Out of the Box England – An Americans Request – Part 1

This post is not going to be my usual Wandering Memory format as is based on events that took place just last weekend.

So Megan has hit 30, and for her birthday and good friend of ours from America came over to visit. We had met M in Africa while traveling and Megan and she hit it off instantly. She is an awesome lady, and someone we are privileged to have in our friendship group. Since we have visited America on a number of occasions and M always was top of our list to catch up with. However when she visited London previously we were traveling Hawaii – bad timing. Therefore we were keen to make up for our missed time.


We have had visitors from all over the world before but M was different as she had visited the sites of London previously and wanted to see more out of the box English experience.

Out of the box England? Well hundreds of places sprung to mind…

  • Stratford Upon Avon
  • Sherwood Forest
  • The Lake District
  • Cornwall
  • Brighton
  • Bournemouth
  • Stonehenge
  • Bath


I mean, the list is never ending…

Having just 5 days, time was obviously going to limited, and one of those days would be spent seeing the London sites she never saw before. Another was saved for a day/night out in town. So really we had 3 days in which to show her out of the box England. With just 3 days and our limited time off of work, locations such as the Lakes and Cornwall had to be ruled out immediately.

Day one was taken up with the usual site seeing of a few of London’s touristy areas, that she missed last time.


Day 2 we chose to do Brighton and Bicester Village outlets in one swoop.

Brighton is a town based in the South of England and is often referred to as London’s beach town, being just 40 minutes away from Downtown London.  It’s a quintessential British seaside resort, with a long stretch of English Channel coastline, topped off with a huge old world boardwalk pier extending into the open sea.

I am pleased to report that M loved it!

We parked just outside of the town and walked the coastline to the Pier, traversing onto the Pier itself all the way to its windy end. This was not before we got doughnuts from a local street vendor of course. At this point, Megan got the shock of her life while appreciating a good warm doughnut a huge seagull swooped and stole it from her hand… I’ve never witnessed anything like it in hundreds of times visiting. But M and I just laughed and laughed. The Old Pier contains amusement arcades and even a fun fair at the end with some quite dramatic rides. It’s great to have something like this for both the next generation and tourists to experience, as I believe it really encompasses the old British seaside feel.


From here, we ventured into town, which includes a number of winedy streets full of shops called the Lanes. These are littered with trendy shops, fine dining eateries, and bars galore. Perfect for a Friday afternoon stroll. The North Laine is also a very trendy area, with unique antique shops, brassieres, wine bars and really a host of independent very cool retailers selling everything from food to jewelry.

Megan and I love it here, so hoped that our experience would transcend the Atlantic, and it did. M loved the funky shopping, the street art and overall the feel of the quaint British seaside resort. We had found an experience that she wouldn’t have previously thought of doing. Although Bournemouth houses a much better beach experience, there’s something special about Brighton that just screams English… That’s what she wanted to see and that’s what we gave her!

We also bypassed the Seaside palace, which looks like something from the Indian Raj days, a contrast to the lanes and pier.

Our final British experience for her today, was of course Fish and Chips on the beach. Brighton’s beach is not so much of a white sand beach I have blogged about in previous posts, but a very strange stone pebble beach. Yes – No sand in sight. Oh and the sea, well you have to be quite brave to swim in it as it’s usually colder than ice!



After another near miss with a swarm of seagulls, we ate our Fish and Chips on the side of the beach. Come on what can be more British than eating Fish and Chips out of paper wrapping, next to a Peddle beach with the occasional ray of sunshine coming through the clouds. Finally we caught the Brighton Seaside electric railway back to the car. The Volks Railways extends up the coastline to the Marina, and is literally Britain’s oldest electric railway. It’s not fast, it’s not exciting, but it is very British.

IMAG1025 - Copy

M loved the British seaside experience, and although the route back consisted of 3 hours on the car-park we call the M25. A quick shopping spree in the outlets of Bicester never goes a miss!

Out of the Box – Check – Day 2 complete! Check out part 2 here

The next day purely revolved around my wife’s birthday night out in London, so we had three more days to fill…

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