While we were sitting on a bench in Brighton, we met the most morally confused homeless guy ever. After insulting a nearby busker by way of introduction, he asked us for a cigarette then told us his life story. Which included gun point robbery of an alarming number of post offices, two murders and a 30 year jail sentence. He also lectured us on how precious life is and in his very next breath told us he could kill us as well. Then we decided we probably had to go somewhere else that wasn't near him. He got very offended by this. So we either met an incredibly sane looking raving lunatic or a self-righteous murderer. Still not sure.
We also met some good old-fashioned non-homcidal people in Brighton. Mostly they were cool young post-grads doing creative things and living in filthy sharehouses. We filled our short time in this city by the sea going for (very) long walks on the beach, avoiding murderers (ok, one murderer) on the street, listening to talented MCs and poets fight it out slam style in a very crowded pub and cafe hopping to avoid the rain. England and rain is like night and darkness...an infatuation with wet is what you need if you are considering a life here.
We'd finished exploring (that's not true but our short time had run out) this vibrant seaside city of the south and we jumped on a bus for a 10 hour journey up north, to another seaside holiday town called Blackpool. But not before we had experienced the worst coffee I have ever encountered. It was literally undrinkable- we both forced down 3 or 4 sips and then decided no coffee was better than fighting the urge to vomit and threw them away. (I later tried to redeem this experience by buying two ridiculous chocolate concoctions from Starbucks, which Will deemed disgusting so I decided to drink both, spilled half all over myself whilst trying to manouvre around in the bus seat and then felt incredibly sick for the rest of the journey.
As we wearily alighted into the night of Blackpool, the very first thing we saw was a fairly vicious physical fight between two girls who were surrounded by a group of laughing morons ahem 'young men'. We had just spent 10 chocolate soaked hours on a bus to get here so you can imagine what we were feeling...
And although the very last image I have of Blackpool is of the group of young lads stumbling around the streets shirtless (this is English winter), very very unsoberly, at five-thirty on a Saturday afternoon, the time in between these two encounters was actually quite nice (we were staying outside of the actual town of Blackpool...perhaps this helped).
We had decided to venture to this part of Britain for 3 reasons: we had seen a lot of the south and a lot of the south was flooded, we were flying to Cyprus from Manchester airport, and we were visiting some lovely people we met in Spain who said we could stay with them if we made it to England. We had only known them for 3 days- they are friends of James and Cathy, with whom we wwoofed for a month- and they welcomed us into their lives like we were long-lost friends come to stay. It was lovely. They are Tracy and Julie and they took us out for some amazing Italian food at the type of restaurant that is full purely on the merit of the food, they got us free entry into Blackpool's biggest tourist attraction the 'Blackpool Tower' and they insisted we come back and stay upon our return from Cyprus. We also met Tracy's two daughters, one of whom was a carer for elderly people and subsequently regaled us with almost unbelievable tales of octonegarian cunning (one lady switched her husband's false teeth glue with super glue to "get him to shutup!"- they had been married for 70 years and had apparently expected they would be long dead by now), and her dogs, Ruby and Dixon, two huge, slobbery, lovable boxers.
As for what we did while in Brighton?...sheltered from a lot of rain (surprised?), did some knitting (Will), made brownies and lemon tart (me) and wandered around the slightly sad centre of Blackpool...being a seaside holiday town it isn't really the place to be in the middle of winter. It had the feel of a closed down carnival- the kids have all gone home, the popcorn and ice-cream is finished and there are just a few bored carnies hanging around, hoping to trick the few tourists who wander past unsuspectingly.
We also visited Manchester, which is a very welcoming sized city with much live music, theatre, graffiti and hip youngsters. We sampled lots of food and coffee and spent the evening watching the opening night of four short plays by four different playwrights (unfortunately the rain bested us yet again, as it slowly drenched us while we wandered around for at least an hour searching for the theatre, after which we discovered was not actually within walking distance at all...it was a damper evening than I normally prefer for a night of theatre).
And here are some pictures of our exploits...
We found the original(?) Mad Mouse! It looks just as death-trappy as ours.
In the middle of a most thoughful birthday present...
The menace of the ocean in Blackpool
The famous ballroom at the Blackpool Tower
And how windy it was whilst we were there- that pole is usually straight.
Now we are in North Cyprus, which I can happily say has been bathed in sunshine for nearly every single day of the last three weeks. But more later.