two towns became one city 2000 … a pier and sir tom jones

#9 – on my gems list – Brigthon & Hove

With a population of 256,600 – is Brighton & Hove a true gem, in the summer of course it nearly doubles. Has about 8 million visitors per year – 2nd most popular city in UK after London. In 1841 the London and Brighton Railway opened and it Brighton became London-by-Sea. Filled to the rim with Georgian terraces and crescents – the old graded house on the seafront – are only allowed to have the same color, like a honey suckle yellow (tried to find out the name) – 1218 listed Grade II in total and there is 24 Grad I – the highest grad (defined as being of “exceptional interest” and greater than national importance, and the highest of the three grades – text; ) In 2000 Brighton & Hove – two towns got one city status. 

My first meeting with Brighton was while I still lived in Dover, and hated every minute and inch of it. My fiancé from Sweden was over on a visit and I don’t really know why we drove over to Brighton. Something I had in back of my head maybe – there was a lot going on in my head those days. *smile

It’s was on a Sunday – and it was true love at first sight – just knew I had to move there somehow. We drove the motorways to get there, but driving home we took the coastal road – and after 15 min we passed Newhaven, the a little strange looking place – but there was an abandoned port there and I thought to myself – why can’t Stena take over this so I can move to Brighton.

And my wishes came true … only a couple of months later Stena announced that they will open the route; Newhaven – Dieppe, France. The thing was that the ferry company (French) that Stena was buying had crew sitting on their vessels – in protest for the closure of the route. Phoned my boss the same day and asked if I could move to Brighton – and there was not problems, because in those days the company paid my rent.

So suddenly I living in Brighton – there was many dodgy places up for rent and the rent was expensive, it took months before I found something and what I found was a very VERY nice new built  townhouse. Found a photo on internet of the area where I lived – my house was the white straight on in the picture, 10 St. Mary’s Square.

Have to tell you about my little friendly bus too – bus no 7 – that just stopped outside our side gate to the area .. it left every 7th minute and took me to the station – called the “buzy bus” and had a bee as it logo. There was only one “buzy bus” and it was mine. Could have done with that bus in Belfast, that’s an other story to be told.

For 6 years I lived there – only a block from the ocean, but not on the seafront – but at night in bed I could hear the ocean through the open window – slept with open window for all those years.
The sad thing about living in Brighton was – that I was never much there – one of the years I stayed 220 nights on hotels around UK and Europe. Every day I was at home I enjoyed it and it was so hard to go back to work .. start travelling again. Then in 1999 I hade to give up Brighton for Belfast, where asked to move on – heartbreaking and I was very upset, but I fell in love with Belfast very quickly even if we had a bit of rough start.

Kemp Town – the part of Brighton where I lived – is very colourful, bohemian and loads of small restaurants, shops and B&B – everything small and “cute” – Really the place to live if you want to be hip and cool. – witch I doubt I was – it’s a little bit likeness So-Ho or Notting Hill  in London.

Once into Kemp Town village, elegant eateries and cosy pubs sit alongside delicious delis and lifestyle shops. Back towards town, check out St James’s Street, with its quirky mix of second-hand book stores, interiors, delis and colorful characters. Kemp Town in Brighton is also home to some of the best bars and pubs in town, as well as the city’s thriving ‘gay quarter.’

Brighton is the gay capital of UK – it made the city low on crimes – even if when I lived there only steps away – a young gay man was murdered in his basement apartment.

Brighton is only 50 min away from London Victoria Station and trains running 22 hours daily – it was fantastic. Could go up and see a show – then be able to go home afterwards. Gatwick only 30 min with train or airport bus – and BA had flights to Gothenburg from there. So easy to get to Dublin and Scotland with low coast airlines for my work.
One con with Brighton is that there is no parking spaces – forget it – so take the train. Train s fares London-Brighton, using The Train Line, £7.50-37.00/$11.85-58.00/€9.00-44.50 – single

The beach is long and winding – but has pebbles, “Blue Flag” they are called – and it’s very difficult to come out the water because they are so slippery. There is 614,600,000 pebbles on the beach. Wonder who has been counting ?????

Brighton beach has also a nude beach – but not in the way I was used to – NO, just a sign in the middle of the beach; kids running by and families through walking the area … the nude beach in full view from the promenade above too and it works. Nobody cares. Fantastic!!!
Along the beach for miles is there shops and restaurants … now there also are a long beach walking path for predestines and cyclists – goes from the pier all the way to Worthing. A fantastic walk just a long the ocean for well over a hour and then back.

Brighton has a very cosmopolitan vibe – and walking along the promenade is like being on French Riviera or in Italy. It has a very mild and pleasant climate the whole year around.

A very vibrant night life with pubs and night clubs – even if I lived there for so many years … I never went to a night club, but I tried many good restaurants.

Brighton Centre , on the seafront just by Grand Hotel  – where I saw Tom Jones every year – even after I moved to Belfast – 8 times in total, I flew down to see him. Just to keep the tradition going. Never liked him when he was massive popular with his own TV show in the beginning of the 80th, but I’m mad about him now. Also enjoyed Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Chris DeBurgh and Westlife that this venue. >>>>>> Ladies and Gentlemen – Sir Tom Jones – still going strong at the age of 72.

