As an (half) Australian, I’m fairly certain I have an affection for the beach genetically coded in my DNA structure. Growing up, the long summers would be filled with early morning swims in the ocean, sunsets spent collecting shells or lying on the sand and school excursions spent learning to sail or snorkel off the coast. The sand is always fluffy and white, the water blue and the days hot enough that lying on the beach in a bikini is logical.
By contrast England, for all its great virtues, is not so blessed on the oceanic front. The water looks sort of cold and steely, instead of fluffy sand there are actual pebbles, and where there should be tiny little alfresco cafes and juice bars there are usually fun fair rides and old-fashioned sweets shops and the garish sound of retro arcade games. But you know what? It’s those colourful stripey deckchairs (for lounging on in lieu of white sand), the sound of those vintage rides, the smell of ice cream and boiled sweets, and the British determination to ‘make do’ and enjoy what they’ve got no matter the weather that makes the English seaside so wonderful.
Because there is no beach near London or Cambridge, the Clever Boyfriend and I had never, in our four and a half years living here, taken a trip to the English seaside before (although I had been with my friend Amanda back here and with my family when I was younger). So one sunny weekend last month, we headed to London to collect my cousin and then took a roadtrip down to Brighton (the only way a roadtrip should be done: with the sunroof down and the stereo blaring the perfect summer sountrack) to educate the Boyfriend on the charms of the British seaside.
Obviously, I donned pastels and deckchair stripes; because matching your surroundings is fun and that’s just the kind of girl I am (and because this dress – which I’ve worn more times this summer than I should probably admit – reminds me of Grace Kelly cruising up the French Riviera in the 50s). We piled out of the car, strolled through the gardens of Brighton Pavillion and walked past the faded pastel buildings that line the shore all the way to Hove, the next seaside town along the coast for lunch. After our fill of fish and chips at the Regency (because is there anything else to eat at the seaside?), we walked back towards Brighton pier along the pebbly shore (the Clever Boyfriend tried his best not to be too offended by the absence of sand); past sunbathers (trying to get a suntan – even though the sun had by then disappeared behind the clouds – in the way only Englishmen do) and seagulls and a vintage carousel filling the air with its hurdy-gurdy tunes as it twirled and twirled upon the shore.
I pestered the boys like an irritating small child until they relented and bought me the biggest ice cream they could find (yes!), and afterwards we walked along the boardwalk to the pier. We passed the fairy floss stands and retro neon lights and the 1950s penny arcade games and bought sticks of Brighton Rock to suck as we leaned against the railings to watch the waves lapping at the pier below.
Wearing: River Island dress c/, Mulberry ‘Lily’ bag, Stella McCartney sunglasses c/ Sunglasses Shop, Lulu Frost necklace via J. Crew (similar styles here), Jersey Pearl necklace, Mimco bracelets and hair bobbles (past season), Jacquie Aiche heart ring via Shopbop, Anya Hindmarch ‘Lucky Sixpence’ coin purse (past season but similar styles here and here), vintage London souvenir scarf, Nails Inc ‘Cambridge’ nailpolish (similar shade here).
Afterwards, we drove home tired and sunkissed and happy. For it’s certainly not a natural beauty, but the English seaside is so fun and charming regardless.
Please do share your favourite beaches in the comments!
Love, Miss B xx