Sponsoring a cat

Thursday, July 2nd 2015

It is now a month since Freya died and, as explained in A week later, I have been thinking of how I want to commemorate her. I have finally made a decision.

Freya, as explained in various posts and in the brief introduction to her, was a rescue cat. She came to me from a charity that had taken her from a less than suitable home and I vowed to make her life as happy as I could in compensation for her unhappy start. I therefore felt that it would be appropriate to give regular donations to one of the rehoming charities both to help them in their work and as a small token of gratitude for having brought Freya into my life.

The problem, of course, is that there are so many charities, each with its special merits and all with an urgent need of funds. Whichever I choose, I am left with a feeling of regret that I am not helping the others but, not having infinite funds, I had to make a choice.

My attention was drawn to the Celia Hammond Animal Trust. The trust runs clinics and seeks to rehome cats that are rescued from bad owners or unsuitable conditions. While the trust makes every effort to rehome the cats it rescues, a few remain that, for some reason such as chronic poor health or psychological problems, cannot be rehomed. The trust keeps and looks after these cats itself. This costs money, of course, and so donors are invited to sponsor one or more of these cats.

I have agreed to sponsor one of their cats by giving money each month for the foreseeable future. The money will of course be used generally as needed by the charity, but a sponsorship provides a connection and makes the whole thing a little more personal. “My” cat (though I share him with other donors), becomes a symbol for all the cats who may be rescued and helped by the charity. A little of the love that Freya gave me is being passed on to others.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Freya | Tagged | 6 Comments

Meeting after work

Wednesday, July 1st 2015

Tigger used to work in a district of the Borough of Southwark south of London Bridge called The Borough or, if you are London Transport, simply Borough. To meet her from work was easy: I would take the tube from the Angel (or simply ‘Angel’, according to London Transport) to Borough Station and walk 5 minutes to Tigger’s workplace. I could then sit in the lobby and watch Tigger at work until it was time for her to leave. Now things have changed, as they are wont to do.

Tigger’s firm is moving out of its old location, a building in which a famous range of diaries was once published, because this is going to be demolished and be replaced by a student accommodation block. The firm’s new offices are close to the Thames at Tower Hill. Getting there to meet Tigger of an evening is slightly more complicated than the journey to the Borough location. Also, owing to tighter security in a shared office block, I cannot go into her workplace to wait for her. I have to find another rendezvous.

Whereas I once took one tube train, I now take two. I start on the Northern Line at Angel as I used to do but now change at Bank to the District or Circle Line and travel one stop to Tower Hill. Tower Hill is of course where you find the Tower of London, one of London’s prime tourist attractions.

Station exit, Tower Hill
Station exit, Tower Hill

From the train, I take three flights of stairs to reach the entrance of the station. Here, you are likely to find your way encumbered by vendors of sugared nuts, distributors of free newspapers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, chuggers1 and gaggles of tourists trying to find the Tower of London.

Tower Hill, the road
Tower Hill, the road

Running the gauntlet, you arrive at the wide, busy main road, which is also called Tower Hill at this point. In the picture, the pavement is relatively clear because I came early to have time to take photos. Usually, it crowded with groups waiting to be taken by guides to the Tower, people waiting to board the tour buses and commuters trying to get through the crowds to make their way home.

Part of the Roman town wall
Part of the Roman town wall

My route takes me past this section of ancient wall. This area was part of the Roman city and there is still a lot of Roman brickwork here. You can tell this is Roman wall because of the horizontal lines of red tiles, a typical feature of Roman walls. Near bottom left in the photo, you can see a bronze statue. It is rather a mystery piece. It is pretty certain that it represents the Roman Emperor Trajan but where it comes from is uncertain. One opinion is that it is an 18th-century copy (but what it is a copy of is not stated) and another story says that it was discovered on a dump and rescued by a clergyman and later presented by the Tower Hill Improvement Trust at the request of the Reverend P. B. ‘Tubby’ Clayton. I don’t think that Trajan ever visited Londinium in person but he stands here in effigy to remind us of our Roman past.

Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Tower of London and Tower Bridge

I follow the left side of the streets to take advantage of the pedestrian crossings so I have a more distant view of two of London’s most famous landmarks, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Building of the Tower started soon after the Norman Conquest but it has been extended and remodelled several times since then. The Normans placed it on the hill so that it would dominate the city and remind the inhabitants of Norman power and authority. In Tudor times, those unfortunate enough to incur the displeasure of the monarch were confined here, perhaps to be tortured and eventually to be executed by the headsman.

The ever intrusive Shard
The ever intrusive Shard
Spoiling the view even here

Tower Bridge, completed in 1894, was designed to match the style of the Tower of London. It is two bridges in one, with a walkway at the top (no longer open to the public) and a bascule road bridge that lifts to allow the passage of tall ships.

Royal Mint Court
Royal Mint Court

I pass in front of the large building that is now called Royal Mint Court. The Royal Mint resided for several centuries in the Tower of London but eventually became so large that it needed premises of its own. In 1809 it moved here, to a building designed by James Johnson and Robert Smirke. The mint makes currency not only for the UK but also for a number of other nations and the technology has continued to develop, requiring more and more space. The time came when even this building was no longer big enough to contain the mint and, starting in 1968, the enterprise was moved bit by bit to Llantrisant in Wales. The last coin was struck here in 1975. Today Royal Mint Court, as it is now called, serves as office accommodation. I wonder whether the ghost of Sir Isaac Newton, sometime Warden of the Mint, still roams its corridors.

East Smithfield
East Smithfield

I then turn into a busy 5-lane road with fast traffic in both directions. I am on the left and need to be on the right. Occasionally, there is a break in the traffic in both directions but taking advantage of this is risky.

The one safe crossing
The one safe crossing

There is just one safe crossing point, a pedestrian passage controlled by lights. Quite often it is blocked by traffic tailing back from the next set of lights so that even when the light is green for pedestrians, you have to thread a tortuous path between vehicles.

Gate to St Katharine Docks
Gate to St Katharine Docks

I am always in a hurry (well, I am, after all, off the reunite myself with Tigger!) and have hitherto followed the route I knew along the road. Tigger likes to explore during her lunch break and showed me a pleasanter alternative route she had found. Near the pedestrian crossing is this gate, decorated with two long-tusked elephants. It leads into St Katharine Docks. Just inside is one of the original warehouses of the docks, Ivory House (built around 1858), hence the elephants. I don’t like to think what trade might underlie the symbolism but a I salute the elephants and hurry on.

St Katharine Docks
St Katharine Docks

St Katharine Docks is connected by a lock to the Thames which is tidal at this point. Once it was part of London’s commercial dockyards. It opened in 1828 and its construction required the demolition of the slums that hitherto occupied the site and the hospital of St Katharine, from which it takes its name. Over 11,000 people lost their homes, without compensation. Where they went, I do not know. I imagine they further increased the severe over-crowding in other slum areas.

Mostly luxury yachts
Mostly luxury yachts

While the Port of London still operated (it closed in the 1980s), the ships moored here would have been commercial vessels trading with foreign ports but today, though there are a few working boats, most seem to be luxury yachts. The landing stages are closed to the public lest we disturb the peace of the occupants.

Dickens Inn, St Katharine Docks
Dickens Inn, St Katharine Docks

Beside the water is a pub called The Dickens Inn. Its history is not without interest (see the pub’s About Us page). It was originally built, probably in the 18th century, as a warehouse, perhaps trading in tea. Later, it was encased in brickwork to match the styling of the rest of the dock area. When the dock was redeveloped, the original timber was once again liberated but by now, the building was considered to be inconveniently placed and was therefore moved 70 metres to its present location. I am sceptical that there could be any real connection between the pub and Charles Dickens, though the author of Oliver Twist and Great Expectations certainly knew the area and would no doubt have explored it in his rambles.

