Brighton Beach, England
August 6-10th, 2004

I decided that since I was coming to London anyway, I would leave earlier and go to Brighton to check the area out for a possible tour. I got in touch with VisitBritain Toronto who then got in touch with Tourism South East and Brighton & Hove Visitor and Convention Bureau and between John Varley and Nick Vowles, they put together a wonderful trip for me. In fact I had to pare it down just a bit because there was so much to do and so little time!

I arrived into London Heathrow and went to the AC Arrivals lounge just to freshen up and have a cup of tea before heading to the underground to make my way to Victoria Station. From there I had pre booked a trip on MegaBus.
I wanted to try this out because I could not believe the price. A return bus trip from Victoria Station to Brighton return for 2.50 BP. Yes that was right, but you must book online. They will not sell you tickets at the terminal or on the buses. The buses were very comfortable double decker and took about two hours each way.

After arrival into Brighton I took a cab to the DeVere Grand to check in for one night. A wonderful room with fruit and chocolates waiting after a long day. I dropped my luggage off and set back outside to walk the sea wall as the hotel was right on the English Channel and it was a bright and sunny day. First off the beach is not sand, it is pebbles, but easy to walk on and even sit on. I walked around the Brighton Pavilion then spotted the beautiful old Theatre Royal and went in to see what was showing. I picked up a ticket for Monday evening to see ‘Magic of the Dance’. Back to my room, ordered afternoon tea then to bed.

Little did I know that when I arranged to visit Brighton that this would be at one of the busiest times of the year for them as it was the ‘Pride Festival’ Thousands come to Brighton for this weekend so it was a busy Saturday in Brighton! I took in some of the parade then walked back to the hotel, picked up my luggage and made my way to the train station to head to Haywards Heath and the Ockenden Manor, a beautiful Elizabethan Manor house.
Adam Smith was there to meet me and after checking me into my room I met him for tea then a short break to change because I was heading to Borde Hill Gardens and their ‘Night of the Proms’. Mrs Clarke of Borde Hill Gardens had sent over two tickets to the Manor for Adam and I to attend. We were looked after and treated so nicely. After a Pimms and tour of the house, we wandered around the grounds (which were closed to the public) then met them at their private viewing area for a picnic. What a picnic it was, ending in champagne, sweets and the most delicious deserts. It was truly a wonderful evening with the BBC Orchestra playing, along with solo performances by a tenor and soprano. I remember as if it were yesterday, sitting in the Italian garden all by myself listening to the tenor…his voice enveloped me … the acoustics were perfect…it was magical.

There were two planes, a spitfire and a hurricane overhead with the spitfire ‘dancing’ to the music. The evening ended with a fabulous fireworks display. Perfect weather, perfect food and many new friends. Adam and I are in the wagon that was used to bring all the goodies down to our picnic area. The bench you see with the geraniums beside it is the one I sat in.
The house is there lit up at night as well as earlier in the day. You can see us enjoying our picnic with the shell in the background.

Back to the manor now and sleep. Adam had arranged for me to sleep in the area of the hotel that had been there since the 1500’s in the Elizabeth Room…truly beautiful with a huge four poster bed, fluffy feather pillows and soft duvet. Quiet, ever so quiet. In fact that was my downfall, I had forgotten to set the alarm and the next morning had woken up at 20 to 10.

With breakfast over at 10 it was a mad dash. People were sitting out on the lawn enjoying cups of coffee and chat. A gorgeous place to stay. I took pictures of the manor sitting room, the exterior lawns, and one of the other bedrooms.

I left this haven and headed back to the train station where I boarded and made the 20 minute trip back to Brighton. Cab to the De Vere again and this time was pleased to be given a room that looked right out onto the beach.
(shown is room and bathroom) I was here for the next couple of nights and truly enjoyed this hotel. Again, I put my luggage down and headed out to walk the beach down to the pier then back to my room for a nap, some food and finally to just sit on the balcony with a nice cool drink and watch the activities going on all around me.


August 9th I was up bright and early to tour the Royal Pavilion Brighton .
Although the exterior was kind of ‘busy’ in terms of domes and oriental design, the interior was as opulent. I have never seen a chandelier like the one in the banqueting room before, nor for that matter any the size of the music room either. Simply incredible! George, Prince of Wales loved his dragons, and flowers and they are everywhere. The kitchen has the largest collection of copper pots I have ever seen. It had innovations that were never seen before, like a heated table to keep all the prepared dishes ready for service. He loved to entertain. A wonderful history to read and be sure to buy the book before going inside. It was a ‘home’ of comfort and convenience.

