A Day at Brighton Beach
Not ideal for swimming, but great for everything else.
Even in summer, the turquoise water of the English channel is a bit nippy and, consequently, few people go in further than their upper thighs. However, outside of the water, your options for diversion and refreshment are positively staggering.
There is, of course, the Brighton Pier. The new one, that is. There is a historic structure as well, but it closed in 1975 and has since been left to wither away with every passing day.
Its replacement is imposing, tall, very long and a magnet for everyone from fishermen and families, to gamblers and duck-sized sea gulls, who circle the pier like warplanes, ready to dive for left-over french fries, a piece of donut or whatever people drop as they walk and eat.
Further back from the pier is the promenade, a wide strip of pavement stretching to the horizon on either side. It's dotted with benches and small shelters, that come in handy when the weather is bad.
Further back still are colorful beach huts that act as sort of a barrier between the beach and the city. Most of them are quite small, just big enough to hold a table and a few chairs. Yet, people treasure these flimsy dwellings beyond comprehension. I saw an older gentleman painting the front of a hut and asked him how much a person might have to invest to call a hut his own. His answer: "This one is forty-thousand pounds, but the ones closer to the pier are more expensive."
In some areas behind the huts are small parks with tidy lawns, where men in white outfits play a version of bowling, though playing may be a bit of an overstatement. Most of the time, they stare very intently at balls lying in the grass, some distance away. Occasionally, one player will say something. Then the other will squint toward the balls, think for a long moment and say something in response, causing both to nod in agreement. I will never know what any of it means, but I could stand there and watch for hours.