The Grand Hotel, is one of the biggest  landmarks in Brighton – stunning building on the seafront and a stunning hotel. Was bombed at 2:54 a.m on 12 October 1984 – by IRA – Margaret Thatcher with her husband Denis where staying there under the Conservative Party conference – 6 killed and 34 injured. The tradition is that party at power in UK always have their party conference in Brighton. Also in 1994, while living there, IRA had filled a bicycle with explosives and left it by the pier – was defused by a controlled explosion. 

There are also a second pier in Brighton (or what is left of it) – the oldest, West Pier open in 1866 – but it was hardly anything left of it – they where trying to raise money to restore it to it’s old glory. The British boxer, Chris Eubank, wanted to buy the pier and restore it – his only condition where that I he want to live on it – never went through and 28th March 2003 it went on fire and today only the frames of the pavilion building are standing. What I understand they still want to rebuild it.

See and do in Brighton:

1.  The Royal Pavilion
Built for the Prince Regent, later King George IV, in stages between 1787 and 1823, the Royal Pavilion is remarkable for its exotic oriental appearance both inside and out. This magnificent royal pleasure palace was revered by fashionable Regency society and is still a distinctive landmark for vibrant Brighton & Hove today.
The Royal Pavilion is also home to some of the finest collections and examples of the chinoiserie style in Britain. – A must if you visit Brighton, went a couple times. A magnificent place, so much to see and so well kept.


2. The Brighton Pier

Of course very touristy, but it’s something special and it’s only nice to walk out the end of the pier. There is a great pub out in the end – always packed. The karaoke is on some afternoons and evenings. It’s a MUST when visiting Brighton. With it’s 524 metres (1,719 ft) is it a fair walk. Open in May 1899 . The pier had many famous visitors like: Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Ewan McGregor, Woody Allen, The Spice Girls – loads of company’s has used the pier in their commercials:  Lloyds TSB, Coca Cola, Sky TV, Cadbury’s  and Walkers Crisps. The pier is a national treasure.

 3. Sea Life

Just down by the pier – there is something really great for the kids – had friends over and their 8 year old daughter enjoyed it and she got bitten by one of the fishes, great adventure even for me. You walk through a glass tunnel – and the sharks are swimming over your head. Well worth a visit.

4. The Lanes

Just what it says on the tin – an area by the seafront that is full off narrow streets with eating places, unique shops – and plenty of jewellery shops, that sells excellent “second hand” jewellery and watches. A girlfriend of mine bought a Cartier watch to her husband for only half price. You can really find “gems” in all sizes and prices there.

5. Brighton Marina
The biggest yacht marina in Europe – built in 1979 and still getting developed.
Private housing, apartments, restaurants, hotel, bars, shops and loads of yachts.
Lived just above it – so it was easy to go down for a drink in the evening – downhill, but  more hard work to get home – uphill, mostly it became a taxi ride.

6. The Brighton Festival , also called Brighton Fringe – in May – an annual art festival, 625 events during 23 days in 2011 and with over 100.000 tickets sold; Children’s Parade and the artists open houses concept, whereby artists and craftspeople literally open up their houses for the public to view or buy their work. This year: 5-27th May.

Brighton & Hove is really city that you walk around in .. along the seafront promenade –  visit the marina – eat, drink and enjoy just being there and be merry.
For shopping – spoiled with choices – in and around The Lanes, Churchill Square Shopping and Western Road, that goes on for miles – plus they have a “Waitrose” on just Western Road – my favorite grocery shop.

Brighton also have a couple of yearly rally’s – London Brighton Veteran Car Run for cars built before 1904 – The London to Brighton Mini Run – for Mini Coopers, 3rd Sunday in May, about 2500 of them are in the run.
Other runs that goes from London to Brighton is Land Rover … MGs,Volkswagen vans and campers, Citroën 2CV and vintage motorbikes. Plus there is a bicycle charity race – for all the finishing line is on Brighton seafront. There Always something on “the run” down there.

Now to … sleeping and eating and of course drinking.

A great website for hotels; Brighton Hotels

Hotel Seattle
Brighton Marina
Brighton BN2 5WA
Phone:+44 (0)1273 679799
71 rooms; 3 stars
August: £175-205/$277-324/€210-246, breakfast included

In the middle of the Marina itself – not directly in the city center – will probably take 30 min to walk. There is buses running regularly. When I lived there it was private owned apartments. Fantastic location in the marina and if you walk in to the center you will get lot of fresh sea air and stunning views.

New Steine Hotel
10 – 11 New Steine, Brighton
East Sussex, BN2 1PB UK
tel: +44 (0)1273 681546
4 stars -20 rooms, small boutique hotel
August: double room £105.00/$166/€126,  breakfast include

Location fantastic in the beginning of the Lanes and a block from the seafront. I would call it more  a upmarket Guesthouse, but is ranked as a 4 stars hotel. Their restaurant are suppose to be very good. Never eat their. It’s newly refurbished. The couple who owns the hotel also own the small hotel next door – The Gulliver’s Hotel. Great price for a great stay. 