After my tour, I met with Robert Hill Snook, the head gardener, for a short tour around the grounds and a chat about the gardens themselves. I was quite surprised to hear that is was only one paid gardener and the rest were volunteers. They have a lot to do since this is a very public garden, but they have kept up the plantings with the same thought as when they were originally put in. He also told me the lawns were originally hand-scythed.
They are still to this day kept with rough edges, both historically correct and in harmony with the intended imitation of a forest lawn. The garden is now restored to its Regency layout and appearance and would be a perfect garden to see in spring. They do not do much dead heading here, preferring to let it go to seed to either self seed again or collect them for the volunteers to have.

Since the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery was close by – in fact it is housed in the old stables of the Pavilion, I made time to visit this as well. What was showing at this time was the 20th Century Art & Design exhibit, some sculptures by Philip Cox, and a wonderful display of some 1950’s Vespas, courtesy of the Brighton Vespa Club. You can see a bit of the stable roof by looking at the huge dome that has tin on it. This was not a small building by any stretch. It held over 60 horses at one time, plus grooms etc.

I took a short break to enjoy one of the best cups of tea and fresh cheese tea biscuits I had ever had here in their café overlooking the ground floor display before moving on. I then met with Nick Vowles to go to another hotel called the Alias Seattle to enjoy lunch with Nick and Liza Edwards.
After some delicious crab cakes and salad we checked out a couple of the rooms, the outside pier decks and then it was time to leave. Nick had mentioned to me that I should take the tiny little electric V & R train back to the main pier in Brighton, so I hopped on that and enjoyed the ride.
I then walked back to the hotel to have a rest before going to the theatre.
Brighton is a very comfortable place to walk around in the evenings. I strolled over and got in line and chatted while waiting to get in to my seat. It was going to be warm – the theater was built in the 1800’s and at that time there was no air con. As I sat down I could see the Royal Box and all the other boxes and could almost envision them sitting there in their finery. Then the show began – and it was magical! It had 2 time Irish Dance World Champion Michael Donnellan plus the New York Tap all stars. I have never seen tap that fast. Wonderful and with three standing ovations at the end, I know it was enjoyed by more than just me…little did I know that when I booked this, I would be here on opening night…

The Theater Royal is in itself a legend, having had such entertainers as Lauren Bacall, Richard Burton, Marlena Dietrich, and Marilyn Monroe perform here. It was a trip back in time to wander around this theatre.


You are now seeing the MegaBus that I took from Brighton back to London … I am on my way after a most memorable time spent. Again thank you to all who made this trip a journey of delight.

It is the 10th and I am back in London and have made my way to Hilda’s home.
She is my London guide and this is my home away from home. I would be here for just the one evening as Tom was coming in tomorrow and we would then have a b & b down the street. I had made some plans for us to enjoy tea
while Tom was here and tea we enjoyed…three times!

Before our first tea we had the opportunity to see Buckingham Palace. Here I have taken some pictures from inside the grounds including a lamp stand with the Crown on it. It was very impressive and anyone who is in London while it is open should go and visit.

Then it was off to the Lanesborough. This is one of London’s most prestigious hotels. I had first heard about it from a television program on the 10 best hotels in the world. I thought this would be a nice start to Tom’s first visit to London and it proved to be just that. The teas are served in the Conservatory and as you can see by the pictures, it was truly a beautiful room inspired by the Chinoiserie theme, trickling fountains, and a pianist. Thank you to Fiona Woolley for setting this up.

Later on after our tea and walking around, we passed the Royal Albert Hall and decided to go and get a couple of tickets to the Gallery and enjoy what was on.

The next day we enjoyed tea at the Dorchester, overlooking Hyde Park Thank you Claire Bernard for another
wonderful tea experience.

and finally we visited The Ritz - Tea at The Ritz is an institution in itself and is served in the spectacular Palm Court. A choice of seven varieties of tea, finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones, jam and clotted cream and a range of delicate pastries, combine to make for an
unforgettable afternoon. As you can see by the pictures, the ambiance was
truly wonderful and I wish you could hear the pianist…thank you to Umberto for arranging this…they have also just won the 2004 Top London Tea Award!

On our way back we took a few pictures of local area things like the Templar Church with it’s sagging glass window…this window is very old as is the eaves trough

Our final morning was one of getting ready to leave for Athens, Greece and our sailing trip, which is all written up under the Athens, Greece recap for you to enjoy.





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