As it was another fine day today we decided to go to the seaside. Having been to Sussex recently, we chose instead to head east to Southend. So we took the bus to town and walked to the station, passing by the very decorative Leadenhall Market on the way.
The obvious way to go is by train from Liverpool Street but for a change, and a chance to see different scenery on the way, Tigger suggested we leave from Fenchurch Street.
When we bought our train tickets, we were given the bad news: today the trains go only as far as Pitsea, with rail replacement buses thereafter. However, we will be able to return direct via Liverpool Street, if we wish.
The train journey was uneventful, as was the coach ride from Pitsea to Southend, apart from the slow running in places owing to heavy traffic. On a day like this, it’s only to be expected that the roads to the seaside are busy.
Southend itself was pretty crowded though not as much as I had feared. In any case, we decided not to stay there but to move on. We therefore walked to the bus station for a game of bus bingo.
In bus bingo, you take the first bus that is going somewhere you are happy to go. The first bus we saw was headed for Canvey Island. Unfortunately, this destination proved to be outside the area covered by the Plus Bus tickets. We disembarked and tried again. This time we were luckier and found a bus going to Shoeburyness.
When we reached the seafront the tide was out and the sea invisible beyond a broad stretch of sand. Nonetheless, there were people about quietly enjoying themselves in the sunshine.
We spread a blanket on the grass and rested for a while, enjoying the sunshine and the fresh air. We had had vague thoughts of lunching here but there seemed little chance of that in this small town where all that was on view was a mobile snack bar. Still, Shoeburyness is a pleasant enough spot and we enjoyed seeing it again.
We took the bus back to Southend and made for the local branch of Frankie & Benny’s where we had lunch. I found the food about average and expensive for the quality. The mozzarella and tomato salad seemed to be designed for people who didn’t like mozzarella as there was so little of this in it.
After lunch we took a bus to Rayleigh. We have been here before and didn’t stay long today. In fact, we spent most of our time here in a Costa cafe drinking coffee! Back in Southend, the sun was still shining but the heat had gone out of it and the streets were less crowded than earlier.
We went down to the seafront to take some photos. The scene was very cheerful with the sunlit beach and the funfair in full swing. Evening merrymakers were already beginning to appear, roaming around in groups.
We stopped off at the Sands restaurant and cafe bar on the beach for refreshments. When we emerged, people were still enjoying the beach despite the low sun and increasing chill on the air.
As we walked back towards the bus station, the streets were being taken over by the Shouters, groups of young fun seekers who seem incapable of conversing other than by shouting at one another. The ominous appearance of street urinals was another sign that it was time to leave this place and take the train back to London.
The bus we had taken earlier to Rayleigh served us again, this time to carry us the few stops to Southend Victoria station. We soon had a train going directly to Liverpool Street, a much more convenient route than the one we had taken in the morning.