Skip to content

Base Camp Journal: Brighton

This was probably our final trip with Base Camp Bertha until next year. Robby and I have just returned from Brighton, and I think it was the best trip we've had in the last couple of months.

Brighton Pier

Things didn't go smoothly to begin with. Cutting a long story short, I learned that it's possible to jump start a Ford Cougar using Missy, my precious Renault Clio. Hypothetically it's possible to do the same with the battery in the Base Camp, as it has a higher rating than the typical car battery.

Anyway, we did reach Brighton by mid-afternoon, four hours after picking Bertha up from the depot. To anyone staying there, I strongly recommend studying the map beforehand, as there's no sign marking the entrance to the lane leading to Brighton's caravan site (even though it's a club site), and the satnav would have taken us through some very awkward roads on approaching the town.

The site is lovely (I know I've said that about most the places we've been to). With maybe the exception of Carnon Downs (still my favourite), it's the largest and best maintained we have come across, though it doesn't have anything in the way of amenities. The owners are quite friendly, and do take the time to check everything's okay. There are so many trees along the perimeter that we wouldn't think we were near a busy town.

At the end of the road directly opposite the entrance, there is a Co-Op, and towards the Marina complex there is an Asda store.

Brighton Marina

As soon as we got settled in, we visited the Marina complex, which is just down the road from the site entrance. It looked very pretty at night, romantic definitely, and I couldn't help thinking this is what Cardiff Bay should have been. Most the bars and restaurants (and there are many at the Marina) were busy on the Friday night, but there are one or two relatively quiet places. We ended up in Prezzo, where the service is brilliant, the atmos is relaxed and the food just what one would expect from a high-end Italian place. Robby had one of the pizzas that the chef makes from scratch in a large stone oven.

The Sea Front and Other Places

The next day we ventured to the sea front, where the Brighton Palace Pier, and most the attractions are. It takes roughly 45 minutes to reach there on foot, but it's a pleasant walk. At some point in the past, there was an electric rail service that connected the Marina to the pier. The pier is one of the largest I've seen. In addition to an amusements arcade, there are quite a few little shops and fairground rides. It was surprisingly busy for late-October, so I'd imagine it would be crammed full of people during the summer months.

Less than a kilometre in from the sea front, and up the road from the Legends club, is Kemp Town. This is a Bohemian/eclectic part of Brighton. Somewhere between there and the pier (I can't remember where) is an Italian bakery/cafe called Vero Gusto, which sells all kinds of pastry-based things straight from the oven. Further along that road, towards Brighton palace, is an area called 'The Lanes' - it's essentially several rows of small stores and galleries that primarily sell hand-crafted things.

Grand Hotel, Brighton

On the other side of the palace is the high street. I didn't fancy spending much time there, because it was surprisingly bland for a town with so much character. The shops are the usual H&M, Primark, TK-Max, etc. and the shopping centre too much like the one in Cardiff. And it is way too crowded for my liking.

Night Life

Legends is one of Robby's favourite places, and I liked it. My preference these days is for the quieter bars, and Legends is a lot quieter (and probably cheaper) than the hipster cocktail bars along the beach. We still had a perfect view of the sea from there.I chatted briefly with a couple of friends of a friend, who, it transpired, were celebs taking a break from all the fans, media attention and whatnot.

On Sunday night Legends went from quiet to extremely busy, when the regulars piled in to watch Lola Lasagne doing her show there. I'm not really into the drag artist thing (and definitely not musicals), but it's often where the best stand-up comedy is found these days.

After the show, we went to Charles Street Tap before everyone else got there to watch Ms. Penny (very talented as a stand-up comedian) and Sally Vates.

i360 Tower

British Airways i360

The really tall structure that's visible from everywhere in Brighton is the British Airways i360. This is a futuristic saucer-shaped elevator that takes visitors to a height of 450ft, at which they can see all of Brighton and the surrounding region. One wouldn't get this view from anywhere else. The ride (or 'flight', as they call it) lasts 20 minutes. The i360 is manned by an actual flight crew, and I have to say it's the only time I hadn't felt nervous being that high up.

'If we could have worked out the exact time of the sunset, that would have been perfect.', Robby pointed out.

Behind the i360 are the remains of the central part of the West Pier, which was constructed in the mid-19th century. It might have been slightly bigger than the existing pier, accommodating a large theatre building. After being closed to the public in ~1975, it became derelict and increasingly damaged by storms and corrosion. The rest of it was destroyed by a couple of fires in 2003.