Writing, life, politics

Tag: brighton

A Twitter Account For Brighton

A little while ago I started1 following @ireland and @sweden on Twitter. Both are examples of what are termed Rotation Curation:

Rotation Curation, also #RotationCuration, is the concept of rotating the spokesperson on a broad scoped social media account. Such a scope can be a location, a country, an organization, a group, and so on. The concept is prominent on Twitter, but has also been ported to Instagram. The concept originated December 10, 2011, when Svenska Institutet and VisitSweden launched Curators of Sweden. The project hands the official Twitter account @Sweden to a new Swedish person every week to manage, with the expressed goal to manifest Swedish diversity and progressiveness through their own personality. [Wikipedia]


Basically, it’s like Doctor Who. Each Monday, a new person gets to run the account for the next seven days. The Twitter handle is unchanged, but they change the name to include their own name, and the icon is their picture with a common graphic overlain.

They tweet what they like: sometimes stuff about themselves; sometimes things about their country. Each weekly curator brings a new angle, shines a new light.

I’m really enjoying reading them both, and it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be really cool if Brighton had such an account? Not only is it a vibrant city with a bucket load of culture and a strong and alternative identity, it’s got a pretty healthy tech scene to boot.

I’d love to see other people’s views of my adopted home, to get an insight into the other lives going on around me. I’ve only got the one life to live in Brighton, but it would be great to see how other people are living theirs. I think it would be interesting and informative, educational and entertaining2.

What does everyone else think? If you, like me, think this might be a cool thing then please either post here, or tweet me (@jonnynexus). I’m not volunteering to run this, partly because I haven’t got the time, but mainly because something like this needs to have proper backing and not be a one-man operation. But if there’s interest, I could try floating the idea to people who might be able to make it work.

It could happen. And it could be very cool.

1I was vaguely aware of both of them, but when my friend Brian (@natural20) got to be Ireland for the week, I ended up signing up for both of them. He talked about his work, his hobbies, about the importance of storytelling, and did an epic rant about the Catholic church. It was very cool.

2There is a similar Twitter account for the UK (@PeopleofUK) but I’m afraid that this account just doesn’t grab me. I’m not an outsider looking for a “look inside”, as I am with Ireland and Sweden, but the UK is so big that it doesn’t feel like this sort of account offers an insider’s view, either. If a person in Sweden talks about their bus journey to work being delayed, I’ll learn something about the Swedish public transportation system. If a person on our hypothetical Brighton account talked about their bus being stuck on Western Road, I’ll know to take the sea front instead. But if a person in Nottingham tells me that their bus is late, frankly, I couldn’t give a shit.

I Appear To Be Living In Advertland

I was on my way home last night, on the final stages of my walk from the station to our house, when I heard music. It was a folky tune, a woman’s voice floating above a simple acoustic guitar. There was something about the quality of the sound that immediately made me think: “That’s not a recording. That’s live.”

Of course, I immediately scolded myself for having had such a stupid thought. I was on a quiet residential street. The truth would obviously be more prosaic: an open window on a warm summer evening and a good quality stereo cranked up to high.

I started looking around for an open window, and then I saw the music’s source: up above me, on a roof-top terrace, was a group of people who included in their midst a man with a guitar and a woman singing. And the thing is…

They were good. Really good.

And then it hit me. This sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen. Not in real life, not in lives not lived in beer commercials selling a bullshit lifestyle that doesn’t exist and never did. But there they were.

I like living in Brighton.

My God! It’s Full of Cakes!

Last weekend my other half and I took the dog for a long walk down the sea front to Hove Actually (old joke: Brightonians refer to Hove as “Hove Actually” because if an inhabitant of Hove is asked if they come from Brighton, they invariably reply, “Hove, actually”) and ended up having breakfast at Heather Mill’s new vegan cafe, VBites.

(Yes. That Heather Mills. And whatever the rights and wrongs of the marriage, the split, and the resulting divorce settlement, if forced to choose between Paul McCartney spending Paul McCartney’s money making songs about frogs and Paul McCartney’s ex-wife spending Paul McCartney’s money making vegan cakes, as someone who’s both a vegan and a glutton I’m going to vote for the cakes. Every. Single. Time.)

Anyhow, we’d been down a couple of times before, but this was the first time I remembered to take some pictures. The previous two times had both been around lunchtime on sunny weekends, and the place was packed. (It’s next to a very popular children’s play area). Even sitting at some of the many tables outside, we’d had to wait for a spot, and then when we did sit down, the waiters were run off their feet.

