, but they can often be lacking onion flavour, watery, soggy, greasy or (ultimate crime) breadcrumbed. These were great – properly oniony, crisp, a light batter and they stayed crunchy right until the end of the bowl. I’d go back for these alone.

And because we had been greedy enough, we went for Hard Shakes instead of a dessert. I know, we deserve a medal…

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 7_zps4nsnlzvm.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 6_zpsfelerkxz.jpgI highly recommend saving room for these! W’s “Chocolate Monkey” (banana shake, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, chocolate liqueur & vodka, whipped cream & vanilla ice cream) was a little banana-y for my taste. However my “It’s Not Terry’s It’s Ours” was divine. Triple sec, crème de cacao, delicious brownie pieces, whipped cream & vanilla ice cream made for an amazingly thick shake, chocolatey, orangey and a massive alcoholic kick.

So if you’re in Brighton and in need of a burger, this place is great. Don’t come expect gourmet burgers, mediumly pink. Expect filthy burgers (don’t come on a first date), massive toppings, and a need to lie-down afterwards…

Where’s the best burger you’ve ever had?

 

Travel: Summer Getaway in Brighton

Remember the “heatwave” of July? It might seem like a while ago now, but that week of rather warm whether than had everyone moaning they were too hot, rail tracks buckling, cars overheating? By some rather random (and greatly appreciated) stroke of luck, it coincided exactly with the holiday myself and W booked to Brighton.

 photo Brighton_zpsw5gnjwsu.jpgWe’d originally planned a road-trip around Scotland, but with myself not having learnt to drive, wanting to sell the car and limited funds, we decided a quick getaway to one of our favourite UK places would do the job. We hoped for good weather, we made rainy-day plans. And we lucked out! The weather was perfect right up until five minutes after we got on the train on our journey home; swelteringly hot, bright blue skies. Just right for a seaside break.

 photo Brighton July 2016 17_zpspyvrvom5.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 15_zpscnezyoee.jpg

Staying at The Kelvin (clean, comfortable, if nothing to right home about – other than it was relatively cheap for our dates!) we were virtually on the beachfront, a few minutes walk away from the Sea Life Centre. It made for an excellent base; we could trot to the beach in the mornings, we were close to a couple of decent-sized supermarkets for picking up snacky lunches. It was only a short stroll to the Pavillions and the restaurants nearby. I discovered the joy that is Franco Manca – I ate their tomato-free courgette pizza twice in four days. It’s unbelievably good! And best of all? A gorgeous Italian Gelato shop on the corner. It brought back memories of Rome, with the ice-cream being some of the best I’ve had in the UK. I had several combos (chocolate & hazelnut, chocolate & orange, blueberry & raspberry) and quite honestly wouldn’t be able to pick a favourite. The Kitkat flavour looked pretty awesome though!

 photo Brighton July 2016 19_zpsogb4ns6f.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 3_zpsedqkys3j.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 2_zpsk5wuwxcz.jpgWe spent a day lazing on the beach. I read a whole book and had a good nap. We snacked on a rotisserie chicken and tzatziki. Hired a couple of beach chairs and a parasol. Chased the parasol down the beach following a sudden gust of wind. Got a hand full of splinters from said deckchairs (me). Paddled in the sea. An highly successful beach day, all washed down with a good old Fish’n’Chips, and a rather strong Espresso Martini.

 photo Brighton July 2016 12_zpsxh0dblrb.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 11_zps6t0wezxa.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 10_zpsva20wn6o.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 9_zpsz4sbva5x.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 8_zpsumtbyjgq.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 5_zps6nabonu1.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 4_zpsvk2bgpcn.jpgAnother day was spent being a bit more active. We strolled round the Sea Life Centre in the morning (finding Nemo and Dory in the process), before getting the mini electric train up to the marina for a quieter beach picnic – we’d eaten most of it before realising we were perhaps a tad overdressed for the section of the beach we were on. Oops! We took the train back, I triumphed at mini-golf despite a shaky start, and ate ice-cream. We then perhaps overindulged with burgers, onion rings, mac’n’cheese and alcoholic milkshakes. No regrets!

