January 2018 Things

Husband persuaded me to use some of my precious leave for the first week of January so I had a very quiet start to 2018.  Still managed a couple of things to get me out of the house though!

Celtic Manor – again
The Celtic Manor has rapidly become our hotel of choice for last minute breaks.  We managed to fit in afternoon tea and I had an incredibly relaxing Elemis facial where I managed to suppress my ongoing cough for a whole hour.  I was quite impressed with myself.  On the way home from Cardiff, we managed to fit in a visit to the McArthur Glen Outlet in Swindon (of course) but also Ikea – it was a breeze as everyone else had gone back to work.

Everyman Esher
I love an Everyman.  When Husband demands I see a Star Wars or a Bond with him, I will only go if he can promise it’s going to be an Everyman.  Esher is our fifth different branch – to be honest, it’s not really that close to us, but we felt like a change and couldn’t be bothered to go all the way into London.  We had an excellent hot dog and fries, I bought a bucket of popcorn, and we settled into the sofa in their beautiful art deco screen.  I was a little worried as there were a bunch of children scattered around the auditorium, but Husband actually enjoyed listening to their animated chatter about his favourite franchise.

As for the film – eh, it was ok.

Sara Pascoe – LadsLadsLads
I love her.

Network at the National Theatre
An astonishing piece of work which I have yet to write about (I need to get on that).

Coffee and fries in Brighton
Someone in my team went to Brighton for the weekend and I recommended she visit BeFries because it’s just the best.  I told Husband that we were talking about those beautiful Belgian fries at work, and the next thing I knew, we’d booked a weekend away at The Grand.

An entire weekend break just to eat fries.  I can’t think of a better reason.

I left my soul there, down by the sea

Our overnight trips to Brighton follow a well established routine:

Last weekend was much the same, with one excellent new addition.

We stayed at The Grand again, and took advantage of their renovations to get a heavily discounted sea front room.  We got such a great room – huge, with a separate dressing room and lovely bathroom.  It was bigger than my house, and the only (tiny) downside was the scaffolding at the front.

We could still see the sea!

The excellent new addition to our Brighton schedule is Befries on West Street, mere metres from our hotel.  Befries sells Belgian fries.  That’s it.  Doesn’t sound very exciting, but OH MY GOD, they are the most amazing fries ever.  Even more exciting than that, they offer a mad selection of dips and offered us as many to try as we wanted.Now let me see if I can remember what we had; Belgian mayo, curry ketchup, sate, Dutch mayo, frites sauce, Hannibal (an onion sauce), and one other which I’ve forgotten!  One of them tasted like pickled onion Monster Munch which went so perfect with the fluffy fries.  We actually only chose a couple of dips to start with, but one of the guys behind the counter convinced us to get more – they are such a friendly team and were so welcoming.

It’s definitely my new favourite place.

Which we’ll be going back to in a couple of weeks as we’ve decided to book another quick trip whilst the scaffolding is still up.   And to get more fries. YES!

Pause for the silence

January was… well, January was shit.  My Pappa was taken into ICU very early on in the month, and my Mum and I quickly got into a routine of days punctuated by trips to the hospital, weekends getting to know his nurses (who have all been wonderful), and the constant smell of hand gel about my general person.  One day an x-ray, the next an MRI, then some kind of procedure featuring a two inch needle going into his lungs (I didn’t listen too closely to that story).

It’s been tough.  ICU is one of the scariest places I’ve ever been, and watching my Dad going through everything he went through was utter heartbreak.  They’re still not too sure what happened – at first they thought it was some kind of infection, then flu, then pneumonia.  He’s still in hospital six weeks with currently no light at the end of this very long dark tunnel.  We keep getting reassured that hope isn’t too far away, that he’ll be able to come home and start his 2016.  As we all keep saying, he can’t stay in hospital forever.

