The Magic of Brighton Friends (and Christmas Preparations)

Monday to Thursday in Brighton

Last week, I took my annual trip to Brighton to catch up with my Brighton friends. Regular readers will know that I lived there for a long time and I still have many contacts there. Brighton at this time of year is not at its best – dark, cold, wet. But there is still a craziness about the place that fascinates. And it was nice to also have my partner Dave there for one day.

There was also an element of checking out some of my old haunts to see what has changed. There has been (and still is) a hell of a lot of building work going on. But there are also a lot of closed shops which is systemic across Britain at the moment. We really need to think how people can run businesses with premises without incurring the huge costs that they currently do – rent, business rates, insurance, utilities, stock, staffing, etc.

Meanwhile, Christmas preparations have definitely started

It’s that slightly surreal time of the year when you hit 1 Dec and Christmas that seemed so far away now comes rushing along. To the point where you are left wondering if you have time to get everything done before the big day like getting cards sent and presents bought.

  • Catching up with Brighton friends as well as art and culture there though also dealing with not feeling 100%
  • Not enough exercise done but a decent weight drop
  • Routine language learning and reading disrupted

Brighton friends

The main reason I went to Brighton was to catch-up with old mates. Some I haven’t seen for a while but it’s always easy and a pleasure to see them. Indeed, there wasn’t enough time to catch-up with all my Brighton friends and I hope those I couldn’t meet this time can forgive me. I am so grateful to have such good people in my life with the ability to pick up on the threads of our lives no matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other.

Dave, Beth and Em

Tuesday caught up with my old football mate Dave at the University. Amazing to see the amount of new building work that’s been done there. He’s a super clever guy and there was much talk about our retirement plans. Then in the evening I met up with Beth and Em, two people I used to work with when I Iived in Brighton. They are a wonderful couple and now with their beautiful children at university.

A surprise contact

Then on Wednesday there was a surprise contact from my old friend Worth who I knew from when he lived in London. Turns out he now lives in Brighton and has children! We couldn’t meet that day as his kids needed looking after but it was great just to be back in contact.

Antonia and Rob

Beyond this surprise contact, there were two further arranged meet-ups on Wednesday. Another former work colleague Antonia and, again, much talk about the future as we are the same age. Then in the evening an outing to the Brighton restaurant institution that is Pinocchio’s for a wonderfully relaxed meal with Rob. Lots of chat about our joint love of Spain.

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Dave: Our time together in Brighton

I’ve written before about how my partner has been having a busy time at work. And so it was great that he was able to come with me to Brighton on Monday and spend a night there before travelling back to London to get on with stuff on Tuesday. We went to the Pavilion (see below) and out for a nice meal in the evening. Big problem for him at the moment is that his flat has no hot water or heating – another Housing Association fuck up.

Mum: Meds that require a rest

Although a lot of last week was in Brighton, a fair chunk was also spent in London looking after mum. No medical appointments which made a refreshing change after the hassles we have faced recently – see my previous blog here. Though I did have to collect some more new meds for her which came with the instructions to rest for half an hour after taking them – sounds like the sort of medication we all need.

Brighton Pavilion

So between time with Brighton friends, I made time to experience some of Brighton’s magical culture. It’s actually an interesting place to just make time to simply people-watch as it’s a place that attracts many individuals who might be described as eccentric.

But me and Dave also made time on Monday afternoon to visit the Pavilion. If you’ve never been then it is well worth it. Indian influence on the outside and Chinoiserie inside. It really is a bonkers place built by an unpopular nineteenth century monarch who saw himself as the Emperor of the World.

And fascinating to know about how much of the original furniture, fixtures and fittings were removed by Victoria (who hated the Pavilion) when she sold it to the council around 1850. Local people could have an argument about the repatriation of some of the stuff sitting in Buckingham Palace as the Greeks have with the Elgin Marbles.

