Brighton & staycation

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A mid-summer update for you from the not-so-tiny island of Great Britain. In tribute to its vastness (seeming or not), and the many unexplored corners, shores, isles, peninsulas and many, many cities, we’re making it a priority to get to know it a little better. This summer we had a stretch of 5 days booked off and ran through so many options: high on our list is still the Highlands, though for various reasons we’ll have to park that one for now. Then we turned our sights to the dales and moors of Yorkshire – also on our list for years now – but ultimately concentrated our time in and around South East England, including a trip to Brighton!

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As soon as we pulled into Brighton, I loved it. It’s covered head-to-toe in bright color.

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The sky is the sky, but between the green spaces and the beach, Brighton’s sky is sweeping. There’s a marked difference in the light refraction down south in the cloud scatterings. (Bad example above though).

Once in town, we headed straight for the Lanes

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The Lanes blew my mind – wonderful shops, cafes, bakeries, oddities… most independently run.

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The papergoods on offer overwhelmed me. I’m always a sucker for new prints and cards, but there was just too much. Too too much.

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Mr. Heart o Gold exploring Brighton

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We did have breaks in the windy weather, but it wasn’t quite warm enough to enjoy the beach this time. Still loved walking along the beach, slinking over the pebbly slips of shore.

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This old hulking, haunting beauty is what’s left of an arson attack on the West Pier in 2003 and now sits out in the water, its pier access destroyed completely, as a big open birdcage for shrieking seagulls.

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Taking a break from the sudden storm in the color blocks of the Pavillion Cafe.

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Such changeable weather!

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For dinner, we had our heart set on a real treat. Jack booked a table for us at Riddle & Finns, Brighton’s top seafood restaurant, and we committed ourselves long before to one of their famous seafood platters. It was staggering how much they brought out, and honestly, we both felt we overdid it a little bit when all was said and done. My first time trying razor clams, whelks or winkles! I am not a fan of a razor clam.

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The next day, we headed right for the Pavilion, this out-of-place, former royal residence absolutely chock-full of chinoiserie (aka. French for ‘hella tacky decor’).

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We got a combined ticket to visit the Pavilion and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. I’m not sure it was really worth the cost (though the dragon-covered Banqueting Room in the Pavilion was insane) – the grounds are free to visit and were probably my highlight.

Post-Pavilion, the weather cleared! So we were back on the beach.

Brighton Pier with all its tacky arcade games and pile of fairground rides at the end.

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Can’t wait to return.

The rest of the staycation consisted of little trips & activities around Oxfordshire, including raspberry and strawberry picking at Rectory Farm.

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So many good ones! Raspberries remind me of my grandma.

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Had to limit ourselves to a punnet each for both fruits – otherwise we’d end up with a whole lot of rotten fruit.

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The fresh, tiny strawberries were super sweet.

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I’d never been strawberry picking before, but they grow in these bundles hidden by big, rough, flat leaves. The red fruits aren’t actually berries but enlarged flower stems with tons of seeds embedded.

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What face is that!

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Jack’s not giggling but fighting my flighty hair.

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From the farm, we went a little farther to visit Brill where an old windmill is still milling away.
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Another day, we headed to the Cotswolds to visit a few of the tiny villages we hadn’t yet been to: the Slaughters and Stow-on-the-Wold. Although they have a pretty brutal name, the Slaughters get their name from the Old English word to describe wet land (mud): ‘slough’ or ‘slothre’. And what is a Wold you ask? An open uncultivated land or moor. The name Stow-on-the-Wold originated as an iron age fort on a hill, basically.

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Cute name / signage.

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Jack and I went on a circular walk, starting in Bourton-on-the-Water (lots of things on things in the Cotswolds) and going through the Slaughters and back again. Slightly stressful times as we only had enough handy coins for two hours of parking, so blitzed the walk to make it back in time. Sometimes called the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’.

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In Bourton-on-the-Water is also a model village – a 1/9th replica of the city, hilariously also boasting a mini 1/9th scale-sized miniature model village, then another in that (think Land-o-Lakes lady in infinite-loop motif or the more pretentious sounding “Mise en abyme”).

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I’m so surprised that you’re into something clearly done for children said absolutely no one. I have a real soft spot for miniatures – still haven’t seen it done better than Howard Tibbals’ incredible miniature circus in Sarasota.

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Wanderers for scale…

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Me for scale…

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Giagantically stomping my way through tiniest Bourton-on-the-Water (sans water tho).

Another local staycation activity that I am truly ashamed has taken me so dang long to make it to: the Oxford Botanical Gardens.

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Sooooooooo pretty.

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More and more summertime botanicals for you!

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Evening in our own garden – bye!

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