Six strange things you will only find in Brighton

The other week a man with extravagant facial hair taught me how to make good coffee. Then he spoke about coffee with the passion and reverence usually applied to a first born child or a great novel.

Later that night I also met a very nice lady called Holly who presented me with chocolate made by her own (clean) hands on Western Road in Brighton.Brighton coffee chocolate


The occasion was an introduction to the new eco-refills store Ecostream, now open in Brighton. Remember when refill shops used to involve dusty bins full of half-crushed cornflakes? This is a million miles from that – it’s all flavoured oils, Kilner jars and the best coffee (naturally).

I didn’t realise until afterwards that Ecostream, has had a somewhat controversial opening and has been the subject of protests and features in the local paper. Why picket a shop selling raspberry vinegar? Surely new business, a green business focused on reduced packaging is a good thing.

Brighton ecostream

But it doesn’t surprise me that something as simple as a new shop will turn out to have a complicated back story. Brighton attracts stuff like that. It’s full of strange things that you don’t 100% understand but which stop the place from becoming boring.

These are some of my personal favourites:

Two cinemas with legs on
Two cinemas, two legs each. Not a leg each, that would be ridiculous.

brighton cinemas


Somebody playing the bongos
Obviously people also play the bongos in places that are not Brighton. But the point is that in Brighton someone is always playing the bongos. Go for a walk of 10 minutes or more duration through the city and you will hear it. My son has a set of bongos so we are adding to the bongo-surplus. Sorry about that, bongo-dissers.

A tree with a post box
Near where we live there’s a tree. The tree is under threat, so it has reacted as all civilised individuals must by asserting its right to bear letters. You can write to it at The Elm Tree, Vernon Terrace, Brighton. Can’t promise it’ll reply though. Stamps don’t grow on trees.

Nick Cave on the loose
Whether he’s crashing into a speed camera, assisting a fire-juggling unicyclist or simply striding manfully down Hove Esplanade, the man in black is often spotted but seldom caught.

Open artists’ houses
Everyone’s an artist in Brighton, even foetuses, cadavers and inanimate objects. And several times a year they will let you into their houses to have a nosy round. This always freaks out friends of mine from elsewhere as they struggle with the concept of a stranger inviting you into their home and not assuming you’ll steal something. The artists don’t even try particularly hard to sell their wares, they’re just glad you came. Unless it’s an installation of speed cameras and your name is Nick Cave, in which case they might get a bit precious about it.

The school newsletter has an iPad edition
Of course it does.

  • The woman at the chocolate shop looks suspiciously like Chrissy Hynde!

  • She does now you mention it! She told me her name was Holly though, and her business is called ChocoHolly. ChocoChrissy would work pretty well too.

  • When I lived in Hove there was a man next door who looked like Nick Cave. It took me 4 years to work out it actually was Nick Cave. (He always looked very serious and quite scary)

  • That is hilarious! I would love to have seen your face when the penny dropped.

  • I love this post! I’m sorely tempted to write to that tree now. Although I may as well admit now I would actually be disappointed when I don’t receive a reply. I will also keep my eyes out for Nick Cave, though I often see rather serious and scary people who could quite easily pass as the man himself!

  • Thank you Carrie. I believe the tree has now been saved so maybe you could send it a congratulations card?

  • Oh yes, I can’t wait to move to Brighton. I’m thinking of getting a pair of legs for my garage roof.

  • Thank you Di. I think you’ll have a lot of fun when you move to Brighton.