I was born in Essex. An Essex girl born and bred and no, despite the hugely hilarious (sarcasm) The Only Way Is Essex, Essex – not even Southend – is particularly like that.
That being said, there is something a little bit naff about Southend, it can’t help it, the rather over-rouged trollop that was cloned from the original and much embarrassed Westcliff-on-sea which sits beside Southend shoulder to shoulder like a maiden aunt in whalebone and lace. Southend is the good time girl who likes a drink and carnival rides and candy floss and seaside rock and a night out on the slot machines whereas Westcliff loves her anyway and holds her head when she vomits.
Despite having fled Essex a good few years ago now, and will – due to the rather inconvient placement of Southend (you’d only go there if you GOING there, it’s not somewhere you can pass through unless you were going to Shoeburyness and who would) I’ll probably never go back, I have fond memories, and none so fond as for Rossi’s ice-cream. ANYONE who’s lived in Southend, or has visited for more than a few minutes will know of Rossi’s, a family-run ice-cream business which started in 1932 and now is celebrating more than 80 years. Their ice-cream is absolutely gorgeous, and utterly unique (as far as I’ve found in my world-wide travels, anyway) and why they aren’t selling far and wide I don’t know but according to their website, they seem still to be entirely based in Essex, with a few stockist in Suffolk and Norfolk.
This I did not know, and to think I’ve spent ten years up here and could have bought Rossi’s all this time annoys me. In particular their lemon ice which is the most thirst quenching and delicious lemon sorbet you will ever have tasted.
For all of my life, they had a kiosk in Southend High Street and I found out yesterday that that kiosk is no more and that upset me rather. It’s a huge icon of my life, gone – every Saturday, my mother and I – and then later as I got older, my friends and I would always make that the first—or last (and sometimes both!) stops on our shopping trips to the high street. I suppose I’m glad I found out that it had gone in case I was stung by a sentimental bug and drove the 100 miles down there only to find it out when I arrived.
What about you? Do you have one hugely abiding memory of a place you’ll never go to again?