Brighton Pier, hen’s haven:
Somehow I got my wires crossed and had my cousin Amelia’s phone number from many years ago, so when we left a message on it of course she didn’t receive it, and meanwhile she was waiting for our call to come and pick us up from the station, once we had arrived from St. Pancras after the 1hr10 journey. We shared a Cornish pasty at exorbitant station rates and then ended up taking a taxi to the home I had spent six weeks at in 1981.
It was lovely to catch up with my relatives, and for them to meet Dutchy properly, as he had only briefly met them in 2001 in London. The three bottles of wine we brought were appreciated, and also helped lighten our luggage load! Naturally we helped drink them, too.
We met the twin children of my cousin’s daughter, so genealogically does that make them my second cousins once removed? Actually, I have just googled it, and it appears that perhaps they are all my first cousins, but her daughter is once removed, and the boys are twice removed. Then again, who do you believe?
The afternoon was spent down at Brighton Pier, having walked the 45 minutes from Amelia’s. It was really crowded, despite the weather not being super warm, but we were in England, and a mild day for an Australian is almost a heatwave in the UK. Even though it was later in the afternoon and the sea mist was rolling in, there were still people on the (rocky) beach! We are spoiled with our magnificent sandy beaches in Australia. Apparently it was the last day of summer school holidays so it was a last minute enjoyment of freedom for many.
Then we noticed groups of women dressed in similar clothing, some with badges or printed T-shirts, relating to Hen’s outings. They come down in droves to party on in Brighton.
We returned to the pier the following day to go to the Glitter Ball Bar for some Saturday afternoon karaoke, where I sang Fever, Dutchy sang Stuck in the Middle and then we did Time Warp together. The host suggested the crowd wasn’t drunk enough to really get into it, but you could tell she had enjoyed it, and we had satisfied the karaoke urge for the time being.
Way back in 1981 I spent six weeks as an Aussie barmaid at the Withdean Sportsman in Tongdean Lane. It’s now a carvery but it still looks the same from the outside. The bar is shorter than I remembered and a lighter timber.
We arrived, planning to meet my old colleagues, Mike and Gerry, a married couple who live in Patcham. We had been in touch via email, arranging that we would go there for lunch and they would meet us for coffee afterwards. So we didn’t rush to get there. I had done some Body Balance and Dutchy had watched some television, and then Amelia dropped us off at the pub.
I stood in the entrance for a photo opportunity when I felt a presence behind me. I sensed that someone was waiting to go past, so I stepped aside and said, “Sorry”, with the impression of a bikie in a Harley-Davidson shirt, and then I was surprised when he put his hand out (to beat me up? shake my hand?) And then it struck me, it was actually Mike, with greyer hair than I remembered, and a lot less weight. Hugs all round, amid laughter.
Time swirled around me and I was transported back to another part of my life. True friendships span the test of time, as did ours. It was an absolute delight to catch up with Mike and Gerry, and Dutchy fitted into the mix perfectly, as I suspected he would. Perhaps we have nearly convinced them to come to Australia?
Family History and family time:
Staying with relations you can talk about family. Amelia and I spent lots of time chatting about some family history. Apparently my paternal grandfather designed Reid’s Building in Maritzburg, which was known as the first skyscraper in South Africa, at three storeys tall! There were various other tidbits of information, such as the fact that my father’s mother (Gran) was under 5 feet tall, with Size 3 feet and had a 17 inch waist when a young woman.
In England speed bumps are affectionately known as sleeping policemen.
We loved the sunflower bread you can get from Ravens Bakery, a local shop where customers can be seen queuing up outside the door in Ditchling Road.
Katie, Amelia’s daughter and Jamie, her husband, had organised a street party with council permission to close off the entire street. There was a festive atmosphere and, because of Australians’ reputation, Dutchy was put to work manning the barbecue. However, it was unlike our gas barbecue/s at home and he had to build the fire first! He prefers being occupied, and his skills were a resounding success.
Whether the weather:
Remember this little ditty?
Whether the weather is hot, or whether the weather is cold, we’ll weather the weather whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.
The weather turned nasty our last couple of days in England, so our timing for leaving was good. Amelia had kindly driven us to Gatwick Airport, so contending with the rain was not as bad as when relying on public transport. Arriving in Orlando we were greeted by high temperatures and humidity.
Dutchy is much happier here weather-wise because at least there is cooling. In the hotel room we sometimes don’t use it at all, but it’s there if required. I find it’s always handy to carry a little cardigan because sometimes the difference between outside and inside temperatures is too extreme, and then you freeze when you go indoors. Never happy are we? I just like feeling comfortable. At least I don’t have those nasty hot flushes (or power surges as I preferred to call them) any more. Okay, too much information perhaps.