Friday, May 05, 2006


Ah, the lure of the British seaside. Fish and chips on the pier, crazy golf, menacing seagulls, amusement arcades, asylum seekers, rain, sea you can't swim in and hardly any sandy beaches. That's what the south coast of Britain makes me think of. If we're talking Cornwall or Devon then it's cream teas, thermos flasks, sand in your sandwiches and picnics in the back of the Volvo estate because it's again, raining.

But there is one exception to all this British seaside depression. Brighton. Or London by sea. I've been to Brighton quite a bit lately. The reason why is another post entirely. It is also the same reason why my flat is full of flowers and I have an assortment of new dresses perfect for being taken out to dinner. So - Brighton. Ha!

A day in Brighton should include:

A walk along the beach, obviously.

A trip to The Wardrobe, (51 Upper North Street) a fantastic vintage store which is characterised by its lack of mustiness and the pristine condition of everything.
The owners specialise in bakelite and lucite jewellery and have an amazing assortment of 1950s dresses. They are very knowledgable about everything they sell and will tell you if something has been altered or repaired before selling it to you. It's not exactly cheap, but cheaper than say, a vintage store in London where you'd buy something then realise it had a stain or a hole in it.

I fell in love with this dress when I saw the print for about a second when rifling through the racks a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't get it out of my head so went back to claim it as my own.
I love this dress. It needs to be taken in, as it is made for a 1950s figure - helloo? 38" bust, 36" hips. Did anyone ever actually have those proportions? I love it for the crisp cotton, the colour, the gathers in the skirt, the buttons at the top, but most of all for the print. The dots are actually tiny squares. Love it.

Next I would head to I Gigi general store which is in Hove (31A Western Road) effectively only a 10 minute walk from the centre of Brighton. This shop has a great aesthetic, all creamy plaster walls and handblown glassware, ostrich feather dusters, (very tempting to go with my 50s sexy housewife look) and Cote Bastide bath products. It's really a beautiful space and there's a cafe upstairs which is gorgeous, light and airy.

So, It's about lunchtime by now and I would head towards the North Lanes. (Laines?) Along Bond Street another shop I like is Tribeca which has a good selection of clothes - Isabel Marant, Jas MB bags, Erotokritos, Bi La Li to name a few. The buying is spot on. You will want everything. Just opposite Tribeca is Lavender Room, which although it is a bit generically white painted floorboards/chandeliers/shabby chic - yawn, has a few nice bits and bobs.
And they sell Princesse Tam Tam underwear.

But because you have a hangover you need sustenance. This may not be everyone's cup of tea but at Infinity Foods Cafe (50 Gardner St) I found home. Everything is organic, gluten free and made fresh to order. I had an amazing falafel salad. Who knew falafel could be amazing? The salad was full of sprouty things, grated beetroot and...strawberries? It was delicious. I could almost hear my body saying 'thank you!' having been a bit off the wholefoods tip for a while and embracing the 'retox' philosophy.
So fully re-detoxed you can wander round the North Lanes, Snoopers Paradise, etc etc - you can't really get lost and there's too many little places to list.

There was another vintage store I was going to mention until they tried to sell me a painted wooden belt buckle for £20 by saying it was bakelite. I had just had a half hour discussion on bakelite with Mr. Wardrobe so the wool was not pulled over this day tripper's eyes.

After a day shopping (what else do I do?) you need a nice relaxing dinner and what better way to end the day than a restaurant actually on the beach? Due South is under the arches between the pier and the old falling into the sea pier. That's about as accurate an address as I can give you. Everything on the menu is sourced from within a 20 mile radius, and you sit looking over the beach and the sea. What more can you ask for? A perfectly cooked fillet steak - about the first steak I've ever asked for 'medium' that actually was. Oysters, chocolate fondant desserts, cheeses, wine, - all melding into a bit of a blur now.

But the BEST THING for a city girl is that after dinner you can clear your head with a walk along the beach.


eurobrat said...

Mmm. I feel like I had a mini vacation just reading this. Thank you!

I've always wanted to visit Brighton. We end up in Devon every year, so this time I'd like to hop on a train and experience it for myself.

I'm off to a vintage clothing show tomorrow, and will be on the lookout for a summer dress or two as well...

Julia said...

I adore that dress!

Such a dreamy post...