As per usual, the arrival of the new cricket season has coincided with the weather taking a definite turn for the worse. Despite the possibility of inclement conditions, Stephen and I demonstrated our support for Warwickshire County Cricket Club by following the Bears down to Hove for the County Championship match against Sussex…
Wednesday 25th April: the first day of our break sees us negotiating the long journey down to Brighton. This actually went remarkably smoothly, even with the challenge of a quick hop on the London Underground between Euston and Victoria. Southern Trains are then on hand for our link to Brighton, arriving in mid-afternoon so that I can admire the station roof constructed from glass and iron. We get our bearings and locate our guesthouse amongst the refined surroundings of Brunswick Town. The evening sees us explore backstreet Hove in search of chips, and then the monsoon arrives as rain lashes down into the night, meaning we get very wet when visiting the Neptune and the Lion & Lobster, two local pubs recommended by the Good Beer Guide.
- A lovely setting for cricket -
Thursday 26th April: it’s still a bit damp as we collect a few food supplies before making our way to the Probiz County Ground. Concern over the bowlers’ run-ups leads to a delayed start but play gets underway at mid-day with Warwickshire asked to bat. A sticky start has the Bears 13/2 – Ian Bell bowled for a duck – then Chopra and Trott put on an excellent partnership and we reach the close on 281 for 5. Stephen and I select Brighton as our evening destination this time, wandering around the highly eclectic North Laine and popping into the Lord Nelson for a relaxed pint.
- The Lord Nelson Inn, Trafalgar Street -
Friday 27th April: a day of stunning sunshine where the appeal of watching cricket at Hove (complete with deckchairs and seagulls) really shone through. I grab a few photos around The Lanes before breakfast, then we take a quick look around Hove Station (very pleasant) and almost get locked in by the ticket barrier. Over to the ground where it’s time to watch more Warwickshire batting with Jonathan Trott extending his innings to a mammoth 178. The Bears kept on grinding the runs well into the afternoon, eventually racking up 545 with Ambrose scoring 75 and Clarke 78 not out. Sussex lost a couple of wickets as the play ended on 57 for 2.
- Pavilion in Sunshine -
Saturday 28th April: my morning jaunt took me to Aldrington where the railway station was a bleak spot enclosed within grim metal railings. There was already a hint of rain in the air, so with no prospect of play before lunch we headed along the seafront to stroll along Brighton Pier. We also called in at Kemp Town on the way back, sampling a quick half in the Hand in Hand, a quirkily small little boozer. Back in Hove, there is some cricket with Warwickshire taking three quick Sussex wickets but the rain soon sets in again and we scamper for the shelter of the pavilion, meeting up with Edward to keep an eye on the football scores as Wolves draw 4-4 with Swansea. Heavy evening rain means Stephen and I once again make use of the Neptune as our regular wet weather escape.
- Brighton Pier -
Sunday 29th April: our worst fears are confirmed when the rain continues well into the morning and the match is unsurprisingly abandoned as a draw. Thankfully things ease on the afternoon to at least allow some exploring, hence we found our way to Hanover, a hilly district of Brighton notable for rows of multicoloured terraces plus a healthy selection of backstreet boozers. We tried out the Charles Napier and the Constant Service (positioned at either end of the same street) - both were very lively and doing a good trade in homecooked roast dinners. We also tried out the Evening Star, a pub from the local Dark Star Brewery not far from Brighton Station, so the day wasn't wasted.
- In the Pavilion on Soggy Sunday -
Monday 30th April: Wouldn't you know it, it's time to head home. With a final little tour of Hove just to say farewell, we check out and lug our bags up to Brighton to begin the journey back. I think Brighton and Hove as a whole made a very good first impression - it was much bigger than I'd expected and I liked the way that the different areas (Hanover, North Laine, Kemp Town etc) really did have their own individual character. Hopefully we may return in future, perhaps with the Bears as reigning County Champions!