The way out
The way out

On the eastern side of the St Katharine Docks, a passage between buildings leads out to the road and the office blacks where Tigger is incarcerated during working hours.

Building work in progress
Building work in progress

On arriving, one finds oneself in the midst of building works. These have been going on for months and have turned the place into a noisy, dusty hell hole. What is your entrance today probably won’t be tomorrow, and you will find to find a new way in.

My refuge - Pret A Manger
My refuge – Pret A Manger

Happily, there is a place where I can take refuge until Tigger joins me. Hidden among the heaps of rubble and the builders’ fences, is a branch of Pret A Manger, where I can buy a cup of coffee or green tea and sit and wait.

A corner by the (opaque) window
A corner by the (opaque) window

I can usually find a seat in the quiet corner where the easy chairs are. The windows are opaque to protect them from the building work going on outside but I can sit here and read until Tigger is released and can join me. Then we start the journey home…

________

1chuggers (from ‘ch[arity m]uggers’), people who accost you in public places in the name of a charity to get you to sign up for regular donations. They are banned from some areas but charities apparently rely on them as spontaneous donations continue to decline.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Playing catch-up

Friday, June 19th 2015

Next week we are on holiday. That is to say, we are free from such mundane commitments as work. That gives us 5 weekdays and 2 weekends to disport ourselves as we please. Well, not quite. Firstly, we have to do the shopping, as usual, and, secondly, there is a full laundry basket demanding our attention. We have earmarked the two Sundays for those necessary chores.

So, where are we going? We are not going anywhere or, rather, we are, but we are travelling from home and returning home at the end of the day. In the past, I have called this a staycation, a neologism derived from stay-at-home vacation. I have not made up my mind yet whether this is a staycation in the classic sense because we are not going out of London every day. We have some in-town activities as well and these may or may not deserve to be written up as blog posts. It’s a wait-and-see situation: I may or may not group the individual posts into a composite travel page.

One thing is certain, though. That is that while we are dashing about and tiring ourselves out, I will not be able to write blog posts about what we are doing. These will have to be written, as is usual with our travels, after the event. In other words, I will be posting retrospectively, playing catch-up, as the title indicates.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Travel | 2 Comments

Heavy words

Tuesday, June 16th 2015

Oxfam Bookshop, Islington
Oxfam Bookshop, Islington

The book is one of humanity’s greatest inventions. It influences our thoughts, shapes our ideas and moulds our civilization. It is crucial to our progress because without books to transmit our accumulated knowledge and understanding, each generation would have to start again, almost from scratch.

Books have been through many transformations during their existence and each new form has brought about a revolution in culture and learning. For most of us growing up in the latter part of the 20th century, the book had reached its final and most perfect form as a set of printed pages glued together inside a protective cover. I remember how, when the concept of the electronic book was first mentioned, many of us expressed doubt that such a chimera would ever awaken interest, let alone supplant the beloved paper book. We could not then imagine how fast we were speeding towards a world of Kindles and Kobos and people reading books on tablet computers and even on their smart phones.

Convenient and easy to distribute as the ebook may be, the paper book is fighting back valiently. Many of us who regularly read on a screen rather than on paper still prefer the traditional book. There is something about the feel, smell and weight of a ‘real’ book that imparts a thrill and a pleasure that no electronic analogue has so far managed emulate.

For these and many other reasons, I think it will be a long time before the traditional paper book disappears, if ever it does. Of course, time likes to embarrass prophets and the future may very well prove me wrong.

There is a problem with paper books, however, that is not felt, at least not so strongly, by its digital cousin. A digital book takes up a minuscule amount of electronic memory and we might say that its size is virtual rather than actual. The paper book, in contrast, has a definite physical size and weight. Putting that more succinctly, books take up space.

