I’m in Oz on my travels, this gives me time to think about my home town, travel has the habit of doing this – allowing time for reflection and in this case a previous day where as I sat in bed, looking out of my window at the snow falling, creating a white blanket on our normally temperate maritime climate, my mind drifted to the seafront and the estuary seashore I love to walk.
A swift 50 minutes by train from London means you can step out and into a bustling high street delightfully decorated with coffee shops, ranging from the big hitters to the independents. Follow the signs down to the seafront and the first sight any tourist will encounter is our world famous 1.34 mile long pier. Take a constitutional along the boardwalk, check out the fishermen to see their catch, ride the pier train back and you can experience the bracing delight that holidaying Londoners and local Southenders have gotten to know when taking such a walk; the pier train takes you back in time as it clatters along the rails back to the station.
Walk a little further and you’ll be hit by the smell of donuts cooking and candy floss being turned – in evening time Adventure Island lights up the main drag, opposite the amusement arcades frequented by visitors. But take a little extra time and you will get to know the seafront as I experience it, the one which on a calm day has a tide and shoreline that matches many of the European beaches I have stood on.
Swim in the estuary on a winters day to invigorate the body (with hot water bottle waiting, wrapped in towel and hot tea in a flask to warm you through) or walk its shoreline during summer identifying the different types of stranded jellyfish on its beaches, watching for the occasional leaping fish or catch a rare glimpse of a seal and maybe you can understand its appeal for me.
Walk further on to ThorpeBay, rest your weary legs at OceanBeach – sit on the estuary front veranda enjoying a glass of chilled white wine, whilst sampling some tasty tapas and before you know it you’ll be transported to a place of calm.
Southend on Sea may not have the grand charm of other European destinations but in its own little way, when you explore it and the surrounding area – you will find the days gone by ambience of old Leigh, its pubs and cockle sheds, just a short train ride or drive away. Or if shopping is your thing Lakeside shopping centre just 30- 40 minutes away.
Southend on Sea – is at times the place to be.