Friday was a truly brilliant day. My sister and I were invited down to Brighton to watch Pulp Fiction (my favourite film of all time, by the way, but you already knew that) on the beach at Brighton’s Big Screen, and check out the VIP ibis Sweet Bed™ experience. As if I was going to say no to that? Here’s how the day went down, scribbled in real time on my phone.
8.00: I’m up and reluctantly out of bed. Like every morning, as soon as he hears my bedroom door open, one of my dogs breaks through the baby gate and trots upstairs to greet me. Little shit.
8.20: A hasty bowl of Coco Pops later and I’m getting dressed and throwing some overnight things into my backpack, because I’m terribly disorganised and obviously couldn’t have done this last night. Sigh.
9.40: Doing my makeup on the train – well practised from my daily commute. A woman in the seats across from us buys a ticket from the conductor and is SO rude to him. I pause my mascara application to exchange incredulous glances with Rachel and spend the next 10 minutes giving dis bitch some serious side eye.
10.52: Coco Pops haven’t done much for hunger, so we pop into WH Smith at Liverpool Street station and buy Wheat Crunchies. They cost £1.05. WHAT?!
11.15: We board our fourth (and final) train of the day at Farringdon. The only vacant seats are crap, facing a scuffed blank wall and the train smells funny. Joy.
11.22: Work gets in touch for the third time this morning. I remind them for the third time that I’m off today, I’ll deal with it on Monday. Sigh.
12.08: The guy across from us gets off at Gatwick airport so we move to his seat – much better. More leg room and we can put our feet up, but the train still smells funny.
12.28: I stretch and stave off a yawn. Rachel says my armpits smell nice. That’s good to know.
12.42: We arrive in Brighton, and Rachel’s ticket doesn’t work in the barriers. She is suitably unimpressed at having to queue for a person to let her through.
12.53: We’re in an independent Mexican restaurant called La Choza for lunch. The decor is awesome. I have a hibiscus agua fresca and Baja style fish burrito bowl and it’s bloody wonderful. Rachel has pulled pork tacos with none of the best bits. Who doesn’t like guacamole?!
13.20: As I pay, I get chatting to the waiter who asks what we’re up to tonight. We quote Pulp Fiction at one another, and as soon as we’re out the door Rachel exclaims how cute he was. Yes, yes he was.
13.35: Wandering down North Laine, we spot a display of David Bowie bits in the window of a shop called Pussy (…) and I pop in to buy the mug. I collect mugs.
13.38: A few doors down from Pussy (for goodness sake, really), another shop has a dress in the window covered with a luchador Mexican wrestling mask print. It is SO cool and I want it, but don’t bother going in because I know they won’t have it in my size.
13.43: We take a look in Bert’s Home Store, and spot those light up letter things (you know, these) in white wood and decide they’d look good on the mantelpiece. It’s mum and dad’s anniversary tomorrow, so we pick up an M (Mandy), and I (Ian) and an ampersand. Good daughter deed done.
13.50: We walk past a tattoo studio and get to talking about matching tattoos again. It’s something we’ve wanted to do since before Rachel was even old enough (she’s 21 now!), but for whatever reason not got round to it. Today, we decide, it’s happening.
14.05: We check in to the ibis Brighton hotel on Queen Street and head to our room for a short chill and phone charge. We’re on the top floor, it’s a pretty nice view. While we sit around, I have a little Google for walk-in tattoo studios nearby but we don’t have much luck.
14.30: On the way back out, just down from the hotel, we spot Intro Tattoo Studio on the other side of the road and cross over to see if they do walk ins. They’re busy at the moment, but book us in for 5pm. Sweet!
14.45: I spot a Boots and we need a few bits so in we go. I need an eyebrow pencil, Rachel needs some pressed powder, and we also grab a tube of Bepanthen in preparation for our tattoos and an anniversary card for mum and dad.
15.00: Having heard so much about the Lanes, I was really looking forward to seeing them but feel distinctly underwhelmed. There’s mostly just an awful lot of jewellers, which doesn’t interst me at all. There are a few good shops though, obviously Choccywoccydoodah is a spectacle and there’s also a store where you can customise and build your own string lights (these things. I’m not very good at explaining) which is pretty cool.
15.40: We’ve ended up at the seafront. I give some change to a guy building a sand sculpture of two dogs, and we sit and eat sugary hot doughnuts on the pier. Mostly end up eating our own hair thanks to the wind, but that’s all part and parcel of seaside doughnuts, right?
16.20: Rachel spots a DDR machine in the pier arcade and we say ‘fuck it’ and have a go, despite it being close to a decade since I last went on one. We select medium difficulty, but it turns out I’ve totally still got it and regret not choosing difficult.
16.30: We’re walking up East Street and Rachel says ‘was that PewDiePie we just passed?!’. I turn around and yes, it is PewDiePie. I’m not into YouTubers, but I guess that’s pretty cool. Didn’t know he was from round here, but just count myself lucky we haven’t bumped into any of the YouTubers I actively don’t like who do live around here!
16.40: We’re a bit early for the tattoo appointment, so we pop into the gorgeous North African inspired cafe/bar next door, The Blue Man. I’d quite like an alcoholic drink, but I know from experience that drinking within 24 hours of getting tattooed makes me bleed like no one’s business so settle for a hot chocolate.
