"On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points." --Virginia Woolf
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
A VACATION NOT TO BE SAVORED
Yesterday I decided to take a day trip down to Brighton with the flatmates to finally visit the ocean and all its ameneties after one whole year of separation.
I needed a break from the city, the news, and most importantly productivity in general. So onward to Brighton, which was very bright and right on, hence the name. To be honest I don't know much about the town's history, but I do now know a great deal about Prince Regent's Royal Pavilion, an Indian/Mosque-style palace that seems ill-suited for its prime spot in the city center--a more appropriate place would be next door to Vegas' Venetian Hotel.
Gout is what brought the young 20-something to Brighton in the late 18th c; he came for the therapeutic properties of the fresh sea water. The guy actually had his plumming fixed so that he could have his choice--sea water, freshwater, or normal water (whatever that meant back then) pumped into his bathtub. Since this dude didn't become King George IV until he was 58, he had a lot of time on his hands, as the Pavilion's poker-faced, uber-gaudy oriental motif can attest.
Where the royal perv checked out ladies' hair and contemplated his next move.
What my Queen's English-speaking audio guide narrator failed to mention was that Georgie had another hobby other than Liberace-inspired interior design. He liked women, and he liked to cut off locks of their hair to be put in envelopes with their names on them after "intimate relations". Supposedly there were over 7,000 of these envelopes found in the palace.
The tour on the whole was uninspiring, but amusing nonetheless. We digressed, took a visit to the seaside.
The beach was rocky. And when I say rocky I mean, like, the sadistic younger cousin of sand--stones and such. We threw our towels on the rocks and layed out. At first I thought maybe it wouldn't be so bad, at least I wouldn't find unwanted beach stones in my bikini later. I couldn't get stones in my eyes or in my hair.
So I embraced the rocky beach, my friend Bobby even gave me a hot stone massage, which I'm sure I read was real big with the celebrities these days. It was almost relaxing, but the stones were pretty hot. And Brighton was in Palm Springs death mode when it came to heat, so the stones didn't help matters. So we swam, and it was glorious.
We then went to the Brighton Pier, a Victorian-era stretch of carnival games and rides, touristy pubs and fish and chips booths. After the two ice creams, "American-style" doughnut, and half bottle of Pimms, I really wasn't in the mood for fish and chips, like everyone else. I was determined to find some fresh oysters and/or mussels instead. Big mistake.
As everyone waited for me nearly a mile away, I found a shellfish stall and grabbed myself a 5 pound (as in currency, not weight) seafood platter with all sorts of unidentifiable crustaceans. I cannot explain my actions at this point, I don't know what it was that made me do it, but--I shoved a slimy, slug-looking creature into my mouth like it was a potato chip. After that, I ate tons of cockels, which nobody outside of a pikey East London pub (so says a British friend) should do. Cockels are the poor man's clams--they're scrawny pickled clams with bits of undigested sand still in their system. Also on board the ship of seafood hell were a few imitation crabs legs the size of infant's arms, and some chalky, cooked mussels. There were also a few miniscule shrimp thrown into the mix which only tasted of salt.
I don't know what brought this on, other than a bizarre psychological complex which compels me to crave seafood whenever I am surrounded by aquariums or the ocean.
Later we tried to jump aboard some rollercoasters but, go figure, in the dead of summer they were all under construction. I settled for the haunted house ride, which didn't upset my stomach as much as it should have, but was still good fun. All in all a good day, as my lobster-red skin won't let me forget the ocean and its ameneties.
I am uncommonly mobile; I have circumnavigated the globe eight times, walking amazing distances. Through the South Island of New Zealand to the Southern Alps. From Chile to the Andes in Argentina. Across the Serengeti in Africa. I made 300 ascents of mountains 10,000 ft. tall or more, including the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, and Kilimanjaro. I traveled alone, aided only by my porters, sketching volcanos and collecting wildflowers along the way.