Tag Archives: booze

More Brighton

I'll be in Chile in a week, so I'd better finish this…

It was on our second day in Brighton that we encountered a chav family, what we in America would call trailer trash.  We were outdoors at a pub in the Lanes and I had gone inside to obtain pints and order food.  I came outside to find Husband sharing a table with  several children who had pounced on the empty seat while I was gone.  One of the youths squinted at me and muttered, "You want you chair back, eh?"  He was only 10 or so, but scary enough that I nearly let him keep it.  Soon the kids were joined by their parents, sharing a pint and speaking something very different from the Queen's English.  The mother looked as tired as you would expect from having 4 children before the age of 30 (a guess), but it didn't stop her from wearing short denim shorts, unfortunately for us.  Despite a few open tables outside, the family preferred to sit on the curb, resting their drinks on our table.  The family shared a few packets of crisps and yelled at each other, until they were out of drink and then left unceremoniously, leaving any empties on our table that they had not smashed on the street.  As you can imagine, it was AWESOME.  When I was later back in New York, I read a lot about chav and have thought about applying to do a Fullbright there and study them, but Husband thinks I'll get knived, and he's probably right.

We stayed in Kempton that night and got a bit smashed with a few guys we met in a pub who were visiting from a nearby town for the weekend.  I told them of how I admired their country's crisps, so they bought me a few packets to experiment.  While the exotic flavors of Thai Chile and Lamb and Mint are fun, nothing beats good old Salt & Vinegar.

I'm not sure I've really captured the wonders of Brighton, but it's really a fabulous place and if I ever go to grad school, I will certainly apply at University of East Sussex, home of my idol, John Maynard Smith.

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A few hours on a train brought us to sunny Brighton, a fabulous and odd
city.  Parts are old like The Lanes, but it's urban and on the
beach.  What else could you want?!  We stayed in a nice
guesthouse/B&B in Kemptown, the "gay" section of town, which I
can't fault in any way, but the owner was a little too involved for our
tastes.  We walked from the train station to the beach to find our
hotel and the owner was immediately all, "You know service, you are
American!" (?!), and showing us how the lights work.  Thanks, we
can figure it out.  Headed down to the beach, which is really
rocky, I recommend some sort of practical shoes.  Pebble beaches
are nice to avoid sand all over, but hurts to walk on (check out my
Flickr photos for evidence of this. Forgive my Burberry bikini, it was
before I knew about chav. More on that TK.).

The pier is as cheesy and fantastic as you expect:

I played and lost at a lot of casino games.  At this point,
Husband joked that it was "impossible to get burned by the English sun"
and yet between him (Russian) and me (olive skinned English with a dash
of Trinidadian), who do you think got burned?  Yeah, me. 
Photographic evidence will later show the pain of this.

Wandered down the beach to the marina that night, and discovered ASDA,
literally the Walmart of England.  Marveled at the ingenuity of
English booze:

As a major cider aficionado, I was psyched to find two liters of it:

Contrary to the photo, I am not pregnant, it's
just a bad angle (That's the fake Marc Jacobs I bought in Buenos Aires
for $15, btw).  Had drinks at some nutty bar on the
marina   Think it was Karma,
as it was Asian-ish themed with ginormous bathrooms (at this point, I
began counting stalls, at least ten there!  Maybe this means
nothing to you if you don't live in NYC, Land of Single Occupancy
Bathrooms, but I was amazed.  I swear this is the last long side
note in parantheses.).  We had had a late lunch at a pizza place
in the Lanes (don't remember the name offhand, damn this infrequent
posting!), so no memorable dinner that night.  Hunted down late
night drinks (read: after 11pm) in Kemptown at a cool place (I'm
looking it up) with photos of people who died young.

Day 2, we returned to the beach, where I improved on my sunburn (I was
yet unaware of it) and read Brit chick lit in its native country. 
Decided to shell out the $15 each for the Royal Pavillion tour.  TOTALLY worth it, it's amazing.

Also explored the western end of Brighton, with the sad and kinda creepy West Pier:

Just an awesome name:

Will continue soon, month or two, max.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Mo’ London: Weekend 1

In honor of increased traffic thanks to the magic of MySpace (whassup
THMS, AADA, and Hunter peeps) and inspired by my planning of Winter
Trip 2006 (Chile!), I thought I'd update.  It's been less than 2
months, right?!

End o' weekend one in London was spent on the South Bank of
London.  After much debate, we ended up not seeing the Tower of
London (WTF, $30?!), but beautious photos are to be found in the

We wandered the very touristy but lovely South Bank and ended up having
dinner at Pizza Express, in honor of all of my much-beloved chick lit
heroines who drink lots of cheap red wine and eat pizza there. 
Gotta say, it was pretty excellent.  Yet another thing Brits do
better than us: chains.  The chains are more customized to each
location, you get the uniform quality of the chain but a little
something different of each place.  Also, it was on the river and
the view was lovely:

After dinner, we walked across the bridge and had
some drinks at another massive pub near our hotel.  I was super
psyched to find Lamb's Navy rum, perhaps more evidence of my ancestors
(being both Lambs and navy members):

The next morning we checked out of the
Renaissance and took the only double decker bus of our journey to the
train station.  A little nausiating, but fun, though I am prone to
motion sickness. The ticket dude was a bit rude, undermining my
decision to buy single tickets to Brighton, and they were more
expensive than I expected from copious online research, but thems the
breaks.  This was the one and only time Husband was right about
Londoners being the Rudest People in the World (other than Parisians,
natch), but whatevev.  Journey was made more pleasant by canned
Pimms Cups and bacon sandwichs (secret to world peace?).

