How much more fun can this little boy have, on his big day out on Brighton Pier? His mum, Faith Bleasdale is the author of several bestselling novels and her writing has also appeared in the Girls’ Night In series (Penguin) and in The Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide to Paris, London, New York and Rome. She is also the author of an autobiography about her son Xavier, who  has Downs Syndrome.

I am a bit of a champion of the traditional British seaside holiday. I am a little nostalgic about them and also think that in the current economic climate it makes sense for us to strip back to basics. It might not have the glamour of the Caribbean but the English seaside holiday has a lot going for it. Not just sticks of rock, donkeys & ‘kiss me quick’ hats, but fun for all the family which can be affordable too.

My toddler, Xavier and I recently took a weekend break to Brighton in November. Of course it was cold – not a traditional seaside time of year  – but it was also sunny and dry, so the toddler and I decided to go to see what fun Brighton Pier had to offer.

The Pier’s history dates back to 1823 but of course today it’s a very different entity, now. At one point there was a concert hall, and in 1932 the Pier had its own Dodgems and Big Wheel. If you want to know more, you can read all about its history here.

As Xavier and I made our way onto the pier, it really was breathtaking. It’s a beautiful construction, and  it all feels like walking back in time – although as the neon flashing lights of the amusements begin to beckon us I came back to the present.

Xavier loved the loud music and the flashing lights of the amusement arcades and as we played some of the penny machines, I tried to ignore the fact that I might have just introduced my three-year-old son to gambling!

We moved through to the outdoor fairground rides and luckily there were height restrictions so the scariest ride I had to go on was a Carousel – with  an amazing view of the sea. My child shrieked with infectious delight as we spun around slowly. The rides were far from expensive and we were occupied for an hour for about £10.00.

I recognise that this was because my child was only three, but also you could easily restrict your child to one ride each and spend the rest of the time looking at the view, and running along the pier watching the seagulls swooping which Xavier also enjoyed doing.

We met a friend and headed to Palm Court for fish and chips. Of course no visit to any British seaside resort is complete without the traditional British fare. Palm Court is a lovely restaurant situated on the pier (by no means the only place to eat but the most comfortable in my opinion), and the food was delicious and again relatively inexpensive. Portions were generous & Xavier tucked into his heartily (as did we), but we had the added bonus of a decent glass of Champagne to wash it down. The staff were friendly, my child ate an enormous lunch and had ice cream all the while with a view of the sea.

After lunch we ran (the toddler), and walked (my friend and I, with our tartan Vivienne Westwood bags strapped to the pram), on the pier again. This time Xavier chased the seagulls while I had a slight panic about him or me getting pecked – however, it was a lovely, slightly old-fashioned way to spend a day. He loved every minute of it!

Brighton itself is a lovely city, much featured in our book, The Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide to Paris, London, New York and Rome, so if you are looking for somewhere to go, then check it out, as Xavier and I highly recommend it.


Brighton can be reached by train (in about an hour) from Victoria Station in central London. Advance fares can be as low as under £10 return, off-peak. 

Music: Come Fly With Me  by Elia Bel at Foghorn Records.


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Holiday Goddess. Travel for Less.