Brighton will always my heart. I fell in love with it on a school trip, spent a summer chamber-maiding there as a student and finally got to live there for a few years after graduating. Mr A knew I wouldn’t hesitate to move in with him if he took a job there, so it is also where we had our first home together. We bought my engagement and wedding rings in the Lanes, a daily little reminder of a city I love.
We’ve been back with the kids twice now and found so much to enjoy with them. I miss it’s liberal views, great veggie food, seaside charm, arts, culture and general all round quirkiness and love showing the kids where we used to live and hang out.
Like St Aubyn’s Gardens, in Hove, where our flat was, just a stone throw from the beach. As you can imagine, the kids were a little disappointed that we moved back up North before they came along!
All the fun of the seaside
My two loved the pier, chucking pebbles in the sea, the walk or bike ride out from the marina towards Rottingdean where there always used to be a little beach hut that sold tea and cake. The Penny Arcade, along the sea front to the west of the pier and the carousels are like stepping back in time. The Lanes are full of independent shops and cafes and are magic to explore whatever your age. With a veggie daughter I would also plan in lots of visits to places like Food for Friends or award winning Terre a Terre.
We know lots of lovely people who still live around Brighton, and so I asked them what they recommend for families too…
Fishing and Ghost walks
One of our oldest friend’s, Andy, suggested mackerel fishing from the marina or a ghost walks of the Lanes. The ghost walks run every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, from The Druid’s Head pub in Brighton Place, Brighton. A family ticket is £20 and there is no need to book, just turn up, although the walks close over Winter.
Artist Open Houses
Andy also reminded me about artist open houses, which hold fond memories for me, as the art teacher from the school I taught in used to organise a get together to tour them. I loved seeing inside people’s homes as much as the final pieces and always came home with a couple of purchases. The Christmas open house is a great way to buy unique Christmas gifts.
Ice skating or the i360
I once glamped next door to Zoe from Juggling In Roller Skates, who lives in Sussex, but we didn’t realise until we were back home and saw each other’s pictures on Instagram. Zoe suggests Ice skating at the Pavilion, if you happen to be there in Winter. We ended up moving just before we got married, but otherwise we did look at having our wedding in this amazing pineapple shaped palace! Or try the i360 for incredible views of Brighton.
If you fancy a really unique experience, my good friend Jen is the Choclatician behind the giant chocolate Benedict Cumberbatch you may have seen on social media, and also runs chocolate parties and workshops in Shoreham, she could definitely do a family chocolate workshop for you with plenty of yummy goodies to take away!
Di who runs font-of-all-knowledge-comping-site Super Lucky Di, and moved from another city I’ve lived in, Nottingham, to Sussex, suggests Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club. She says it’s a beautiful stadium, welcoming to children and families, and in spring they have bands playing before the match making a great atmosphere.
Petworth Park, Cinema, SUP, Screen Printing
Fellow blogger Kate, from Mad About the Boys blog is someone I became strangely drawn to on instagram, only to discover we went to school in the same town, it’s a small world – she also now lives in Sussex. Kate three young boys and suggests picnic, walk and den building in Petworth Park, the Dome cinema in Worthing where the family morning on a weekend is a bargain, or taking a screen printing class at Ink Spot Press. As a watersports lover she also suggests renting a SUP and getting into the sea.
Geocaching and treasure hunting
Once a Sussex resident, now in Australia, Maddie from Gammon and Chips, suggested geocaching on the South Downs – one of my favourite places to walk when I lived in Brighton too – and in town too. Or a Brighton Treasure Hunt around town.
Winnie the Pooh
Fellow family travel blogger Gretta from Mums Do Travel reminded me about Ashdown Forest, home to Winnie The Pooh, and Pooh Sticks bridge, THE perfect pace to play pooh sticks properly! My running friend Ruth suggests cycling in Ashdown Forest too, there is also the Bluebell Railway.
Houses and castles
There were several votes for Bodiam Castle, although I am still recovering from our trip there after my youngest managed to upset an actor/ volunteer, who in turn upset me. My Dad had to buy us all sweets in the gift shop to recover. It is totally stunning though, so don’t let us put you off, maybe buy your replica bow and arrow on the way out, not the way in.
Another running friend, Sally, suggested the Weald and Downland Living Museum, a collection of more than 50 historic buildings from a replica Anglo-Saxon hall house to an Edwardian tin church. It looks fascinating and kids love little houses right?
If you are looking for a place to stay, Best of Brighton have holiday cottages in the area. My picks would be Orange House in the bustling North Laine, where we narrowly missed buying our first flat, I have always wondered what that life would have been like! Perfect for 4 and for older kids who like shopping.
Printer’s Cottage is ideal for a small family exploring Brighton, it’s in Kemptown – where I lived in a bedsit one summer as a student – is right next to the sea. One pet allowed and parking permits can sometimes be arranged – a big plus in a town it can be extremely tricky to park in.
For more space, fewer parking hassles and a garden, Thatch Cottage in Shoreham sleeps 6. Shops, pubs, train and coast within walking distance and there are over 70 trains a day into Brighton with the fastest one taking 11 minutes.