Monday, 18 August 2014

Unwind Brighton- beachy yarny fish and chippy goodness

Oh!  I can't believe this was more than a month ago and I am just getting around to writing about it.  

I somehow managed to combine two or three or six guilty pleasures in one day: mainly going to the beach (or, as they call it here, the seaside) and shopping for yarn.  

I had heard about Unwind Brighton, a fibre festival with lots of workshops and classes and dealers of wooly goodness, and toyed with going.  I need more yarn like an Eskimo needs ice (global warming notwithstanding) but, oh, Brighton.  I've stopped through to transfer trains a couple times, but I hadn't popped out to explore yet.  I had heard mixed things about it: being only an hour on the train from central London, some had said it had become just another extension of London, with hipster bars and trashy clubs, and home of general seaside debauchery.  Having grown up next to what is perhaps the trashiest of seaside towns on the Maine coast, and having lived in Brooklyn fairly close to Coney Island, I felt like I needed to at least give Brighton a chance.  

Off to Victoria station we went, past the lovely old Battersea Power Plant.  

In less than an hour, we were standing outside the beautiful Victorian train station in Brighton, taking in the sea air.  I bought a flat of dark, sweetly sour cherries from a French woman out front, and imminently slipped into the comfortable, casual french conversation that I've had with vendors of produce countless of times.  This made me happy.

We wound our way through the orderly bustling streets to the Royal Pavilion, a really amazing romantic convention center.

It also houses a museum, and is nestled into some lovely picnicking gardens.

Oh, but inside was the real treat.  I met up with my friend Mary and we dove into the main hall, filled with yarn vendors.

After popping in accidentally on a spinning class... (OoOh!  Spinners!...."sorry, but did you sign up for this class?")... we went to work exploring the local yarn scene and picking up some hard-to-find gems.

It was pretty quiet compared to some other festivals I had been to.  Also, it was Sunday, which means that stocks should have been depleted a bit, but every booth seemed to be filled with yarny goodness.  What was refreshing was there were mostly independent spinnery and dyers and designers filling the room.

I found some lovely gotland, but deemed it a bit too scratchy to give for a gift to a non-knitter.  Since I mostly gift-knit these days anyway, I like to present people with wool that they can cuddle up to without feeling like they just got too close to a hedgehog.

I ended up wholeheartedly supporting Juno fibre arts, a local etsy seller.  She had lovely BFL yarn, and I bought a great deal of it.  Her colors were lovely, and I she had some good manly colors so I picked up a few skeins to make man-gifts with.  It's soft enough to be worn next to the skin, and it has a really lovely sheen to it.  She also had some gorgeous lace weight wensleydale that I momentarily lusted over, but decided it might be too scratchy for most.

It only took about an hour to get around the vendors, but it was quiet enough so almost everyone was willing to chat and answer questions, without any of the harried frenzied grabbing of Rhinebeck.  There was a nice selection of yarns, with most of it good unique stuff, with hardly a skein of Cascade or Noro in the mix.  

Wallet nicely lightened, I headed out into the bright sunshine to explore more of Brighton.  

It ended up being really fantastic and lovely.  There were lots of independent boutiques and shops and restaurants, with lots of character.  Sure, there were plenty of Londonesque chains as well, but for the most part, it seemed like a town that I would want to stay a while.

Oh, and the street art!  There is quite the scene there.

We made our way to the beach with the single-minded mission to find good fish and chips.

Hey, you have the whole beach in front of you, why don't you just sun yourselves in the middle of a filthy walkway.

Despite there being more seagulls than I think I've ever seen in my was actually a really pleasant walk.  We ended walking down the boardwalk all the way down the beach to the town of Hove for the chippy, and I must say.  They did beachtown right.

Aside from the many lovely Victorian touches, we found some really cute unique crafty boutiques right on the beach.  A far cry from the airbrush art and crudely phrased t-shirts of my youth.

It wasn't broiling out, but it was warm enough to be comfortable, yet there were a lot of people wearing jeans to the beach anyway.

There was a ghostly burned-out shell of a former pier right off the beach.

We got our fish, we got our chips.  We sat out on the pebble beach and fended off the seagulls and indulged while taking in the salty fresh air.  I almost regretted not trying jellied eels.  I am a fan of eel, but I just can't get my head around making them as disgusting as possible  

The beach here is not sand, but pebbly.  Maybe "pebbly" is being to kind, those were rocks, and barefoot was an impossibility as every step left you lurching around trying to keep your feet from bruising.  I had half a mind to go for a swim: there weren't too many people in the water and upon testing, it wasn't terribly cold (at least if you are from Maine) but a cold breeze had whipped up and the dark clouds rolled in before I could get my courage up.

A sad decision was agreed upon to wind our way back to the train station.  I spotted more awesome graffiti, some adorable rows of houses, and lots of places I would have liked to stop and browse.   Things seemed much less expensive here than London, and the locals seemed friendly and welcoming.

I'm going to try and make it back to Brighton soon, maybe for a weekend.  It made for a really relaxing fun day out, and it is true what they say about fish and chips tasting better at the sea.

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