Southend on Sea, an old favourite haunt of mine from toddler to teenager and then a few trips with my little ones. Oh the memories - my Nan and Grandpa claiming their deckchairs no matter if the rain was falling sideways, the small glass containers of cockles soaked in vinegar, the little cafe that served hot AND buttered toast with extremely sweet tea, the suspicious objects floating in the water, the little spider monkeys on the corners of the promenade to have a picture taken on your shoulder. Oh happy days! All long gone now I'm afraid (only the occasional suspicious object in the water!!). This was to be mine and Mumsy's first 'coach trip' this year (more trips are in my side bar). So, for those not near a beach as you read this post, grab yourself a bucket or bowl of ice water to dip your toes in, an ice cream, and a knotted hankie on your head, and here we go... Southend on Sea (or as I pronounce it - Saff End on Sea)
The last time I was here was twelve years ago! My two teens were little toddlers enjoying the flying pink elephants and the crooked house. The pink elephants and crooked house were still there but the Pirate Ship was demolished last year to make way for a soft play area that is yet to be opened. Such a shame as that ship was as though you were walking on board and was a little different to the loud and scary rides. Miss Teen and her friend Miss B are now thrill seekers so with a blue wrist band purchased, they were off to enjoy as many rides as possible!
How sick I felt as I saw my amazing daughter and her friend appear at the top of the Rage Ride and then plummet towards the ground, twisting, turning at enormous speed. Me and Mumsy kept our feet firmly on the ground!
Southend on Sea has changed so much in twelve years. I can remember this area just buzzing with entertainment and tourist traps no matter what the weather or season, but for a sunny Saturday it was incredibly quiet apart from the pubs full of football fans... maybe that was why.
Apart from Adventure Island for the girls, we wanted to get on the Southend Pier. Another trip down memory lane for us, especially with walking the mile and a half of wooden boards down the longest pier in the world.
We didn't have to walk of course, we could have got the train but we wanted to walk along and think of the hundreds of times we have done this before with members of the family and friends that have now gone.
You know when you go back to a place and think, "It all seems so small". Well, this happened a little here. I was sure that the walk up to the end of the Pier was wider and that there were far more of these shelters along the way. I think there were three today. My Nan used to sit at these with our lunch handed out and the wind howling around our ears. Them were the days!
There have been changes over the years, especially in the 1980's after a series of fires and boats crashing into the Pier, I mean, after all, it's not big enough to see is it?!!
There were quite a few of these new benches giving lovely views of the area and Canvey Island. The sun making its appearance and sparkling off the Thames Estuary and through the benches - beautiful!
The cloud's shadows were reflected on the water, showing off the shining sun off the waves. I could have watched this for hours.
The train tracks follow our walk, showing their age with the gorgeous rust that envelopes the steel.
Markers show you how long you have walked and the distant shore starts to look like a toy village.
The water was lapping against the structure, its green colour so familiar!
The colour of the rust against the green water was just adorable. Some would turn their noses up but I really love seeing decay like this and colour that makes me smile.
Towards the end of the Pier are the fisherman, all enjoying their weekend and having a little dance with me and my camera as they walked along with the rods over the side.
And now the beach huts! Towards the end of the Pier these stand bright and proud. You can have a little rest in these - and a wee! Yes they are toilets!!
This is the end of the line for the train and our feet were still in health, so we walked on a little more.
We stopped to get an ice cream from this lovely little building towards the end, not realising that this is the little cafe that is used in the Jamie and Jimmys Food Fight programme. The cafe was all closed up and the furniture waiting for the cameras to be switched on again. Being a big fan of Jamie Oliver I was a bit put out that I wasn't going to get a delicious dinner after this walk!
At the end of the Pier and looking back at the coastline it seems like we are miles away!
The Lifeboat Station is at the end, but no lifeboat to be seen, just the vivid flag against the blue and white sky.
Then, right at the very end, this bell. The old wood and rusty metal being happily captured by me. I've no idea what it is for and I have tried to find something about it but... nothing! Looks lovely though.
The girls wanted to get back to the rides so the long walk back had to be done quickly. They loved this place.
Thanks Southend for so, so many happy memories as I grew up and started to become independant. It's been a while and you have changed as much as me and it is time to say goodbye.
Thank you once again for your incredibly kind and sincere comments both on my blog and via email after I lost Coco. I will be printing them to add them to a personal book on her and her life. Thank you also to those who signed the petition, the signatures are growing and the petition has had coverage on Radio Four. You can hear Charlotte speaking about the petition and the disease here (she is about 24 minutes into this and was brilliant). In case you want to sign the petition, the link is in my side bar.
The last couple of weeks have been truly awful and I am yet to catch up with you all. It has been so hard to even write this post. This has been made harder after collecting Coco's ashes and then hearing the incredibly sad news that Mumsy had to say goodbye to her dog Charlie the following day. Charlie had post op complications and the hardest decision had to be made. The devastation for our family is unbelievable so to just walk along this Pier helped us a little, but coming home to the emptiness in both households is so very hard.
Thank you for being there.