There's more to Summer than sunbathing!

How to ride the heat waaaaave!
There are many strange phenomena that we experience (or hear tell of) from time to time; crop circles, tornados, viewers VOLUNTARILY voting for Jedward during X-Factor - but the last few weeks have seen the ressurection of an occurence that used to happen in days of yore.  Britain is actually having a Summer.  A real, proper Summer.  The sort which means that you simply have to eat ice-cream every day.  The sort where it becomes too hot to sleep at night, so one opens the windows in desperation and then stays up till dawn anyway trying to rid the bedroom of the sixy-eight flying daddy long-legs which have flown in.  It is really rather hot! We are prone to start complaining about it because that's what we do best in Britain; we grumble about the weather.  But it's a great opportunity to indulge in Summer activities, many of which are weather-dependent.  If you're coming to Brighton & Hove in the next couple of weeks or if you're already actually here, chances are you're going to get to experience weather warm enough to warrant lying on the beach with your towel and your Kindle for long, lazy afternoons, which is actually very nice.  It IS probably tempting to just hit the beach and stay there; well, why not?  It's hot, you've got the sea to cool off in and let's face it, this is probably the only chance you'll actually get to lie on a beach in the UK and not secretly wish you'd brought a jumper with you for some time (given that this is our first official heatwave in seven years). 
  Well, there are a few reasons why lying on the beach all day long, although understandable, might not be the best way to experience the lovely Summery weather here.  Firstly, you might burn.  Sorry to sound like your mother, but it's true.  Being a redhead, I have succumbed to the 'well it's breezy and doesn't feel that hot!' illusions which have seen me resembling a lobster within an hour.  If you're going to lie on the pebbles, please take your factor 30 (minimum), put something on your head (apart from sunglasses) and take a break in the middle of the day.
  Secondly, it'll be rammed.  I mean, really packed!  It can actually become quite a good game: you get ten points for every person you manage not to injure with your flip-flops every time you go to/return from the sea/pier/ice-cream stand/bar. (You only get five points for managing not to injure individuals with your crocs as crocs don't have the tendency to fly off your feet without warning).  If you fancy a teensy bit more space, but still want to experience Summer at its hot, sweaty, sunburnt best, I have a few more suggestions for you, all of which are fun, different and not mind-bogglingly expensive. 

Check out a local vineyard - and have a free winetasting!
Okay, the South of France Sussex is not.  But we have a few excellent vineyards tucked away in our lovely countryside which, by car, is very accessible from the town.  It can make a lovely break to escape the hustle of the hot city and head into literally greener pastures to check out our local wines, which are of a very high quality (I can personally vouch for this!). You can head out, learn about the wine-making process, get a good tasting under your belt and take a bottle (or two) away with you to chill in the fridge and enjoy in the evening sunshine later.  Just writing that has made me want to scrap this article and head out right now to one of the following:

Highdown Vineyard:  Includes wine tours and tastings from £10.50 per person for groups of 20 or more, or £12.50 per individual for smaller groups: call for details and dates.  It is located in Ferring, West Sussex and offers red, white and rose wine.   01903 500663.

I've included details of this one because they offer FREE wine tastings if you call them to let them know you're coming and - primarily - because of the name.  I mean who would not want to visit Breaky Bottom Vineyard??  Located in the South Downs, about twenty minutes drive from Brighton, it specialises in sparkling wines. Tel:01273 476427.  Email:

Court Garden is located in the picturesque countryside surrounding the quintessentially English village of Ditchling.  It also specialises in sparkling white and rose wines and conducts tours and tastings throughout the Summer until the end of September.  Morning tours start at 11:00am and afternoon tours at 3:00pm there is a charge of £12 per person, the tour lasts about an hour and a half. There is absolutely no obligation to buy, but for the convenience of those who can't get through the weekend without a bottle, some stock will be available. Tel: 01273 844 479.  Email:

Have a different kind of heatwave!
Who says you have to stay on dry land?  One of the best things about Brighton & Hove is being so close to the sea.  But when it's hot it can be a lot better to be either in or on it.  Being in it requires some nerve (it's still flipping cold, even when it's scorching out...but once you're in it's great!).  But a boat trip/mini cruise to indulge in a spot of fishing - you can cook your catch later that evening on the barbie - can be a really memorable day out.  Luckily, we have Brighton Marina right on our doorstep and from there you can book anything from an hours mini-cruise on a boat to an eight-hour excursion to Beachy Head for a fishing trip.  If you're having a hen or stag party or if there is a larger group of you, it can be as cheap as (fish and) chips too; an eight-hour day trip leaving from the Marina to Beachy Head for fishing costs £500 for a group of twelve; that's just £41 each for a whole day of fun on the sea!  Don't forget your sunscreen, don your lifejacket and head out on the ocean wave, much to the envy of everyone else overheating on the pebbles.   For more info, have a look at, Email:,  Tel: Office: 01273 585372, Mobile: 07850 707572 

Unleash your inner fish!
If you'd rather be IN the water, head along to Hove Lagoon where they have fantastic water sports facilities!  Full tuition is provided for children and adults alike, along with wetsuits and all equipment.  Fancy your hand at windsurfing?  Private one-to-one tuition starts from £55 for adults and £35 for children.  The good thing is that you can learn within the safety of the lagoon without having to battle the waves and currents of the sea.  You can also learn to hone your skills on a stand-up paddleboard or master the 'wakeboard' - yes, I had to look that one up too!  No previous experience is necessary and they are a fully inspected centre by the Royal Yachting Association and AALA.  As well as tuition, the Lagoon hires out kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to take on the sea from £10...not allowed in rough weathers and only to be used by responsible adults/accompanied children!  Give them a call to find out more and arrange a bit of adventure.  They're open till October and are usually very busy in the Summer so best to call a few days in advance if you fancy a lesson!  Tel: +44 (0)1273 424842

Go to the gym after this one.
Okay...this is the best one (I think).  How COOL would this be to do?  How nICE to spend an afternoon (see what I did there?) MAKING YOUR OWN ICE-CREAM!!  I love ice-cream.  It rocks.  And so does this idea: simply go along to Cloud 9 in The Laines, Brighton and spend some time mixing up your two chosen ice-cream flavours from a range including blue cheese and chocolate-chilli!  Then you get to take home two 500ml tubs of your creations, all for the bargainous price of £25 each!  Who needs Mr Whippy when you can have something far more exciting?  Tel: 01273 723020.  Email:

Have a flutter!
Brighton has a race-course.  Many people forget this fact when they visit and also forget what a very fun day out it is, especially if your horse comes in!  Summer season is well underway and there are regular meets until October.  Prices are varied to allow for all budgets: access to the track and Grandstand is just £15 for the day (accompanied under-sixteens are allowed in free).  The 'top' package is priced just £35 and includes admission to the Premier Enclosure, a behind-the-scenes tour of the course, a £5 tote bet, raceday programme, a welcome drink and - very helpful - free parking! (Please note that the £35 package needs to be booked at least 5 days in advance of the race meeting you want to attend). Ladies Day is on August 8th (Best Dressed Lady wins a black and white diamond necklace!), Evening Race is on Thursday 25th July, the Family Racing Day - get the kids involved! - is on Sunday 1st September and regular afternoon race meetings are listed all throughout Summer.  There are other special events too but it would take a lot to list them all here so check out the website.  Go and have a flutter and scream yourselves silly as your horse (hopefully) crosses the line! Check out Brighton Racecourse and place your odds. Tel: 01273 603580.  Email:

So there you have it...some wine, watersport fun, ice-cream indulgence and a good day at the races; all fun, all accessible and all a refreshing change to sunbathing!


Posted 28th Jul 2013

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