I cannot believe that a whole month has passed since THE MOST INTENSE HOUSE OUTING EVER™
It was so intense I devoted TWO PAGES to it, which is unprecedented in the world of Emma's visual diary.
So, regular readers may know that I am on a very slow mission to visit all the UK’s remaining pleasure piers. As we’re moving up North in January, I’ve decided to try and cross off a few southern ones before we go. With this in mind, I calculated an optimum route to take in two piers in one day — Southend-on-sea (the UK’s longest pleasure pier) and Gravesend on Sea (the UK’s oldest cast iron pier).
I invited my beloved housemates Alex and Justin along for the ride, and they added some personal desires to the trip — for Justin, a shipwreck museum in a shipping container, for Alex, TWO BOATS! Lots of other stuff happened too…
Feel free to skip over the next bit if you’re not into massively over elaborate days out taken by lovers of public transport…
We got a train at around 8 in the morning up to London, then hopped on the Jubilee line up to Stratford. When we got to Stratford, all trains north were cancelled, so we raced back down to Westham and hopped on a train running a different route to Southend, getting there not long after midday. It was pretty grey and rainy, but we walked down from the station through Southend to the pier (en-route I got called a ‘ginger c**t’ by some LADS, which took me right back to the slightly-grim-seaside-towns of my youth)
Still raining, we set off onto the 1.34 mile walk along Southend pier. That’s a long way to walk along a pier, and to be honest, Southend pier is one of the narrower, more uninspiring piers I’ve ever walked along (aside from its sheer impressive length), not to mention the one with the most unsettlingly wide gaps between slightly rotten-seeming planks.
Sadly, there’s normally a train running along it, which would definitely have added to the experience, but it was down for maintenance, so we had to walk all the way there AND back. Luckily, when we got to the end, we were greeted by the exciting news that steamship Waverly was coming to pick up a big crowd of people for an outing to London. We went up to the top of the lifeboat house at the end of the pier and watched it come in, and it was all very exciting, in a nerdy kind of way.
Suddenly we realised we were HUNGRY and walked all the way back along the pier in the rain feeling HUNGRY. Did I mention it's a long way? After some hassle, we found a great eating place called the Railway Inn which served an all-vegan menu of all kinds of treats, including lasagne, fish and chips, and burgers. Excellent lunch for damp, hangry pier walkers.
After lunch, I was keen to get a move on to Gravesend, but Justin was adamant we had to go and visit the shipwreck shipping container, so, (sun now out), we set off in search of it, and got a ride on a bonus funicular with lovely lady funicular operator, which made the whole thing worthwhile for me (and Justin was very excited about the museum).
We then got a train to Tilbury Town, followed by a convenient bus to a very deserted, industrial Tilbury harbour, where we waited around half an hour for a ferry to Gravesend. It was quite a beautiful spot, with lots of dramatic sky and rainbows.
Eventually the boat came, and we had an enjoyable 10 minute jaunt across the Thames to Gravesend...
...Where we saw lots of treats, including the 'Mug and Meeple' boardgame cafe, a beautiful red 'light ship', Pocahontas's grave, a statue of some mythical figure which I can't even remember but which Justin and Alex insisted we pose with for photos, but disappointingly, THE PIER WAS CLOSED. I got close enough for it to count on my expedition though, although to be honest we liked Gravesend so much we might go back one day.
We then got VERY RAINED ON, and caught a super super super fast high speed train back into Stratford International. We felt very tired, but we powered on and got the DLR (front seat, YESSSS) to Royal Victoria, from where, yes, you guessed it — we got the DANGLEWAY! (aka the cable car thingy)
It was very exciting, and because it was by this point, night time, the cable car took 15 minutes rather than the usual 5, so we got pretty sweet views of nighttime skyline London (highly recommended) accompanied by a saccharine curated soundtrack of Sigur Ros, Elbow, and um... Katy Perry? We shared our compartment with two other couples who ended up being great fun, in an amusingly awkward, 7 strangers crammed into a slightly terrifying dangling box kind of way.
Off the cable car, down to the BOAT! (Number 2), the London Thames clipper from the Dangleway to London Bridge (again, super lovely way to travel London at night), from where we finally got a train back to Brighton.
12 hours; train, tube, funicular, bus, boat, DLR, cablecar, clipper; two piers, SO tiring, so much fun. I may never accomplish so much in one day ever again.
It might have been nice to have a super chilled day on the day after our big outing, but instead we travelled over to Sussex University, to be guinea pigs for the excellent Wesley Goatley’s ‘Critical Data Aesthetics’ Max MSP workshop. An intense but fun day of learnings.
Have been attempting to be frugal recently, but ended up having a very extravagant day in which I finally invested in a not-falling-to-pieces pair of winter boots, and some new pillows. Mmmm, new shoes. Mmmmm, new pillows.
Oh but wait, apparently my feet can’t deal with new shoes ever. I still buy leather shoes which makes me a bad vegan, but my justification for this is typically that a) they last longer, b) they’re more biodegradable than plastic shoes when they eventually do die, and c) my feet are delicate, sensitive souls, and leather is more comfortable. But c) is not true, because apparently all shoes cause me foot agony for at least a couple of weeks after purchase. Sad face.
This is not the best illustration, but VERY EXCITING NEWS, my BFF Sarah has finally popped out a tiny little baby, and her name is Megan, and this is so wonderful.
The onset of the autumn sads? Well actually not yet it seems, thanks to ongoing warm weather and to be honest just being too ridiculously busy to have time to feel sad. (I know, that is not how sadness actually works). I might just have been sad on that day because my winter shoes were hurting my feet so much but I found some old Starburst in my pocket which cheered me up.
Good storm sky.
Alex has got really into sleeping underneath an actual futon.
Holy Fuck were great.
Been trying to learn how to do fancy plaits. It ain't easy.
We’re so excited about Sainsbury’s new vegan cheeses. They’re pretty incredible tbh.
I’ve been working quite hard this month, spending a lot of time getting some zines ready for the ‘Rose-tinted spectacular’ zine fair that my friends Adam and Alice are putting on in November. I’ll have a half table selling nice things! You should come!
Now that George and Wes have moved up to London our ongoing Pandemic Legacy campaign has ground to a halt, so Alex has persuaded me that the best course of action is for the two of us to power ahead alone. Pretty intense Friday evening (but super fun), we just about saved the world.
Get you a graphic designer who can do both [points at self]
I think I finally 'get' tea now
Good autumn walk.
It's been a ridiculously busy October, maybe at times too busy... But I've actually really enjoyed working as much as I have been. I really feel like I'm hitting my stride in a few different areas of my creative practice, and even when I promise to give myself some down time I just find myself wanting to pick up a pen/mouse and carry on.
A reminder, that if you're looking for help with any paid graphic design/illustration work, or you know someone who might be, please drop me a line. You will make me very happy (and help support us in our terrifying/exciting move up North!)