Here in London we had the hottest day of the year so far. Way up in the 90s. The most sensible place to be on a hot day like this is on the coast. If you live in London then the nearest option is to take a trip out East to the Thames Estuary to the town of Southend on Sea
The pier at Southend is the longest pier in the world
at over a mile long. This morning I walked out to the end of the pier to see what was going on. Thank heavens for a lovely sea breeze or that heat would really scorch me today.
There is a small train running up and down the pier which was built in the 19th century. Traditionally working class Londoners would treat themselves to a trip out to Southend. My Mother tells me that as a young girl in the 1930s she would take a paddle steamer from Tower Bridge to Southend once a year as a special treat. The boat moored up at the end of the pier.
Beautiful views all over the Thames estuary from the end of the pier.
Today an old 3 masted sailing ship Atlantis was moored at the end of the pier and will be taking people out for sailing trips this weekend!
Next I took the train 2 stops down to Leigh on Sea
. I have wanted to come here for many years ever since I saw the TV chef Rick Stein come here for his food heroes series. Here at the Crooked Billet pub you can drink a very fine selection of guest English beer overlooking the sea.
Whilst enjoying the fresh seafood which is landed daily at this busy fishing village.
The speciality here is cockles.
So I sat and watched the fishing boats in the estuary, drank a pint of my favourite English beer 'London Pride' , ate a cockle sandwich and watched the seagulls.
If you ever get a chance to visit this part of the Essex coast here on the Thames estuary you cannot get better than a visit to Leigh on Sea. This is a heavenly place for seafood lovers. Every other shop sells cockles, mussels, whelks, jellied eels, shrimps.... everywhere.
A small lane at the end of town is called 'Cockle Shed'
where there are row upon row of 'Cockle merchants' - do you imagine that someone has a passport, and at the back where you fill in your occupation they have written 'Cockle Merchant'?? - just a thought!
And there are mountains of cockle shells here too. Ground up to make chicken grit and soil fertilizer I suppose.