Brighton TK…

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London, Day 1: I heart the U.K.

Traveling to London was fairly uneventful, but somewhat unpleasant as
my husband becomes The Business Traveler when flying and is no fun from
moment we arrive at an airport to the minute we arrive. I'd think that
flying all the time would make him more relaxed about it, but he's
massively tense and disagreeable while flying.

We arrived in London on Friday morning just before noon, tired but
excited. I had spent literally hours reading Transport for London's website
all about Oyster cards, their version of Metrocards. It's enormously
complicated because of all the zones and price capping, but basically
if you buy a prepaid card, a single ride in one zone (which is pretty
much most of Central London) will cost £1.50 rather than £3 and at a
certain point, it caps off so if you take many rides in a day, you'll
never pay more than you will for a One Day Travelcard. I can't really
understand why anyone would buy a Travelcard when you pay no more and
you'll pay less if you only ride once or twice a day, but I guess you
get some other benefits if you buy it. Anyhoo, it took ages to buy the
two Oystercards and get on the tube, but it was an easy ride to Holborn
station by our hotel, around an hour. Heathrow Express is only 15
minutes but costs £14.50 and you'd still have to transfer to a tube to
get to your destination.

I had forgotten how, despite how Americanized London is, it's still
European and thus not air conditioned. We were there on the hottest
July on record, with temperatures in the 90s almost every day. The tube
is not at all airconditioned and I feel bad for commuters having to
crush onto a hot train every day. :x  I  almost need a parka on the NYC subways, they are so  air conditioned.

The location of our hotel, the Renaissance Chancery Court (a
Marriott, yes, but free) was perfect: a few minutes walk from Covent
Garden, Soho, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Clerkenwell, the Meatpacking
District of London. We were right on the Central and Picadilly lines,
very handy and a block away from our hotel. Many of the stores are
closed on the weekend, but plenty of pubs and food chains (Krispy Kreme
and Pret a Manger, to name a few) are open every day. The hotel itself
is gorgeous but not too stuffy or intimidating.

We spent our first afternoon wandering around Covent Garden &
then along Oxford Street and back to Holborn. Oxford Street is like a
nicer version of NYC's 34th Street, more charming and cleaner, but
just as hateful once the initial thrill is gone of seeing hoardes of
British shoe chain stores. I must have gone into a gazillion stores in
search of flat sandals that were not flip flops and sexy fun patent
leather heels (which are everywhere right now for some reason). 
Also went to the Top Shop flagship store, which was extremely awesome.
Having read many British chick lit books, I was really psyched to go to
Top Shop, the local H&M/Forever 21/fun knock off store. The
flagship store is amazing: 4 floors of men and women's fabulous clothes
and shoes, plus accessories and candy, randomly. We wandered around the
store in a daze but didn't buy anything, the exchange rate is a real

Random things I noticed walking around London: 
1.  Their public bathrooms are just amazing.  Every couple
blocks, you come across a public subway (like an underpass, not a
train) with toilets that are clean!  And attended!  And
free!  I was less impressed with the self-cleaning pay toilets,
after a bum advised me to go into a pub instead.
2.  English girls really get tarted up when they go out.  Not
like New York girls, in sample sale designer shoes and $200 jeans, but
really tarted up in short skirts and tight tops.  Husband was v.
3. Pubs are just awesome.  I love how you can always get cider,
and Magner's comes poured over ice (why do we not do this with beer,
considering how much Americans love ice?).  Also amazed how big
pubs are, many with large basement rooms, and huge bathrooms, a far cry
from the tiny dirty stalls in most New York bars. And Pimm's is
delicious, I could drink it all day, perhaps alternating with cider.:p
4.  Brits have also surpassed us in the area of potato chips.
Augusten Burroughs has a whole story about crisp flavors in his new
book, they don't stop at BBQ and Sour Cream & Onion, they have
Prawn Flavor, Thai Ginger flavor, and Steak and Bacon! Awesome. I'm
with Augusten that we should have never left this place.

A few pictures that might need some commentary:

This was a gallery/installation we passed coming back from
Soho.  The fairies are apparently some
artists/socialites/secretaries/tarted up girls who some hate and some
love, according to the posters in the gallery. One of the girls can be
seen at right, they appear to just be party girls who wear fairy wings.

My maiden name is Lamb, so naturally, I had to
go to the Lamb pub on Lamb's Conduit Street.  Lovely pub, the
first I went to, actually.  Forgot to mention my name, so no free
pints, sadly.

Because of the heat wave, almost all the grass in London was
dead.  That didn't stop hoardes of people from going to parks
after work and sitting on the grass drinking beer.

Posting before this gets longer…

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