nature / Storytelling

Folklore Thursday: Sea and Sussex

I was lucky enough to visit Brighton recently – one of my favourite cities, and my home for a decade. I was once told that Brighton was cursed by a witch who said that anyone who lives there will be unable to truly leave.

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While I’ve been unable to find any evidence of this, there’s certainly a magic to the place that draws me back. (Brighton was also home to’witch queen’, Doreen Valiente, whose artefacts you can see at Preston Manor – though I have yet to visit). There’s a spirit of independence, in line with the Sussex mantra, “We wunt be druv.”

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If you’re into nature worship, watching the murmuration over the West Pier is an uplifting experience. Sunsets over the have brought me many moments of joy.

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Seagull City

Then there are the seagulls – so integral to the town that the football team is nicknamed after them. The seagull is apparently a sign that you should forget the past and take a new perspective – which is apt for Brighton.

Though they are much maligned, I always find seagulls impressive – if with antisocial tendencies. They are expert chip thieves, and prey on unaware visitors, foolishly eating their fish and chips on the beach without a hand firmly clamped over their fish. I’ve found that a steely gaze and firm hand on your food helps to keep it safe.

While seagulls can shred binbags, littering the place, they also feast on the litter left behind by equally antisocial tourists. Some people seem to feel no shame in visiting a beautiful beach (that is swept every morning) and discarding wildlife-harming refuse. The seagulls help clear up as much as they create mess – and the sound of seagulls always relaxes me, reminding me that I’m by the seaside.

Garden of Delights

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Pavilion Gardens is another favourite spot, with glorious flowers, birds,and squirels (along with rats this time though I didn’t get any pictures of them). This ‘jailbreak’ squirrel was fearless.

The Pavilion itself is a thing of beauty.

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I was intrigued to learn about Brighton’s lucky stones on the Pavilion website. Coincidentally, I’d been searching for hag stones on Brighton beach (and found two, though one has a pebble lodged in the hole that I don’t want to remove as it looks pretty).

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Brighton has long attracted people looking to escape their past and live their dreams. The Catalyst Club does a wonderful job of finding Brighton’s most fascinating storytellers and gathering them together to share their passions.

Devilish influence is also linked to Brighton – and as a city that was created for pleasure and healing, it’s no wonder Brighton has ever-growing myths.

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