We head for the sea-front, along with half of London, it seems. Just by the West Pier wreck, there's parking in a little square which we promptly snaffle. There's a strong onshore wind - around Beaufort 6-7 - mucho surf, and spectacular waves. The west End pier is a poignant iron skeleton, bits drop off every storm, we are told, and the main causeway back to the beach is long gone - a twisted mass of ironwork being moved up the beach with every storm. We walk up the beach boardwalk to the main Pier.
Which is endearingly tacky - Brighton Rock, souvenirs, restaurants, bars, pokies, and the amusement park right at the far end. Today's weather being of the horizontal variety, nothing is well patronised. The storm is sending gentle shudders through the Pier, and it really is very wet. And we haven't eaten since breakfast, some 6 hours ago. Having spotted a little cafe on terra firma, tucked under the main beach promenade, just adjacent to the main Pier, we retire there and have a superb late lunch.
And a Becks. And a Leffe. And then decide, WTF, let's stay in Brighton instead of braving the traffic, the dark (it's now 3.30 pm and a Dark and Stormy Night is imminent) and trying to locate a hotel. So back to the car in the Square, where we had previously spotted a little hotel a few doors down from our parking spot. Vacancies, check. Price right, check. Evening meal not required, check. Conti breakfast included, check. Serendipity has struck again.
Beachfront architecture varies from the delightful DeVere Hotel - very Victorian and lacy, to the stolidly monumental Brighton Centre, apparently designed in Stalingrad. Sea views sell rooms, and the seafront is 5-6 storeys solid as far as we can see (not far, in these conditions). Lots of public art, including a graceful bronze vertical doughnut near the end of a massively constructed stone groyne just by our late-lunch restaurant. Every few waves or so, a rather larger wave swamps the groyne end, drenching unwary punters, and coming right through the hole in the doughnut. Kinetic art......
We see one brave soul in jandals, shorts and t-shirt, but most people are layered underneath and wearing rain-shells on top like us. And we see a couple of younger kids racing the waves up and down the beach. Which, considering the surf - 2-4 metres - the fact that it's a boulder beach lying at a fair angle to the horizontal, with small, slippery stones underfoot, dumper waves, a vicious undertow, and a good-size Channel storm raging out there, does seem to us to be the height of foolishness. We blame the parents, of course. Where's Nanny State when you really need her?