They say a change is as good as a rest don’t they? I’m not so sure. We came to Brighton for a change from cycle touring and we certainly got that. As for the rest, well we shall see tomorrow when we get back on the bikes. For now, we are most definately, not cycle touring.
We have been amazingly lucky this past week to catch up with some very special friends and to be given the time and space that we both felt we needed to take a break and recuperate. We really have had the best of both worlds because having spent time with people that we haven’t seen for years we were then invited to stay on in this lovely flat in Hove, just fifteen minutes walk from the centre of Brighton. We have tried to rest, honestly, but there is simply so much to see and do here that we have had to settle for change instead.
Of course it didn’t help that we landed here on one of the busiest weekends of the year and it would have been wrong not to take in the spectacle that used to be called Gay Pride but is now, rather unimaginatively called LGBT Pride. Brighton doesn’t need a parade to provide a spectacle to be fair, there are spectacularly interesting people just going about their everyday business anyway so when you invite them to dress up and show off they don’t need asking twice. From the dainty dandy with his too cute for words pink poodle to the six foot six inch queens of drag marching confidently in their vertiginous heels, the parade was a sight to behold.
Towering transvestites teased the shy young policeman on crowd duty as he stole furtive glances at a bevy of beautiful young girls who screeched and giggled at the ever more outrageous costumes that paraded by us.
In the evening we joined the crowds in the park to listen to mostly too loud music and drink extortionately priced lager before walking back to the city amongst the happy drunks and the shy, gay young lovers who for once could hold their partners hand as a sign of affection rather than protest.
The atmosphere throughout the day was one of celebration and joy. The whole city seemed to be happy to embrace diversity and choice and I never heard a grumpy voice all day. It was a long and exhausting day but there would always be tomorrow for resting.
Then again. You see the problem with places like Brighton is that there is simply too much choice. Our friend Margaret picked us up and we headed out of the city to a lovely country pub called The Anchor on the banks of the river Ouse. If Pride is a sign of how things have changed in the past fifty years then the scene today could not have been more traditional. Rowing boats, picnics, swimming in the river, pints of ale straight from the barrel and the age old tradition of fending off wasps while trying to eat dinner were the order of the day. It was a scene that would have changed little in the last few hundred years apart from the fact that people falling from a rowing boat into the river is even funnier when they realise their mobile phone is in their pocket. It was a lazy, laid back, slow kind of day, just what we needed after the excesses of the previous one.
Now we find ourselves on our own and enjoying the luxury of having the flat to ourselves but still struggling with the endless choice of places to eat, drink and shop. It’s all a bit of a shock compared to the last three months and our quiet nomadic lifestyle. We find ourselves walking miles trying to decide which pub to have a drink in or which nationality of cuisine we should experiment with each evening.
We have cycled three thousand miles trying to get a flavour of this little country of ours and now, within three square miles, we can taste the whole world. It’s all a bit crazy and manic and in some ways I’ll be glad to get back on the road again. If not for a rest, then at least for a change.