Touristing is tiring. As such, after almost getting lost in Tooting, I decided to spend the rest of Friday at home.
Saturday rolled in, and my sister and I made our way to Brighton. This was the first place I visited that has literary significance for me – for those of you who may not know, I am an avid Austen fan, and Brighton is associated with Pride and Prejudice (it is the seaside town that Lydia visits with the Colonel’s wife; it is also where she and Wickham elope from).
We sat next to two Muslim ladies on the train and as has become normal, Momeena starts a conversation with one of them. They were friends, on their way to Brighton to celebrate the one’s thirtieth birthday. Pretty soon, we were all talking and an hour had flown by and our train stopped at the station. Before we parted, Momeena exchanged contact details with the one, who proceeded to give us two of her home-made chicken wraps.
Not many things move me, but kindness from strangers always tugs at my heartstrings. So many people warned that we would not find it here, but I’m happy to say that this trip proved them wrong.
Brighton is the most picturesque little town. It reminds me of an amalgamation of Strand, Muizenberg and Camps Bay. Most of the buildings are very old (I love the British habit of preserving everything-this is probably why their jam is so nice (apparently)) with random new constructions dotted along the coastline.
Bars and pubs are as common as people in the UK, so it comes as no surprise that it was the first thing we saw as we walked down to the beach. (Sidenote: indi-musicians are as common as rain around here. You will find them at pubs, in the subway, in parks, along the river bank – not all are good, but they don’t care. They just sing).
Brighton is not a sandy beach – its ‘sand’ is actually cobble stones, and although uncomfortable to walk or sit on, we still found people picnicking on them.
There is quite a lot of activity along the beach front. To our far left, we saw a little theme park, at the end of a pier. As we strolled, we crossed paths with groups of people having stag and hen parties, families out for the day, couples strolling along or sitting down for a drink. We passed a small basketball court, with four friends playing two-on-two at one end, and a little girl shooting hoops at the other end. The weather was not ideal, but if you’re lucky enough you can hire a boat and go sailing.
On our way back to the train station, we met our two train friends again, and then skipped down on of the side roads. The rustic buildings and shopfronts reminded me of the England in the books I love.
It started to rain quite heavily as we walked back, and by 3pm, we were in the train, on our way back to Streatham.
One thing I really wanted to do in London is experience the theatre. My interests have slightly changed as I’ve grown older, and I quite enjoy theatrical productions (having been part of two these past two years at school). Ideally, I would have loved to see Shakespeare, but it would have bored my sister to tears.
My aunt managed to secure tickets for us to see “Wicked” at the Apollo in Victoria. (Sidenote #2: the show was at 19:30 and finished at 22:20. We were two ladies, travelling on the train at night, and it was totally fine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-I feel safer here than I do in Cape Town).
My London theatre experience did not disappoint. Although this play has been running for 10 years, it was the first week with its new cast, and it was nothing short of spectacular. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love…along with the thousand other people in the theatre with me. The acting was brilliant, the singing and dancing were beautiful, the humour – as English as you would expect.
I could not have asked for a better end to an amazing holiday.
We leave tomorrow, so today we’re packing.
This holiday has not only been the most fun I’ve ever had… It has been the summit of a journey back to myself. Adulthood, challenges and responsibility have a way of chipping bits of yourself away…and I allowed myself to be buried under all of mine.
I didn’t know how to be an adult and be me too…and I feel like these past few days have shown me how. I can be an example to others, a credit to my family and upbringing, and still be me too.
As my holiday comes to an end, I don’t feel sad at all. I am immensely grateful for this gift I’ve been given (from both of my parents). I am humbled by the trust they have shown in me.
And I am excited to get back to my life, confident in my abilities, happy with myself, and with a little more of my old self back.