We took a few days off and headed back to where it all began – Essex! Ann has a job interview in the area on Thursday, and we decided to make this pilgrimage to where we’d spent a big chunk of our life working for Mr Sainsbury. The time was the 80s, and it seems a lifetime ago now!
We visited many of our old haunts – Braintree, Witham (and drove by our previous house!) and finished-up in Rochford, close to Southend-on-sea.
But first, to get us in the retail mood, we dropped into Freeport Retail Park near Braintree.
We haven’t been here for a few years – probably not since 2001 when Ann’s Aunt passed away – and the place certainly seems to have expanded! An hour-or-so later we’d bagged a few bargains and then headed off in the direction of our next significant stop – Witham (where I lived in the 80s) via the B1018. I got to know every inch of this road ‘back in the day’ (I reckon around 1984) as it was the quickest route home in Witham from Ann’s parents’ house in Braintree and I must have travelled up and down it hundreds of times
Twenty minutes later, we were there – 16 Dorothy Sayers Drive. It hadn’t changed very much in the 30+ years since I’d first lived there (and where Ann had moved in, a year later).
Then it was off to our final destination of Rochford – and another set of familiar roads: the very oft-travelled A12 (another road where I think I knew every pothole); then on the less familiar A130, leading ultimately to our bed for the night, at the imaginatively titled The Rochford Hotel.
This was an excellent hotel! Super friendly staff, a massive room (Room 3 of just 22), free wifi… oh, and a gym! (yes, I did use it, briefly!)
We weren’t far from Southend, and neither of us been there either for quite a few years. Reception recommended a very good Fish Restaurant, but couldn’t recall the name, but they did remember it sat high up from the road on the seafront! A quick drive into town, and we saw a building that fitted the position and description – Fishermans Wharf. We parked easily along the seafront, and were soon perusing the largest menu I think I’ve ever seen in a fish restaurant.
…with a perfect view of Essex Radio’s Southend HQ from the window!
Thai Fish Cakes, Pilchards, Salmon en-croute and Fish-Pie did the job and we were stuffed – and couldn’t even manage a dessert! Excellent service and an excellent menu!
The sun was going down by the time we left, and the temperature was dropping rapidly. We took the steps (numerous!) up to the town centre shops towards Debenhams and had a quick look round before heading back to the Hotel.
By the time we’d maxxed-out TK Maxx, it was amost sunset, and that gave us a lovely view in the direction of the famous Pier – FACTOID ALERT: Southend Pier is the longest pier in the WORLD!
Back in our room, it was some last minute prep for tomorrow before settling down in front of the TV for the rest of the evening. Despite a bit of stop/start town traffic, the dual carriageways and motorways helped with the Jaguar’s mpg and returned 24.5.
The day started in the most relaxing of fashions. Ann’s interview in nearby Hockley wasn’t until 11am, so we had a slow breakfast and a slightly faster gym experience before packing up our bits and taking the short drive to the interview venue.
It’s been a very nostalgic trip back to Essex. In many respects the areas we covered haven’t really changed that much – the sights and sounds were very much as we remember them, and it gave us a warm feeling to be back in places that featured so significantly in our past.
Now the wait begins for the results of the interview!