Something is afoot..
Friday evening. 5pm. Scores of hard working ordinary people leave the office. They flood onto the sun-dappled streets, each step a little lighter. Each pace, their shoulders more relaxed. Every second, the frown lines start to melt away.
But this Friday, more so. Because this Friday there is the long delicious prospect of three clear days ahead. Three days to be filled with fun. With sun. With the prospect of anything-goes.
For this is the Great British Bank Holiday.
Ok, well, maybe it's not always the sun part. But the fact is that when a bank holiday happens, the only place to go is the beach. Where the mere wisp of possible sunshine is grabbed onto and strangled with both hands; willing temperatures to soar, if only in our minds. Where one ray peeking from behind a cloud, is the only excuse you need to shed your normal clothes and parade around in something that you would feel a little chilly in sitting indoors, if truth be told.
Last weekend, was one such weekend. And we were actually lucky enough to have one really super massive hot late spring day. One of those days when, if you sit still, and bask in the sun, a cardigan feels like far too stuffy a thing to be wearing. One of those days that gives you a tantalising glimpse of the long summer of potential ahead.
We took the decision earlier that week, that weather permitting, we would take a trip to Brighton.
Weather certainly seemed to be playing ball, so one 40 minute train ride later, we rolled into the station and found our way down to the shore.
I grew up in another British seaside town, Bournemouth, so I never really had the drive or the inclination to travel to somewhere that was essentially the same, in my mind, but stony of beach (as opposed to Bournemouth's sand).
What a fool.
Brighton reminds me of Bournemouth, in as much as it's by the sea and comes with all the usual seaside trimmings.
But it's that much nicer in so many ways. The architecture is far more historic. You don't have to pay just to walk on the pier. Stones really aren't that uncomfortable to sit on.
Recline why don't you?
Brighton is prettier, quainter yet still with a cool edge. In comparison, Bournemouth is like its younger sister who tries too hard. And ruins their (probably) quite naturally pretty face with far too much make-up in an effort to keep up. And by that I mean, it's built far too many modern buildings and entertainments completely unsympathetically to its historical surroundings, so that the seafront is no longer quaint, but rather garish and loud.
And don't even get me started on the shops in Bournemouth. It's long been a sore subject with me. There are slim to no independent boutiques, eateries or pubs in the centre of town any more, rather everything is a corporate sellout. In contrast, not far from the beach, Brighton has a lovely shopping experience known as The Laines, with very few chain stores to be found.
I mean don't get me wrong, I love a lot of things about Bournemouth's surrounding area. The New Forest, The Purbecks and the gorgeous town of Christchurch all have a dear place in my heart.
But Bournemouth itself has lost its way.
If you want to see a big British seaside town done well, and done right, go to Brighton.