On the train to Brighton yesterday, David asked me when I first saw the beach. It took some remembering, but I realized that, quite sadly, the very first time I had ever set my bare feet on seaside sand was when I was all of eleven years old.
As a little kid in Russia, I didn't have many beach holidays. My parents worked hard and had no time to gallivant around the world. My very first beach trip was to Gotland, a Swedish island, when we had lived in Sweden for about four years. But the seaside that has remained superglued to my memories as My First Beach is another: the sandy beach of Southern Italy that I first saw at thirteen, falling in love with what would become my home country for six years, almost decade from then.
I have always been a beach bunny, aside from the fact that my Twilight-inspired skin colour means I tend to fry like a Fourth of July barbecue, even in May sun. Which means that most of the time, you can find me in the shade, soaking up the sunny delight without the cancer-inducing rays. I have spent five summers living on a Tuscan beach - when I finished uni in May or June, I'd head off to work at a resort until school started up again in September. This is where I met David and made memories for life. If I have to think of one time in my life when I was truly happy, those summers were it. Since then, the beach has taken on a special mening for me. David is the same: if there's a beach there, we're happy.
When I moved to London, I was convinced that this city had everything. Every good thing on the planet, London had it - except the beach. I was ready to give up and succumb to a beach-less experience, except for my annual beachy holiday. But then I discovered Brighton, which is literally The. Best. Place. Ever.
This is a city - an actual city, not a tiny Italian village - that has Starbucks, an amusement park and H&M. It's also insanely gorgeous. And right by the sea. In the summer, Brighton is buzzing with people, everything comes to life and there's a general relaxed, chilled-out atmosphere (lots of people bring their dogs to the beach - none of that stuffy "no pets allowed" crap here). The sunset over the pier is mind-blowing (or maybe it just reminds me of Santa Monica pier). The best thing? All of this wonderfulness is just an hour away from London.
I won't lie to you: we're thinking of moving here one day.
Pictures by me