Defying forecasts, the weather stayed dreary but dry today, obliging Mrs RM to join me on a 10 mile walk somewhere, anywhere. From a shortlist of Jaywick, Colindale, Holbeach and Leicester, Mrs RM chose to revisit coastal Essex and see how the much maligned holiday village had progressed since 2010.
Jaywick has had a hard time in the press, focusing on its “most deprived status” and the potential for poverty porn TV. On a couple of previous visits, it struck me that despite some shabby looking houses, there were many unheralded positives. As a local resident puts it, villagers have detached housing, great beaches and pleasing countryside, all things many Londoners don’t have. You can see what I thought of the area with the “least deprived” status here https://retiredmartin.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/south-cambs-losses/
My Mum fondly remembers the adjoining holiday camp fondly from the 1960s, which was clearly when UK tourism began a slide it’s only recently recovering from. Though early November isn’t the best time to appreciate the beach, plenty of walkers from Clacton and kite-surfers were enjoying the local coast with it’s Martello towers and curving bays. It’s not the Cinque Terre but it is (still) the basis of a decent cheap beach holiday for a lot of folk who don’t need more than sand, bucket and spade and beach café.
What really struck us was how much tidier the village is. The rows of household rubbish have been cleared from most of the alleyways leading to the sea, and there were quite a few really pleasant houses which showed growing civic pride.
The best test of a place’s character is, of course, the pubs. There was nothing on Beer in the Evening to scare us off, so we plunged for the Never Say Die in the small row of shops. It’s a traditional open plan Admiral pub, with several discrete areas and a pool table.
We got a much warmer welcome than we’ve had in posh pubs in places 20 miles away, and enjoyed a great pub atmosphere, noticeably free of Sky TV but full of chat. I wasn’t expecting much, but the Ringwood 49er and St Austell Bucket of Blood were both very good (NBSS 3.5), served cool and with a lovely light frothy head.
I’m not claiming Jaywick is the new Whitstable, but I’d expect to see continued revitalisation. To be fair to neighbouring Clacton, it also looked a lot tidier than I’d remembered. Whether this was in any way due to the Prime Minister’s visit that week I couldn’t guess. The gardens won’t beat Eastbourne’s, but our Chinese meal (UME) was cheap and all the facilities were clean.