Sunday, June 12, 2016

Two years in the UK - a celebratory day trip to Lewes and Brighton

Today marks 2 years since we flew into London from Australia. In many ways, it feels like much longer. The last year has been particularly eventful - we moved out of London to Kent, bought a car, and consequently made it from almost the bottom of the UK (Cornwall) to the top (Scotland), as well as seeing lots of places in between. I smiled when I re-read my post from last June on 'One year in London'. I spoke then about adjusting to life in a one-bed flat without a car, and it is safe to say we have since adjusted out again to life with more space and driving. Overall, I would also say that we are very settled now into life in the UK.

Lewes Castle

To mark the 2 years since our move, we ventured south yesterday to Lewes and Brighton, both in Sussex. I don't think I'd ever been to Lewes before and we were both impressed by the town, which is dominated by an impressive castle (above and below) and has a mix of attractive streets and parks.

Lewes Castle

Whilst Brighton is a hot-bed of vegan food, I knew we would struggle to get there for lunch and so directed us to Laportes in Lewes instead. Laportes is a cafe and food store with an emphasis on fresh, local, organic produce. They aren't specifically vegan or gluten-free but cater to both of those requirements if required. They also have an attractive garden at the rear of the cafe for outdoor eating when the weather permits.

Laportes lunches


We started out sitting in blazing sunshine in their garden, only to have the weather turn characteristically British and start raining mid-way through our lunch. Fortunately there are indoor and covered seating options too, which we utilised for the rest of our meal!

I ordered the vegan falafel salad, which could also come as a sandwich or roll. I am glad I went for the salad option as the mix of ingredients was impressive - salad leaves, cress, sprouts, beetroot, celery and mixed beans, along with the falafels and a tahini-lemon dressing. It was an excellent meal. Sadly, Mr Bite's cheddar, chutney and salad roll received a less positive review. He didn't think the cheese was cheddar, found the chutney insufficient, and consequently found the salad and roll components quite average.


After Lewes we made our way on to Brighton, which is an entirely different type of town. Lewes is refined and historical; Brighton contemporary and edgy. I liked the contrast although had forgotten just how busy Brighton can be when the sun is out, even if intermittently. It certainly wasn't warm enough to tempt many swimmers, although we enjoyed dipping our feet into the English channel.

Brighton beach

We had afternoon tea in Brighton, and this could and should have been a highlight of the day. Alas, it was one of those experiences that just went wrong! I'd flagged several vegan options that looked as if they should cater to Mr Bite's afternoon tea tastes as well as mine. Somewhere along the way, though, he got his heart set on a scone, and the available vegan scones were all of the 'unusual variety'. By this I mean filled with things I'd love (like goji berries and tea-soaked sultanas) but which made him wary. With hindsight, we should have abandoned the focus on scones as I'm sure he could have eaten a vegan cake quite happily. Instead, we ended up Catwalk Cakes. This isn't a vegan cafe and it doesn't specialise in scones, but it does offer a few vegan cake options and some scones and so seemed a good find.

Afternoon tea at Catwalk Cakes

Never before have I come across a vegan cake I actually dislike. Catwalk Cakes allowed for that discovery. I ordered a vanilla-raspberry loaf cake that was woefully lacking in raspberries, somehow dry (vegan cakes are never dry) and generally an all-around disappointment. I actually left half of it. Even worse, Mr Bite's scone was average too. This would have been a sad outcome anywhere, but in Brighton, with vegan cakes on every corner, it seemed a particular tragedy! 

Fortunately, things picked up again from there, as we enjoyed walking along the beachfront and I later got dinner from Loving Hut. I hadn't ventured into this vegan chain before and was interested to try one of their Asian-style meals. I opted for the mushroom chow mein with soya 'meat' pieces and was impressed both by the soya pieces and the decent quota of mushrooms and bean sprouts to noodles. Mr Bite bought a burger elsewhere (we took the meals home) and I'm pleased to say he enjoyed that too, so we both ended the day with positive eating experiences.


All in all, it was a great commemoration of our 2 years in the UK. I also have a good excuse to go back to Brighton to try some proper vegan cake...

How have you spent your weekend?

15 comments:

  1. Happy two year anniversary! I love Brighton and its vegan friendliness, so I think that's a great location to spend your anniversary day in. Weird about the cakes though, that a cake shop would make such a bad fist of vegan loaf. At least most of the rest of the food made up for it!

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    1. I think the cake shop specialised in non-vegan fancy cakes and from their trade must be good at them :P As you say, at least the rest of the food was good!

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  2. Happy Anniversary! I actually remember when you were leaving Australia!! I can't believe that was two years ago.
    Your pictures of the castle and the seaside at Brighton are beautiful. You really took me on a journey. Shame about the cake but the falafel salad looked amazing!
    Thanks so much for sharing
    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

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    1. Thanks Julie :-) I know - where did the 2 years go!

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  3. Congrats on 2 years in the UK. Sad that the cakes in Brighton were disappointing but it sounds like the rest of your trip was fantastic.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw, it was a great day out.

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  4. Wow you have really done and seens heaps in your two years in the UK. I would love to see Lewes Castle - I got to Lewes once to visit Monks House where Virginia Woolf lived and also went to Charleston where her sister lived in a nearby town - if you haven't been to Charleston and get the chance it is amazing. I never got as far as brighton but think of it as very vegan friendly from what I have read - what a shame about the afternoon tea (maybe the cake was dry because they did not have a high turnover of vegan cakes) but glad you enjoyed loving hut and ended on a high

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    1. I noted Monks House at Lewes but we didn't make it there - thanks for the recommendation for Charleston too and I think we'd be pleased to have a reason to return to the area.

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  5. I have still never been to Brighton, and I wasn't that far from it when I lived down south. I really want to make the most of visiting more British seaside resorts.

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    1. You definitely have to visit! I guess it's a bit of a trek from where you live but if you make it south at some stage, it's a quintessential town to take in.

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  6. Lovely way to celebrate. I have not been to Brighton, its on my list to do soon and D promises to take me there in the not too distant future (fingers crossed this year). I've seen the Loving Hut at VegFests but don't think I have eaten from there yet.

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    1. I think there are quite a few Loving Huts around so hopefully you can try one out in the future if you want - they are an easy veggie option. I hope you make it to Brighton too.

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  7. gosh, two years already! I am looking at your scenic photos with envy because I am reading the Harry Potter books to my daughter and so I see some Potter-y buildings there. What a shame about the cake but glad you got to try a Loving Hut. I'm a bit fascinated with Loving Huts elsewhere, we have two here in Melbourne both serving Asian foods but with different menus, so seeing other LH's around the world is always fun :)

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    1. I am quite intrigued by the LH franchise too - I always thought the stores were the same but Brighton has two and they had different menus. A varied franchise, I guess!

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  8. I empathize with moving, especially to a smaller place. We moved from Canada to the US almost 4 years ago and we went to a good-sized house to a small-ish apartment. Funnily enough, we moved 2 years ago to a slightly smaller place haha ;p
    I feel like you have travelled so much more than we have - we need to go adventuring more.
    The falafel salad looks good! Too bad Mr. Bite didn't really enjoy his meal.
    Bright Beach looks beautiful!!!
    That is really disappointing about the tea :/ At least supper made up for it. We have Loving Huts here as well, I'm not a huge fan of them, but I imagine it depends on the locations.
    Happy 2 years in England =)

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