Spotlight on Southend on Sea
When the children were little we used to go to Southend fairly frequently. We are only a 20 minute drive away and quite often on a Sunday afternoon we would spend the afternoon on the beach, blowing the cobwebs away, letting the children dig holes and throw stones into the sea. We rarely visited during the summer months as it was too busy, but a couple of times we took them to Adventure Island with friends as a birthday treat and onto the pier (before it burned down in 2005) to have a ride on the train.
Consequently, when my friend Wendy, who grew up close to this area of Essex, asked if I would like to spend the afternoon in Southend with her and go down the pier as she had never been down it I was amazed that she had never been on the pier and quickly agreed. We roped in our friend Sue and arranged a date. I then had an email about the Poppies:Wave which was on in Shoeburyness so we added that onto the itinerary.
Saturday dawned beautifully sunny after a week of torrential rain – we are so lucky when we plan days out together, it is always sunny! We set off in the afternoon and our first stop was along the front at Shoeburyness. We parked up and then had a walk along the prom, past all the beach huts, down to Gunners Park where Poppies:Wave is at the end of Barge Pier. This is a sculpture by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper and is part part of 14-18 NOW’s UK-wide tour of the iconic poppies which were on display at the Tower of London.
It was an incredibly blustery day, but with the sun shining it was lovely to see all the poppies and remember the sacrifices made by our brave men and women.
My biggest disappointment was how far away the poppies were from the platform. With a good telephoto lens I got a reasonable photo, but it would have been nicer to have got closer.
Poppies:Wave is at Shoeburyness until June 25th.
Returning to the car we then drove down towards the pier and parked up at the Sealife Centre. It was HEAVING at this end of Southend! Peter Pan’s was extremely busy but had very nice, clean toilets which we took advantage of!
Entering the pier we climbed the stairs and began our walk – first stop the little hut where you have to pay! I didn’t remember having to pay to walk down the pier in the past, but I may be wrong! If you want to walk both ways it is £2 but we decided to walk to the end and get the train back – a handsome £4.50 each! The walk down the pier was a bit nerve wracking to be perfectly honest! I am a little scared of heights and although it wasn’t that high you could see through the planks and some of the planks looked very worn and there was that little nag at the back of my head saying ‘the plank is rotten and you are going to fall’! I am sure it is completely safe as they are not going to let people walk down there if it isn’t! It was also even more windy on the pier and we got blown about a bit!
The pier is 1.33miles long and we were ready for a cup of tea/coffee and a slice of cake when we arrived at the end!
The café was reasonably priced – a cup of black coffee and a generous slice of very nice carrot cake was £5 and worth every penny! After resting our legs and getting our breath we went and had a look around the RNLI shop before heading to the little station to get the train back up the pier.
We had a great time – lots of laughs and plenty of walking. I can thoroughly recommend visiting Southend – it may be a bit ‘kiss me quick’ but there is a lot to do and not all of it is expensive! The Poppies:Wave is free to view and walking along the prom is also free and gives the opportunity for lots of people watching!