Cousins Garry & Janice were very devoted visitors to mum over the years, especially given the distances involved, whereas I hadn’t been out their way (apart from the occasional funeral) for decades. Janie and I agreed that should change, so we arranged a short trip to the Essex Riviera.
Having enjoyed the movie, The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson – click here, so much, Janie was keen to see Canvey Island along the way.
Garry was not so sure:
Me finks (sic) you’ll be disappointed with Canvey. There may be nothing open after 5:30pm other than a few haunted bars. Brighton is a paradise in comparison. Don’t forget your passport.
Actually our plan was to get to Canvey by 15:00 and visit the Steels that afternoon for the guided tour of Leigh, both of which we did.
Canvey was more interesting than Garry suggested – the mural on the sea wall was a highlight, as was the sight of many locals taking the last remains of the summer sun on what turned out to be a glorious September afternoon.
The Leigh stroll with Garry and Janice was also interesting. I had never been down to Old Leigh before; it is really rather quaint and charming; probably more so for seafaring types than land-lubbers like me and Janie, but still good to see and a nice chance to catch up with Garry and Janice while strolling.
Then back to get our car and then Janie & I checked in to the Westcliffe Hotel – not bad. Later, Garry and Janice picked us up at the hotel and we walked down the road to the Piccolo Italian Restaurant, where they had celebrated their silver wedding anniversary some years ago.
The Steels very kindly insisted that the meal was on them, but I was able to persuade them that I’d like to sponsor a bottle of fine wine, spotting a Brunelli on the menu at (I realised having just been to a Mousse Wine tasting on that very subject) a very low price for such a vintage wine. The proprietor was very impressed that I recognised the wine and the good value – he’d been buying those in their infancy for years. “Game over now” (he told me ruefully).
A very enjoyable afternoon and evening with Garry and Janice.
In the morning, after breakfast and on our way out of town, we diverted a few hundred yards into Southend proper so I could take a look at the house where Jack, Sybil and Norman had lived up on that cliff. Smashing view – a more salubrious-looking property now.