Somewhere I've always loved visiting is another seaside gem, Brighton. I left it far too long between trips so I recently made a brief but very busy return to the city.

My first stop was to Rock Ola. This is possibly the best looking café I have ever laid eyes on. 
Endless pastel colours, full of 50's/60's memorabilia and with a gorgeous free juke box...what's not to love? It's affordable, full of personality, and there's a really relaxed atmosphere - three things I look for when choosing somewhere for lunch! Rock Ola feels homely and authentic in its style; it's clear that the owners have invested a lot of time and thought into the decor - something which isn't always done with modern diner-style restaurants. 

As you would expect, burgers, breakfasts, sandwiches, coke floats and milkshakes are all on the menu. Within an hour of arriving in Brighton, I was sat with a smoothie and a stack of pancakes listening to The Zombies - content doesn't quite cover it. If you're looking for an experience when you dine, I can't recommend this place enough!

When wandering around Brighton, one of the things you notice very quickly is the amount of street art on show. It's everywhere! Incorporated into shop exteriors, I noticed that murals are often used to convey a businesses' image. There's all kinds of use of colour and design to be found throughout the city. 

My favourite place for shopping is, unsurprisingly, North Laine. This is the true Brighton retail experience with rows and rows of independent stores offering all kinds of items, whether it's fashion, art, vintage, homeware, gifts, etc. There are so many exciting combinations of business ideas and unexpected discoveries to be made! 

Magazine Brighton is the place to go if you're looking for an impressive selection of cool and modern publications. There's so much gorgeous photography in the magazines they stock; I could spend hours in there. 

Abode is my one of my favourite lifestyle shops. It has some really unique items for the home. Don't miss Unlimited for colourful prints and accessories. They stock Kitty McCall, a designer who is based in Folkestone and who I featured in my blog post on the town. 

A must for any visit to the North Laine area is Snoopers Paradise. It's just a classic and who knows what you'll find in there? Similar to Petticoat Lane in Ramsgate, although not quite as enormous, there's a vast range of vintage items for sale. From stylish lamps to vinyl records, strange dolls to pretty tins, it's good fun if you fancy hunting for some treasure. Other shops I'd recommend include the gorgeous Posh Totty for jewellery and seafront-based Castor & Pollux for artwork and books.

You can't not walk along the pier during a trip to Brighton. Despite the sickly smell of doughnuts and candy floss, the annoying arcade machine sounds, the screaming coming from funfair rides and the crowds, I quite enjoy it when it's all put together. I'm from Margate; it's just in my blood to like tacky seaside stuff.

The city has plenty of variety when it comes to interesting architecture to admire. From brutalist tower blocks to regency townhouses, there will be somewhere you'll dream of living. 

Much like it is in Margate, the seafront has got to be my favourite part of Brighton too. Sunny days can be spent enjoying a drink, evenings admiring the many stunning sunsets, and at night, when the pier is lit up, it all just feels rather magical. 

One of the most interesting places I went for a drink was The Tempest, which is down by the beach. This unusual bar consists of a series of cave-like structures that you can explore. Rather like Rock Ola, it's an experience to go in and combining the intriguing interior with a great drink selection makes it an enjoyable choice. 

During my visit, I also went to the popular Black Lion and The Seven Stars, which is a really lovely pub that specialises in gin and craft beer. 

I had dinner at the Vietnamese street food restaurant, Pho. Having never been to one of these before (it's a fairly small chain) and having not had any Vietnamese food since I was in Paris, I was excited to give it a try. I opted for pho (noodle soup), which is the Vietnamese national dish. It's amazing how filling this sort of food can be! I would encourage trying one of the fresh juices or cocktails to accompany the food as they compliment the dishes so well. Making the decision on somewhere to go for an evening meal can be a mighty process - we all want to get it right. Fortunately, this was a really good choice; the interior was great and the food was delicious. I would definitely go back!

On my way home the next day, and a short journey from the city centre, was Cakes the Difference. Rated as the #1 restaurant in Brighton on TripAdvisor (it's definitely a more of a tea room), this small family-run business offers the most incredible afternoon tea! Firstly, it's huge. Secondly, the work and skill that goes into the selection of cakes and pastries is outstanding. And finally, it's seriously tasty! The service was absolutely brilliant; the staff are a really friendly bunch and this made the experience even better. Two tips for your visit; book in advance as they require notice and make sure you're super hungry. The good thing is that you can take what you don't eat away with you; cue a nervous journey with some boxes...and then the indulgent snack times at home!

It's always nice to escape to the sea. When you already live at the seaside, it's refreshing to see it done differently. I'm a huge fan of Brighton and its friendly people; I always have such a good time there and I can't wait to visit again in the summer!

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