10 Days in Brighton, UK (part 2)

Jan on the steps of her rented flat.
Jan on the steps of her rented flat.

I’ve just returned from spending 10 days with my wife Jan, our daughter Heather and granddaughter India in Brighton, England. Jan is there to take care of them while Heather has surgery. Last week I shared my adventures from the first five days. Here is my account of the last five.

Day Six

The rain is back today with a vengeance, but you don’t notice it so much because of the freezing wind … I left Jan and Dixie wrapped up in their beds and made my way to the Brighton Marina today. (That must come as a big surprise!) Only a sailor would brave the weather just to visit a chandlery 10,000 miles from home.

I had a nice lunch of cod watching the waves crashing over the sea wall. Very, very nasty out there! Visited the lifeboat station (volunteer Coast Guard) and bought some mugs to support a great cause. Then I walked along the beach. Needless to say I had the whole place to myself except for a couple of muggers hiding under the Brighton Pier.

This must be the best beach in the world! Not a grain of sand anywhere. Just piles of pebbles the size of your fist.

For dinner tonight we ordered Turkish Take-Away (shish-kabobs delivered to your door). I can’t understand why no one wants to walk down to the corner pub with me. Not for the beer (yuk) — for the hot chocolate! You could never do that in America without turning in your Man-card: “Two guys walk into a bar and order a hot chocolate…” Here: no problem.

Day Seven

India & Heather (and Little Ed the green dinosaur)

Winston Churchill said about the Brits and the Yanks, “We are two people separated by a common language.” The biggest change I’ve discovered since I turned 60 has been the loss of my hearing. I really need to get hearing aids. Combine that with the accents over hear and I might as well be deaf. Even when I can understand the words, I often don’t understand the meaning. Sweaters are jumpers and desserts are puddings. (And you thought a pudding was a dessert — silly American.)

While Jan and Dixie are doing much better (still coughing and sneezing and staying home), I can feel the Black Death knocking at my door. I was able to forage for food (and toilet paper) this morning, but I’m staying close to home tonight. Pass the OJ and tissues!


Day Eight

Hooray! The sun came out today and all three of us are up and feeling better (Jan, Dixie, and I). Unfortunately, little India began vomiting in the night — projectile vomiting actually. We spent the afternoon washing clothes, drapes, carpet, bedding and body parts. I am convinced the amount of sputum is inversely proportional to the age of the spewee. The other amazing thing is how they can be sick one moment and be laughing and jumping the next. Ahh to be two again.

Day Nine

Tonight Jan and I enjoyed English food at the pub around the corner. After her illness, Jan needed something bland and English food certainly fits the bill. I had “bangers and mash” (sausages and mashed potatoes) and Jan had something that was listed as a cheese-burger. Hey, not all English food is bad. I really like shish-kabobs (pronounced “kababs”) oh wait! That’s Turkish. I love their Thai food … oh wait …. Okay I love Krispy Kremes, KFC, Papa John’s Pizza, McDonalds and Starbucks. All of them are available within walking distance. Oh, I refused to go into a shop that was offering “Cornish Pasties” — I’m a Christian after all — until someone explained they’re pronounced “Pah-sties” and are a meat filled pastry served in the southwestern part of England. Not bad! And then Heather made the most wonderful Irish Stew — oh wait that’s Irish… It’s all so confusing.

Day Ten

Okay, I couldn’t resist one last post before I fly home. The sun is shining, my coffee is hot and little India is playing here at the kitchen table.

It’s been a good visit, but not at all what we planned. I’m glad I was here to help get everyone through the flu. I just hope I don’t bring it back to the states with me in the morning!

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in church on Sunday!

Lewes, Sussex, UK
Lewes, Sussex, UK

10 Days in Brighton, UK (part 1)

John&Jan in LewesJan has been living in Brighton, England since September to take care of our two granddaughter, India, while our daughter Heather has surgery. She will probably be there through January, so I went for a ten-day visit. Here is my trip report.

Day One

First full day in Brighton. I thought I was doing well with jet lag until tonight (strange bed etc.). Woke up at midnight and I’m having a hard time falling back asleep. It was a “blustery day” today but so wonderful to be here.

Jan made breakfast. The English have a slice of toast and coffee, but Jan knows how much I love the “most important meal of the day.” Then we took a double decker bus into town and walked in the wind and rain. Finished the day by picking India up from pre-school and pushing the pram home (uphill).

Jan has rented a couple of rooms in a home for us to stay in. It gets dark early (5:00) so to stay awake Jan and I walked up the lane to a little British pub (lots of dark wood) and I had “bangers and mash” (sausages with mashed potatoes, gravy and peas) and tried to drink a beer like the everyone else. I don’t think I’ve done that since Army Basic Training forty-years ago. The taste hadn’t changed so I changed to Diet Pepsi. It’s brown fuzzy water for this Yank!

Day Two

No rain or wind today but it’s still cool and overcast. Dixie visited the doctor and spent the day in bed resting while Jan, Heather, India and I walked to the beach and went shopping. The shops in the lane were amazing. I really enjoyed browsing the old bookstores. We bought some wool hats and had a wonderful time. India’s new phrase is “Papa’s mustache…” I also discovered we both like olives and gelato (don’t ask).

Day Three

Went to the village of Lewes today. The clouds broke up for a little while and gave me a chance to take some pictures. They have old stuff here. I visited a bookshop from the 16th century and the first castle built after the Norman conquest! I love the “downs” — the rolling hills just north of the coast although I wonder why they didn’t call them the “ups”?

India in the Toy Store

Papa made a mistake and took India to a little toy shop. I know they have old stuff in Lewes but people did look at the Yank hauling around a giant, green rubber dinosaur through the town (or is it a dragon?) The thing was so big, we buckled it into the seat beside India in the car and Jan and I took the train back to Brighton! Granddaughters smile and Papa gives them whatever they want. It’s a law of nature…

Day Four

My two impressions of Sussex so far are: they have old stuff and it rains a lot. Today it poured so hard we stayed in. It seemed like a good day for laundry. English washing machines are quite small and the instructions are written in German. Ours has an option for “drying” but I think it actually just makes the wet clothes steam. Thus the custom is to spread your clothes throughout the house and wait for summer when they will finally be dry. Since your clothes will be instantly wet when you walk outside, it really doesn’t matter if they are dry or just warm feeling does it?

I do like the fact that you don’t have to turn in your “man card” if you order hot chocolate instead of coffee here. Sweet Rolls are called either “Swirlies” or “Chelsea’s Buns.” That sounds a bit off-color to me so I just order a croissant.

Day Five

Today is “Remembrance Day” in Great Britain (like our Memorial Day/Veterans Day) and I must say I was impressed. At exactly 11:00 everyone stops for 60 seconds and remembers those who have gone before. I happened to be in the local 7-10 food store when an announcement came over the intercom calling all the employees to the front. I was checking out, but when 11:00 struck, we stopped and everyone froze wherever they were and waited. It was most impressive except for the old bat who used that opportunity to by pass all the lines. I guess you have them everywhere.

Jan and Dixie are both quite ill now and spent the day confined to their beds. It was the first blue sky day we’ve had so I made lunch and then took the bus into town to explore on my own. Not much to report but I still can’t figure out how that mermaid got tattooed on my … just kidding.

To be continued…