B-R-I-G-H-T-O-N

In  only a 45 minute easy train ride from London, you reach Brighton, where the old time charm of an English beach resort and the once thriving entertainment hotspot of the 1920s collides with today’s cutting-edge indie culture. Come into town and explore the winding streets framed by Victorian-era white homes and vibrantly painted doors where all roads lead to the sea…

Beach and Sunshine

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Ok, ok, we are still talking about the UK here, the land notorious for its grey skies, constant rain, and chilly winds.  But if the sun is trying its best to peek through the grey clouds in the London sky, you better believe it’s shining bright in the UK’s favorite beach city. The beach is Brighton. And Brighton is the beach.  Anywhere in town, deafening but welcomed sounds of seagull caws start before dawn and the fresh sea breeze reaches far and wide to leave the taste of salt on your lips.

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But it’s most beautiful in the dark winter, when deserted and ignored, for that is when existing where the earth meets the sea is most profound.

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Brighton’s western pier, now just a skeleton,  floats out at sea.  It’s nostalgia for once being the epicenter of the whirling entertainment scene in the 20s but no longer after a fire,  still emits its larger-than-life energy in its bold iron existence. Today, slackliners and the like practice their skills at this part of the beach.

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Redefiners

While some may label Brighton people as hipsters, I prefer to think of them as Redefiners. They aren’t the type that wear prescription-less, thick, black-framed glasses and flannel shirts as they ride their fixie around town.  Not one person can be boxed into this now trendy version of being “alternative”.   Circus performers, yogis, comedians, Buddhist meditation leaders, academics, musicians, and many people who almost certainly would object to being labelled anything specific at all – everyone, is unique with their own set of interests; yet, all those who move to Brighton come for a good reason. They are all in it to be happy.  Passion for life and engaging with mindful experience is the unifying element that binds us all together.

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Indie music incubator

If you’ve been lucky enough to be in town for the Fringe Festival, England’s largest open access arts and music festival, you know that Brighton is the hub and incubator for UK’s indie music scene.  On any stroll during the day, any day of the year, you’ll see fedora-wearing kindred spirits musing around with french horn cases.  Wait for the night and explore the winding laines.  Follow the sounds of some folk music into an unassuming bar. You’ll be surprised how beautiful are the sounds of the casual night performers. Their passion for poetry expressed through chords, scale, and tone inspire and enlighten our states of being.

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Gastronomy: Gourmet and Casual Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants Abound

The lifestyle of Brighton lends itself to a culinary scene based in local, farm-to-table, sustainable and socially conscious eating.  For the date night, you can explore dedicated vegetarian restaurants that serve award-winning, local, seasonal and  truly delicious vegetarian food that even obsessive meat-eaters will love.  If you’re just strolling down the bustling and winding laines on an afternoon, you’ll find  buffets of sustainable vegetarian entrees.  Sit down at one of these cafes and sip on an almond-mylk latte as you watch the people pass by. Breath in the life energy of Brighton and let it pulse through your spirit.

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Since this is still the UK, we cannot ignore the cornerstone of British culture – the Pub. Usually eating at a pub means fish and chips but in Brighton, there are vegetarian gastro pubs. Try something from their ever-changing seasonal menu or stick to classics, like a Falafel board. But whatever you eat make sure you flush it down with one of the many local Sussex Ales on offer almost everywhere.

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Hoop and acroyoga jams

When music festivals were still just jamband-based, the beautiful hooping girls in the back of the crowds at the open air shows were usually go-go dancers in bikinis with shaggy-hair boots.  Now, hoops can be found on the waist of any music lover at a festival – and –  on the Brighton beach. Every Friday, hoopers and acroyogis join forces to jam on the Hove lawns at the water to drink in the sunset upside-down or twirling around, feeling free.

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Hooping in FP shift dress with rainbow and sunset

Hooping in my FP shift dress with a rainbow and the sunset

With permission from Mandy Fletcher

With permission from Mandy Fletcher

Pop-up classes for fire hooping, double- or triple-hoop hooping, sequencing for hoop dancing and more run all week long every week through the hooping community to keep the community and passion thriving.

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Trapeze

Hanging upside-down twenty feet above the ground in the middle of your Thursday afternoon leaves you with a rush of blood awakening your every vessel,  an adrenaline high from the fear of suspension,  empowerment from the strength needed for the climb, and a deep belly laugh afterwards.  Trapeze (think silks, rope, static trapeze) culture is thriving in Brighton.  Acrobatics is like yoga high off the ground. Classes back in DC ran upwards from $55/class; in Brighton, its an affordable 5 pounds for a therapeutic and nourishing rush.

With permission from The Circus Project

With permission from The Circus Project

My first Trapeze

My first time on silks

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Open air vintage markets and coffee shops in the North Laines

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Known as the “Antiquing Capital of the World”,  antiquing is a lifestyle here in Brighton.  There’s some order to the chaos of these nooks and its a lovely experience to lose yourself in the possible stories behind every dusty trinket and the smell of old books.  In between the antique furniture stores, which will sell anything from old IKEA book shelves for a few pounds all the way up the genuine antiques for several hundred, street vendors set up shop all day on Upper Gardner Street. You’ll find used and collectors books and vinyl, vintage clothes, local designers, local artisans and jewelers, and all kinds of treasures.

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When you need to refuel, the farmer’s market is in a little backyard just around the corner for some fresh local meat, fish, baked goods and produce.  Pick up the brown wicker basket and fill it with the delicious yields of greens and juicy fruits from the local farmers as they tell you about their farm.

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Nature

Within a 20-minute drive or longer bike ride into the lush English countryside with rolling hills that emit nearly a chartreuse color in springtime, you’ll see quaint thatched-roof cottages, natural stone walls and cobblestone paths. Venture further into this English “jungle” and you’ll be an explorer in  unadulterated and magical farm lands populated only with sheep and the occasional cow.  Fortunate enough for you, the Brits know how to drink, and one can easily explore the countryside with intermittent breaks for a pint.

Trails not to miss:

Seven Sisters: After passing long grass fields filled with sheep and channels of water, you encounter steep white cliffs dropping off into the dark blue churning sea that will fill you with fresh air and inspiration while still providing a grounding that only nature is capable of.  Rocks overgrown with kelp and seagrass covering it like long hair.  Sand worms squiggling in between your toes as you wade in the warm ocean.  The sun’s warm rays nourishing your body as if it’s nature’s hug. Sheherd dogs jumping in and out of the water channels leading into the ocean, shaking their coats in a happy frantic. Warm misty sea air tasting salty on your lips.

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River

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The Downs: Rolling hills covered in lush mantis green grass and windswept trees. Wide open spaces. The south downs way trailing over the ledge of the rolling hills like a seam in the landscape. Views of the sea in one direction, and English cottages and farmland  below in the other direction appearing so far away as if its a modelized landscape. Views for miles in all directions, and yet you are alone.

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Mill

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xx

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