From the age of about 7 or 8 years old, I spent many happy days playing in the sand and paddling in the rock pools on the beach at the top of my road with school friends - it was quite safe but I hasten to add something that would never occur these days, apart from anything else I couldn't even swim ! Mum always knew where to find me though and even though we didn't have watches we always knew when it was time to go home for dinner.
Courtesy of Canvey Island.org
The river played a huge part of my growing up as my parents always owned their own boats and belonged to the local yacht club.
This was one of the first - a converted fishing boat named 'Pegasus'
This was our last boat named 'Amola' which dad built himself
Champagne for all as she was launched (note the 1960s bouffant hairstyle)
Most weekends were spent on the Thames off the coast of Leigh on Sea and Southend with several trips to the River Medway in Kent when we visited towns such as Chatham, Rochester and Maidstone.
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Once we even motored up the Thames to London - and us girls were absolutely amazed when dad told us that Tower Bridge was opening for us (only to find out within minutes that a huge ship was cruising behind us and was the cause of the opening !! )
That's me fourth from the left on the top row
I belonged to the Sea Rangers aged 14 and was always messing about on boats - canoes, dinghies, sailing boats - and I still couldn't swim!
As I said the river was just at the top of my road and just 800 yards off the foreshore was the Chapman Lighthouse on the Chapman Sands a series of mud flats which had been a problem for sailors and their vessels for hundreds of years.
Courtesy of CanveyIsland.org
This red iron framed structure rang a bell every fifteen seconds during foggy weather and believe me when I was a child, London and its environs suffered many "pea soupers" I can tell you, and that darned bell would be ringing all through the night. Nowadays a bell bouy has replaced the old lighthouse which was demolished during the 1950s.
As a family, most Sunday afternoons during the summer we'd be seen walking along the sea wall, watching all the boats cruising along the river and looking at the fishermen catching their tea. Often mum would pack up a picnic and we'd walk over to the salt marshes beyond the sea wall when the tide was out - being very mindful that the tide would come in again within an hour or two - dangerous as we'd be cut off from the mainland.
c.1950 with dad. mum and auntie Rosa on one of our picnics
This area is known as "The Point" and takes you literally to the furthest point of the island from where you can see Leigh on Sea. Here beautiful purple sea heather grows in abundance and us girls took great pleasure in trying to pick some for mum. The aroma is still with me today.
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