Brighton Pier

So whilst February has continued in the same vein, it started with a couple of days “off” as my parents very kindly told me to have a break, so Husband and I took a trip down to Brighton for our rebooked stay at The Grand.  This time was just perfection – a beautiful sea front room (right in the centre above the entrance!), huge comfy bed, peace and tranquility.  There was a lovely postcard and box of chocolates waiting for us when we arrived, and the service we received was amazing – it sometimes pays to complain!

The Grand, Brighton

We even had Afternoon Tea in our room, pretending we were Victorian.  Not in costumes or anything odd like that – just “Oh hello, I’m Victorian.  Look at my scone”.  That kind of thing.

Afternoon Tea at The Grand, Brighton

We had beautiful weather as we walked up to one of the Small Batch Coffee shops (of course) in Hove, then down to the marina and back.  I added to my plastic jewellery collection in Porta and Unlimited Shop; Husband added to his plastic Lego collection in, uh, the Lego Store.  And we ate an unreasonable amount of meat in The Coal Shed.

Small Batch Coffee Company

Sadly, we do not have another free trip booked, so that might be it for Brighton for a while but I’m so pleased The Grand offered to redeem themselves.  Such a lovely stay, and well needed.

Brighton sea front

Faded Seaside Glamour

The Grand, BrightonLast weekend, I was treated to a weekend in Brighton, one of our favourite places in the UK to just wander round with no real plan.  It was a last minute decision, which unfortunately didn’t leave us much choice in hotel rooms.  We normally stay at The Old Ship, but it was all sold out.  Our other back-ups were equally booked up, so we just threw caution to the wind and went all out with a room at The Grand.

I’m always somewhat bitter at spending a lot of money on a hotel room.   Having stayed at amazing hotels in Las Vegas for well under £100 per night, anything more than that feels obscene.  We had a bloody nice room, but secretly I don’t believe it was worth what they charged.  Eh.  But, we weren’t expecting to see the sea, and look!

The Grand, BrightonSEA!  Bonus!  We did have to lean into the window to see it, but it was definitely there.  Incidentally, the Salt Room was somewhere we tried to book for dinner that night but they didn’t have any tables.  It’s owned by the same people who own the Coal Shed, one of our favourites, so we had high hopes.  We couldn’t get into the Coal Shed either.  Curse our lack of planning.

The rest of our stay in Brighton was mostly smooth sailing.  We did a spot of shopping in the North Laine, had a coffee at the Small Batch Coffee shop, and had a quick walk on the beach.

Once we got back to the room, we decided we couldn’t be bothered to find a restaurant, so ordered room service.  Oh my god.  It was so good.  I expected it to be a bit meh, but it was delicious.

The Grand, BrightonWe ate our yummy burgers in front of Strictly – I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening.

Until 11pm when a very loud party started up in the function room below ours.  We could hear every single word the terrible covers band was singing, it was almost as if they were in the same room.  We put up with it for a bit, hoping that they’d shut up soon, but we soon lost patience and phoned reception to see if we could be moved.  We could not.

The music stopped sometime after 1am and we finally got to sleep.  I am aware that many people go to Brighton to party into the small hours of the morning, but I am a cranky old woman and I need my sleep!

Breakfast the next morning was a standard affair – yummy eggs and bacon – and soon it was check out time.  What usually happens in this situation is we have a grumble about our lack of sleep, the receptionist smiles sympathetically, and everyone moves on with their lives.  This time round was different.  This time round made me understand why The Grand is a fancy hotel.  Because this time, we were met by the Front Desk Manager who sat us down in the lounge, apologised profusely, and invited us back.  FOR FREE!  And in a sea view room no less.

So we’ll be going again in a couple of weeks time.  YAY!

The Grand, BrightonGo Brighton!

This changing line between land and sea

Brighton deckchairs

Last Thursday, I had the onerous task of going to a meeting at the University of Brighton.  Woe is me.  The meeting lasted about 4 hours, was incredibly productive, and finished in time for me to have a wander before heading home.

