There is cool art EVERYWHERE in Brighton, and it is refreshingly gay friendly!
After being in the Balkans for a month, England felt delightfully familiar. I got off the plane and could immediately understand the locals. What a luxury. I hopped on a train and headed to Brighton, where Adam and Lauren (my friends who met me in Barcelona two months ago— although it feels like a lifetime), invited me to stay with them.
Brighton’s finest sailors at the Brighton Sailing Club
Adam was recovering from thyroid cancer surgery, but we had a lovely, mellow time catching up, going to the pub, and walking around the city. Brighton is full of hip cafes and cute pubs, vegan restaurants and fine dining. Most of these places are filled with art and host live music. It was refreshing to be in a city that really celebrates and supports the arts. I think if I had to live in England, I would live in Brighton. It is on the coast, and although there aren’t any waves, it is your classic English seaside town, meets hippie bohemians.
I thoroughly enjoyed being in a real home after a month in dorms, hotels and Airbnbs. Adam and Lauren have two cute cats and two cute chickens with whom I got well acquainted. As Adam wasn’t feeling 100% and I was eager to get to my brother and brother-in-laws’ house, I only stayed with them two days.
Cuddles with Cupcake
Then, once again, I packed up my bags, got the bus to the train, and showed up at Ian’s front door on Thursday night for the final stop of my trip (sort of). It was delightful to be at Ian and Sean’s and of course, meet their cat, Cupcake. Their place always feels like a second home to me, although they didn’t think my jokes about moving in were very funny.
On Friday, Sean took me to Trinity College where he is a Fellow. This means that he gets access to all the cool places, like the parlour, where we had freshly made coffees and read the Times, and the library, which hosts one of the most spectacular ancient book collections in the world. In the afternoon, Sean took me to the dining hall for lunch. Fellows (and their guests) get to sit at the high table under original portraits of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth and it is all very Hogwarts-esque. Unfortunately, photos aren’t allowed, but the food was surprisingly good.
The “Old Library”
After lunch, Sean took me to the library. He asked me what I wanted to see, and I said I wanted to see the oldest book he could find. He unlocked a cabinet, went into a safe, and pulled out three books, which we spent the next hour poring over. These books were written in the 10-12th centuries on parchment paper with who knows what ink, are living history. After a mind blowing literary history lesson, I headed back to the house and Sean stayed on campus to work. Ian and I went for Friday afternoon pints, then cooked dinner, and went out for a few more pints.
The next morning Ian and I got in his car and headed north to go camping with some of his friends from his volunteer job at Psycare. They provide medical care at festivals, and although the festival circuit is over for the year, I guess they wanted to keep the party going. We drove into the Peak District (aptly named, in this case), which is beautiful English countryside with green pastures, stone walls, and changing deciduous trees.
Neither of us really knew what to expect, but we were greeted by a lovely crew of people who welcomed me immediately into their close knit friend circle. We spent the night hanging out by the camp fire and chatting, listening to music and going for forest walks. It was pretty cold and windy, but at least it didn’t rain, and Ian gave me all his sleeping gear so at least I was warm enough. I wasn’t exactly planning to camp in England in the end of October but hey, I’m always up for an adventure. If you ever want to know more about this silly camping trip, ask me in person ha ha.
The next morning, Ian and I were both feeling a little rough so we left pretty soon after waking up. Our excuse was that I had to hop on a flight the next day, because it seemed like everyone was going to keep the party going and yeah, I was pau. That night we had a much needed nice, quiet evening in Cambridge with a classic Sunday roast and a bit of telly. It was lovely to spend that quality time with family.
Alas, my dear reader. I am now on my final leg of this journey. I left Ian’s this morning and took the train to Heathrow airport, without incident, save the fire warning which stopped the train service for a half hour. Fortunately I left a half hour earlier than Ian suggested, but I barely had time to grab a beer before I had to board my flight.
What a trip, what a ride, what an adventure, what a life! I’m so deeply grateful to everyone who hosted me along the way, for the friends I made, for the countless people who gave me directions or travel suggestions. I am grateful to you for reading all this silliness, because although I’ve been traveling alone, I feel like you’ve been right there with me. Except I wish you could have watched my bag while I went pee… that’s probably the most annoying part of solo traveling.
I jest, but my gratitude is deep. I’m not exactly sure what adventure will come next, but I fully intend to keep the adventure going. I’ll be sure to keep you posted. For now, gracias, grazie, fallamanderit, falla, and thank you for reading and your support.