How much space does a book take up? If you think of the average book as the £6.99 paperback, then the answer is ‘very little’. Who refuses the gift of a book because it takes up too much space? The idea is laughable, or at least, it is to book lovers. But all those very-littles add up. What is true of an ideal gas is also true of your book collection: it expands to fill all the available space. Unlike a gas, however, books don’t stop there. They go on accumulating. There seems to be no way to halt their insidious population growth.

Thus it was that we were recently forced to make a stern decision: we had to cull the herd. If not with tears in our eyes, then at least with trepidation in our hearts, we reviewed our book collection and began selecting candidates for exile. These were torn from their comfortable resting place (sometimes with difficulty as they were so tightly crammed together) and piled in a stout bag.

We filled the bag but it was difficult work. How do you decide that a book is no longer required? What crystal ball can inform you that never ever again will you need to look within the pages of this book, or that one, or the one jammed behnd the bookend in the corner? Books you have not thought of for years and that you wouldn’t have thought of now, were you not engaged in this review, suddenly seem necessary and indispensable.

Somehow, the dire task was completed, and we heaved the bag to one side where it wasn’t too much in anyone’s way, promising one another to take it along to the Oxfam bookshop soon. You know, next time we’re up that way.

Several weeks later, the bag was still not too much in anyone’s way but it was definitely still here. It had not moved an inch towards the Oxfam bookshop. It clearly wasn’t going to do so unless further stern measures were put in train. In the meantime, we consoled ourselves with saying, every time we passed the bookshop, ‘Oh, we could have brought those books with us’ and ‘Remind me to do it next time’.

Next time, like tomorrow, never comes, and so, today, I decided to make a special journey to the Oxfam bookshop. I also needed to buy a notepad and one of those plastic in-trays for putting urgent things in and forgetting them. As luck would have it, I could buy these items at Rymans which was just a little further along the street from the Oxfam bookshop. I grabbed the bag and headed out.

Have you ever carried a bag of books? As well as size, books possess weight. Not much weight, I know, but weight nonetheless. Especially when you get a heap of them together in one bag. I should have put them in the shopping trolley but by the time I had realized this, I was too far down the street and too proud to turn and go back.

Einstein was right. Distances are not constant. How far away something is depends on your point of view. (I have forgotten the equation that describes this effect but it’s probably on Wikipedia somewhere.) High velocity makes your clock slow down (Einstein said) and he could have added that carrying a heavy bag expands the distance you have to travel with it. The bookshop is usually quite near. Today it was rather a long way away.

I arrived at last and gratefully lay my burden down. I left the shop feeling quite light on my feet. Then I continued up the street to Rymans, returning home afterwards, with notebook and tray and a feeling of a job well done.

Our bookshelves don’t look all that depleted. In fact, you can hardly see the difference. I’m sure, though, that when we need to, we’ll manage to lever a few more volumes into place.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Life's problems | Tagged | 10 Comments

A week later

Tuesday, June 9th 2015

It is one week since Freya died and we are slowly getting used to life without her.

Reflexes remain, such as when, in a pause between other activities, I think to go and look where Freya is. Or when I notice the time and think I had better give Freya her dinner. The other afternoon I dozed off on the bed and awoke with a start from a muddled dream thinking “Now Freya’s back, we must make a fuss of her”.

I still haven’t disposed of the carrying cage and its contents but I will do so eventually. From what I know of myself, I expect to wake up one morning thinking “Today’s the day to do that” and then I will…

We of course insured Freya for medical expenses and, like all insurance premiums, those for Freya have increased year on year. Her final claim has not yet been settled but when it has, the monthly premiums will no longer be required. We have both decided to donate an equivalent amount of money to one of the cat charities.

I have not yet made a final choice for my share but I think I will sponsor a cat at one of the rehoming charities. When cats are rescued, every effort is made to find a good home for them but for some this is not possible. They may be too old or may suffer health problems that most people are unwilling to take on. In other cases, the cat is traumatised and needs long-term, possibly permanent, care, or may have behavioural problems that render him unsuitable for rehoming in a domestic environment. These cats remain for the rest of their lives in one of the cat sanctuaries. Maintaining these cats is a labour of love but it also costs money, and most charities run sponsorship schemes whereby you can make a regular monthly donation for the care and support of a named individual cat and receive regular reports on his welfare. Some charities even allow you to visit your protégé.