17.15: Our artist is outside having a smoke so we wait. Rachel says her tummy feels funny and isn’t sure if it’s because she’s nervous or hungry. I think she’s nervous. This is her first time, and all.
17.30: Crunch time. She says ‘oh, it’s actually not that ba-OW OW OW!’ and nearly breaks the bones in my hand from squeezing so hard. Bless. She doesn’t cry or flinch, though. Good girl.
17.40: My turn. Pretty uneventful, nowhere near the most painful tattoo I’ve had and we’re soon half-limping out of the studio with our sweet ass matching diplodocus tattoos. Mission accomplished!
17.55: We are both big fans of Zizzi, so head there for dinner. To our dismay, a handwritten sign has been stuck on the door saying that they’ve had to close due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’, so, disappointed, we settle for Ask Italian round the corner instead.
18.20: Ending up in Ask turns out to be the best thing that’s happened so far today. There are an old couple sitting two empty tables away from us, and the woman makes a joke with the waiter. I catch her eye and smile, and she says ‘would you girls like to join us? You’re being very unsocial sitting there on your phones not talking to each other’ (hashtag millenial problems). I say ‘you know what, yes, we’ll take you up om that’ and we move over to sit with them. They are AMAZING. We spend a good hour chatting to them – their names are Hede (pronounced Hay-dee) and Ian (our dad’s name!) – and we absolutely love them. They’re so full of life and we wish they could be our adoptive grandparents. They’re off to a gig tonight. Ugh, love them.
19.28: We give Hede and Ian big hugs goodbye and thank them for a great time. Emosh. We nip downstairs for a wee, but there are a bunch of young girls mucking around in the loos and we give it five minutes before I decide we’re going to be late to meet everyone else for the cinema so we’ll have to hold it.
19.40: We arrive at Brighton’s Big Screen and director Bill Murray shows us around (no, not that Bill Murray, but this guy is honestly cooler). There are loads of food and drink vendors dotted around the perimeter, and we squeal a litte bit when we’re led to the VIP ibis Sweet Bed™ area. It’s seriously fucking cool. We pose for cursory Instagram photos, kick off our shoes and get right in bed.
20.15: Everyone who walks past the VIP section is looking at us. Not sure whether to be smug or embarrassed.
20.20: The film starts and all the chattering and ambient sound on the beach instantly quiets down. I try to chew my popcorn as quietly as possible. Considerate, you know. Unlike the dude some 50 feet in front of us who vapes the biggest clouds known to man which keeps blocking my view. Git.
20.40: I dare you, I double dare you, motherfucker!
20.50: I get it bro, you vape. So do I, but I’m not a dick about it. Calm your clouds.
21.02: Rachel and I decide our bladders aren’t as strong as we thought, so we reluctantly head to the portaloos for a wee before it gets busy at the interval. Thankfully, my stall has toilet roll and no piss on the seat. Don’t think you can ask for much more than that, can you?
22.00: Bill Murray brings me another vodka cranberry in bed. I love this man.
22.46: I’m a mushroom cloud laying motherfucker, motherfucker! Every time my fingers touch brain, I’m superfly TNT, I’m the guns of the Navarone!
23.08: Everyone claps at the end of the film, which for some reason makes me feel really warm and fuzzy.
23:30: The cabs are here to take us back to ibis. I’m bursting for a wee, but couldn’t face another go in the portaloos.
23.43: We take a quick detour to a corner shop over the road to buy some water, and hopefully some cling film to wrap up our ankles when we leave tomorrow but no such luck.
23.55: Rachel flicks on the TV in the room and American Dad is on and it’s one we haven’t seen before. Result.
00.15: Ibis showers are glorious. Feel so much better. I also spot plastic hygiene bags in the bathroom, and have the genius idea to cut one up as make shift cling film for our tattoos tomorrow morning until we get home.
01.01: QI is on. They’re talking about that thing where you can’t move your hand in a clockwise circle, and your foot anticlockwise. We spend a good five minutes laying in bed trying.
01.13: We admire our matching diplodocuses (diplodoci?!) one more time, snuggle down in our stupidly comfortable ibis Sweet Bed, and hit the lights.
All in all, that was a bloody amazing day. If it wasn’t obvious, we were guests of ibis for our visit – seriously, thanks for the room guys – but I would definitely, definitely go back out of my own pocket. The hotel itself was great, clean and modern and actually with a decent breakfast (hotel breakfasts in my experience nearly always suck). The ibis Sweet Bed experience at Brighton’s Big Screen is SO worth the money. It costs £40, which sounds like a lot at first glance, but that’s per bed, not per person. You could get at least four people on the bed comfortably, and there’s also a giant beanbag at the foot of each one which would do for another two. Add in the free drinks and that is honestly a bargain, cheaper than your standard Odeon or Vue ticket and a much cooler experience.
Sadly, Brighton’s Big Screen is done for this year but they’ll be back bigger and better next year (Babin’ Bill Murray was talking about plans for a two-storey VIP area!) and I know for a fact that I’ll be there with bells on.