Let’s start with the most obvious reasons why ice skating at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton is a fantastic activity to whisk you back to how people entertained themselves in Ye Olde Worlde Christmas-time. The marvellous backdrop of the Pavilion raises my spirits every day I pass it, the crumbly bits just adding to the crazy majesty of the domed masterpiece. Sticking the ice rink directly in front adds a huge attraction for those standing on the fringes and gives them some respite from throwing their arms in the air as their nearest and dearest crash unceremoniously to the floor in front of them.
We got to the Brighton Royal Pavillion with a family ticket for the 10 o’clock showing and had time to sit in the cafe area and have a quick drink and a gingerbread man before the excitement started. We were advised to go to an early session as neither Harry or Caitlin had been before and it gets busier later, but I’d love to go back next year later in the day when the Pavilion is lit up as this turns an already beautiful setting into something quite magical. The history of the place adds to the feeling of nostalgia that goes towards making most Christmases what they are; a conscious embrace of every warm and generous feeling experienced and a temporary belief that this is what life is always like!
Then we got onto the ice. Now I must admit that I’m not the most accomplished of skaters. I went three times in my twenties and each time ended up flat on my back more times than I care to remember. Bearing this in mind -and now 46 and 2/3rds- I made it clear to my partner Sarah that I would be very much cheering from the sidelines. However, like the last cocktail sausage in the fridge, the whole thing was very hard to resist once I was actually there.
I must admit I was somewhat reassured by the incredibly patient helpers who whizzed about, picking up young ’uns and giving impromptu lessons in how to move. Also, within the rink a small section is given over to particularly small and unstable patrons, with friendly upright, handled penguins to give them a bit of ballast.
So, daring myself manfully, all four of us hit the ice. I’m happy to announce that this was mostly a metaphor and that although at least three of us fell at various times none of us did so with great enough violence to force us off before our hour was up. Ok, so Harry ended up with a vari-coloured bump on his left elbow, my knee was twanging alarmingly this morning, Caitlin claimed her bum had frozen solid and Sarah’s hands were contorted into claws from clutching the side, but all in all it went swimmingly. Alright, so I doubt any scouts positioned behind their lattes in the cafe will be contacting any of us about our involvement in South Korea’s Winter Olympics for 2018 but overall it was a great experience.
A family ticket comes in at £36 so it’s not necessarily something you’ll do day after day but for a good old-fashioned Christmas activity the Brighton Royal Pavillion Ice Rink was pretty special. And you know what, I was better than I had been 20-odd years before. Maybe I’m more careful, maybe I’m wiser, maybe I’m just less often drunk, but I like to think it’s because I’m a late starter. Perhaps Korea in 2018 is out but as for China in 2022… well, you never know.