I am of course aware that such sponsorship is virtual rather than actual. Some cats are more likely to attract sponsors than others and I cannot imagine a cat charity feeding one cat on turkey breast and putting another on half rations because he has not received a sponsorship. I don’t doubt that all income is in fact shared out as it is needed. That’s as it should be and I’m happy for my money to be used democratically, as it were. Seeing donations as a sponsorship, though, allows you to become involved with an individual and to feel some caring and responsibility for him.

I have tentatively picked out a charity and a cat I would like to sponsor, but that may change between now and the money being freed up. I am aware that in the aftermath of a loss such as that of Freya, one’s thinking and reflexes are not what they would be in more stable conditions. Decisions can be made hastily that one regrets afterwards. The wait for the insurance claim to be settled gives me time to reflect and, all being well, make sure I am thinking sensibly again.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Freya | Tagged | 14 Comments

A bit of Primrose Hill

Sunday, June 7th 2015

We didn’t feel very active or adventurous today and took things slowly. We caught the 214 to Camden Town and had breakfast in Bayou Soul in Inverness Street, then dragged the shopping trolley round to the local branch of Sainsbury’s. I think I mentioned that the Islington Sainsbury’s continually has items missing from the shelves and this annoyance prompted us to try our luck elsewhere.

In the afternoon  we perked up a little and went out. Tigger knew, as Tigger always does, exactly where she wanted to go and so we took a bus to the idyllically named Primrose Hill.

Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill
Click for Google Map

In ancient times, this area was covered with forest and formed part of Henry VIII’s hunting grounds but in the reign of Elizabeth I it was cleared to make farmland. What remains of this, now surrounded by roads and buildings, has been turned into parks, the largest being Regent’s Park, home of London Zoo. To the north of this park is a hill also now made into parkland. The name Primrose Hill seems to have arisen in the 15th century, no doubt because the hill was then covered with primroses. I have seen several estimates of the height of Primrose Hill at its highest but the official one seems to be 206 ft (63 m). This is high enough to attract sightseers on a fine day to take in the view.

Apartment block
Apartment block
Primrose Hill

Not only the actual hill but also the surrounding area is known as Primrose Hill, described by one source1 as ‘A delightful vantage point and its outrageously expensive residential surroundings…’ Whether the apartment block pictured above is ‘outrageously expensive’ to live in, I do not know but suspect it might be.

St Mary-the-Virgin Primrose Hill
St Mary-the-Virgin Primrose Hill

The local parish church is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. I haven’t been able to find out much about it other than that it opened in 1872, according to the church’s own Website.

Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill
The park

We entered the park, which is very pleasant and well tended, with a mixture of open spaces and tree cover. People were strolling, sitting, picnicking and playing games, enjoying the sudden onset of warm and sunny weather.

Somewhat to my surprise, I saw that the highest point of the hill was crowded. I at first assumed that there must be some ‘event’ in progress as I found it hard to believe that all those people were there just for the view. But apparently they were.

A view from the hill
A view from the hill

I succeeded, with a little pushing and shoving, in obtaining the above view, looking towards the City. You may be able to recognize some of the better known tall buildings.

People on the hill
People on the hill

It was necessary to engage in a certain amount of ducking and weaving to avoid groups of people taking photos of themselves and one another. Apart from these, there was what could by fairly described as a multitude sitting in groups and apparently enjoying themselves greatly.

We made our way down the hill, hoping to find a bus to take us back to the Angel.

Looking back up the hill
Looking back up the hill

Impressed with the scene, I took the above photo looking back up the hill.

