Friday, 29 August 2014

Clacton stations

Plenty about Clacton in the media today following the defection of local Conservative MP Douglas Carswell to UKIP. The seafront has been awash with TV journalists doing vox pops and today's Guardian editorial, headlined "Schism-on-Sea" describes Clacton as: "A failed North Sea resort area, parts of it synonymous with deprivation, inhabited by a mainly white population that has missed out on Greater London boom times, Clacton could have been designed as a prime Ukip target seat." Of course, the Tendring Peninsula was once more welcoming to European adventures, hence the famous joke, "Harwich for the continent, Frinton for the incontinent." Meanwhile the existing UKIP candidate in Clacton has been on Radio 4's Today refusing to stand down, which threatens to turn it all into a right old Essex bundle.

Friday, 8 August 2014

This is how the world will end in Essex — not with a bang but a Wimpy…

What is it about Essex and Wimpy restaurants? The brand was created by American Eddie Gold in 1934 and the first 'Wimpy Bar' was opened in the West End by Lyons in 1954. For a time they thrived as Britain's first only fast food restaurants. Indeed some of my childhood was mispent visiting the Wimpy in Brentwood High Street. But then McDonald's arrived in the 1980s and I'd assumed they'd all been closed down. Yet during my recent visit to Upminster I spotted the Wimpy there still prospering. A bit of a Life on Mars moment. I've also come across branches at Barking, Romford, Basildon, Grays, Colchester, Maldon, Witham, Wickford, Braintree and just about everywhere else in God's Own County. Wimpy Mania is something I first remarked upon in my book The Joy of Essex. The Benfleet Wimpy was even chosen as the site of a relaunch by new owners Famous Brands in 2007 featuring, somewhat improbably, Geoffrey Hayes of Rainbow dressed as Mr Wimpy. When Essex falls in love with something it remains incredibly loyal to the brand. In fact I'm sure there's a few Neolithic axehead shops still thriving in the backstreets of Grays…

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Good moos from Havering

Havering Council has made headlines on ITV and Radio London for using Red Poll cattle to graze the 215 acres of Bedfords Park. Apparently they're cheaper and more sustainable than employing humans to cut the grass and free up staff to work elsewhere. And all they need is a Red Bull for refreshment. The placid breed of cows help to preserve the park's 155 species of wildflowers, which suffer from traditional hay or grass cutting. The cattle are also less likely to disturb or kill mice, voles, amphibians and reptiles. Last year Havering used Suffolk Punch horses to clear woodland and it is now claiming to be London's greenest borough. Clearly a bovine triumph for the council's steer-ing comittee.