November 5 – A Day at the Beach – Southend-on-Sea

Fireworks Night

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Tonight is firework’s night but unlike New Zealand where there is a very short window of about three days for sale of fireworks, in the UK they have been on sale for ages and every night for at least two weeks possibly more we have been hearing the explosions. I am sure that UK fireworks are made much noisier than at home and I have gone right off them. Luckily we have a deaf cat to house sit for so at least Billy is not disturbed.

Today we decided to go to Southend-on-Sea to walk down the pier and of course, we needed to collect a few church micros on the way. This part of Essex is very built up and there is no space between the towns so getting anywhere takes time with roundabouts and traffic lights placed regularly. At our first church at St David’s in Eastwood, we collected the numbers for the multi quickly but we could not find the cache anywhere. The numbers took us to a bridge over a stream with a grey barrier all around it and the cache was hidden somewhere on it but where was it. We looked for ages but it is a busy road and there were builders over the road so eventually, we gave up as we did want people to get nervous about us hanging about.

We arrived at St Laurence and All Saints church at Eastwood just as the minister and two churchwardens arrived to set the church up for a funeral but they didn’t mind us having a look around. The church had some lovely stained glass windows and a circular Norman font with interlaced arcading. Then we got out of their way and walked through the churchyard to find a clever cache. While we were in the church we heard loud roaring and when we stepped outside we realised we were right beside the Southend airport.  From the cache site, we stood and watched several planes take off. It must make preaching in the church a bit challenging at times. On to St Peter’s church at Westcliff where we quickly found the cache.

When we finally arrived at the Southend-on-Sea pier we found that they were on winter hours and it was closed on Monday and Tuesday. It is a real pity as there are two caches on the pier and it would have been nice to go out there. You can take the narrow gauge railway or you can walk the 2.16 km pier that stretches out into the Thames Estuary and is the longest pleasure pier in the world and is a GradeII listed building. All along the seafront, there are lots of amusement areas, theme parks and funfairs with entertainment for all ages. One particular indoor theme park was for young children and there were places to walk, climb, crawl, squeeze, swing and slide around two stories safely and we saw parents with children who could not even walk helping their children through this area.

We wandered along the front enjoying the views and wondering how busy it is in the summer. This type of entertainment was very popular until the 1970s but now it is so cheap to go to Europe. Still, everything looks in good condition and well looked after so I think they must still get plenty of visitors, especially in a summer like we just had. As we walked along we came within 50 metres of a church micro but we could not find a church. Also, the shops were all closely packed and there were no alleyways further back. Eventually, we walked up the hill and there hiding behind the massive ark Inn by Radisson Palace was St John the Baptist church which was consecrated in 1842. The church was not open but we quickly found the geocache and walked back to the observation platform which gave us great panoramic views of the entire area. On our walk back down the hill to the funicular, we saw a piece of garden with a spectacular fairytale castle and fountain which was once part of the Never Never Land Theme Park in Southend-on-Sea which is maintained by a team of volunteers. One of the caches we looked for today was at the Shard but we were unable to find anything except an empty container which is possibly the cache with no lid and no log. We logged it as a DNF but the CO emailed us and said that we had found the cache and that we could log it as a find. It had obviously been muggled and not for the first time so I suspect the CO will be looking for a new place to hide the replacement cache.

A lovely day enjoying the seaside with a sandy beach even on a cool autumn day it had a nice atmosphere and brought back many childhood memories of visits to the beach.