Bright lights, Cold nights – Southend in the Winter

Fancy a wintery stroll along the British sea-side? Forget Brighton and its pebbly beaches. Check out our Fotogalerie of Southend.

Witness the dichotomy of the flashy, trashy, bright lights of the oft-titled “Blackpool of the South”…

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…compared to the cutesy, chintz rooms full of posh nosh found at the Bacchus Restaurant.

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The food is not cheap but the interior is absolutely smashing and it is a complete labyrinth of hidden jewels. With ball gowns hanging from the ceiling, and vintage bathing suits dangling in the bath rooms, it really is worth spending that little bit extra to warm up with some wine and cosy surroundings. It gives off the vibe of a really wealthy grandma’s closet that has been raided.

Antiques roadshow would have a field day!

20131122172019688Oh yes and do stop in to the yummy Essex version of Honest Burger – it is entitled Henry Burgers. The owner is super nice and so is the food!

When we went they had sold sooo many burgers that they had to give their chef the day off on Sundays because the place was so in demand.

That is a sign of  a GOOD burger. (Thankfully, now the situation has been rectified and the people of Southend and visitors from far and wide can be fed every day of the week – hooray!)

henryThe faded glory of Britain’s seaside towns has often been lamented. Hip and happening in the Victorian era. People flocked to the beaches in their thousands and insisted on getting changed in bathing machines to protect their modesty. Oh how times have changed…

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Then the Mods and Rockers got all angry in the 60s. Flinging their deck chairs about in rage and scooting around on their Vespas and motobikes.

So what has become of the coastal holiday resorts so jam packed in the summers of yore? What is it like during the bleak winter months?

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(Brighton 1964)

We all know that Blackpool is synonymous with stag dos and generally scary folk. Yet Southend is not to be sniffed at. Take a wander down the promenade and you will be smelling the sugary sweet smell of donuts and your eyes will be gleaming with all the sparkling lights found in every direction.

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For twee seaside towns to enter the modern era they have had to adapt – HELLO BRIGHTON – the perfect example and winner of the hipster beach of the UK.

BUT Southend has one huge crowning glory…it has the longest pleasure pier in the world. (Gasp!)

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However, there is not a lot on there and you actually have to pay for the opportunity to wander down it or, alternatively, catch the train to the wind-swept end. (This was not something we fancied doing on a blustery November night).

Just go and munch a burger at Henry Burgers instead and wander round the Adventure Island…wrapped up in gloves, scarves and very woolly hats.

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Anne x

Photos: Henry Burgers Facebook, BBC

Ich möchte Bier – Berliner Weiße in particular

I want beer.

But sadly it is a Thursday morning and I am at work. In London.

We are not usually the biggest fans of beer. We like our stuff more potent – throw a cheap cava or prosecco at us any day, but beer?

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It takes too long to have the desired effect and makes you feel a bit like a bloke. Unless…you find yourself at an afterparty at 5am cradling a can of White Stripe – that is totally acceptable behaviour.

Obviously.

BUT…in Berlin there is a Bier so yummy I can make an exception.

Admittedly the one we like is really girly (it is pink) and is an upsettingly low percentage (around 3%). Which is not ideal but, god – if the lower percentage saves us from being those boozed up Brits abroad, so hated by Europeans, then that is fine with us!

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This scrumptious Bier is called Berliner Weiße and is found mostly in Northern Germany – namely Berlin and it dates all the way back to the 16th century.

Various dates are suggested for the birth of Berliner Weiße – as early as 1572.

There is even a widespread legend that Napoleon’s troops nicknamed the beverage as “The Champagne of the North” (so it kind of makes sense why we like it then…)

Anyway – back in the day it used to be the most popular alcoholic tipple in Berlin – but now the only brand still produced in Berlin is Berliner Kindl Weiße

Berlin has a huge range of beers – wander into any shop selling booze and you will be astounded at the vast array.

What’s that we have here? Oh yeah a “Boys Noize Techno Bier”

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That would be like having a “Disclosure Garage Beer” back home in Blighty (snigger).

Sadly for the rest of the world the brand Berliner Weiße is protected in Deutschland so it can only be used for Bier made in Berlin.

It is the flavoured syrups added to the Bier that make it so varied – the raspberry pink one is called “Himbeersirup”, the purple blackcurrant one is called “Johannisbeere” and there is some strange one with woodruff in (“Waldmeistersirup”). Ermm. We are still not sure what that is…

Our rating: *** ( 3% = 3 stars )

Anne x

Photos: Laura Chapman, Danny Baker 

Auf Wiedersehen Kater Holzig

We are sad.

One of our favourite clubs in Berlin is closing.

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We heard rumours of its closure being muttered beside the Spree as we sat there in summer. With our feet dangling in the water and talking to newfound friends we watched the sun rise. But pre-occupied with bathing in the dawning sunlight and having a lovely time we were quick to dismiss it as idle chitchat and hoped against hope that it was not true.

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Upon our return to London we gave it a quick Google and could find nothing to suggest its demise…except for one old Resident Advisor page from 2012 stating that the club co-founder Christoph Klenzendorf had turned his attention to a new project.

Time dragged by and we waited with baited breath for the closing party that RA suggested would be taking place in September 2013.

Further research meant we soon discovered that back in the day Klenzendorf was one of the founders of Kater’s predecessor, Bar 25, and that in the last few years the land upon which Bar 25 was originally founded had been put up for auction.

Klenzendorf & co have managed to win back the original site and plan to build a new space.

This will be entitled HOLZMARKT – aka “Timber Market” – www.holzmarkt.com

September came and went and we heard nothing. No news was good news and we thought perhaps Kater and Holzmarkt might co-exist, beautifully straddling the river banks.

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Then, this October, the news we dreaded: the Facebook page announced the closure. Everyone now has until 31st December 2013 to soak up Kater in all its glory.

KaterHolzig.de has even helpfully added a countdown to its homepage (ouch).

The clock is ticking people – go now or regret it.

We have had some of our bestest B-town nights and days (and nights again) at this former cotton mill.

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It is hard to explain the fairy tale-esque nature of the place.

Hidden grottos a’plenty, pounding bass, wendy houses, marriage proposals, bicycles, declarations of love, skateboard ramps, friendly brown bears, wooden decking, fairy lights, graffiti, food, drink, stumbling upon sex acts, smoke machines, losing our smartphones (who needs material possessions when you have Kater!?), long lost friends from around the world, fire pits, brave people splashing around in the river and…a giant cat presiding over it all in his top hat.

We are going to console ourselves with the fact this is not “Goodbye” – we will see Klenzendorf & co’s beautiful vision again. It is merely “Auf Wiedersehen” for now.

Bring on Holzmarkt!

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Our rating: ***** (+ one iPhone)

Anne x

Photos: Bluespot.de, Kater Holzig.de, Laura Chapman