Brighton: Oh, Mon Ethical Amour, How I’ve Missed Thee

I moved to Brighton as a fresh faced 23-year-old in 2005. I instantly fell in love with the North Laine and loved living next to a quirky little café on Tidy Street. I met The Husband in Brighton a year later and we stayed until 2012, when we decided to leave town for a sleepier village, a 3-bedroom house, a garden and were soon to have a baby on board. In other words, we got old, moved to the country and had a family. #cliché.

Today, I had a rare afternoon to myself to get holiday ready. So, I decided to head into Brighton for a solo day out. I started over in Hove for some treatments at Uniquely Organic Eco Spa, the best place I’ve found for organic beauty treatments and alternative therapies. They’ve just won Best South East Best Spa 2018 in the TMP Awards – it’s not just me who thinks they’re fab – and they totally deserve it. They’re the reason I know about Zoya nail varnishes (vegan and 6-free formula), it’s where I go for organic hot waxing (I haven’t found anywhere else that uses soil association accredited organic hot wax) and they have relaxation pods for post-treatment chilling complete with books, mindfulness colouring and guided meditations. Such a treat.

After a quick lunch and coffee in the Flour Pot I headed over to my old stomping ground – The North Laine for a browse and to run some errands.

Magazine Brighton, Trafalgar Street

First stop, Magazine Brighton selling every cool independent magazine and journal you could ever possibly want to read. I got to speak to the owner, who put it simply, “we just wanted to make somewhere that you’d want to visit”. And I do. I want and like to visit regularly; I never leave empty handed. Today I picked up Womankind, a regular favourite read and Courier, a new recommended read. I’m saving them for our holiday, which is hard but I’m looking forward to sitting down with a cuppa and having a good old flick through when we’re away.

Beyond Retro, Vine Street

I haven’t been in Beyond Retro for years. I used to shop here a lot before leaving Brighton. I love browsing and buying vintage. It’s a great way to get involved in the circular economy and help give unloved clothes a new lease of life. Yes, more expensive than charity shops but I find the clothes available better curated and more consistent. And there’s a lot of amazing vintage in Beyond Retro. The only trouble is that you need time to browse, try on and be able to squeeze between the racks and rails. This shop is not toddler or buggy friendly, so I pretty much gave up shopping here once I had The Girls. But today, today I was free to browse and try on and squeeze between racks to my heart’s content. I was on a quest for some vintage Levi Mom jeans. I didn’t find what I was looking for but ended up buying a denim dress which is beyond perfect for transitioning from summer to autumn.

90s vintage denim: flattering, versatile and with pockets. What more could you want?

When you’re browsing or shopping in vintage or charity shops you need to keep an open mind. I’m not usually so spontaneous with new purchases, but sometimes you just fall in love and I can see so much versatility in this dress. The weather has cooled but we’re still at that time of year when it could either go straight to chilly autumn or into glorious Indian summer with a final blast of hot autumnal sunshine. I love that this dress will work with t-shirts under it and sweaters over, chunky tights and boots or bare legs and sandals. I’ve also been coveting a People Tree top in their new collection that would look nice under this too. A great unexpected find.

Infinity Foods, Gardner Street

I used to live just over the road from Infinity Foods and remember it when it was a much more conventional whole foods health store. It underwent a huge transformation about 10 years ago and it’s nothing like your typical health food shop. God I love this place. The Big One calls Infinity Foods “the lovely shop” and she’s not wrong. The place to go for all of your veggie and vegan, ethical and sustainable store cupboard ingredients, organic seasonal fruits and veg, freshly baked organic loaves and snacks, bulk cleaning products and refills, clean beauty and loads and loads of other wholesome stuff. I’d love to have this back on my doorstep, as well as my old friends and flat. Infinity Foods makes me feel soooo Brighton homesick.

I came out today with a modest selection of organic loose veg (no plastic), the tastiest humous and a couple of other bits for dinner. Everything is carefully considered: from the cornstarch bags, Bio-D refills to the BPA-free receipts that can can be recycled, unlike most conventional till receipts. I’d shop here all the time if I could. 💚.

Daisy Daisy 2 – Gardner Street

If you have children or children to buy for, this is the wholesome toy shop for you. They only stock good quality toys (and books) that last. Our girls, like all children of the 2010s, have scooters and we opted for Micro scooters. Yes, expensive but they’re built well and can be handed on. As The Husband says, “you buy cheap, you buy twice”. We haven’t been disappointed. So, he’s right on this occasion. Apart from losing The Big One’s first scooter – or was it nicked? – they’ve been total work horses. I went into Daisy Daisy 2 for accessories. Bells and lights to be exact. Not cheap, but loads of fun and a good way to teach light and bell skills for cycling when they’re older. I had to be restrained to stop myself buying lots more for The Girls. This shop is a real treat for littlies.

Infinity Kitchen, Gardner Street

After all of the browsing and pampering (hard life, natch) I nipped into Infinity Kitchen for a reviving smoothie – Notella – a yummy blend of hazelnuts, raw cacao, date syrup, coconut milk and banana.

Moonchild was playing on the soundsystem and there was a gentle hubbub of conversations wafting in through the window from the street below. Infinity Kitchen is an organic and mostly vegan cafe, which serves a huge variety of yummy breakfasts, lunches, cakes and drinks. We’re big fans of eating here: friendly staff, yummy food and the best smoothies and turmeric lattés.

I was sad to leave. Today has been a real treat and a potent reminder that ethical living in Brighton is just so convenient and enjoyable. I rely on internet shopping way too much and it’s been great to just mooch around and interact with the human faces of shop owners and staff. Not to mention the ease of popping all of the things bought into one easy to carry tote. No plastic wrap, no bubble wrap, no air-paks, no plastic carrier bags, no massive cardboard boxes to recycle.

The only shop I didn’t get to today was The Fair Shop but I managed to squeeze in a trip a week ago for some much needed new Mud jeans. The Fair Shop, after all is my favourite Brighton shop 😊

Brighton, mon amour, it’s so nice to come back to you for an afternoon without children. I won’t leave it so long next time. You’ll always be my favourite city 😘


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