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On Saturday a group of us headed to Brighton for the day. This was a trip I'd suggested weeks ago, before the dark beast started his current raging, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. And I decided not to cancel just because I'm a stubborn bitch and won't give in. I'm glad I stuck with it, too.

Anyway, I had 2 choices - bring a borrowed wheel chair with me, or hire one when I got there. I opted for the latter as my local train station is totally inaccessible and my only way onto the train network is on the crutches. Arriving at London Bridge I was delighted to see so many people waiting. There ended up being 11 of us in all. I knew 4 were coming but it’s hard to tell when arraigning something over the internet if others will turn up or not. I had met about half the people before, so the group ranged from good friends to totally new friends. It was a really lovely mix. The perfect balance of getting to meet new people without the stress of not knowing anyone.

The first 2 trains were cancelled, the ticket machines were broken so people got caught up in queues and panicking to collect their pre-booked tickets as the train departure time came and went. Usual TFL in other words. Finally we all managed to get on to a very overcrowded train. Not surprising since the previous 2 trains were cancelled. 3 train loads of people trying to squash onto one train, but it made the journey there somewhat unpleasant.

We arrived and made the short walk down from the station to the beach in record time. Record for slowness that is. Not speed. Despite physically struggling I really enjoyed the walk. My first time smelling the sea and hearing sea-gulls since moving to London a year and a half ago. I've never been to Brighton before in my life, but it gave me that instant 'at home feeling' that sea-side towns tend to evoke in me. It was therefore a lovely amble down the street trying to find the shop mobility place, even though we did lose the main group and somehow kind of got lost ourselves on a clear straight stretch of road - if that’s possible.  And it was at that point we discovered that it is only OK to need a wheelchair in Brighton Monday to Friday. All people with mobility issues are expected to miraculously recover from 5pm Friday to 9am Monday. Or stay in bed and only semi-exist perhaps. Something like that. Now we had problems. Couldn't get a wheelchair on the train, and now can't get a wheelchair having got off the train. Not good for Susan or myself. There wasn't much choice left except manage the day with as much resting as possible and breaking all walking stretches into bite-sizes pieces.

Next challenge was meeting up with the rest of the group who had got separated. Phone calls were made. Texts were sent. Meeting spots were agreed where no one then showed up although we waited around for half of forever. And then the 2 of us headed for the pier because that’s where we (wrongly) thought the rest had gone. There is in fact a difference between a pier and a promenade and this is why precise language can be important. But never mind. The point is we made it to the pier and the others joined us there. We all went for fish and chips and it was wonderful. Now, when I say wonderful I mean that it was fantastic company, and everyone seemed relaxed and happy and chatting away and there was a really friendly atmosphere. The fish and chip restaurant on the other hand sucked! I really liked it at first - a funny place that tried too hard to make fast-food posh. They had kings pattern cutlery with proper fish-knives in all place settings. It  gave me a little nostalgic smile and made me think of my grandmother and what she would have considered a proper day trip to the beach. The cost was quite reasonable too. Having seen the bill I know it worked out at an average of ten quid - although obviously that varied person to person. The problem arose with the staff. They were not busy, and they got less busy as time went on. But somehow they couldn't manage our one group of 11. Orders were forgotten. Repeatedly. Food was not brought to the table. Staff sulked and brought us our bill and stood around waiting for their money when the deserts and coffee hadn't arrived yet. We then stayed. For ages. And enjoyed doing so. When we finally did put the bill together they played their own little games and wouldn't come back to our table to get it from us, standing there staring instead - so in the end we had to all get up and walk out leaving the cash (sans tip, naturally) on the table. It was very childish of them but not enough to ruin what was shaping up to be an enjoyable day.

From there we walked down the rest of the pier towards the amusements. I fundamentally do not get why anyone would want to get on a spinning thing that goes round and round and makes them sick and fear for their life- but, you know, each to their own and YKIOK and all that. I had great fun watching others. I just kept my feet sensibly on the ground. Or wooden planks above the ocean in this case. I also bumped into an old friend I hadn't seen in years, but more about that in some other post. This is also where I discovered that watching out for 11 lesbians around Brighton Pier is a lot like herding cats, or minding mice on roundabouts, or some such. I had occasional wibbles  that I had 'organised' this day and I wasn't doing a very good job of taking care of people. Except everyone there was an adult and competent and capable, and on a purely physical level I was past being able to take care of myself at that point. If involved in something similar again I will suggest set times and meet up spots so that no one has to worry about where the wanderers have gone. Most of us already had at least some other peoples phone numbers but that wasn't much use when background noise was so loud that phone use was virtually impossible. So yes, lesson learned for another occasion, but again we were still having a good time. There was something for everyone, and personally I would a computer game machine that let me kill zombies. Happy times. I also really wanted to win one of the supermario cuddly toys but I'm not enough of a gambler to actually bother putting money into the machine. I'd rather just buy one if I found them on sale.

And finally we headed to the Marlborrogh for a drink and to meet up with the last 2 beeries. There was beer, (or cider in my case) and fun gingerbeeries hanging out playing pool, and everyone relaxing having a good time. And pretty girls snogging down the other end of the bar if you wanted something to ogle. This is life when it works well. Although apparently a fight broke out after we left! Typical that we would end up missing all the excitement.

Anyway, that just left a taxi back to the train station - with the more hardy ones walking, and we were homeward bound again. A carriage almost to ourselves this time instead of standing room only on the way up. So one final hour of chatting and laughing and planning where and when different Pride events are happening.

I didn't actually get to go down to the shore-line which is a shame, even thought I really wanted to. Or get to see any of the many, many things I'd made a list of in advance that can be done in Brighton.  We actually did very little - just hung out and enjoyed the atmosphere of a busy sea-side town. And I guilt-trip myself a bit  that it was my mobility difficulties set the pace for the day and others would have had a lot more fun without me there but most people most of the time looked like they were having a blast.

So ... pride. The beast should be back in its cage by then, I'll be back on my feet, and if the whole group goes ahead and block-books a youth hostel now, as planned, then Brighton Pride should be awesome.  I feel a spot of nagging coming on to get people to commit.


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