The ending photo in part one was Harley Hare part of Southends Hares about Town, like many towns and cities over the last few years they have taken some animal or cartoon character got local celebrities, schools and businesses to paint them and then the council places them around city\town major attraction areas. They then tell to the kids that they must go see them all and end up dragging the parents all over town to view brightly coloured models and then visit the local attraction as well, cynical possibly but not far off the marketing brief. I think we saw about 5 Hares plus dozens of smaller Hares on in the pier ticket office (pictures will be in the gallery once it is sorted out).
Our first full day was spent in Southend-on-Sea to give it its full name, only travelled through the town a couple of times and stayed in a farmers field on the outskirts. Southend is seen as your typical British holiday resort and did not disappoint in that manner, Adventure Island for the kids with its vast array of roller coaster rides (5 in total I think) to the large spinning arm that hung you up side down many feet above the ground. Amusement arcades, gift shops and food shops were on the other side of the road that ran along the promenade.
We had a planned meeting with a friend after lunch so we decided to visit the aquarium and pier then back into town for our meeting. So having walked from Adventure Island to the Aquarium we were greeted with queues, kids and pushchairs, it took all of 2 seconds to decide that the Aquarium was a no go. So we started the walk back to the worlds longest pier.
Having walked from the town center, to adventure island and then to the aquarium and back I was not ready for a mile or so walk to the end of the pier, so the train it was. The train takes about 10 minutes or so to rattle its way to the far end of the pier (probably a couple hundred meters short of the end). Once of the train you are confronted with a large free standing support barge which was for driving in new piles for the Starboard side of the pier, nobody was on the barge when we got there, but half an hour later they scared the wotsit out of everybody by starting the onboard generator and running it to full revs in around 3 seconds, think they just wanted everybody to know they had arrived for work at 11:45am. Apart from its length it is no different than any other UK pier, food shops, gift shops, restaurant. One interesting point to note there were several sets of locked gates leading to steps to a lower desk which was completely covered green with seaweed, large sections missing and large red signs warning everybody to keep out as debris was likely to full on their head (this debris would have been falling from the deck that we are walking on!!). We were soon back on the train for the return to the promenade, the promenade is a lot lower than the main town to the point you have a steep hill to walk up or a lift, the lift won. This lift takes you straight up 60ft as opposed to the rail car lifts that ran up the cliffs which were further down the sea front.
Once we left the lift and made our way along the walkway we were greeted by some very tall alien plants, well at least thats what they looked like. I am no botanist but I believe they were Aloe Vera plants with 8 to 10ft bloom stems with their yellow flowers. I have seen the plants before but never in bloom, they certainly have an alien look to them.
Now why is it than whenever I go into a Weatherspoons pub the police are already there or they follow me in a minute or so later, happened in the Last Post in the town. Not sure what they were there for, they disappeared with staff out the back and reappeared an hour or so later. The building is a odd sort of building, turns out it is the old postal sorting office (hence the name). We enjoyed a couple of drinks and meetup with a friend then, it was back to the car and back to the hotel. I found Southend as I expected, would I come back yes but it won’t at the top of my “to visit list”.