Memorial drinking fountain
Memorial drinking fountain
To Joseph Payne

We left by the gate at the junction of Regent’s Park Road and Albert Terrace. Here we found a drinking fountain, that almost archetypal symbol of Victorian social do-goodery. Sometimes they were were made on the initiative and at the expense of a living philanthropist and at other times, as here, were raised as memorials to an admired figure now deceased. This one has a brass plate inscribed as follows:

IN MEMORY OF
JOSEPH PAYNE, ESQ.
DEPUTY-ASSISTANT JUDGE
A ZEALOUS TOTAL ABSTAINER
AND A FAITHFUL FRIEND OF
BANDS OF HOPE
DIED MARCH 29, 1870

ERECTED BY THE COMMITTEE AND
FRIENDS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
BAND OF HOPE UNION

This reminds us that while the provision of clean and disease-free drinking water for the population was a goal in itself, an important corollary was that of weaning folk away from the demon drink, a campaign that continues in our own day.

________

1Russ Willey, Chambers London Gazeteer.

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Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 6 Comments

Southend on Sea

Saturday, June 6th 2015

Southend Central Station
Southend Central Station

We disembarked for our day out at this rather understated little railway station. Despite its small size, it sees a lot of action, especially during the summer weekends when Londoners come pouring in to spend a day by the sea. Southend is London’s nearest resort.

Southend on the map
Southend on the map
Click for Google Map

As you can see from the map, Southend is at the mouth of the Thames and enjoys both maritime and estuarine views. Its unassuming name comes from the fact that the original Southend, a haunt of fishermen and small farmers, was literally the south end of the village of Prittlewell. This in turn was on land owned by Prittlewell Priory. The 12th-century priory still exists but is today a museum. Prittlewell’s importance has diminished and it is now but a district of an enlarged and invigorated Southend. The town came into its own as a seaside resort when the railway reached it in 1856.

The Last Post
The Last Post
The old post office, now a pub

Though the distance from Fenchurch Street Station in London to Southend Central is not great, the train was one of those that takes a roundabout path and stops everywhere. By the time we arrived, we were ready for refreshment. Just across Clifftown Road, the street it shares with the station, is a pub called the Last Post. It is also an hotel and is run by Wetherspoons. We ordered tea and relaxed for a while from the heavy work of sitting in a train for an hour. The pub’s name may give you a clue as to the building’s original purpose. I’ll mention it again later.

High Street
High Street
The way to the seafront

We next walked south along the High Street, which is pedestrian only for part of its length. The High Street is lined with shops and cafes and would be busy at any time but it also leads directly to the seafront and most people seemed to be heading that way, as you can see from the photo which shows more backs of heads than faces.

Pier Hill Lift
Pier Hill Lift

To reach the seafront from the High Street, you need to negotiate a steep incline. There are three ways to do this. Firstly, you can follow the road, called Pier Hill; secondly, walk down the long set of steps; or, thirdly, walk along a suspended walkway to the Pier Hill Lift which will carry you down (and back up, later). We took the steps.

Southend Cliff Gardens
Southend Cliff Gardens

Before arriving right at the bottom of the steps, we turned off into Southend Cliff Gardens, a public park beautifully situated overlooking the sea. It slopes quite sharply which means that wherever you sit, you have a view. There are many varieties of trees and shrubs in the gardens, making it an ideal place to sit or stroll in summer because there is plenty of shade.

Fish pond
Fish pond

Leaving the park at the bottom, we discovered a fish pond. It probably has a nobler name than that but, if so, I haven’t found any reference to it. The pond itself is in need of attention as the surface of the water is covered with a layer of duckweed. We spotted a large goldfish in the water and duckweed can prevent  the water taking up the oxygen fish need as well as blocking the light and preventing the growth of aquatic plants which these fish possibly rely on for food. Someone needs to take a look at this.

Southend beach
Southend beach

There are fun fairs on the seafront but also a long sandy beach for those who want to bathe in the sea, build sand castles or simply toast themselves without interference from inconvenient shadows. The beach was crowded, as you expect on such a summery day.

