Summer has now well and truly arrived. A heatwave making the UK hotter than Ibiza made perfect weather for my latest outing to the beach in Southend-on-Sea.
Southend-on-Sea, or most popularly just called Southend, is a coastal town in the county of Essex, 40 miles from London – making it the closest seaside resort to the capital. Its pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world, stretching nearly two miles from the beach out to sea, and it is also home to the Adventure Island theme park, which is filled with rollercoasters, Ferris wheels and even bumper cars. (While the pier and park are usually packed with holidaygoers, on this occasion and due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, it was totally empty – looking almost like it came out of a post-apocalyptic film.)
Much to my surprise, the beach I went to was rather small, being only a little patch of sand and the sea taking up much of the space. There was also a natural lagoon formed out of a cove of large boulders filled with water from the sea constantly pounding nearby. Trying out the water in both, I found the actual sea was a tiny bit warmer than the water in the lagoon!
Because the beach was so small, high tide swallows it up entirely – small rocky slopes stop it coming up to dry land. As the afternoon went on, the sea started creeping up on our tiny patch of sand – and as we were leaving, it had already soaked several unlucky beachgoers’ belongings! 😱
While Southend may be the closest seaside town to London, it isn’t really much of a resort as say, Brighton or even Margate. It does have the aforementioned theme park and pier, but away from the sea, it may just look like any other town in England. Southend mostly stopped being a holiday destination from the 1960s onwards, due to the rise of holidays abroad in Spain and other more exotic locales, but it is home to many commuters who make their way to London every day for work. I’d say Southend is more for the people who actually live there, and if you want to really just relax on the beach, you’d probably be better off going to Brighton or Margate. They might be a bit more further afield, but the beaches are certainly bigger and better. 🏖️🌊