Well, it’s finally happened – I turned 21. Not sure how, though, since I still feel 12. But you know, that’s how science and stuff works.
To celebrate the milestone birthday, I went to the sunny seaside town of Brighton with my mother and gran before meeting with some friends who lived close by. One in particular, Emi, is an internet friend of mine who originally lives in Arizona, United States. She’s currently in Brighton for a few months on an international study course. We have known each other for almost four years and when she told me she was going to be there studying for a few months and recommended I came to visit, it made perfect sense to take the celebrations of my birth to the ever popular tourist town. I also have a few friends in England who write for the same website as me, so to meet up with Lizzy, Hannah and Verity and invite them along to party with us was a wise idea.
After the hell of a journey from South Wales to Brighton and a deadly walk to our hotel (we underestimated the distance. A lot.) we arrived at the Holiday Inn, our home for the next 48 hours. Earlier in the week, we called to try and get a twin room rather than a double as my mother has recently had an injury which involves the use of crutches for a short period of time and needs the space. She mentioned it was my big birthday and the upgraded us complimentary to an executive room, which was a present in itself. It meant that I was blessed with a king sized bed for the weekend and my mother and gran had a fairly decent sized place to slumber themselves.
Shortly after check in and dumping our stuff, Emi arrived outside the hotel and I headed downstairs to meet her. We squealed like two little school girls and ran to embrace one another, with other guests laughing and smiling as it was clear we hadn’t seen each other for a while if not at all. To finally meet someone I grew up speaking to online was such a blessing and I can confirm she’s just as an amazing person in person as she is online. Sorry Nev, no Catfish to reel in here!
Following the meet with Emi, we all headed in a taxi to Churchill Square where we met Lizzy and Hannah before venturing around some shops. Churchill Square shopping center is much more lavish in comparison to St David’s in Cardiff, though for size it’s nowhere near as big. Still, I always enjoy exploring new places when it comes to retail therapy. Shopping done and we hopped into another taxi and finally made it to the place I had been anticipating for months – Brighton Pier.
The pier is honestly so pretty and full of the fun fair lifestyle you see in the movies; from different kiosks to attractions, shops and of course, the rides. We headed to Palmers Court for the classic British delicacy of fish and chips. Being from America and only arriving here two weeks ago, Emi had yet to try this well-known meal and so I had to film her reaction for both my vlog and a video to put on Facebook. Needless to say, she very much enjoyed it, even if the fish was too big to finish. I just stuck with a tray of chips, being vegetarian and totally oblivious to the fact that there were onion rings. Had I been aware, I definitely could have demolished some since the long journey had definitely got me feeling hungry.
The sky’s gradient became darker as Emi and I wandered the pier and watched all the rides, making notes of the ones we wanted to check out the next day. There were a variety to choose from – ones that spun you around and around, turned you upside down, threw you from side to side and even did a loop-de-loop; we were fascinated by them all and were eager to get a wristband for unlimited access to them all. Before we knew it, day one was done and we said our goodbyes but not before pre-arranging plans for the next day.
The following morning I was awoken from my slumber by my mother who greeted me with a ‘Happy Birthday’ in a sing-song voice, before piling up my cards and presents on the king sized bed I had slept in for the past eight hours, which by the way was such a good night’s sleep. I opened my presents and was thrilled with everything I had; from makeup to jewellery, books and even American chocolate – I was definitely thankful for everything. My gran then woke up and greeted me on my special day before I proceeded to open the presents she had bought me. We then headed downstairs for breakfast to gain fuel for our day ahead of us.
Filled up on breakfast, we flagged down another taxi and headed back to Churchill Square where we met Emi and trekked to The Lanes, where we visited the ice cream parlour, Boho Gelatos – a place where British YouTube couple, Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes had recommended to their viewers – and tried some homemade ice cream. Honestly, it was the best ice cream I had ever tasted. The flavours were so pungent and didn’t taste artificial in the slightest. I highly recommend visiting there if you’re ever in Brighton.
Ice cream devoured and we found ourselves at Choccywoccydoodah – the famous chocolate shop in Brighton who then ventured out to London. If you aren’t aware of this place, it’s so well known for its chocolate art that it has its own TV show. They cater for the stars, politicians – you name it, they’ve probably served them. It was here my mother had ordered my birthday cake as we are both fans of the show, so it was pretty exciting to be able to go there. Of course, we had to have a nosey around and though it’s an incredible place, it’s a very small store with many tourists waiting to visit, so it was a very tight squeeze. For someone who doesn’t like small places, it was slightly scary but the fantastic edible art distracted me from the small defined space.
Souvenirs bought and cake picked up, it was time for yet another taxi journey, this time heading to Talk of Tea where we would be devouring sandwiches, drinking cups of tea and celebrating with cake. It was at this point that Hannah and Verity joined us for the afternoon tea and everyone became acquainted with one another, before the big (and embarrassing) moment where a candle was lit and ‘Happy Birthday’ was sung to me. It was an awkward 20 seconds for me before making a wish and blowing out the candle, but it was soon over.
After the tea, my friends and I decided to head back to the pier where we went on rides. I was intrigued to try the haunted house ride and though not great with jump scares, Emi was a trooper and accompanied on the ride. Our screams could be heard from inside of the ride – hers full of fear and mine full of amusement. It got to the point where I found it so funny that I was in silence laughing and almost incapable of breathing. The kind of laugh that makes your sides feel they’re about to split. We all decided to take a turn on the bumper cars and that’s where we found out why Emi has her license and I do not. I absolutely suck at driving dodgem cars, so I dread to think what I’d be like at the real thing!
From time on the rides to time in the arcades, we did a bit of everything that tourists do before saying our goodbyes to Hannah and Verity who needed to get home. Emi and I walked back to the hotel to meet once again with my family before heading to the i360 – a brand new attraction known as a vertical cable car, taking you over 450 feet into the air and giving you an incredible 360 view of Brighton. After a short period of waiting, we headed into the viewing deck along with many other visitors and were hoisted up into the air and above all buildings. The views were magnificent and breathtakingly beautiful. There was a bar on board and Emi and I decided to treat ourselves to a (very expensive) glass of champagne, only to find out it was a taste to my disliking. Oh well, you’re only 21 once, right?
Following our time on the i360, Emi and I quickly caught a bus back to her place for her to give me the present she had bought me (a fall scented candle from Bath and Body Works in America) which she had previously forgot to bring with her, then headed back to the hotel for a meal in the hotel’s restaurant – Stock Burger – which was delicious. By the time we had finished eating, the night was getting old and knowing we didn’t have much time left together, Emi and I headed back to my room where we sat out on the balcony and did what we do best – talked. Having known each other for four years, we’d definitely been through a lot together, even though our friendship being solely based on our online presence. We talked about the past, the present and things we plan to do in the future. It was so nice to be able to have some time with her and do what we normally do but face to face, rather than behind a keyboard and a million miles between us.
The day was done and we said our goodbyes, giving each other a big hug and promising to meet up again soon, with Emi agreeing to visit Wales before heading back to Arizona at the end of the year.
And just like that, my time in Brighton had come to an end. I tucked myself into the king sized bed and listened to music before falling asleep, trying my best to get as much shut-eye possible before the long and tiring journey that followed the next day.
This was without a doubt the best birthday ever and an amazing way to kick off my time as a 21-year-old. I’d like to thank everyone who spent the weekend with me and everyone who sent me well wishes – it was the best time and a weekend away I had needed for so long. Here’s to 21!