Brighton UniAs proof, this is the building I was in – it wasn’t just an excuse for a jolly!

Brighton BeachI made a fleeting visit to the beach.  Husband and I normally stay in Brighton in the dead of winter, so it was really weird seeing people on the beach, deckchairs out, the beachside pubs and shops all open.

Small BatchI popped in to Husband’s favourite coffee shop to pick up some beans.

Brighton O&NPopped into my favourite shop to find out that yes, it is closing down.  I only ever buy Ollie and Nic bags so have been a bit traumatised by the closure.  The sales assistant said that they’ve closed the whole company down and the notice on the website is wrong, so I’m not sure if they’re gone for good or not.  Who do I believe?!!?

The LanesIt was so lovely to see it packed out with people, bunting whipping around in the sea breeze.  I think we’re going to have a book a couple of nights in our favourite hotel soon, because an hour or so after a meeting wasn’t enough for me!

Live action Cops!

With four months to go until our holiday, Husband and I were starting to go a little crazy, so we decided to have a weekend away in Brighton.  We drove down on Friday evening, spent a couple of nights at The Old Ship on the sea front, and were back in time to do the washing on Sunday afternoon.

The Old Ship has a special place in our hearts, as it was this hotel he whisked me away to 6 and a half years ago when we dating.  And as a lovely coincidence, we even had the same room.  It’s not the most luxurious hotel, but I do love it.  The staff are fantastic, the rooms are clean, and the breakfast is yummy.  We had a brilliant sea view without spending a ridiculous amount of money (unlike many of the other hotels along the King’s Road).  Not only that, but it’s a piece of Brighton history.

The Old Ship

It was a bit misty…

We made a last minute booking for Jamie’s Italian on the Friday night – I haven’t been to one before, but there was a nice selection of food and I even got a bit drunk on a sour cherry cocktail (I don’t drink, so I only need one to get tipsy!)  After dinner, I dragged Husband down to the beach and we wandered around in the wind taking photos on the Summer Solstice.

West Pier

The remains of the West Pier

Saturday started with a cooked breakfast in the hotel, followed by a walk down to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery which I didn’t even know was there.  They were showing a selection of Jeff Koons pieces – “…the first showing in England (outside Tate) of Koons’s group of works”.  And it was free!  I love a bit of Jeff Koons, and whilst they didn’t have any of my favourite pieces (like his Celebration series), we got to see a good selection.  I even changed my mind about Winter Bears which I absolutely hated from the promo material, but freaking loved in person.  And as an added bonus, they also had an exhibition featuring chairs – I LOVE CHAIRS!

The afternoon went roughly in this order:

  • Shopping
  • Shopping
  • Coffee
  • Shopping
  • Nap
  • Walk along the sea front

I really enjoyed the shopping, as I always do in Brighton.

The Lanes

The Lanes

On our walk along the sea front, we spied what looked like a lighting workshop so crossed the road to have a look.  Fishtail Neon was closed, but as we peered in the windows, we quickly fell in love with everything in the shop.  I love neon, and the lights in here were gorgeous.  Such a shame we couldn’t go in, but there’s an online shop for me to build up my wishlist.

We managed to book a table at the Coal Shed for dinner – a very nice restaurant with really friendly staff and great food.  It was incredibly delicious and we both wish that we live closer to it.  Very much like the Hawksmoor in London, but with a bit more of the Brighton relaxed attitude.

Husband then got to see “Live action Cops” outside the hotel room window – another benefit of having a hotel on the sea front.  Goodness knows what was happening, but the police were kept busy.  He was excited anyway.

We then had a very restless night sleep, but it was completely down to the weather – it was so windy, and we had a corner room so the wind whipped around the room.  An early morning coffee was required overlooking the Lanes, which we had pretty much to ourselves as I think the rest of Brighton was sleeping off the night before.  It was a lovely way to finish our weekend.

King's Road

Beautiful moon over the pier