Zara Wood, aka Woody relocated to Brighton just over 2 years ago. Previously based in London and Melbourne, here's Woody's guide to the little city she sips lattes, cycles and illustrates in. We definitely think her home's inspired her latest Topshop collection, called, See Friends.
So you've just arrived at Brighton train station. As you look down the steep hill it rests on, you can see the sea. Lovely. But first things, first. Coffee.
Head to 33 Trafalgar Street. Coffee at 33 has a multi-cultural mix of friendly baristas (Australian, Croatian and Italian) asking whether you want 3 or 4 shots of coffee. They serve only the best – Monmouth Coffee – an independently run fair trade coffee company started in the late 70s. They also do beautifully fresh mint tea, panini and fab sweet things. Soak up the effortlessly cool atmosphere on recycled coffee bean bags and plan your day.
A few doors up is Brighton's very own little design museum, otherwise know as The Lollipop Shoppe. Whether you’re decking out your home, office or looking for a special little gift, you're surrounded by future design classics.
From sleek design to brick-a-brac let's head in to the North Laines. Snoopers Paradise on Kensington Gardens is always busy, sometimes a tad pricey but great none the less. Expect to find everything from buttons to telephones, petticoats to old photos.
Make your way through the lanes and the lovely array of little independent shops. Too many to mention, but some of my favourites are: Resident Records (Kensington Gardens) for music; Pen to Paper (Sydney Street) for stationery, Hope and Harlequin (Sydney Street) for gorgeous vintage and Tribeca (Bond Street) for a touch of designer.
You’ll probably a bit shopped out by now. I suggest meandering around the Pavilion Gardens. I go through here everyday on my way to the studio. It's beautiful.
Then head to the sea front, down East Street where you'll find the Scandinavian Scoop and Crumb for fabulous artisan ice cream, Swedish open sandwiches and hot chocolate.
Just opposite is a tiny lane called Pool Valley where you'll find Last. This is the shop you imagined when you were four, perfected and made real. A cornucopia of beautifully hand crafted luggage, jewellery, hosiery and shoes. There is a very comfortable air as you walk in the shop and this feeling grows as you remain inside, surrounded by warm earthy colours, vintage fittings and gorgeous things hand made by local designers.
Be sure to find one of the two penny arcades either side of the east pier. Then stroll along the promenade but please be careful not to wander in to the bike lane. I may be forced to use my I ❤ my bike bell, as I ride Tree horn – my faithful 1986 Raleigh fold-up bike back from the studio.
The recently restored band stand on the Hove seafront is a great view point and below it you'll find La Fourchette a French café – a bit pricey but good if you fancy something more chic than just pomme frites.
There's a lovely sense of community down here. I think those of us who have relocated here feel incredibly lucky. Key to my love of this city is the independent shops, restaurants and pubs (The Forager and Coopers Cask in Hove and The Hop Poles and the Basket Makers Arms in Brighton). Due to the size of Brighton and Hove and the fact you can pretty much walk or cycle anywhere, it promotes spontaneity and seeing friends. It’s fab.