by chris cunningham


I always wanted to go to Brighton because of Quadrophenia. Seeing movies I love that are shot in places I’ve never been always intrigued me. So off I went. I had to work Saturday and also the bank holiday Monday, so that only left one day off. Normally I would go home to Liverpool but the rail lines are being worked on for 3 weekends in August and that means it’s about a 6 hour train ride each way. Liza was also busy with family things even farther north so it would have been an epicly long journey.

I booked a Bed and Breakfast from air BnB in Rottingdean on the advice of my friend Laszlo from work. He and his wife have a boat in Brighton Harbor that they stay on during the weekends.

After work on Saturday I got to Victoria station and checked out which platform I would be leaving from and found I had enough time to run to the bank for some cash. That done I boarded the train it was a quick 50 minutes to the coast. The only problem with the train is there’s not much to see. The train spends most of the time in a cut ravine, so it’s just trees rushing by. Rather boring compared to the Liverpool train that is mostly out in the countryside.

I got into the station and needed to find a bus. I walked around a bit to see if I was missing anything obvious about buying tickets. Nothing. I saw the busses picking people up but wanted to check on day passes and finally had to ask for help. I guy changing the train ticket machines pointed my to an office and the lady there was very helpful and set me up with two day passes. £3.30 for all you can eat bus travel! Such a bargain after London. All told I didn’t get away from the station for about 40 minutes, then the bus ride would be about half an hour to Rottingdean. Then a walk up to the BnB. The bus made its way through Brighton and we turned towards Brighton Pier and it was amazing. I’d seen so many pictures of it. It has a strange mix of Victorian and Eastern influences. I wanted to go back later that night to see it all lit up. I finally got to the BnB and Scott answered the door and got me set up. The room was really nice and I unpacked and relaxed for a short time.

I wanted to get back to Brighton before the sun set so I walked down through the village of Rottingdean and saw some Ye Oldie stuff. I hopped the bus and went to Brighton Pier but got off about 3 stops too early. I hoofed it along the strand where there’s a small version of an Eye. It was here I first noticed a Mod. Full wartime coat and bullseye patches, Who patches, it was great, ha! Then I thought, he looks pretty old! Then I saw more and they were all old. I didn’t find out until I was leaving Brighton why they were all old.

There were a few tricked out scooters in front of Brighton Pier but it was getting dark quickly so I walked on the pier. It was great, and it’s kept up very well. One of the nicer Victorian Piers that doesn’t feel like it’s going to collapse into the ocean. The arcade was packed and the rides at the end of the pier were your usual carnival rides you’d find in the states, except for one. Duhn duhn duhnnnn… A Helter Skelter! I’ve never seen one in person. So cool. It’s just a big old slide but you grab your mat and slide down, and then go back to the top for another ride when you get to the bottom and I’ll see you again! Yeah yeah yeah yeah… You might even get blisters on your fingers. So, yes, this is the ride made famous by the Beatles, and then infamous from the Manson murders with it being written in blood on a door. All it is is a slide! Weird. So I loved walking the pier but my feet were killing me at this point so I decided to call it a night. Saw a few more old Mods and some young ones with girls all dressed up. I thought it was interesting that the culture was still kind of alive.

I got up Sunday morning and took the bus to Beachyhead which is the tallest chalk cliff in England. The bus pulled over and few of us got out but I really had no idea where to go. So I just walked up hill and in no time I’m standing on the ledge of a white cliff. Frankly there wasn’t much to see. Maybe the lighthouse below but you can’t really appreciate it. I suppose it’s like trying to see Mt. Everest while you’re at the summit. When I was on the bus we passed a car that had a champlain in it. Ya know, in case you’re feeling the urge to jump. Beachyhead is the #1 suicide spot in England. They even have a website There was an uptick in despondent people in the last week because of the death of Robin Williams. Apparently whenever there is a high profile suicide the rate of ‘incidents’ go up.

Anyway, sights… I decided to head back to Brighton. I sent a message to my buddy Laszlo and he called me to say they were taking their boat out and if I wanted to go along. I had other things I wanted to see so I passed but would meet up with them for dinner. Right after I hung up the bus pulled up to Seven Sisters. I made the quick decision to enjoy a hike out to the coast for some pictures. I walked pass a curvy section of a river where some kayakers were paddling around. Over a little bridge was an Inn that I stopped at and had lunch out on their deck. It was beeeeeeautiful out. Warm sun, light breeze, green all around, blue skies. I ordered a burger and it was the best burger I’ve had since getting to the UK. Okay, so I’m all full and hydrated, time for the walk. I asked the server which way I should go and he asked what was my goal. I said pictures of the Seven Sisters. He pointed to the sheep gate at the end of the car park and off I went.

It took about 30 minutes to walk out to the beach on a rather rocky path. Not much to see really until you get right to the inlet of the estuary. Then the full view of the cliffs is there with lots of people about enjoying the views. The beaches in Brighton area are not really nice though. They’re all rock. Smooth though like fist sized river rocks. I walked up to the cottages and got some great views of the cliffs behind them. Next time I would probably take the path on the other side of the estuary to get right underneath the cliffs. I took the scenic route over the close proximity route.

I took a different track back which took me through the sheep farms. Lots of black headed sheep and a lot smoother walking path. I got back to the Inn and walked to the bus stop and sat down on the grass. That was a 2.5 hour tramp and my feet were hurting. So I thought I would sit down and put my hand in a pile of red ants. That was awesome. Even better was it took me a couple of minutes to notice.

The bus came and I got on a was ready to head back into Brighton but I was so tired and hot I decided to stop at the BnB and have a shower and rest. That was the best shower I’ve ever used. Then I called my parents and then Liza. Laszlo got back in from their sailing excursion so I headed down to the marina to have dinner. On the way there and old man sat next to me and some scooters went by. He looked at me and said, it’s been years since the mods and rockers. Then said he moved there in 1966 and that the media played it up more than what really happened. That was it. The whole conversation. It was later that I discovered it was Mod weekend in Brighton but I hadn’t actually spent much time in Brighton so I missed it all. But that explained why I saw so many scooters and Mods dressed up. They were just there for the rally.

It was his wife’s birthday so we had reason to celebrate. We went to a big wooden restaurant. That’s the best way to describe it. Like it was made of ships. We also met up with some friends of theirs that were on the boat today. His friend told a hilarious story about the movie The Grudge. How a friend of his freaked him out while watching the movie. Right after a particularly scary scene his friend pauses the movie and says, I have something to show you… He shuts the lights off and hands him a flashlight. He takes him to the kitchen and has them both crawl on the ground to this spot until they’re face to face. His friend sticks his finger in the floor board and starts pulling the board up… He tells him to look into the floor. Of course he’s freaking out because they’re in the middle of watching The Grudge. Underneath the floor board is a pitch black hole. His friend tells him to take the flashlight and shine it down the hole. haha And just as he’s about to look in this hole his friend lets out a massive scream and he jumps five feet in the air. This guys house was built over an old well! We were all busting up laughing at the story. Then he had to go back and finish The Grudge. It got late so we said our goodbyes and I headed to the bus. Got into bed and it started raining. Nice.

I got up Monday morning and caught the bus back to Brighton Station, and then the train to Victoria. Bye bye Brighton.