Sunday, 8 April 2012

Culture on Sea

'Ooh! 'Chelle, the wind's blowing right up my crack!.'  I couldn't fail to hear the dulcet estuarine tones of one of Essex's finest as she uttered this memorable line on a particularly blustery day.  Nor can I forget the chap who once showed me the particularly sorry drink addled contents of his underpants in a Southend nightclub that came with a proposition that I just had to refuse.  So, it was with surprise that I saw that my childhood hometown is billing itself as 'Culture-on-Sea'.  Really?

'What would Southend have to offer me?' asked my sartorially elegant friend Mr Metrosexual a week ago.   In the years when I was a young adult I would have mumbled something about the place being a dump, but no more.  I only had to pause for a second before I reeled off my rather expansive list.

There's my beloved pier, miles and miles of seafront,  world famous shellfish, beautiful parks like this one at Southchurch Hall, art galleries and museums.  The airport has perked up in time for the Olympics, there's festivals galore and, just outside the town boundaries, the ruins of Hadleigh Castle will play host to this year's Olympic mountain biking events.  The list goes on and on even before you take into account the town's excellent transport links into London.    Those of you though, who looked at my first photo and thought that orb spotting might be one of the pursuits are going to be disappointed.  Those mysterious spheres at the top right of the shot were just dirty spots on my lens!

On another spooky note I had hoped that the refurbishment at Prittlewell Priory might have now been completed so that I could test my theory about the 'haunted balcony'  that I wrote about last year.  |Alas, it was still closed so I had to content myself with the lovely formal gardens.  However those of you with an interest in testing out their nose for the supernatural, and anyone else who just likes a  good mooch around a museum, will be pleased to know that  the re-opening, complete with jazz, demonstrations and all manner of frivolities will take place on 16 June.

So, all you trendy peeps out there.  Spurn those better known cultural hotspots, ignore the dropped aitches and the glottal stops and come and see what the seaside playground of Eastenders has to offer.  You may be very, very surprised.

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