25 August 2021
This was my second visit to Southend. My first was as a student in 1968. I and three fellow students had just finished our applied Biology examinations. We piled into one of our number’s car which he had borrowed from his parents. It was my one and only time tasting jellied eels and I have never had the inclination to repeat it.
Southend boasts the longest pier in the world and I walked the length of it as a student, but this time I decided to give this walk a miss. Instead I opted to walk along the seafront and treated myself to fish and chips in a restaurant overlooking the pier funfair. This is a tradition I started on my travels to seaside towns around Britain.
It was a relief to get back to my travels once more. Like many of the world’s population I have been “locked down’ in doors this last two years. It had an upside in that I was able to work uninterrupted on a new novel, “The Lost Girls” and followed this up with some short stories featuring the same central character in the novel. Writing is a solitary occupation and despite the opportunity it provided to get work done I missed the travel and the opportunity to interact with other people.
The chief reason for going to Southend was to check out the Essex Writers festival, which had been running since June, but was now nearing its end. I visited the Essex Writers’ House at Chalkwell Hall, Chalkwell Avenue. This provided the opportunity to write alongside fellow writers and interact with them. A lady who ran it told me that all the desks were fully booked but I could use a table on the terrace out side. It was a sunny hot day as I set up at the table and the kind lady provided me with a cup of tea.
I met another lady who told me she was writing a text book on carbon-free textiles. She had taken a short break from one of the upstairs writing desks and had come down for a cup of coffee. We chatted for a short while then went back to our writing and I managed to complete most of this blog on the terrace.
When I finished I went back to the Chichester Hotel, Wickford where I was staying. The hotel was running a skeleton service because of the pandemic and the restaurant was closed. I really felt for those who were struggling with the effects of the pandemic and the hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and found my visit to Southend very worthwhile and I was able to leave the next day extremely pleased with all I had achieved there.