Sunday, June 24, 2012

hoo! hoo! by the beautiful sea

We had an open day today, and it was hard to wake up to the screeches of seagulls and not think about the ocean. So that was the plan. We were headed to the sea!

At first we all kind of did our thing around Chichester. A few folks grabbed a full English breakfast at the pub next door, a few folks slept in, and some, like Alayna, went to the cathedral to watch the Peregrine falcons. But eventually we all met up and headed to the train station. Everyone seemed to walk to the station like they had ants in their pants. We sort of had the sense that we needed to get to the beach before all the sand was taken up.

Luckily it was a little overcast and a lot windy, so there weren't throngs of people at the beach. It was actually kind of nice. I didn't mind the wind - it's that great sensation of feeling the ocean spray on your face and hands, and there's something calming about the ocean coming in and going out. The sea was a changing shade of green and gray, and the waves were pretty dramatic. Because of this, we struck many dramatic oceanic poses.

After a bit we headed into a town, whereupon we realized it was a Saturday. The beach didn't feel like one, but the town certainly did. Still, it was part of the vibe of Brighton; all these side streets and alleys full of shops and bunting and people. It's really fun. I could wander around that city for days and still find interesting new things to look at. We walked into vintage stores, record stores, and even pound shops. Finally we decided to eat, and I knew the perfect place.

After only 45 minutes or so of wandering around (ha!) I finally found Bill's, a great breakfast place that Loraine and Adam Boulter had shown me years ago. Bill's is fantastic because they only claim to serve breakfast until 1:00, but it's a total lie. And everyone knows it. The breakfasts are massive, even though I ordered a hamburger and fries. Bill's has become sort of famous, and I learned from our waitress that there's one in Covent Garden now - under my nose this whole time! Ah well. The first Bill's is the best Bill's, and it's one more great reason to go to Brighton.

After lunch we did a little more shopping. I picked up a few things for my kids (who might read this, so I won't reveal what.) We found a really great vintage shop where Steven took this picture of me wearing pony mask:

And Topher looked at some old slides:

While across the street, Nick got his hair cut by a friendly old barber who told us all about The Ascot races, which are happening this weekend:

Then we headed to our designated meet-up spot on the beach, where Topher and Nick grooved to a three piece rock band playing the Star Wars Cantina:

We reunited with Alayna, Lauren, and Bonnie and headed to the Brighton pier. The weather was still windy and cloudy, but no rain. Despite all the weather reports we'd had, it was a really nice day at the sea, Mr. T. We walked the wooden planks of the pier and watched the green waves rolling beneath us. We looked at the House of Horrors, the Ferris Wheels, the carousels, the wild mouse, and then settled on this behemoth, called "The Scream." They claim that it accelerates if you scream louder, and I wouldn't be surprised. We screamed pretty loud. I screamed like a giant ladybaby. This thing shoots you out over the ocean with a force of over 3.6 G's in 3 seconds. And it's 130 feet tall and turns over 360 degrees. It's pretty awesome. I'm turning forty next month. When will I get sick of stuff like this?

After this we played around on the beach for a bit, and took pictures of these massive waves. But the sun was dropping and it was time to catch the train back to Chichester. So we snaked back through the alleys of Brighton, stopping for a few moments only to look inside the creepiest joke shop of all time with the most stoned employee. Brighton was shutting down as well. All of the people seemed to be trickling out, and the shops were rolling up their gates. So we headed back to the station, just in time to jump on board. We sat in First Class seats, because we're first class people! And also because no one ever checks.

I saw this abbey out of the window. It was hard to get a good shot. But I can't imagine seeing like this out of the window of a train back home. Or even being on a train back home. There are just some things about Europe that will never cease to impress me. We told knock-knock jokes on the train and I heard everyone's silly voices, and suddenly we were back in Chichester. Starving. So we ate pub food. And, finally full, I crashed in my hotel room just as the promised rain finally came down, drowning out all the noisy drunks and gulls outside my window.