This time though, at 9:30 am on a much colder day, we sat inside a near-empty cafe, leaving the dog snoozing under an outside table where we could keep an eye on her – which meant we ended up at the conveyor belt cake counter/bar. (Like Yo! Sushi!, but with vegan cakes).

It’s quite an entrancing addictive sight, and talking to some of the waiting staff, it can apparently be quite funny when children are involved. As I ate my rather nice cooked breakfast (veggie sausage, veggie bacon, hash brown, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, scrambled tofu), I had my eye on a rather cute green number that was heading past me every thirty seconds or so. But then, when Jules got the waitress to explain what each cake actually was, I found myself equally tempted by a chocolate fudge cake. I did briefly float the possibility that I could have two cakes, but this was apparently unacceptable at any time, and certainly at 10am following breakfast. I settled in the end for eating the green cake and merely waving at the chocolate cake each time it went past.

“Hello chocolate cake. Mummy won’t let me play with you. Goodbye chocolate cake.”

This was apparently behaviour worthy of a six-year old child. Oh well. Go figure.

Anyhow, I should probably say something about what I think of VBites. Well the quick summary is that I like it a lot, but other people might not. It depends what you’re looking for. This is a place that’s a long way from the traditional, stereotypical vegan or vegetarian eatery. No sandals here. It’s a fun, slick cafe serving food that’s one level above fast food. If I was to compare it to a meat-eating equivalent, I’d be looking at things like Pizza Hut or Frankie & Benny’s. To review it as a “restaurant” would be unfair (not that this has stopped some national newspapers sending their food critics there – I await their review of the latest Pizza Hut).

There are some “proper” meals, such as spaghetti bolognaise and a couple of curries, as well as a host of salads, but a lot of what is on offer is some variant of burger on chips. (You can see the full menu here). Being very much a junk food man, I like that, a lot. But others might not.

I’ve also heard some criticism of the way the interior is laid out. A lot of the seating is of the bar-stools at a counter type; there aren’t that many tables suitable for a large group wanting to eat a sociable meal. It will be interesting to see what the second VBites is like – and I do hope there will be a second VBites, and then a third. This is the sort of “formulaic” setup that could be replicated as a chain, and as a vegan I’d really like to see that happen. (My suggestion for a second site is the Marina, right at the other end of Brighton, which currently has nothing for vegans beyond going to Pizza Express and asking for a pizza without the cheese).

I like it, and I’ll certainly be going back. I haven’t tried the Mrs Swirly Soya Ice Cream yet!

Living Beside The Sea

Since moving to Brighton I’ve insisted that at some point during the summer I would go into the sea. I didn’t expect to enjoy it. After all, this is the British sea we’re talking about, notorious for being freezing cold even on one of our somewhat rare hot days. But I saw it as a rite of passage that someone who lives in Brighton should go through; I didn’t want to be that man who lives for years by the sea without ever going in.

Yesterday, a group of us – me, Jules and @4pawsnexus, plus a friend of Jules who’s staying with us and her daughters – set off for an afternoon on the beach. I’d put on my swimming shorts, determined that this would be the day where I’d lose my “Brighton Beach virginity”. The sun was shining, 4Paws was displaying the intensity she always does when you get her on her beach, and the sea was…

Breath-stealingly cold.

But you know what? If you just stay in, and especially if you get yourself submerged right down to your neck, you get used to it within about a minute, and then it’s really nice. I loved it so much I went back in twice more, and then again today.

This isn’t a rite of passage you do the once, just so you never have to do it again. This is a really nice way to spend an afternoon. And of course, if you live by the beach you can round the afternoon with a barbecue, using your handy-dandy BBQ-in-a=bucket.

There is just one problem though. Brighton has a pebble beach. That’s fine when you’re in, because the water takes 95% of your weight, allowing your toes to dance across the pebbles. But it’s bloody painful on the way in and out: although on the plus-side, it does encourage you to not linger on the way in, but to instead get right in and submerged up to your neck – anything to take the weight off your screaming soles.

And getting out’s even worse, because it’s a pretty steep beach with a fierce undertow. In the end, I could only figure out one way in which I could get back out and up the beach to my towel without experiencing extreme pain.

I’ve gotta get me some Crocs.

Because backwards on your arse is no-way to make your way out of the sea and up a beach. (And no, I don’t have a picture of that).

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