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My day out with Patricia
Walking between Thorpe Bay and Southend
21st August 2009

 The weather forecast for this day out did not look that good.
Weather forecast for Southend 21/08/2009
My plan was that we would arrive at 10:44, and that should have landed us in the middle of a shower. In fact the weather ranged from good to very good for the whole day (with one very minor exception). I don't know how I manage to plan these things, but once again on one of my days out, we arrived shortly before high tide, and we were not there long enough to see the tide drop by any significant amount.
Tide tables for Southend 21st Aug 2009

 I started out from home at just before 8.30 am to walk all the way to Lewisham where I would be meeting Patricia. Patricia was looking gorgeous, and like me she had thrown caution to the wind, and was dressed for a summers day. I wore my shorts and at-shirt, but in an act of pure cowardice I had stuffed my coat into my back pack.

 We caught the Docklands Light Railway train from Lewisham to Limehouse station where we bought the tickets to Thorpe Bay, and changed to the mainline railway. It takes exactly an hour to travel between Limehouse and Thorpe Bay, and as we travelled we passed through areas with bright sunshine, and other areas where it was duller, but at no time did we see any rain.
Patricia on the train to Thorpe Bay
Patricia on the train to Thorpe Bay

 To my great surprise, and also to my great relief, it was bright and sunny when we arrived at Thorpe Bay station. It is about 0.8 miles to walk from the station to the beach, and typically you only first see the sea once you are within a couple of hundred yards from it. The beach for this area, and all the way to Southend is about 70% sand, and 30% shingle. When the tide is out it is possible that the beach becomes sandier further out, but there was definitely more sand than I had seen on my previous few days out.
Patricia on the beach
Patricia on the beach striking a pose that I was not aware of having taken a picture of.

 It is just over 2 miles from where we first arrived at the beach to the pier at Southend. At about the halfway mark we stopped so I could have a paddle, and generally slosh around in the water. After one brief foray into the sea I returned to the beach to put my mobile phone and wallet into my back pack that Patricia was guarding for me. With nothing of value in the lower pockets of my shorts I ventured out a bit further than I had done before, and managed to get the bottom of my shorts soaking wet. That was no problem. There was a strong almost warm breeze most of the time, and my shorts dried out very quickly. Unfortunately, and despite my precautions, I managed to get seawater, probably off my wet hands, inside my mobile phone. It is now dead, but I think there is a chance it will work again once it has dried out despite me not noticing it, and taking the battery out, for over an hour.

Towards Southend from Thorpe Bay
This is the view along the beach towards Southend with the pier visible on the horizon

Boats anchored near Thorpe Bay
For the first mile from Thorpe Bay many boats are anchored.

Southend Pier
This fuzzy, and rather pointless picture shows Southend Pier from about a mile away.

 I didn't take many pictures on this day out, and the fuzzy one of Southend Pier taken from about a mile away was the last one I took. I thought I may have taken one or two more than the ones I have shown, but once agin the bright sunlight made the LCD viewfnder pointless, and I was not always even sure the camera was turned on because I could see absolutely nothing in the viewfinder.

 Our visit didn't end once we arrived at Southend. After following a sign post to some toilets that I couldn't find I treated Patricia to a ride to the end of the pier on the little railway that rattles and rolls all the way there. At the end of the pier the string breeze turned into a fairly strong wind. On occasions it was a little chilly, but mostly it was very pleasant sitting in the sun looking out to sea, or more accurately, across to Kent on the other side of the estuary. Also, although it was not the reason for going onto the pier, I knew that there were toilets there, and knew exactly where they were.

 As we rode back towards land there came hints that we were losing the best of the weather. Some dark clouds were looming, and we retired to the Wetherspoons pub, The last Post, for a pint for me, and a Pimms with Pomegranate for Patricia. While we were in there a few drops of rain fell, and then a few more light drops while we looked in some shops prior to getting our train back to London. One shop we went into was a discount clothing shop. As far as I could see it did not cater for anyone above medium in size, but Patricia found herself a nice dress for 12.

 We missed the train I had planned that we would get back to London. This shouldn't have mattered for two different reasons. Originally, and much to her annoyance, Patricia had to attend a staff meeting at work, back in Lewisham at 4.30 pm, and I had promised I would get her back in time for it. That meeting had later been cancelled, and so we were not tied to getting back to Lewisham so early. The second reason why it should not have been a problem was that trains back to London are every 15 minutes, and so we had very little time to wait until the next one. Unfortunately the next train did not call at Limehouse where we changed to the Docklands Light Railway, and so we had another change of trains at West Ham station. Even more annoying was that the onward train at West ham was delayed by about 10 minutes, and at that point I was seriously looking forward to a fag outside the station at Limehouse. I had coped extremely well with nicotine withdrawal for the hour journey, but as we neared the end of the journey I let my will power sag, and that extra 10 minutes was a difficult time.

 With fresh supplies of nicotine coursing through my blood we only had a two minute wait for the next Dockland Light Railway train back to Lewisham. After all that, if Patricia had still to go to the staff meeting she would have been 10 to 15 minutes late. A little impolite, but not the end of the world. With no meeting to go to, Patricia left the train at Cutty Sark station to meet a friend in Greewich, while I continued on to Lewisham. As wel as being very lucky with the weather again, I was also very lucky that I only had  a few minutes wait for a train to take me on to Catford. By pure coincidence the train I got was the same service that I would normally be on during my commute back from work. I even got on in the same place as I get on every evening when I come home from work.

 When I arrived back at catford I thought my luck had finally run out. As I left the station it started to rain, and I thought I was going to get very wet. I was half way home before I realised the rain had not got heavier as I thought it would do, but had actually stopped. So my luck continued to run.

 Thanks to Patricia's company this was the best day out I have had all year. It was extremely enjoyable, and Patricia seemed to enjoy it as well. It's only taken 5 years and one week to get to have a day out at the seaside with Patricia, and I feel sure that I won't have to wait another 5 years before the next one.