ON TO THE EAST COAST
Having enjoyed the meeting at Jordans I returned to Thebus and was then confronted with a problem. My googling of the previous evening had shown me there were few, if any suitable places to turn round if I went up the road, and where I was it was just too dangerous to perform a three point turn, not that I would have managed to turn in three, or possibly even thirty three goes. The option was to reverse up the road and use the junction about fifty yards back, which was even nearer the blind corner. So I would have to wait till the traffic slowed down. Well slow down is not the correct word, as in the south drivers tend never to slow down, no matter what time of day or night it is – I suppose ‘thin out’ might be better.
We waited and waited, then waited some more. I did finally risk it at gone midnight, though I was lucky to have completed my manoeuvre just before another car came whisking round the bend. But, the benefit of all this is that I have discovered that between 12.30 and 2.30 is a good time to travel. It had been my intention to get out of the layby I had been stuck in, and drive on to park up with the lorries at the first available opportunity, get some sleep then start out early next morning. Of course the first layby I came to was nose to tail HGVs, and the next, and the next, and then I was straight on to the motorway system.
But the good thing was that pretty well all the lorry drivers were off the roads tucked up in the lay-bys, most of the early morning workers had not got going, and that just left a few late night revellers, and those going to and from the airports, so all in all it was a very relaxing time to drive, especially on the M25. I shall use this knowledge to my benefit in the future.
I was heading over to the east coast at Leigh on Sea, well Old Leigh on Sea to be more precise. A bit of googling had lead me to believe this was a rather scenic little fishing port, plus there was a chance of some nice seafood. Always ready to try some nice food, especially fresh shellfish we headed in that direction.
As it was the scenic part of town I was going to, plus anywhere in the South East is almost impossible to stop in I spent quite a lot of time researching places to park up at, and even phoned the local authority, who I have to say were no help at all. The upshot was that I put in the postcode for what looked to be a suitable carpark just past the train station, where there were no height restrictions and the charge was around £3 a day, or £6 for me as we would need two spaces. Strict Lady did pretty well, until of course the last mile or so, but I switched her off and followed the signs for Long Term parking by the railway station and we ended up at a biggish looking carpark, though nearer the station than I imagined. Plus the charges were higher, but then the internet is not always up to date.
I have to say the upright and very solid looking metal poles flanking the exceedingly narrow entrance did not fill me with delight, especially at just gone two in the morning, but with very careful driving we got in. The carpark was large and almost empty, but was right next to the platform and rail line which I hadn’t expected. While I was mooching around it a white van tore up behind me, passed, and pulled into the far corner, then to my surprise drove off again. I wondered if it was a courting couple put off by having someone else potentially near them and busied myself finding a place with two end to end spaces which were also on the end of a row, so I could get out when the carpark was full. Then found sufficient coins for the fee of over ten pounds. Finding the ticket machine in the dark was not easy either, and I was just feeding it when the same white van tore in and rushed over to the far corner again, where someone climbed in.
It occurred to me they were security men, and hoped they weren’t going to be patrolling like that for the rest of the night, but in fact we neither saw nor heard them again, and later I wondered if they had been watching of CCTV, saw us and thought we might be the advance guard of a horde of travellers and had come down to sort us out – I think it is probably a cockle picking area, and perhaps they get trouble with them as in Scotland – but when they saw me with my walking stick putting money into the machine realised we were pretty harmless and left us alone.
I felt a bit wound up after my late night journey so stayed up for a while to have a hot drink and relax, so didn’t get to be till around 3am and so it definitely wasn’t ‘up betimes’.