Here on Tuesday morning. Another place well worth a visit with its eclectic collection including furniture, fashion, ceramics, and finds from Ancient Egypt. Indeed, I always love checking out local museums and galleries which often seem to be starkly divided between under-funded local council spaces or centres for innovation. My only problem with Brighton Museum was the masses of kids on school trips that I had to share the space with.

Time with Brighton friends

The Muppet Christmas Carol movie sing-a-long

I think my Dave is trying to establish a Christmas preparation tradition that every year we go to see this film. We saw it last year and he insisted we do it again. It’s a really fun film and definitely worth watching if you’ve never seen it. The Muppets are a cultural part of all of our lives and Micheal Caine is great as Ebenezer Scrooge. But I really must persuade Dave that we don’t need to see it as an annual event.

QPR: A new hope

Another big win on Saturday, 2-0 against Hull. A win at home at last and 3 wins in a row. You can feel that the team has a sense of confidence back and the new manager seems to have conjured his magic. Two very winnable matches in the week ahead. Within a week we could be out of the relegation zone.

A little holiday bug

The only real fly in the ointment for my stay in Brighton (apart from the weather) was getting some sort of little cold bug. I had felt a bit ‘coldy’ over the weekend but then it started to kick in on Monday. I was sooo dehydrated when I woke up on Tuesday morning LOL. But I had come to see my Brighton friends and nothing was going to stand in the way. So I grabbed a deep afternoon snooze on both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon which rested me from the day gone and set me up for the evening; the regenerative power of sleep.

when only bed and rest can help

Just one little gym session

Obviously my time with Brighton friends completely up-ended my exercise routine. Indeed, I didn’t manage any swims last week and only one gym session on Friday morning. But it was a good one increasing the level of weight I was pushing on several exercises.

108 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £4.60 per session.

Weight: A step in the right direction

I was really worried that my trip to Brighton with meals out and limited exercise would lead to weight gain. I definitely changed my food routine to make up for this on the return to London. And the result has been a welcome drop in weight to just under 13 stone. Will continue with controlling my food intake, trying to eat smaller portions, plus eating more fibre and vitamin C. Hopefully this will lead to continued weight loss (and combat the decline into diabetes).

animation of a fat man running

Holidays disrupt routines (as they are meant to)

Last week was one joyfully disrupted by being with my wonderful Brighton friends. But my exercise routine went to pot as did my language learning and reading. I am surprised by the latter two things as, theoretically, I was on holiday and so had more time than normal to get on with them.

The reality is that holidays disrupt routines and that is their purpose. I spent time with friends and exploring but also recovering from the small illness I was dealing with particularly by sleeping. So I didn’t get as much Duolingo done as usual but no point in beating myself up.

Living through very hot weather

No books completed and no book club

Like my language learning, far less reading done than I had hoped to achieve. I am still reading 2 great sci-fi books: the 1970s environmental classic ‘The Sheep Look Up’ by John Brunner and the contemporary space exploration novel ‘In Ascension’ by Martin MacInnes. However, I did find time in Brighton to visit some charity shops and pick up a couple of new books to go on my ‘to be read’ shelf along with all the others LOL.

After returning from seeing my Brighton friends, I had planned to go to the Velvet Page Book Club on Thursday evening to catch up with some of my London friends. The December meet is always good as it coincides with the big Christmas night at Waterstones in Piccadilly. However, I was just too knackered and something had to give after the journey back. I have pencilled in the January meet and I really am going to try to be at it.

The importance of books

  • A big trip on Monday, me and Dave are taking mum and a friend to the pantomime – a definite Christmas experience
  • It will be very nice to get back to some sort of exercise routine after the welcome disruption caused by spending time in Brighton. Aim is 2 gym sessions and a trip to the swimming pool.
  • Will definitely finish the 2 books I am currently reading, both giving food for thought. More details on them in my next blog.
  • Got a physio session on Friday, my injury is slowly getting better but I’m not expecting any revolutionary progress at this meeting
  • Aim is to spend a bit more time with Dave than last week. Hopefully including a trip to the UJC and / or the V&A.

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