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Notes From a Housesit: Brighton

02/07/2014 11:59 BST | Updated 31/08/2014 10:59 BST

This weekend I have been petsitting in Brighton, (Hove, actually.) I've been eating dairy-free gelato on the beach and hanging out with an enormous black Labrador/Springer Spaniel mix named Marvin. I lived in Brighton for several years in my twenties and like to revisit occasionally. I have a soft spot for the proximity to the sea, the café culture, the laid-back atmosphere, the alternative vibe and North Laine's Bohemia. As a lactose-ovo intolerant person, the proliferation of vegetarian/vegan cafes and the easy availability of vegan cake delights me. My friends there are pretty cool too. Every few months I start to notice some pangs of homesickness and know it's time to pencil in a Brighton visit.

Brighton street art:

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This (long) weekend's housesit is for a Brightonian couple who have headed off to Glastonbury festival. Their home has a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere. A friend of the homeowners, Alicia, welcomed me there on my first day. The homeowners left me a couple of bottles of wine, which is a pleasant gesture. Alicia offered that should I want to spend a few hours with friends whilst I was there, she'd be happy to take Marvin. I appreciated this very much. Generally when I'm dog-sitting I either take my dog charges out with me or only pop out for short periods of time.

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Marv the dog is a mellow boy; a gentle giant - bar when there's a knock on the door and he barks in some lazy approximation of 'guard dog.' Marv - like most dogs - likes walks in the park and the woods and playing with other dogs (but not ones larger than him, thank you very much.) He also enjoys capturing objects: tennis balls, footballs, my flip-flop. He likes to kill said inanimate objects (footballs, tennis balls, my flip-flop...) in his almighty jaws. Once Marvin discovered I'm quite happy to share my bed (his owners okayed this,) I've found myself negotiating the logistics of sharing a double bed with a very large dog indeed. Still, I believe there's little in this world as comforting as a dog quietly slumbering on one's bed.

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Beyond escapades with Mr. M, I've been generally enjoying Brighton. This has included aforementioned gelato at the excellent "Boho Gelato." This gelateria is situated in Brighton's Lanes district. (The Lanes are the oldest part of the city. Reputedly haunted, they're a maze of streets, full of independent boutiques, cafes and street performers.) All "Boho Gelato's" ice cream is made fresh on site and - to my delight - their selection always includes six vegan flavours. One particularly tired afternoon I refreshed myself with a detour via their shop on my way home. I indulged in elderflower raspberry gelato in a vegan chocolate cone on the sunny seafront.

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The Lanes:

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Over the course of my stay I caught up with several friends. Marv was an all-round hit. He's the kind of dog who - should he be musically inclined - would probably strum at a guitar, whiskey in one paw, spliff in another. An all-round cool customer. Marvin and I took many walks in leafy Hove and a stroll with my friend Pete (Pete's a dog trainer) and Pete's dog Casey. The dogs bonded. Beyond this, I enjoyed catch-up cuppas with friends and a vegan picnic for a friend's birthday.

Marv and Casey guarding the dragonfly chair in Hove park:

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Picnicking with friends:

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On Sunday I was keen to spend a few hours enjoying the centre of town in the sunshine. Alicia kindly popped in on Marv whilst I was out and a friend and I enjoyed a visit to "Taj," Brighton's Middle Eastern supermarket, a walk in the Lanes and North Laine and a final trip to "Boho Gelato." This time: vegan peanut butter, salted caramel gelato. (Mine's the very messy cone in the photo! I am messy.) Phwoar is all I have to say about that ice cream. All in all, a lovely Brightonian weekend, a great - and very well-trained dog-charge and unforgettable gelato. I look forward to another Brighton housesit sometime.

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