Saturday, June 11, 2011

Future Homes: Brighton Edition

Okay, so it's really just one home. But it's one really big, really cool, really tacky home. This home that I'd like to call my own is the Royal Pavilion built by King George IV but before he was actually king. In his case, Prince Regent. His father was mad, you know. As with lots of those great historic homes out there (including some others I'll be posting about soon), pictures of the inside aren't allowed. So I guess I'll have to do some describing.

A little more history: the Pavilion began life as a farmhouse, much more modest than the sprawling giant you'll see today. The Prince Regent wasn't necessarily too terribly wealthy at the time on account of recent unpopular spending and was only able to expand when funds permitted. And when they permitted, expand he did, in several stages over many years. The current building was basically designed by John Nash and completed around 1822. Let's just say George wanted it for the location's health benefits. Now on to my visit, the important part.

Starting from the beginning. My aunt, cousin, and I took the train down to Brighton on our first full day in England. The ride isn't that long but the change in atmosphere is dramatic: Brighton is a seaside resort city with beaches (rocky), a pier, and one fabulous royal home.

It's a little hard to get a picture of the whole thing.

We visited the Pavilion, my future home, first. The inside feels long rather than tall and is filled with lots of elaborate, brightly colored stuff. Some rooms aren't exactly full of furniture, the music room for example, but that's perfectly okay: instead there's a carpet as thick as a really thick carpet and very cool lotus-shaped chandeliers. Speaking of chandeliers, one room has a massive chandelier that basically looks like it's held by a dragon. A dragon, and an enormous one at that. That one's also got lotus flowers. It's amazing and I want it. Even though it probably wouldn't even fit inside my apartment. And you know? People used to eat under that thing. I totally wish I had a picture because it's awesome. There are some online but I'm all about posting my own pictures and stuff so do your own Googling. Seriously.

Anyway, the building is full of great chinoiserie* items and, er, designs like, you know, dragons and lotus flowers. There are also beautiful high ceilings, glass domes, and, of course, passageways so no one has to see the servants.

The Pavilion stayed in the family for a little while but apparently Queen Victoria wasn't such a fan. Great for the rest of the world since now we can all visit! Plus, lots of stuff inside is on loan from the current queen. I totally want this house as is though I admit that's for the chandeliers more than anything else. Also for the fact that it looks ridiculously out of place in England. That just adds to the charm.

If you want a better idea of what this place looks like inside, try Google imaging "Brighton Pavilion interior", there are some results there. I'd do some linking but I'm lazy.

Brighton is one of those places I'd always sort of planned on visiting but for some reason I never actually got there. Until this last trip, that is. While the Pavilion is a major historical attraction, there are lots of other fun things about the city. First of all, the pier. Oh, the pier. Brighton is, well, a bit of a tacky seaside resort. Not as seedy as Atlantic City, certainly, but "classy" maybe isn't the first word to come to mind when thinking of Brighton. I loved it.

So, right, Brighton Pier. Arcade games galore, ice cream with Flake, impossible to unfold sun chairs just there for the sitting.

Note the stack of chairs in the background. And a special thanks to the lady who helped me unfold the chair. Really, it was hard.

The good news: despite being hopeless at the first two arcade games I/we (that's my aunt and I) tried--that included dolphin racing, just for the record --our luck finally turned at the "Hook a Duck" booth. Never mind that every game at that booth wins a prize. I worked hard and my lovely duck, George, was the result. He was willing to pose for a picture but he's, uh, currently visiting relatives so no picture. He's bigger and fluffier than all of these ducks:

This guy operates the booth. How gracious of him to pose for a photo!

The bad news: I was really hoping to find a pinball machine in honor of Tommy. Who's Tommy? Yes, that's right. Sadly, I saw no pinball anywhere, just crazy modern video games. Where have all the classics gone? Sigh.

The day in Brighton ended well, if tiringly. A seatmate on the train ride down told us of the best fish and chips in the world, located just steps away from the Brighton train station. Well, it wasn't steps. In fact, if felt like miles and it was down a large hill (only really problematic when it came time to go back up). But oh, it was worth it. And I don't even especially like fish and chips. I mean, I don't especially like the fish. Love the chips.

One endless walk to the train station later and our Bright(on) day was over. Fortunately, there were more adventures to come and don't worry, I'll be writing about all of them.**

Up next: the theatre post. It has to be.

Er, one last note: I've debated writing with British spellings instead of American for these England-centered posts. Would that make me delightfully quirky or ridiculously pretentious? I'm guessing the second. Note the American spellings.

*Spellcheck tries to correct this word to either miniseries or trichinosis. What?
**Don't even try to tell me you weren't worried.