Apart from the flickering images via the video marvels of Skype, which still seems one part Max Headroom and another the moon landing live feed, this was the first time Isabelle, Sarah and I had seen my mum and dad since Christmas.
Although only down for the weekend, the visit did happily coincide with a balmy Saturday that saw the crowds, along with most of their legs, out to soak up they first decent rays of the year. Like many of those souls in Southend that day we hit the seafront, which probably like most people who live by the sea is something you predominantly do when people come to visit.
We took a steady stroll of a couple of miles past the casino, past the gaudy amusements (which always play the same Jean –Michelle Jarre music from Oxygen, past the rumble of Adventure Island and then some…to the newly revamped Sea Life Adventure, which boasted a near million pound refurbishment and sharks aplenty.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I like Jaws, and even find its sequels a guilty pleasure. In fact when I was in secondary school I even wrote a 30 page Jaws V, set in Cornwall of all places!
Back to the Sea Life Adventure, Isabelle really likes colourful things that move around and I also thought it was a great opportunity to introduce her to the first rung of the shark = Jaws = Spielberg ladder. A cunning plan then.
Flashforward not even 30 minutes after entering and we’d finished and my mum and dad who had kindly paid for it felt like they’d been pretty much robbed. The much lauded million pound revamp was more of a damp squid, I mean squib. Sarah and I couldn’t even skate around the issue and made a complaint.
Apparently when we asked what the money had all been spent on, it looked the same apart from some splashes of paint, they said that all the tanks had been cleaned and fresh gravel had been put in (which is like taking all the crap out of my car, valeting it and then putting all the crap back in it if you ask me), which doesn’t really wow the casual observer. There was no massive difference to the shark tank either. It was the same tank with a couple of sharks that didn’t make their home in British waters. It wasn’t really some-fin that made a massive difference to be honest.
The only thing you could really see that they had done was give the reception refit, one for the photo album there then, and a lick of paint, although the visit had a lack of point.
Happily, just across the road was a 50s diner, Bobby Jo’s, which easily melted away all the memories of where we had just been. If that was my somewhat abortive attempt at getting Isabelle into Jaws, she did make friends with a giant shark though so all is not lost, then the successful visit to Bobby Jo’s was a resounding success for Sarah and her first chance to pedal the notion of the
1950s = Back to the Future = Steven Spielberg. My dad and his beard even kind of underlined that point.
The décor and service, complete with replica outfits and 50s music and movies rounding out the ambiance, was great but the milkshakes were in another league. Isabelle also took great interest in having something of a chew on the milkshake straws. Yum!
After all those milkshakes the two-something mile walk back in the dying heat of the day’s pleasant sun was a welcome jaunt. We bid farewell to Mr Blue Sky at The Cliffs Pavilion Theatre for a coffee, I mean alcoholic beverage, and the perfect vantage point to watch the sun as it disappeared into the sea.