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Nancy Bright-Thompson gives the low down on Brighton

I packed off Aunt Maud to Roedean leaving me a clear day. Sadly the warm weather of Saturday was no more. I had this in mind in booking a flat here as the Marina has many amenities and facilities.

It was built some 20 years ago as the brainchild of the entrepreneur George Walker whose business fortunes turned for the worst when he over paid for William Hill. It comprises 4 elements: a marina with 1500 berths; shops;restaurants ; flats and houses. Generally it works well and has lasted . It took a severe buffeting in the recent storm. This answered one of my questions: why a wall obscuring the open sea view from our balcony? Because it withstood the storm, silly.

My favourite description of Brighton is Keith Waterhouse’s: ” Brighton is helping the police with its enquiries.” That criminal element was best depicted in Graham Greene’ s evocative novel Brighton Rock  on its seedy gangsterism  Brighton Rock  was made into a capable film with Richard Attenborough as the youthful,vicious gangster leader Pinkie . Royalty is represented in the Royal Pavilion the folly of George, Prince of Wales who became George iv. It was built in 3 stages starting in 1797 in the indo-Saracen style and completed by John Nash. the Laines with its quant jewellery shops are always worth a stroll. Walk the bracing esplanade and seedy Brighton with its Pier, carousels and now Big Wheel morphs into the solid bourgeois Hove.

The Marina is the other side on the way to Rottingdean at the foot of the famous school. The arrival entrance is not that prepossessing with a multi storey car park on the left and an Asda supermarket to the right. However the boardwalk and restaurants overlooking the boats are attractive. The houses and flats are Barratt Homes boxy but packing quite a bit into the space. The view from the balcony over the marina was one of the features of the flat,

Snooty Hove tends to look down as the Marina as naff and full of chavs but this is unfair. The restaurants are mainly chain fast food though we ate well in an independent Italian.Some of the shops are empty reflecting the retail downscale or high rents or both . One does not sense any poverty otherwise.

The letting company let us down . Our equestrian friend Phillipa who popped by is moving into that business . She said that had she known she woud have it all sorted in advance. As a devotee of Waitrose I found ASDA noisy and lacking the more exotic food lines. However I could not complain at the cost of the wines: Moët et Chandon was £25 and ChateauNeuf du Pape £10. At those prices one wonders why some of the Locals take the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe to stock up with booze.

Those who enjoy their sport will profit from the proximity of Brighton racecourse on the cliffs and the Amex stadium the home of Brighton and Hove FC a mile inland at Falmer and beautifully aspected in a fold in the Downs. Susses County Cricket ‘s ground is at Hove and Goodwood is reachable. For the arts minded there is the Brighton Royal Theatre and Glyndebourne. The area is short of quality country’ pubs but the Ram at Ferle serves a lovely Sunday roast in the garden. Brighton has the traditional fish restaurant English and for the more chic and rich Havana. There are classic hotels like the refurbished Grand and Metropole and the boutique Hotel du Vin. Best of all you are within easy access to the South Downs. Even in November there is much to do .

I gave my theory to Philippa that in particular in a metropolis the future may be a “flatel “i.e. an apartment that is allied to a hotel,which supplies the normal services of cleaning and restaurants. Such a place would be cheaper, could be occupied by couples and have more space. The Marina does not have such an alliance but if Philippa can furnish a premium service to include fitness training, guides to walks, cultural and sports activities , pet care she could be onto a winner.

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About Nancy Bright-Thompson

A widely-respected travel editor, Nancy is a past president of the Guild of Travel Writers (GTW). She and her husband Phil now run a horse sanctuary in East Sussex. More Posts