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Brighton Breezy

April 1, 2013

I’m not a fairweather supporter when it comes to the seaside. In fact, I find the beach at the height of summer a little confronting. It poses difficult questions. Am I wearing enough sunscreen to ward off third degree burns? Is this the last year I’ll “get away” with wearing a bikini? Are there creatures in the water that could hurt or kill me? (Growing up in Australia, the answer to that last one is usually a resounding YES).

So I was more than happy to experience the crisp and breezy coolth of Brighton this Easter. Okay, the Siberian wind did occasionally cut through me like a knife, but I responded with some knife-wielding of my own. Nothing too violent. I sliced into a slab of tasty and juicy cod at the excellent restaurant The Coal Shed (www.coalshed-restaurant.co.uk) and worked similar carvery skills on pork (done four ways: belly, fillet, chorizo, black pudding) at the nearby and similarly inventive Coach House (www.coachhousebrighton.com). I hasten to mention that the knives could have been made from stiffened kitten whiskers and would still have done the job, so soft and buttery were these protein varieties.

Being on holiday is all about indulging the senses. You don’t need sunshine for that. In Brighton, my eyes feasted on the delicate pinkish tones of a chilled and quaffable Italian rose wine. They also drank in the grandeur of the setting sun as it threw a shimmering golden blanket over the facade of the Grand Hotel. My ears woke to the melancholic cawing of gulls wheeling across the skyline, and then were soothed by the rhythmic sloshing and rattling of beach pebbles being sucked through the teeth of crashing waves at Seaford.

And for my olfactories? Fragrances abounded. The reassuring wafts of coffee beans being expertly transformed into Antipodean-quality lattes at The Marwood (www.themarwood.com). The puzzling-but-not-unpleasant smell of seaweed pervading our bathroom at Hotel du Vin. The tantalising mingling of spices at contemporary Indian eatery Chilli Pickle (www.thechillipickle.com). The comforting aroma of salt and vinegar soaking into beer batter that seeps out of every fish and chip shop.

When the weather refuses to do what it says on the postcards, you simply have to be more creative. Pick up a rounded pebble on the beach. Enjoy the way it feels like cold velvet. Sink into a hot bubble-filled bath after a windswept walk and know you’ve earned it. Peruse the wine list and order something you’ve never tried before. Roll your tongue around the delicate flavours of plump and succulent local scallops. Knit together these wonderful moments in the company of those you love. That’s what being on holiday is all about. I reckon it’s what all of life should be about, too.

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