"It's not much but it's ours"

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I am not sure why, but I decided to head out of London today.

Let's get this into context. I not only fear the thought of going outside London, I am actually very very scared of leaving my own little enclave of the world's capital. I have a mantra which I will repeat to anyone who will listen ( and, in fact, anyone who won't too)


So, when I announced to the people at work that I was planning a day trip out of town, it was treated with the disdain it deserved and much laughter.

But, I was absolutely serious.

So today, at 7.30am, I found myself on a train to Brighton. I was kitted out in my walking shoes ( not worn since a trip to New Zealand ) a woolly hat and a brand new pair of walking trousers ( shoot me now, God, Shoot me now )

At about 8.30am, I arrived at the South Coast and turned left on the seafront and headed towards Newhaven. I had predicated my trip on a few hours walking interspersed with a few pints, some fish and chips, some ice cream, a little more walkage and then home. Exactly as it turned out to be.

I spent a happy first few hours traipsing on the Newhaven road past the entirely nasty Brighton Marina and the naturist beach. I cannot imagine there is anyone in the entire world that would not be pleased to hear that it was both too cold and too early for me to express my support for the naturist movement. Me too! Naked, I am afraid, I look like nothing more than a badly set blancmange. There is no universe in which me being au naturel would ever be acceptable although, I do think I look quite fetching in a thong.

A 7 1/2 mile round trip later, I was back in Brighton and wandering up and down the pier ( as grim as one would imagine ) supping a few pints in The Pump House Pub and heading towards AN OTHER fish and chip shop on the seafront. If you put a gun to my head ( as so many would want to ) I could not name the place

Actually, the food was not bad. I had some very good whitebait followed by some decent fried plaice with dreadful chips. Along with excellent tartare sauce and a pint of Harvest Sussex Best a bill of £15 inc tip was perfectly acceptable.

Afterwards, I headed the other way ( West )past the rapidly decaying West Pier towards Hove for an hour or so to walk off the deep fried badness.

Along the way, while walking past the lovely brightly coloured beach huts that have become so desirable and fought and sought after, I happened upon Marocco's Italian Ice Cream shop. Like a remnant of the 1950's, this was just what you dream of when you think of going to the seaside in the UK. I forced myself to a double cone of strawberry cheesecake ice cream topped with pistachio ice cream. The young woman who served me, informed me that the strawberries in the ice cream were from a jam they made in the shop. Whatever,it was lovely and a perfect companion to my journey through Hove ( a town that list amongst its places of interest a leisure centre which tells you all you need to know )

By 3pm. I was ready to head back to civilisation and prised myself into an overfull train back to Victoria and, from there,. back to my safe enclave in London's fashionable SOSHO.

I had planned an evening of almost biblical absitinence that evening by way of recompense for my day's outrages. However, I had figured without Hermano Primero. Arrriving home from a weekend day in the office. He was up for a drink and so, we headed to The Wenlock arms for a couple of pints of Blackwater Vale Mild.

If that was not enough, we started to get a bit hungry and headed to Vinoteca where we forced down plates of Jamon Iberico, Cured Spanish Meats, Calamari and, best of all, a "five bird terrine" singly the best either of us can recall eating. Washed down with a bottle of Rueda, it was an expensive but worthwhile £60 for two.

So then we went home? Nope! The meaty stuff got good to us by then so we headed around the corner to Comptoir Gascon and suffered through plates of "piggy treats" and Foie Gras Gascon with a couple of glasses of red.

OK! We did finally go home to some fresh mint tea, some Green & Blacks Mayan Gold chocolate and a large Orujo blanco.

Now, all I have to think about is how I get up in the morning and run 12 miles.

Mmm? I may have to think about doing this " going out of London" again. But, not for a while, eh?
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Anonymous GastroChick said...

Thats a great Mantra!
Day trips to Brighton are fun, fish and chips on a pebbley beach provides perfect London esapism....and a desire to get back to London.
Glad you enjoyed Vinoteca - its just round the corner from me but I've not yet wandered in, now I know they do Jamon Iberico I'll surely will be popping in.

Sunday, April 02, 2006 11:19:00 am  
Anonymous Macro said...

The good AND the bad news is that you seem to have covered all that is best in Brighton. How they achieved cityship a couple of years ago is entirely beyond my comprehension, unless perhaps they became Labour party donors.

There are, as you suggest, a few very good fish and chip shops in Brighton now. One of them is Bankers (?) in Lower Church Street and another is somewhere in The Lanes. More surprisingly, a few very good restaurants have opened in recent years. Seven Dials is very good, Hotel du Vin is much lauded, and of course One Paston Place is the established leader of the pack. Locals tell me that Terre a Terre is a first-class vegetarian restaurant, but then I wouldn't know whether to trust people who go to that kind of place.

Brighton lost what I always found to be easily its best restaurant, Topps, some years ago. It was a tiny 24-cover restaurant in a hotel, run by the owners of the hotel more out of love for food than profit, I suspect.

I'm truly impressed that you managed to conquer your agoraphobia, and venture to hope that your safe return to the bosom of Sosho will encourage further adventures.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 1:21:00 pm  

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