Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brighton Beach

Brad had to work Saturday, so Charlie and I tagged along with some friends on a trip to Brighton. It's about an hour south of London on the train and is a beach town. The weather the past few days has been in the mid-60's and sunny and we have been taking full advantage. 

There were four of us parents and five kids and we participated in tag team parenting for the day. Forget sunscreen? Need some wipes? Run out of snacks? Another parent has you covered. Brilliant.

For Charlie, riding on the overground train is an event in itself. Riding with other kids? Pure bliss. We rode from London Bridge to Brighton and the tickets were so cheap - 10 pounds round trip for adults. 

The kids were all bouncing off the walls on the way down there, just so excited to get to the beach and point out everything they saw on the train. We had snacks, snacks and more snacks to make the time pass. 
Charlie made a new friend that day, Stuart, who turns 3 in a couple of months. They love the same things in life: cars, trucks, airplanes, construction equipment, etc. Apart from what I suspect was Charlie smacking him on the way home (I didn't see it, but poor Stuart was crying), they got along very well. 

Once we got to town, we hit the beach. We were there by 10:15 and on the beach by 10:30. There's lots of cute shopping between the station and the beach, but there was no way that was going to happen. 

I think Brighton is England's version of Atlantic City. There's a beach, obviously, and a casino and big Victorian pier with rides and games. Apparently there used to be many piers like this one along the coast in England, just like in the U.S. This is now one of the few surviving ones. They are just so much work to keep in good shape. It's a wood contraption sitting in the ocean waves after all. 

It was a bit foggy. This picture doesn't do it justice. It's quite grand. 
Brighton also reminded me of Atlantic City since it's where a lot of people go for their bachelor (stag) and bachelorette (hen) parties. Each group seemed to have matching polo shirts with "Stan's Stag Weekend" or something like that embroidered on it. Brighton has plenty of bars and strip clubs to keep this segment of their target audience entertained. 

Anyways, once at the beach, I realized what a colossal mistake it was to wear flats that day. I mean, when are flats a mistake? When you go to a beach that is made up of rocks. They kept getting in my shoes and were hard to walk on. It was like stepping on Legos all day! 

I think I was the only person mentally whining about this - everyone else just treated it like any other beach. Spread out a towel and sun yourself! It was in the lower 60's all day after all. You'd have thought it was much hotter by some of the outfit choices. Short-shorts and a bikini tops, for instance. I saw one girl strip down to her swimsuit and run in the water. I won't tell you what she said about the experience when she got out. This is a family blog, after all. 

The kids had a blast throwing rocks in the water. They never got bored of it. They got their feet in the water, but it was oh, so cold! 

The cold water really threw Charlie for a loop. The last beach we went to was Gulf Shores (in August - painfully hot) and as soon as we got to the beach in Brighton, he wanted to strip down! He kept telling me he wanted his shirt off or would start pulling down his pants. 

Eventually he got his pants and pull up off and ran around in nothing but a t-shirt. Charlie turned Brighton into a nude beach. I had to chase him down at that point with the sunscreen. Not about to let all that get sunburned. 

By almost-lunch time, the parents were enjoying cold beer on the beach while the kids played. When they finally got hungry, we headed over to this big antique carousel on the beach for a quick ride before lunch. Each horse had a name - we rode on Lydia! Which is funny because Charlie has a friend in Dallas named Lydia.
We found a pub with picnic tables outside and parked ourselves for some lunch. The food took a while, but Frances had packed crayons and paper for the kids to color. Tag team parenting for the win again! 

We had some fish and chips, hamburger and fried haloumi cheese (which is amazing, btw - order it if you ever see it on a menu) amongst the group and then headed across the street for ice cream. I got Charlie a single scoop of chocolate in a cone, at his request. This was his first actual cone and I thought for sure it would end up on the ground. Nope, he ate every bit of it. 

After a return to the beach, it was pretty clear the kids were fading fast. We made an executive decision to take the train that left an hour earlier than we'd planned. We hoofed it to the station, which was uphill. Funny how you never notice big hills when you're going down them. It felt so much more steep than it was going down! 

There were no seats together on the train, but the kids were in such a mood that fellow passengers all around us defected to other sections one by one. Pretty soon we were all together again! We had all hit the wall. Tired kids, tired head. 

Charlie was absolutely exhausted when we got home. He had about 4 bites of dinner and a shower and then was nodding off during his final Peppa Pig of the evening. He still fought us on going to bed, insisting it was too early and he needed to go outside and play some more. Uhhh, wha???

It was fun getting out of London for a day and checking out another town. Besides some acting out on the tube on the way home, Charlie did really well and was such a good boy. I hope we can do stuff like this more often while we're here - it was a fun adventure! 

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