Southend Pier
Southend Pier
The longest in the world

We walked along the beach towards the pier. Southend Pier is famous both for its railway and for being the longest pleasure pier in the world at a length of 1.34 miles (2.16 km). Designed by James Brunlees, it was built in 1889 and is now a Grade II listed building. It is Southend’s second pier, the first one being entirely of wood and opening in 1830. As Southend’s popularity grew, it was thought desirable to replace the old pier by one made of iron. Since reopening after the Second World War, the pier has led a chequered existence, suffering from a number of fires and being threatened with closure. Its future seems secure now, at least for the time being.

The railway transports visitors to and from the end of the pier. The railway has been through a number of changes, like the rest of the pier and today the railway carriages are pulled by a pair of diesel locomotives.

The pier's underside
The pier’s underside

I took this view of the pier looking through the iron supports towards the end of the pier which can just be made out. This reminds us that the Victorians were no slouches when it came to building large structures and creating often innovatory designs to achieve their goals.

The Lifeboat Station
The Lifeboat Station

The sea can provide fun but there is also danger, especially when the conditions turn bad but things can go wrong even in calm weather. Happily, the volunteers of the RNLI lifeboat station can keep a weather eye out for trouble. Unlike the traditional lifeboat station, this one has no ramp but is separated from the water by a tarmacked roadway. This is because its boats are hovercraft that can travel on both water and land.

Lifeboat Lifeboat
Lifeboats
Built to hovercraft design

As it was such a warm sunny day and we had no particular agenda, we found a pair of deckchairs to sit on. For a small sum, you buy a day ticket and this allows you to move around and sit wherever you find vacant chairs.

Speedboat rides
“Turbo charged” speedboat rides

We were sitting near a narrow wooden arm that pokes out into the sea and is called the Prince of Wales Jetty. A speedboat called ‘Charger’ was operating from here taking people out for rides. It was obviously popular because the speedboat worked continually and the queue of passengers did not grow any shorter.

And... we're off!
And… we’re off!

According to the notice at the head of the jetty, the speedboat is ‘Turbo Charged’, though it did not seem particularly fast to me. It costs £4 for a ride which lasts about 5 minutes. Whether customers thought it was worth 80p a minute, I don’t know, but they seemed happy enough.

Seafront and Kursaal
Seafront and Kursaal

We walked again, along the promenade, to where the Kursaal came in sight. It is the building in the photo with the dome on top. A Grade II listed building, the Kursaal was built in 1898-9 to a design by George Sherrin, as a place of entertainment. The name comes from German and means, literally, “cure hall” or perhaps what we would call a spa though, as far as I know, it was never used as such.

The foyer, Kursaal
The foyer, Kursaal

Every type of entertainment from ballroom dancing through circuses to games arcades have been practised here but the glory faded in the rush to abandon the British seaside in favour of warmer beaches abroad. Closed for a while, the Kursaal has been opened again as a bar, skittle alley, arcade hall and snooker hall. It seems to be ticking over but the glamour is no longer there. (The discontinuity observable in the above photo is an artifact produced by the stitching program. The photo nonetheless gives a good impression of the foyer.)

Kursaal, the ceiling dome
Kursaal, the ceiling dome

The foyer and particularly the ceiling dome are remains of the original grandeur of this elaborate building, a grandeur that has largely disappeared from the rooms currently accessible to the public.

Sun on the sea
Sun on the sea

After another spell on the deck chairs, we began retracing our steps towards the station. We had not eaten since breakfast and thought it would be a good idea to have a late lunch before catching the train. But where? We looked at a few menus without finding anything to tempt us. In the end, we returned where we had started, to the Last Post.

The Last Post
The Last Post
From Weston Street

Built as Southend’s Post Office in 1896, this noble edifice performed its functions until closing in 1993. It opened again in 1994 but now as a pub, run by Wetherspoon’s. We chose vegetarian sausage and mash and then walked through the pub to Clifftown Road and thence to the station.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 6 Comments