Hotel du Vin Brigthon

6 Ship Street,
Brighton, BN1 1AD
Phone: +44 (0)1273 718 588
4 stars; 49 rooms – boutique hotel with excellent restaurant
August; double £230-400/$364-633/€276-481, include breakfast

A wonderful hotel-concept that you can find in a couple of cities in UK – have stayed at the one in Bristol. Renowned for their details, comfort and luxury touches. They also have excellent bistro’s at their hotel and outstanding wine cellars – there from comes the name of the hotel chain. In a beautiful Tudor style building – only couple of minutes walk to the seafront.

The Grand
97-99 King’s Road
Brighton, BN1 2FW
phone: +44 (0)1273  224 300
5 stars – 179 rooms & 4 suites
August: £195–295/€308-467/€234-355, breakfast include.

A GRAND lady – beautiful rooms and fantastic service has my former boss told me.  Has only been in for afternoon tea and I wasn’t too impressed, very bad to be exact. All the stars that visit Brighton Centre – stay there and all the rich famous ones too. The thing is that this 5* doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to stay in. Very responsible prices.  Direct on the seafront.

Regarding the eating and drinking – 2 of the restaurants I will recommend is my own favorites .. and 2 are newcomers, but friends of mine has told me they are very good – so I go with them. So many years since I lived or been back now, so some of my waterholes are gone or changed name.

24 St Georges
24-25 St Georges Road,
Brighton, BN2 1ED
Modern European, £££ – Reserve
Head Chef; Dean Heselden
Phone: 01273 626060
A gem with delicious food in colourful Kemp Town and my next door neighbour – had some fantastic meals and evenings here. So carefully and delightful cooked meals and beautiful presentation. They have been going strong for nearly 20 years – must be doing something right.

Riddle & Finns
12b Meeting House Lane,
Brighton, BN1 1HB
Phone: 01273 323 008
Fish & Seafood . Reserve

Gordon Ramsey has said about this restaurant – Seafood as it should be – one of mine favourite fish restaurants in whole of UK – they also have oyster bar – all wall in white tiles … outstanding place. Service is unimpaired. Don’t miss out on this. Worth every penny. 

98 Trafalgar Street,
Brighton, BN1 4ER
Phone: 01273 693 377.- Reserve evenings.
££-£££ – Modern European

In vintage setting is this brasserie – an newcomer to me – and I have gone by recommendation – heard only good things. A restaurant that are comfortable and relaxed – food great and service too. My friends went back twice during their stay. 

The Ginger Pig
3 Hove Street,
Brighton, BN3 2TR –
Phone: 01273 736123.
Modern European – Reserve for evening
This restaurant is also new to me – but friends had a fantastic meal here last week and they said they loved the place. Very popular and with a very sophisticated interior.
“The Ginger Pig is a contemporary, sophisticated yet easy-going, venue offering a great atmosphere for both drinks and lunch/dinner A friendly drinking venue together with honest, traditional food make this a great choice for an evening out.” (from their website)

The Loop Cafe
16 Marine Parade,
Brighton, BN2 1TL
01273 677 944.

A wonderful little café on the seafront  – with great sandwiches, salads, baked potatoes , fish & chips and their Brazilian specialties. Serves breakfast and lunch. Been there plenty times while out in the Lanes or walking along the seafront on Kings’ Road. Well worth a visit and cheap too.

Brighton is also renowned for all their English classes and courses – people from all over the world comes to learn English – under 1-4 weeks. My courses lasted 6 years.

Brighton Rock, the famous sweet in Brighton – never tried it, looks to sweet for my taste – there is shops on the seafront and the pier with only those sweets and they are really pretty to have look around in.
“It is a type of hard stick-shaped boiled sugar confectionery most usually flavoured with peppermint or spearmint. It is commonly sold at tourist (usually seaside) resorts in the UK (like Brighton or Blackpool); in Ireland in seaside towns such as Brayand Strandhill; in Gibraltar; in Denmark in towns such as Løkken and Ebeltoft; and in Sydney and Tasmania, Australia.” (text;

In Graham Greene’s novel “Brighton Rock”, the character Ida says, “It’s like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down, you’ll still read Brighton.”

Photos provided by; mac)/

7 thoughts on “two towns became one city 2000 … a pier and sir tom jones

    • Wendy, something special about Brighton – when there .. it’s like not being in UK – it’s so continental and “un-British” Really enjoyed my years there, even it I wasn’t home much. Would love to go back, they say it has changed so much ….

    • Thank you so much …. I loved my years in Brighton, but I was working away far too much. Lovely city. So glad you like and I will go over now and visit your world.

      Hope to see you soon again. Viveka

    • Thank you so much …. I loved my years in Brighton, but I was working away far too much. Lovely city. So glad you like and I will go over now and visit your world.

      Hope to see you soon again. Viveka

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