Words by Emma Norris

As we enter the second month into our third national lockdown, my flatmates and I have been quickly running out of ways to entertain ourselves in the seemingly endless, late winter days. As we gradually approach spring and having already exhausted quizzes and banana bread, we have turned to the outside world more and more to find sources of fun to brighten up our days. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful city, and it is only in recent weeks that I have begun to appreciate all that Brighton has to offer, with its gorgeous beaches, rural walks, coffee shops and endless weird and wonderful locations to liven up our time in lockdown. With this in mind, I am going to share some of my favourite things to do in Brighton right now to add a bit of joy and variety to these pandemic days.

Above everything else, exploring local and independent coffee shops is a real favourite of mine right now! I have lived in Hanover, just outside of central Brighton, for over six months, but it is only in recent weeks that I have taken the time to explore all the fun things it has to offer right outside of my front door, the top has to be its array of small, independent cafes that continue to offer takeaway food and drink. On a dull and cold day, nothing excites me more than taking a walk to ‘flourpot, ‘village’ or ‘the open market’ for a much-needed caffeine boost and a bit of daily exercise. It is amazing that we have so much to discover around us; wherever you may be in the city, you are bound to be surrounded by many of these spots and I find myself constantly discovering new ones. Not only does this liven up my days, but it also offers a great opportunity to support small, local and independent businesses who need our support now more than ever.

On the back of this, I have found that it is only now that I am beginning to appreciate the vast array of green spaces we have in Brighton and Hove. Pre Covid-19, I had rarely ventured further than the likes of Stammer park and the Downs, places which I am sure are familiar to most Sussex students. Now, however, left with tons of excess time, I have begun to discover many new places that offer a much-needed break from my laptop screen, allowing for a moment to take in some fresh air and appreciate the beauty of the scenery of Brighton. A personal favourite has to be the racecourse, which can be accessed from multiple parts of Brighton and boasts acres of empty green space. There is nothing quite like adventuring up there at dawn or dusk and watching the sunrise or set against the sea. Wrap up warm, take a flask of tea and allow yourself a moment of freedom and bliss away from the stresses of virtual university! Other good spots include Queen’s Park and Preston Park, both spots that we have discovered are full of life and, perhaps more importantly, plenty of dogs. With every day that has passed, walks have begun to feel more like a chore than a source of entertainment and so, exploring a variety of places does brighten up the days. It is amazing how much a change of scenery and some time outside can boost your mood!

Anyone who has visited Brighton knows how lucky we are to live next to such a glorious seafront and recently, as the days get slowly longer, I have found walks along the coast and down to the Marina or into Hove to be the best tonic for hours spent on zoom. Even on a rainy day (although this does require an umbrella!), spending some time wrapped up next to the sea does allow for a chance of quiet reflection away from the walls that many of us are right now confined to. A favourite spot of mine is the beach in Kemptown, just next to Brighton Marina, which offers a quieter location to enjoy the sea. On a particularly grey day, I decided to take a morning dip in the sea with my girlfriend. This may sound crazy to some, but it was the refreshing activity that I needed and, on a day in which the sea is calm, it is surprisingly warm and undoubtedly offers a bit of variation to the usual mornings spent in bed!

Finally, this activity is more niche than others, but my flatmates and I have found that an old skateboard or a pair of roller skates provide a surprising amount of entertainment. In October, we bought our flatmate a pair of roller skates as a birthday gift and they have proved their worth in recent weeks, especially as we reach the warmer months of spring. To escape from the routine walks that we have been inclined to take, these skates offer us a chance to get out of the house, glide along the seafront, get in some light exercise and, most importantly, have a much-needed laugh! Yes, a group of 20-year-olds skating quite badly through town might seem slightly embarrassing, but I do feel like the real beauty of Brighton is its acceptance of the weird and wonderful, especially during a global pandemic.  

The temptation to stay in bed and let the days pass by is so high right now. I used to pride myself on my ability to get up early and get on with a productive day, but I have found that this motivation has completely deteriorated through this term. Because of this, I think that setting plans and giving yourself a reason to get out of bed in the morning is one of the best ways you can try to look after yourself. It is easier said than done, but there is so much joy to get from a coffee and walking date with a friend, putting your headphones in and walking along the beach, or simply just exploring the roads and parks around you. Adding some variety to your days really does make this time so much more tolerable and, in a city such as Brighton, there are always new and exciting things to find. Lockdown has been tough, particularly on students, and so it is so important right now to take some time away from university work, get outside and switch off for a bit. Adventuring into the outside world might not be the answer to all of your problems, but it offers the opportunity to escape from the confinement of lockdown and brighten up your days a little. I cannot recommend exploring Brighton in these times enough.

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