Are you looking for breathtaking views, exotic foods and a clear blue sea? If so then Southend may not be the place for you, but as far as British seaside towns go, Southend is one of the best! Featuring the world's longest pleasure pier Southend attracts thousands upon thousands of tourists in the Summer and boasts a large coastline of both warm sand and light shingle beaches. The local Italian family ice cream company 'Rossi's' will help you cool down on a warm Summer's day and at Christmas time the fresh and warm cinnamon donuts are to die for! Apart from the sandy beaches Southend seafront also offers a thrilling theme park with rides and attractions for all ages! Adventure Island, as the Theme park is called, is situated in the middle of the seafront next to the pier and offers beautiful views as the sun sets over the Thames and the neon lights of the arcades spring to life. From mini golf to bowling, speedboats to an aquarium, there's too much to see and do you'll need a long weekend at the least. With almost too many restaurants and pubs to choose from you can't fail to enjoy a long day out down Southend seafront!
Of course the seafront is just one of Southend's areas of attraction. Southend High Street offers a plethora of shops including two large shopping centres, the Royals and the Victoria Plaza. They are named as such because Southend is a victorian town and Princess Caroline stayed in one of the seafont hotels in 1803. The current Queen Elizabeth II also stayed in Southend for a period during the Second World War when London was undergoing the blitz so the town has had its fair share of royal influence. With two main stations and an Olympic Diving pool Southend is hardly a small coastal town and has produced an extensive list of talent over the years which includes Olympic Swimmer Mike Foster, Busted lead singer James Bourne (both of who went to my junior school) Countdown star Rachel Riley and Eastenders' actor David Witts (he went to my secondary school whilst I was there). Tom Daley also came to Southend to train for the 2012 Olympics and the olympic diving pool boasts just one element of the town's extensive sports' facilities. On this note it's worth mentioning that Southend's football club 'The Blues' or 'The Shrimpers' are a professional football league team and reached the Championship in recent years. They have produced such players as Norwhich's Gary Hooper who played several seasons for Celtic as a star striker and Welsh star Freddy Eastwood who famously scored the free kick for Southend to beat giants Manchester United 1-0.
Furthermore, Southend was a potential area of invasion alongside Dover during World War II had Hitler decided to cross the Channell from France so there is a local army garrison which has been converted into lovely housing but the parade grounds, cannons and pill boxes still line a secluded area of the coast, which, alongside many of the museums in Southend, are of great interest to any budding historians! On this note let me tell you that depsite its boom in the 1800s Southend's oldest houses were constructed by Saxons and the local Priory, situated in Priory Park, was one of the few that survived King Henry VIII's desecration of the Church. In fact in 2003 a Saxon King's tomb was unearthed in Prittlewell, not far from Southend town centre and gave way to a new exhibiton in the Southend museum. Of course Southend town is just one element of Southend and the quaint fishing town of Leigh-on-Sea, agricultural peace of Rochford and busy junction of Rayleigh all fall under the borough of Southend. Essex has a poor reputation as a whole unfortunately, largely due to its portrayal in social media, but Southend-on-Sea is a fantastic place to visit, with the local council winning UK council of the year recently you know you're in capable hands during your visit. Less than an hour on the train from London, Southend is an ideal place to get away for a weekend and enjoy the sun, sand and harmony.
IMAGE 1: https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6164/6198239149_c3740b7331.jpg - Sunset down the seafront.
IMAGE 2: http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42289000/jpg/_42289668_southend_pa.jpg - Southend defeating Man United 1-0.