Friday, 20 September 2013

Birthday tripper

So, I do believe I promised a little while ago an account of my doings on my birthday last month and now all the photos are gathered in here it finally is!  Actually this will be one of two posts, the other to feature The Main Present that I've been teasing you all with and which has just recently made it's completed appearance following some final adjustments in the skillful hands of mater - that's the only clue you'll get until the big reveal!  I could have lumped everything together in one post but it would have been very picture heavy and probably a bit of a snore after a while so here's the day out first, with the gift post to follow shortly.

My original plan had been to attend the Barrelhouse Stomp 1940s Weekend at Battlesbridge, as mentioned previously here, but as my health was (and still is) playing Lucky Dip with me come that weekend I didn't feel that I would do the event justice (and as it also turned out the local railway branch line that would normally have taken me there was closed for engineering work!) so I went with the consolation prize of a day trip to nearby Old Leigh on the Thames Estuary.

Leigh Creek and some of the fishing fleet, taken from the quay.

Old Leigh is a quaint little fishing village that sits on the banks of the Thames Estuary in Essex, a couple of miles west of Southend and roughly opposite the Isle of Grain in Kent.  While the main town of Leigh-on-sea has evolved into part of the London commuter belt, albeit still very much with a small seaside town flavour (although in recent years a little bit of "yuppyness" has crept in as evidenced by the types of some high street shops and, I'm afraid, prices in a few of the charities) and some lovely history, Old Leigh has remained very much as it was at the turn of the 20th century.  True it does play up its heritage a bit for the tourists these days but it is still a wonderful place to visit for us locals too and is best known for its seafood, which remains the village's prime industry (as you can probably tell from the first picture).  Cockles, winkles, crabs, all sorts of fish - it's all available at Old Leigh's many seafood merchants!

Very windy on the quayside!!

It was a lovely warm albeit sometimes cloudy Sunday in August when mater and I went there and more than a bit breezy at certain unprotected points!  The place was also heaving with people, quite the busiest I'd seen it in a while, as everyone made the most of the late summer weather.  We did two lengths of the old high street, taking in the splendid old fishermans' houses (many still private dwellings), the novelty shops, the two museums/galleries, and the many cafés, restaurants and fishmongers which litter the place (and all of which were packed!).  We eventually found ourselves back at Osborne's Café, which was busy (busier than in the photo below!) but still had a few seats free.  I had a couple of crab rolls (yummy!) and mother had a crab roll, a cheese & onion roll and some rollmops.  Rollmops, in case you're wondering, are pickled herrings wrapped around sliced onions/gherkins/olives etc.  Not so yummy in my opinion (!) - I like my herrings kippered personally ;).

After lunch we decided to burn it all off by walking from Old Leigh into Leigh-on-sea town centre, via the intimidatingly long and steep Church Hill.  Starting a little way above the shoreline it runs all the way up to Leigh Broadway (the high street).  In its present location it dates from 1838 and the church at the summit, St Clement's, can trace its construction back to the 1400s (although there is evidence of a church on the site from as early as 1248).

Church Hill runs for about 520ft and blimey, is it steep!  We stopped a few times, not only to rest but to take photographic advantage of the rewards such an old route provides!

This is actually someone's back gate!

Quite apart from the historic nature of the hill and its immediate surroundings, there are fantastic views of Leigh Marshes and the estuary to be had on the way up.  The people living on the terraces that branch off either side are lucky blighters and no mistake!

Just starting off...

The top at last!  Long way, isn't it?
At the top there are more rewards to be enjoyed in the form of Leigh Library Gardens on one side of the summit and the aforementioned St Clement's church on the other.  We got our breath back in the gardens before having a look around the churchyard.

The entrance to Leigh Library Gardens

You'll have to excuse the decidedly non-vintage sunglasses and drinks bottle!

St Clement's Church, Leigh-on-sea

By the time we reached Leigh-on-sea town centre proper the afternoon was fast drawing to an end and most of the shops were closing up, so we didn't bother perusing anywhere but instead made our way home.

All in all it was a smashing day out and a very nice way to spend my birthday weekend in the end.  [Old] Leigh has always been one of my favourite day trip destinations and I will no doubt return there again soon; if you're ever in the area I can certainly recommend visiting!


  1. That is steep! Lovely, though.
    I'm with you on the Herrings, kippered or fried in oatmeal, yes, but not, absolutely not, the Rollmops!

  2. That looks like a lovely place for a day out, and your suit is very dapper.

    Rollmops? Another thumbs down here.


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