Our final full day was shopping day. I spent an embarrassingly long few hours underwear shopping, getting remeasured at Bravissimo then hunting down a rather difficult new size in Debenhams, Ann Summers, Boux Avenue and every bra-selling shop I could find. Making it up to a rather grumpy W, we snacked on sausage rolls, ate more ice-cream and wandered the lanes. There were so many cute and quirky house bits I was desperate to buy, but with no flat sorted at the time I just couldn’t justify it. There’s the excuse to head back for another trip…

 photo Brighton July 2016 16_zpsajs7n4g1.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 18_zpsir446ahw.jpgWe spent our final morning squeezing in another sunbathe, another stroll down the pier, another play on the two-penny slots. Then it was back to reality with a bang, back to trying to find flats to rent, work clothes, back to adulting. Safe to say, we need another holiday already!

Where did you holiday this year? Where in the UK do you recommend for a short break?

Lifestyle: A Foodie Day in Brighton

I’ve already mentioned it a couple of times on here, but I LOVE Brighton. The atmosphere, the unique shops, the vintage-y house bits and the FOOD. In December I had THE most delicious sandwich, but when me and Libby had a girls day out a few weeks ago when went one step further to damaging my diet. Actually, two steps…

 photo b785ba77-40c4-4066-a26c-c7e8440adb4e_zpszfx0enic.jpg photo 70f42ff4-0781-43a5-a4fc-62746e43b5d7_zpsvjr1x18z.jpgLunch was the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and my first experience of the chain. I have to say I much prefer Bryon, but it was pretty yummy. The burger was a touch dry, improved with the addition of gooey American cheese and plenty of mustard, and for shoestring fries they were rather moreish. My drink was fab and great value, I highly recommend the elderflower fizz. But burger-wise, Byron blows this place out of the water. And now I’m craving a burger…

 photo 8b381d07-5f4a-4e2c-a5f0-d9725b52e740_zpsl08uastb.jpgCome the end of the afternoon we were starting to crave cake, and stumbled across the cutest little teashop. Catwalk Cakes do amazingly themed wedding cakes, but also tasty afternoon tea-style snacks. They also have a good range of gluten-free and vegan choices too. We shared a huge pot of tea, and ordered a gigantic slice of cake each.

 photo 474fca55-5227-4580-8877-a7e3d623ff13_zpsngoet8iz.jpgLibby had the rainbow cake – and multicoloured it certainly was! This was probably the best rainbow cake I’ve tried as despite all the colouring it wasn’t heavy or dry. It was extremely sweet though!

 photo 2015-02-07 18.20.46_zpsnqdsfkbr.jpgI plumped for the Vegan Blueberry Cake, and am desperate to know what they put in their icing – it was so buttery and creamy! The blueberries gave it a lovely tang, they were sharp and fruity, and the whole thing was pleasantly moist. I’m not always a cake person, but if all cakes were like this I’d be converted!

High on sugar we stumbled back to the train station. I might have only lost 2 pounds in weight that week (and many more from my purse in Boots that day…) but it was worth it!

Are you a fan of an afternoon cake? Where’s your favourite spot?

Lifestyle: The Best Sandwich in Brighton

I promised you sandwich porn last week, and here it is in all it’s glory.

 photo 2014-12-13144609_zps4e42ec7d.jpgDalinsky’s make their own salt beef and pastrami, serving it in pretty huge sandwiches along with mustard, pickles, sauerkraut or any combination. I left off the sauerkraut as the stuff scares me. They also offer chicken soup (which smells fantastic) and a grilled sandwich which W devoured. I went for Team Pastrami (I can’t eat it from the supermarket now!), he was Team Salt Beef, and together we stood on the North Laines, freezing and making ‘foodie’ noises. Honestly one of the best sandwiches I’ve had.

 photo 2014-12-13144010_zps3366a8f2.jpgSandwiches are made to order, served on a bed of their salads. In December there was a dill potato salad, a more traditional (though not gloopy) slaw, and a colourful and tangy red cabbage mix. The red cabbage was stunning – I’d pay for the recipe! Everything was crunchy and fresh, the bread was amazing quality…and the couple themselves were completely adorable.

 photo 2014-12-13155214_zps0ba9b629.jpgIf you’re ever in Brighton, be sure to go and have a chat and a taste. It pays off so much to support local suppliers, and these guys lived round the corner from where their stall was, salting the beef and making the pastrami themselves. A trip may be made to Brighton in the not-too-distant future for another of these beauties!

What’s your favourite sandwich filling? I used to think you couldn’t beat plain old ham, but this changed all that!