Sunday, 29 May 2011

Mudflats, slots, bombers and cockles

Yesterday, we walked (and walked, and walked) - from Shoeburyness to Leigh-on-Sea via Southend, all places neither I nor Madam Arcati had ever been before. How fab! An adventure!

It was very grey and blustery when we arrived at Shoeburyness, and the walk began with the half-mile trek from the station to the sea via some of the least edifying scenery possible (an industrial estate and some bleak housing developments on the site of the former barracks), which was a bit of a miserable way to begin, but once we hit the start of the estuary promenade we knew we had arrived. Tide going out, frozen-looking people, you know the scenario...

Once we got used to the bracing wind, however, we embarked upon the trek with gusto. There's plenty of interesting things to see - tiny windswept plants, marooned boats, eccentric beach huts, the multi-million pound houses dotted all along the coast (some so extravagantly "Southfork-stylee", they could only belong to an Essex footballer and his wife, surely?). But that's Southend ("town, shore and so much more"™) for you!

We arrived at the Essex Riviera with plans to traverse the UK's longest pier (one and a half miles!) and play our traditional sport of "chav-spotting" (which was not difficult, obviously). The pier was, however closed to pedestrians as yesterday was the start of the Southend Air Show and they didn't want crowds gathering on the boardwalk. So with that disappointment out of the way, we did the only thing we could do in the circumstances - go and play the "Penny Fountains", of course!

As the air show is so popular, it was obvious that the prom was going to be rather crowded with toothless chav grannies, tattooed mums and dads, pushchairs and filthy children. However, the rows and rows of stalls and displays by the various branches of the military - and all those hunky men in uniform - made the journey through the crowds rather more, ahem, interesting...

And so, leaving the funfairs, the candy-floss, the slots, the customised cars and live broadcast by BBC Radio Essex behind us we headed onwards into far quieter territory. On the way, we caught quite a bit of the air display, and even as we left the glittering prom behind towards our destination, we saw some dramatic fly-pasts - including a beautiful Vulcan bomber (which was huge!).

Leigh-on-Sea is a picturesque place, in complete contrast to its brassy neighbour - a historic little town, traditionally based on the seafood-fishing (particularly cockles) industry. And it has lots of pubs. Good!

So we had cockles to start, then went for a huge plate of fish'n'chips, and a couple of pints before heading home. After six hours' walking we were all a bit pooped - but what a grand day out, Gromit...


  1. John-John's face in that last picture is priceless.

    We used to go to Southend all the time when I was little (littler) … I went back with Grumpy for Southend Pride a few years back and was disappointed with how Southend had become … I don't remember it being so small or miserable looking.

    Think we should've gone to Leigh-on-Sea instead


  2. It were a grand day out Gromit.

  3. I must admit that Southend itself was hardly the highlight of the journey - like so many British seaside towns, it has "let itself go" a bit. However, the day as a whole was a good one - as Madam Arcati's blog bears witness (in far greater detail than mine!): read more Jx


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