I've been visiting Brighton as long as I can remember - my maternal grandparents hailed from the coastal city originally and from childhood visits to elderly aunts to teenage day trips eating donuts on the pier I've become pretty familiar with Brighton but never for more than a day at a time. This Christmas rather than head back to Hertfordshire, my parents and I packed up our presents and spent a week with sea views, noticeably fresher air and surprisingly mild weather. I got to know more of a city I've always loved, discovered new parts of it and watching the sun melt into the sea at the end of every day made it feel like much more of a "holiday" than I could have hoped for.
I planned on doing Hove Parkrun and taking my parents along for the ride but it was cancelled so we headed out for a slightly later run along Hove lawns, wearing Santa hats for good measure and stopping to photograph the super cute beach huts. We wandered through the town after our run with my constantly reassuring my mother that in Brighton people wearing running gear and Santa hats are not exciting enough to capture anyone's attention. I didn't take my parents with me to Bikram classes Yoga In The Lanes but it was a super welcoming studio to warm up and not let good habits slip between Christmas and New Year (they didn't take a break for Christmas and held a class on the day itself which is amazing).
Authorised and unauthorised art on the sea front. The West Pier is so strikingly tragic but it's been part of my memories of Brighton for as long as I can remember. Around 70 years ago my grandfather might have been spotted swimming between the West and Palace piers. Dipping my fingertips into the water was enough for me.
Brighton is amazing for vegan fare, and for food in general. My mother loves chocolate and it was her idea to head to Choccywoccydoodah for their famous hot chocolate (I wholeheartedly supported this plan having had no chocolate all December) - I had a vegan version with soy milk and dark chocolate buttons and it was intensely chocolatey and the perfect warmer upper after a walk through Kemptown and around The Lanes.
North Laine and Kemptown are musts for antiques, vintage and an off-beat vibe. It's so nice to see independent shops and cafes thriving amid a world which seems to get more and more generic and chainy. Snoopers Paradise (North Laine) and Brighton Flea Market (Kemptown) are both great for a rummage.
A family member gave us surprise tickets for the i360 on the seafront - it was the perfect gift and so much fun. We got the first "flight" of the day and the capsule was relatively empty. The "flight" takes around half an hour and the views from the top of the sea and the South Downs are amazing.
Sunrise, a Sunny Afternoon (we all loved seeing The Kinks musical after missing it in London), the golden hour. Hoping for a lot more "vitamin sea" in 2017.