Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sunday 16th May 1937

Whit Sunday. Not a lonely weekend. John came, so Southend lay at our feet!
Actually, the lousy town of Southend itself, did not see much of us.

Afternoon: Took a bus to Wakering then marched along the mysterious War Department road to Foulness. After tramping two or three miles we met an interested W.D. Police Inspector, who chatted about us for some time and asked many pertinent questions in a friendly way, ie. – “Where are you going?” “Foulness” “Why are you going there? I don’t think you’ll find it very interesting” “Oh, we’re trying to get fit. Must get fit you know!” “You both look quite healthy. Do you live in this district?…”

We explained we were both utter strangers and hoped to return along The Broomway. Military secrets were vaguely discussed. John bluntly asked the purpose of some strange apparatus we had just seen. “Ah, Sir,” said the inspector, still very friendly, “It’s my job to ask questions, and yours to answer them!” Eventually, satisfied, the inspector saluted and went on his way.

Beyond Foulness we found a decrepit pub, The Kings Head. The inn keeper, I noticed, had an Artillery tie. He gave us a very nice tea. About half past five we reached the headway, Fisherman’s Head. We were expected! A soldierly man in plain clothes met us and said “You are the young fellows who want to walk to The Broomway? You mustn’t do it tonight. When the tide goes down it will be dark.” Sure enough, the line of broom ran into the sea just beyond the sea wall. Apparently the coast beyond Fisherman’s Head is not kept secret, so we turned north along the sea wall until we came to Foulness Point. One cannot go further north than this – without wings or a boat.

A desolate spot! No sound but the crying of birds! Scrambled across the saltings and reached a bank of shells, running out to sea. Along this we tramped. The tide was falling rapidly and fresh banks appeared ahead as we went forward. Whilst we stood on the furthest spit of mud bank, watching the water drop lower in the channel beyond, John suddenly remembered the time. 8:15. We had 45 minutes to reach the Kings Head before the last bus went! Foulness Point seemed miles away! We hiked it. We made Foulness Point and hiked onto the pub. 48 minutes. The bus was three minutes late.


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