A Corona walk in Old Leigh-on-Sea
Today me, my wife and my sister, having decided it was an opportune time for a leisurely walk, walked in Old Leigh – along the river edge, by where the cockle sheds were and are. Old Leigh is a favourite place – for me and my sibling – it is where we spent many days as children. But I haven’t been there for a while and, with restrictions due to Covid-19, I knew it would not be as before.
For one thing, the Council in their wisdom, to prevent day trippers from London, closed normal car parking access – so we parked by nearby Leigh railway station. The first challenge was to pay the reasonable parking fee and having to go online to do so. Then it was a matter of taking a leisurely sea walk that in days of yore could have taken us to Shoebury but today the path was blocked soon after when we reached the beach. There we stopped and sat on a bench, probably at almost exactly the same spot where our mother took us during the school summer holidays all those years ago.
While far from hot, it was pleasant enough to sit and reminisce, reflecting on the world now and sixty years ago and since it was relatively busy – noting lots of families with children generally enjoying themselves – we observed with pleasant delight life going on around us, remembering how it was when we were young. I suppose we sat there for nearly an hour around midday before deciding to take the leisurely stroll back to the car, having earlier noted what was open on the way back and having figured out a loose plan of action as to where to stop off on our return.
Some places were closed, presumably because of Covid, although some eating places were open, albeit offering only takeaway, and from what we could make out were doing a brisk business. We decided to buy some chips and drinks and sat on a nearby bench. While not quite having the wow factor, it was nice enough and I certainly enjoyed my cup of hot chocolate. Then, being lovers of decent sea food, we decided we will buy our cockles and whelks to eat when we got home (although, unlike in the ‘olden days’, probably all was imported). Again, there was no shortage of places to buy from a wide range of seafood as well as fresh fish, besides Osbornes that still seems to dominate the old town, as it did when we were children. A quick check and we found what was on offer tasted delicious – I look forward to enjoying my cockles and whelks for tea.
So it was the slow walk back to the car, looking nostalgically across the estuary – the tide that was in when we arrived was now going out – and while times had changed, many of the signs of a thriving in the past sea port was still there, although I suspect these days the main business is tourism and not one humble fisher folk. Lots of memorial benches to sit on but no shelters or loos! On reflection, our deciding to visit Old Leigh was a good call, making us again realise how lucky we Southenders are for places we can go to enjoy a leisurely walk in congenial company, even in this era of Covid restrictions that was all too evident during our outing – and these days leisurely is the word, compared to when we were carefree children. But it was an enjoyable outing that we may well repeat.