RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Not exactly LA – from Santa Monica Pier to Brighton Pier in Sussex, England



Brighton Pier at Brighton, Sussex, England with pebbly beach

The last time I visited the Santa Monica Pier in sunny southern California, it was pouring with rain so I suppose it was only justified that my visit to the Brighton Pier in Sussex, England, should be equally soggy.

Of course, where I live in the Los Angeles area you are never really prepared for the wet stuff, and when it does fall from the sky you can never totally accept that it is raining. In England, you expect rain and give thanks when the sun is shining.

england-brighton pier

Brighton Pier in the lovely rain

But on this day I was prepared. For several years now I have visualized myself eating fish ‘n chips in the rain on Brighton Beach as a present to myself for making it to a certain birthday (it isn’t necessary to go into detail about which one!) I was born in Brighton a few decades ago but had not been back to visit the place in twenty five years.

Before I left LA I bought a ticket online for the hop-on, hop-off double decker bus tour of Brighton and Hove. That way I would be forced to do the tour or waste the money. I arrived in Brighton late morning, and as the weather was already not very welcoming, I was glad I had the ticket. The bus stop was directly across from the train station and I didn’t have to wait too long.

View from pier along Brighton seafront

View from pier looking along Brighton seafront

Rather than a live tour guide, the bus had a canned narrative that didn’t always line up with the location we were passing. But I actually learned a lot about the history so I didn’t mind too much. As a tour guide myself, I would have preferred a human being, but whatever…

The first time around (yes, I took the bus tour twice just to make sure I didn’t miss anything) I got off at Brighton Pier. It was already lunchtime and I was ready for those fish ‘n chips. But first I decided to walk the length of the pier to see what my options were.

Walking along Brighton Pier

Walking along Brighton Pier

There are plenty of things to do and see on the pier including restaurants, food and coffee kiosks, sweet shops, an amusement arcade, carnival games, rides and plenty of places to just sit. I enjoyed the informational plaques at intervals along the pier with historical facts.

Before I left LA I had planned to buy some Brighton Rock for a souvenir, but when I looked at it in the shop it gave me an instant toothache. Knowing myself only too well, I could see myself sitting in my hotel room in London breaking my teeth on the stuff instead of packing it in my bag, and it just wasn’t worth it.

Back at the beginning of the pier, I bought my fish ‘n chips. They came in a box, not wrapped up in newspaper like I remembered. A little disappointing but maybe more hygienic… although what’s a little hygiene compared to tradition?

Fish 'n chips on Brighton Pier

Fish ‘n chips on Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier view

My view as I ate my fish ‘n chips

By now the rain was really coming down. I found a dry seat, opened my box and tried my best to capture the moment so I could remember it for the rest of my life. Brighton Pier. Fish ‘n chips. Rain. My birthday. Ah, I was living the dream!

brighton pier railings

View from Brighton Pier through decorative railings

The rain let up for a while. I did the circuit on the bus again back to the pier and got off. I walked along the pier one more time, realizing I would probably never be back. Then I walked along the sea front in search of souvenir stores.

Brighton Pier view from Promenade

Brighton Pier view from Promenade

I found one that looked suitable and bought some Brighton trinkets. A metal tray, a shot glass, a tea towel and a fridge magnet. And don’t forget the postcards. Now I could prove to myself that I had actually been in the place of my birth.

Brighton Beach with seagulls

Pebbly Brighton Beach with seagulls

As it happens, the sales lady at the shop was planning to visit California in the summer. One of the stops on her tour was Santa Monica. She wasn’t very excited about that. She said, we have a pier here, why do I need to see another pier in Santa Monica? I was almost lost for words but I did my best to explain how she would enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches, the view of the coastline and the city of Santa Monica itself, which is so different from Brighton. Well, what can you do?

I was ready to hop on the bus back to the station and the train to London. I had achieved the number one purpose for my trip to England and the rest was all icing on the cake.

Brighton hotels along seafront

Brighton hotels along seafront

For those of you familiar with Brighton, you may be wondering why I didn’t do a hop-off at the Brighton Pavilion. I decided to forgo another tour of the place as I still have photos and vivid memories of it from my previous visit. I was probably shooting slides in those days, so I must search through my file cabinet in the garage and scan them… yeah, right, I am sure I will take the time to do that… well, maybe. It is a fascinating venue and not to be missed if it is your first visit to Brighton.

brighton view from bus driving through town

View from bus touring through town

I was very, very happy with the way the day had turned out. Originally a friend was supposed to accompany me but he opted out at the last minute. I was actually glad as this was MY day and I am sure anybody else would have been bored silly.

Brighton Grand Hotel

View from bus of Grand Hotel which was bombed in 1984 in an IRA attempt to assassinate Margaret Thatcher

I was the only passenger on the way back to Brighton Station. But I think my smile must have filled the entire bus.

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)

Author: RMW

I am an explorer and creative person. I've had many jobs, careers and interests... everything in life and the universe fascinates me. Born in Brighton, England, I've lived my entire adult life in Los Angeles, California. A few years ago I rediscovered photography which is a great excuse to get outside and look. I'm also in the process of re-writing some of my unpublished short stories and possibly a novel. .

2 thoughts on “Not exactly LA – from Santa Monica Pier to Brighton Pier in Sussex, England

  1. Nice post – you’ll be glad to hear it’s still raining here in mid-June! For another (slightly unconventional) Brighton story, check out my blog at http://walkingforequilibrium.com/2012/05/13/the-back-passages-of-brighton/


  2. Pingback: Views from my deck in Culver City to commemorate my birthday | One Good Life in Los Angeles

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