Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Brief Stop in Clacton-on-Sea

Saturday 3 August 2013. We were heading to Harwich to board the Thomson Spirit for a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords. This would be a couple of firsts. We've never been that way - what way? - Norway before and we've never sailed out from an English port before.

We had been in Great Yarmouth a few weeks before and due to traffic conditions found the return journey take an incredible nine hours. We did not want to miss the boat... So we set off at the perhaps ridiculous time of 3:45 in the morning and, hardly needs to be said, no traffic... The hardest part of the journey was going so long before the service stations started serving breakfasts...

So by ten o'clock we were only a few miles from Harwich, much too early to board the ship and so we decided on a slight detour to Clacton-on-Sea. The sun decided to make a bit of an appearance too so it was a very pleasant, if somewhat short, visit.

There's a bit of a dip in height from the main street to the pier and a bridge goes across the service road down to the pier entrance. The pier opened in 1871 originally to allow passengers to arrive by boat and was lengthened from 160 yards to 394 yards in 1893.

Today it holds a large covered fairground and amusement arcade with a 50ft helter skelter on the decking. From the pier we noticed a couple of Martello towers along the coast to our left. One hundred and three such towers were built in England at the time of threat from Napoleon Bonaparte and 47 of them survive.

A far older reminder of history was found here in 1911. A wooden spear dating back to 400,000 BC, give or take a month or two was found, though the name tag had dropped off so we don't know whose it was. 400,500 years later Clacton was given its name. It derives from Clacc Inga Ton (the village of Clacc's people), Clacc the Saxon being so called because he used to keep a bit of folded up cardboard in the spokes of his bike.

OMG!!! The place has a Wimpy!!! I just love their quarter pounders. You can keep American Whoppers and stuff served up by clowns, Wimpy was a British firm and didn't deserve to be wiped off the face of England just because Burger King bought them out. That was in 1989. In 2007 they were bought by Famous Brands, a South African firm and started to be seen on motorway service stations. These had been disappearing again and I was starting to despair of ever tasting that quarter pounder sauce again... And now I find one at 10:30 in the morning and my metabolism definitely isn't up to burgers between meals these days... Ho hum... maybe on the way home (no... we were off the ship the following week by 8:00am and a quarter pounder for breakfast is definitely not an attractive option any more for me!) Anyway - maybe this signifies a return to the high street - let's hope so!

And I kept this for the last - I saw this Zoltar fortune telling machine on the pier. Looking brand new. Maybe it was brand new, but it would be nice to think it was an original that had been restored. Darn again! I just checked and they are still being made!

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