We’ve made it to London and all of the travelling Sowerbys have come with different agendas. Veronica’s here to spend some quality time with her brother and get some “London closure” (whatever that means). Annabelle and Emily are chaffing at the bit for the Harry Potter Warner Brothers’ Tour. As for me, I’m here for the weather. From the get go I get exactly the type of weather I expected. When it wasn’t raining, it was grey, cold and windy. Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, it does not.
Seriously, we’re mostly here to catch up with Mark and Lorraine - Uncle and Auntie to our two kids. The two girls are a bit unsure about meeting them again, as its been four years since they last saw them. But from the moment we’re picked up at London Southend Airport, any fears disappear. For the next six days we’re watered (Fosters and red wine), fed (Kiwi BBQ), chauffeured (two cars, don't you know) and pampered not too differently than the royal family. To say we were well looked after would be the understatement of the year.
Mark and Lorraine have also come with their own plans as to help make our London stay memorable. Staying out in Essex, the first thing they do is introduce us to the term TOWIE, an acronym of the British reality TV programme called The Only Way Is Essex, which is based in Brentwood where we’re staying. The name is an improvement from Essex Slappers which is what Essex girls were called when I was last in London. Neither Mark nor Lorraine are TOWIEs, but they both love it our here in Essex and are the perfect people to show us around some of it’s attractions.
First up we’re off to the seaside resorts of Southend-on-Sea and Leigh-on-Sea. Southend has an Amusement Park which the girls are super keen to check out.
The rides cater for the young and younger and to a certain degree, the young at heart, although the adults all wisely decide to sit these out and leave it to the real thrill seekers.
The park was a huge hit with the girls and they were grinning from ear to ear, for the most part, during the entire time we were there. We also got plenty of enjoyment just watching them.
But that’s not all Southend-on-Sea serves up. After the fun park, we got ourselves some proper fish and chips, English style. Actually, the girls got hotdogs and we just got chips as the fish was bloody expensive and would be nowhere near as nice as the blue cod back home (at least that’s what Paul Corcoran told us, when he was here last!).
Energy replenished, it was time to head back out to more fun and the Crazy Golf. I’m not going to disclose who won (code for it wasn’t me), but apparently Emmy got a 2 on each hole, so she probably handed in the lowest card. The steward’s enquiry is till ongoing.
To finish off our Southend experience we all went to the pokies. OK, it wasn’t quite the pokies, but there were flashing lights, sirens, arcade games and security guards making it look very much like a mini Vegas. We all dropped a pound in the coin dispenser and a whole heap of 2p coins would drop out for us to play with (50 coins for those not to flash on the math). We’d then slot these into the machines which had a whole lot of already accumulated 2p coin ready to be pushed out by the moving metal bar. Of course, you’re destined to lose all your money eventually, but it was a whole heap of fun and strangely addictive. For some of us, too addictive.
Southend done, it was time to head off to Leigh-on-Sea where we managed to grab the quintessential London telephone box photo opportunity.
Leigh-on-Sea was a really pretty place. Gentrified if you like and well worth visiting. We had a quick pint at one of the local pubs before grabbing some nice food at a more upmarket eating establishment and calling an end to our Essex experience.
All that sea air had made us quite tired and we were more than happy to hit the hay after the short trip back to our Brentwood. With plenty more to do over the next six days, we’ll definitely be needing our rest.