I was born in Brighton, UK, but didn’t stay there long. Instead, I grew up just outside the small market town of Romsey, near Southampton. Life in Hampshire was perfectly pleasant – not too busy, not too quiet.
Southampton wasn’t a place I’d visit much (except in my teenage shopping days), preferring to spend time in the New Forest or the cathedral city of Winchester instead. I went to sixth form college in the latter, at one of the biggest schools in the country.
When it came to thinking about university, I wasn’t too keen but knew if I went, it would be back in Brighton.
I had been fascinated with Brighton since I was a child – the ornate buildings, the seaside promenade, the pier with so many 2p machines. My paternal grandparents lived in Seaford, just a short hop down the coast, so we visited the area often.
Although not originally planning to actually go to university, I did finally end up there after a year travelling around New Zealand. While my experience at the University of Sussex wasn’t a good memory, living in Brighton was. I absolutely loved it. I loved being close to the sea, the easy navigation of the city, the bright pier lights, the crazy weather, the beach huts, even the tourists.
My second and third years of university were spent living in tiny, and slightly decrepit, studio apartment on the Kings Road. It wasn’t much but the independence and location were just incredible. It got better still when JR moved in with me, a Canadian I had met during a brief holiday in New Zealand.
Brighton and East Sussex
For such a large place, it was always surprising to me that it was very easy to escape Brighton when needed. Inland, the housing disappears reasonably quickly, to give way to lush rolling hills scattered with sheep. Smaller resort towns line the coast to the east, each with their own character and varied demographics.
A few months into university I got a job in Seaford, the hometown of my grandparents. It was 45 minutes away on the bus or 30 on the train. Most of my university acquaintance thought I was crazy to want a job, let alone one so far away. The truth of it though was that it worked out better than I ever could have imagined.
Postcards of Home
My job turned into a rotating one, with opportunities to also work in Newhaven, Lewes and Peacehaven. I explored East Sussex in a way I never would have done otherwise, met some fantastically good friends and spent precious time with family. And, of course, with JR at my side, I began to see the area more like a tourist would.
From those endless green hills and relentless ocean to wind-battered beach huts and chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters, East Sussex is somewhere I will always call home. I may have only lived there a few years, but I am always drawn back. I hope through these photos, you can see why. Here are my favourite photos from three years in Brighton and East Sussex, UK.
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One half of the Canadian/British couple behind Off Track Travel, Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure. JR and Gemma are currently based in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada