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Published: November 2nd 2016
Following another tasty personally cooked breakfast and we bid a sad farewell to the Northbrook Arms and the intrepid travellers hit the road – with all gears working and aimed the tiller towards Brighton. For a change Betty (satnav) took us the fastest most sensible way. We did not see any coastal scenery but it was a relaxing drive on major roads all the way.
A warning to travellers using Betty or her relatives in the UK. Our Betty is a Garmin and in general we were very happy with her, but her zeal in trying to find the “fastest” route often had unintended consequences. Many of what we would term ‘minor’ roads in the UK are signposted at 60mph but in reality, are single lane very narrow roads; some no better than tracks with a practical speed less than 20mph. We often had to reverse or swing into a driveway to allow oncoming traffic through. Despite entering all the preferences, including avoiding unmade roads, Betty was consistently unable to differentiate between tracks and good roads. In many instances, she took us off a perfectly good main road for a three-mile detour on a goat track, to triumphantly
re-join the same main road after twenty minutes of inching past hedgerows, stone walls and rampant farm machinery. In Cornwall this became so bad we performed U-turns back to the main road; after driving for an eternity to find a place wide enough. Ultimately we refused to follow her instructions unless there was a sign to our destination. No sign – no turn. Betty occasionally became belligerent but this strategy worked very well. Ron remarked on this to a store proprietor in Port Isaac and she laughed; “you can’t trust a satnav in Cornwall!”
On a breezy sunny Saturday morning, with all gears still working correctly, the intrepid travellers rolled into Brighton, a few turns later Betty announced; “Your destination is ahead on the left”. Excellent news indeed. Then she chortled; “You have reached your destination”. Okaaaay . . there’s a large car park on the right and what appeared to be office buildings on the left. Where’s the Hotel? It must be here somewhere? Taking an executive decision, Ron pulled into the multilevel carpark and found a convenient park on the lower level. Leaving Judy again in charge of vehicle security, Ron decamped back to the
street to find the bloody hotel. There it was, directly opposite the car park entry with a 5m high sign. Pondering senility and various other versions of perceptive incompetence, Ron rationalised that it was because the impressive bloody sign was at least 10m above the road level. Not visible at all from car eye level. Must hire a convertible next time! Ron enters the hotel to inquire where we might park as hotel guests. Across the road in the multilevel carpark. He did not even bother pretending he knew it all along. It was too early get a room, but we checked the bags into storage and walked downtown to check out the action that is Brighton.
Edgy, alternative streets reminiscent of Melbourne’s Brunswick Street precinct. Loads of street art, cafes galore, street performers and a bit of a hipster thing going on. We headed to the Brighton Pavilion. This is a gaudy construction of exotic domes and minarets; built by The Prince of Wales (later George IV), so he could have naughty weekends away with a Mrs FitzHerbert. Downstairs was designed to be very impressive with Salons, dining halls and music rooms extravagantly decorated with Indian
and Chinese themes. Some of the decoration makes Versailles look tame. Sadly, no photos allowed inside – google it to see the incredible interiors. The upstairs residential areas were much simpler. George’s successor William IV and then Queen Victoria also used it as a retreat, but the development of railways and easy travel by the masses made Brighton a bit crowded and too public a place for the royals and ultimately it was acquired by the City of Brighton and developed into a tourist attraction. An incredible building and a must-see for visitors to Brighton – worth the journey alone. Brighton seems to still have a reputation as a place to go for a romantic sea-side weekend. The foreshore is lined with endless wedding cake hotels. And opposite; the Brighton Pier; the pier that epitomises the British sea-side resort. Gaudy and festooned with lights, even in daytime. The amusement arcade extended clear to the horizon, the hordes were taking selfies, food stalls to burn and enough fish & chip shops to service the entire Australian continent. Brighton was packed on a cool, late October Saturday. What must it be like in summer? A hoponhopoff bus tour was an excellent idea. That it finished at a toy museum opposite our hotel was a bonus. Great fun; although mostly model trains. There was some serious grey power and velour pullover action in this museum. Next - back to London and thinking of home.
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