Stranger, if you want a wild night out in Basildon…

..that doesn’t involve drunken fighting between underaged girls in the so aptly named ‘Festival Park’, you better get ready for an evening with psychic mediums, 4th rate comedians or 3rd rate tenors.

Well, at least according to the Billboard the council is proudly displaying.

The fourth largest foreign cultural group in the UK and its planning repercussions

Now imagine this in St James' Park

Today I learned that I belong to the fourth largest foreign cultural group in the UK, behind my fellow citizens from Pakistan, Poland and the Hispanics (which I presume are from South America and Spain). That of course means that the local councils should treat me like the ethnic minority that I am and allow some leeway for my cultural preferences. That’s the same argument that the Irish Travellers use for their retrospective planning permission requests, so that should apply to me as well.

Hence I am planning the building of a 30 feet tall Black Forest Cuckoo Clock in St James’s Park, complete with a stage for an umpah band, a life sized cuckoo that will eminate every thirty minutes from its flat in third story of the cuckoo clock tower and yodel (amplified by a 1000 Watt sound system) over the lush park area. After finishing it I will move in and expect the council to grant retrospective planning permission, as this is traditional for my culture, and I belong to the fourth largest in the country. Now that’s some muscle.


Walking around Basildon?

If you – like me – live in the postindustrial wastelands that is modern day South – East Essex, you will be delighted if you get out of the concrete desert from time to time and get some fresh air and get away from the NEETs.  Surprisingly, this is actually not that, hard, as the County and District Councils run a surprisingly large and diverse collection of country parks. To find the best ones, may I recommend the following little tome:

‘Secret Basildon’ by Sue Ranford is a little gem of a book with 15 medium and short range walks around some of the nicest nature reserves you would hope to find. Sue makes the walks easy to find and to navigate, adds helpful little maps and gives you even a little hint or two on what to look out for.

Today we walked around the lovely Northlands Wood Country Reserve which is literally 5 minutes by car from Basildon proper and (apart from the constant din from the A13) lets you forget that you live in one of the most unappealing places in England. Quite a feat.

Just around the corner from Basildon. Really?

St Nicholas Church, Laindon

If you have a look at the map of Basildon, that semi urban poster child for 1960’s ‘New Town’ inspirational architecture, you’ll notice that over the years it has spilled over it’s borders (set by large bypass roads) and incorporated its surrounding villages (infecting them with similar architecture). Apparently the oldest of these hamlets is Laindon, now a small sleeper town with the probably most dilapidated ‘shopping centre’ ever. In the north of Laindon is a single hill, overlooking post industrial South East Essex featuring a lovely 14th century church.

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church and its surrounding cemetery is a lovely spot to soak up the sun and enjoy the surprisingly green surroundings.


The only thing you won’t escape is the constant noise from the surrounding roads. Especially the A127 is relentless with its continuous low frequency hum from thousands of tyres rolling up and down the countryside.  The CHurch is quite well connected. It has it’s own website and even a ‘friends of…’ site (which needs some tlc btw), which, as I am reliably informed, has been set up by the very people who turned the little hill into the lovely spot that it is now by tending the plants, looking after the graves, etc.

Isn’t it comforting to know that even behind the most anonymous of sleeper towns there is still a group of people looking after its heritage?

A very comforting thought.

A Grand Day Out. In Basildon.

So last weekend the best girlfriend ever dragged me away from my computer (just when it looked like I was finally levelling up to a level 3 mage on Baldur’s Gate. Sigh) to attend the Basildon Beer and Folk Festival. While neither me nor her are particular fan of middle aged men playing solo acoustic guitar and singing about flowers I tagged along and had a look around.

Hidden behind Basildon Council’s recycling station is ‘Wat Tyler Country Park‘, a regeneration project in the marshes of South East Essex on the site of a disused explosives factory that promises a natural paradise where a landfill used to be.

The first thing you will notice on the way to the Wat Tyler park is this:


Art in public spaces. Whether it works often depends on the choice of site. Or the art. I am not 100% sure whether the basketball player in front of the Motorboat Museum works, though.


The Motorboat Musuem. Yes, there is a Motorboat Museum.  After having a look around Google for about ten minutes I couldn’t find another one, so it seems to be rather unique on this planet. What is it like? Well, it’s a hall crammed full of motor boats in all shapes and sizes.


And there is a pond in which you can steer your own little model motorboat after the insertion of 40p.  I personally can’t see the appeal and would have preferred a motherboard museum, but you can’t have everything in life.


I am sure there is a thriving vintage motorboat community out there that considers this spot in the Essex marshlands as their holy grail.

The folk and beer festival? There was a chap with a guitar singing about hang overs. There were no cask ales left. We left quickly to enjoy the relative quiet of the RSPB’s twitcher huts and were rewarded with the sight of a Eurasian Coot with her chicks.


I did level up very soon after that.