So, I had a wee trip to Brighton yesterday.
I say wee, but it took ages to get there. Mostly coz I had to swing by Crystal Palace to pick up my friend Sabera, and the south circular was not the most uncongested road yesterday. But still we got down there by about 3pm, and I set off at noon, so it could’ve been worse.
The initial reason for the trip was to scope out the place as a possible locale for living and/or starting a business, which was going to be a vegan bakery but was now more a yoga centre/shop/cafe type thing. And we were also going down there to shoot pictures of some of my cakes and cookies for the recipe cards I’m in the process of making.
But I was also excited to visit check out the vegan scene in Brighton, especially Vegetarian Shoes.
Found it fairly easily thank god (my sense of direction has been terrible these past weeks!). A great place with a good selection of shoes, boots and even ‘leather’ jackets. Everything in there is vegan, and unlike other vegan shoes you see, they’re not all style-less lumps of plastic you wouldn’t be seen dead in.
I opted for a nice pair or brown trainers, very Camper-ish in style. I was very taken with the cork decal on the side. £69.95, which is about the going rate for a good pair of trainers these days.
The guy serving was very friendly and helpful – he was playing an Adam and Joe podcast playing when I walked in, which confused me no end as they haven’t done anything together for ages – and all in all it was a really nice experience well worth the effort.
After that we strolled about checking out the shops. I bought some chili jam, which wasn’t as feisty as you’d think, we scoped out a number of different bakeries, which were nice enough but not along the lines I was thinking, then we went down the beach to get the photos done before we ate.
You get a lot of funny looks as you carefully dress a picnic in order to take photos of some shortbread. And it’s not as easy as you’d think. Getting the right height for the right shot, the right scenery in the background, took us a while. And there was more than one distraction.
As well as the odd “Are you a food stylist then?” comment, and some drunk bloke who decided to whip himself out and relieve himself onto the beach just a few yards away from us, we got ‘accosted’ by a news crew doing a piece on Brighton’s beaches losing their blue flag status (whatever that means). For those of you that want a good laugh you can see the report here (UK only I’m afraid). I’m the second one along, with the shades and the pithy soundbites.
We eventually got the shots we wanted – three down, three more to go – then it was off to eat!
I’d read about Food For Friends online and it sounded like a good place to try, so we went there. Not exclusively vegan it still had a good selection to choose from. We both went for the noodles with tofu and miso soup as it sounded so good, with some garlic greens on the side.
The food was ok, not huge portions but not too tiny either. The pak choi (or bok choi, whatever…) was a little tough, which made it hard to eat from the bowl it was in. No flat surface to cut it on so you just had to chew bits off it. And I was surprised not to be offered chopsticks. Also the green side dish didn’t have much or any garlic in, which was disappointing. Still, they were fresh and tasty enough, even if it was basically just steamed broccoli.
All told, two mains, a side and two drinks cost me £36. Worth it? Maybe. I guess I’ve just eaten better for less, that’s all I can say about that. At least the staff were friendly enough, even if they did seat us next to the stairs when there was a better table off to the side we could have had.
So, what’s the conclusion? Well, as you’ve probably picked up I wasn’t absolutely enamoured with Brighton. A lovely place, and fun to visit, but maybe not the right place for me. We both agreed that Hove a bit down the road might be a better place to live, as you could access Brighton but day to day it’d be a little less touristy. But if I’m honest I’m not a beach kind of guy. Never have been really. I like the view of the sea, but put me on a coast and I don’t know what to do with myself.
For me it’s hills and forests all the way. Maybe it’s a consequence of growing up in the Lake District, but I can find woodland (proper woodland, not just a wee copse but a real expanse of trees) an endless source of fascination. There’s things to do, things to see, and stuff to play with. Unless you’re really into water and sand what do you do on a beach?
So there you have it, some real food for thought for me. I got some new trainers and took half the photos for my Cakes & Cookies Recipe Cards. All told a positive experience and a real advance towards this Brand New Life I keep going on about. Now I just have to figure out what’s next? Stay tuned.