Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Friday, July 09, 2010

Tourist in my Own Town - Southend on Sea

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.


At 10:34 PM, Blogger Peggy said...

Hi Matron, it looks a fabulous place within easy travelling distance of London, the farthest out the Thames I went was to Greenwich.Whatever about trying the beer I would have to pass on the cockles!

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Midmarsh John said...

That brought back memories. The family was living in south Woolwich when I was about 10 years old and I can remember taking trips on a ship, the Daffodil, from somewhere near Woolwich to the pier at Southend and then taking the train along the pier.

Great to see the pier is still surviving unlike many around our coastline.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Kath said...

There's certainly a fair bit of cockle in our poultry grit. Nice to see where it comes from!

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Steffi said...

I love Southend, so many amazing teenage summers spent there!

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous matthew said...

Southend is my home town, i live in leigh- glad you enjoyed your time here!!

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

A cockle sandwich? Must ask for it should I visit Leigh on Sea.Have been to Yarmouth,Greenwich, Brighton and other spots - Southend on Sea has been missed!

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Chicken lover said...

Wow, I loooovvvve Cockles so will definately be planning a trip down to Leigh on sea. Just got back from the IOW today and spent the whole week eating seafood of some desciption or another, yesterday was Bembridge prawns and crab, marvellous. Off to Cornwall tomorrow, sometimes being landlocked is a pain!

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Damo said...

Looks like a great place. I've never been a fan of cockles and must admit I stopped short of jellied eels last time I was in a London Pie and Mash shop. Haven't quite got the stomach for them!

At 11:20 PM, Blogger BilboWaggins said...

Goodness that takes me back a decade or three! Remember visiting Leigh with an Essex-based boyfriend (long before Management!), doesn't look like it has changed much.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Maz said...

Hi there - been popping in for a while and wanted to comment!
Your weather sure does sound lovely - sadly even though I'm coastal, it's cold and...raining here on Scotlands west coast - typical! LOL

glad somedoby's got some sun though - can you send it this way please!

maz x

At 12:11 PM, Blogger tina said...

A pier one mile long would be an excellent place to exercise each morning. I'd love that near me!

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Shaheen said...

Ah Matron.

Thank you for bringing back memories. When my boyfriend (now husband) took me home to meet his parents, this is where he took me the following day - a place where he spend many a summer holiday with family and friends.

At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Great pics. Bring back many memories. Born in Rochford, lived in Leigh till 19. Lived in Ozzie since.


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