Answering Your FAQs about London Southend Airport

I was at the airport on a Sunday in late May. As always, my flight was delayed, so I thought what better time to put my investigative reporter hat on and answer the Frequently Asked Questions that really matter about Southend Airport.

So … How much for a bottle of water? You’ll find the cheapest bottle of water at Arnolds & Forbes and it will coat you £1.50 (that’s around €2.80 / $3.50) which is nothing unusual for an airport. But the 750 ml Buxton at WHSmith costs you £1.99 (€ / $). There was at the time of my visit nowhere to refill your bottle, so not great for the environment.

And can I get my Big Mac or a Grande Triple Chocolate Soya Mocha at the airport? There’s no chains except for WHSmith which serves up a soggy meal deal. A pub-style restaurant, a sandwich place and some kind of dessert bar are the other options. I saw lots of people with McDonald’s bags outside and turns out there is one about 5 minutes walking distance from the airport.

Whatever. What about the real essentials? Is there Wi-Fi? Yes, the annoying one where you have to register and add your e-mail and come up with a password. It’s worth it as pretty quick and I could even play Instagram stories without issues. Let’s not dwell on what they’re doing with my personal data…

I know enough. Can I charge my phone, tablet and laptop while waiting? After security you can only charge at the Bourgee dessert bar. And weirdly … at the Arnold & Forbes Café Kitchen before security you can charge your phone, but after you can’t. Something to fix soon Southend!

Are the chairs comfortable at all? Could I nap comfortably when I have a stopover? Take a look yourself … As far as airport chairs go, it’s pretty comfortable to sit. Good luck with lying down though.

What about the toilets? There’s a lot of them, I don’t think I’ve ever had to wait for a free one. But the flush buttons really hard to press, which leads to people being lazy and the toilets are almost always dirty and not flushed.

Anything cool you saw? A Dixon’s vending machine to get things like adapters, headphones and chargers. The future is here!

Anything else I need to know? This airport has the quickest security I have experienced, everyone seems to be in sync. And outside there is a nice green bit where you can relax ahead of your flight, so you can avoid cabin fever.


Exploring Caerphilly Castle: Moats Amazing

I’ve seen a lot of castles, you might event call me a castle connoisseur. I couldn’t tell you the differences between a flanking tower and an polygonal tower, but I know what I like… and I like this one!

The towering walls and large stretches of water cut the castle off from the modern world, at least until someone in front poses for a selfie.

The other thing you’ll notice is a giant leaning tower, left to show part of the original ruins, complete with a rather large sculpture ready to catch. Pisa – take note.

Exploring the maze-like castle grounds catapults you back in time. The very minimal interiors allow your imagination to run wild and you can picture walking around the private apartments, the Great Hall and in-house brewery.

P.S. If you fall in love with the castle on your visit, why not book a wedding? During my visit I saw them setting up for a ceremony – hopefully it had a better ending than the Red Wedding!

This is definitely a nicer alternative to the eternally-busy Tower of London or for those who enjoyed exploring the gigantic Dover Castle.

What’s your favourite castle to explore?


SCOOP Exhibition: The Wonderful World of Ice Cream Pop-up

Ice-cream museums recently popped up in New York and Los Angeles and now SCOOP is in town to serve up its take on the idea at Gasholders in King’s Cross. What better way to escape London’s heatwave than a visit to a cool, refreshing and tasty ice cream pop up exhibition?

Unlike the exhibitions in the US, you won’t find over-styled art installations that beg to clog up your Instagram, but a more informative take on your favourite treat, such as the history of early ice cream, with one room dedicated to Agnes B. Marshall, the Godmother of the frozen desserts in Victorian age.

The other sugary highlights included chilling in the ice room, sniffing obscure ingredients making your own ice cream, inhaling vanilla ice-cream fog, exploring ice cream paraphernalia, sampling lots of free ice cream (including a glow in the dark soft serve!) and tasting some unique, historic flavours, like daffodill or water mint – which, even as ice-cream aficionado, I’ve never seen before.

Not bothered to pay £12? Here’s what you’re missing out on…

The exhibition runs til 30 September at The British Museum of Food near King’s Cross Station. Tickets are £12.

What’s the weirdest ice-cream flavour you’ve ever had?


What I Packed For Georgia

I went on an 7-day trip to Georgia (the country, not the state) and this is what I managed to cram into my backpack (Patagonia Arbor Grande Pack 32L)

Where: Kutaisi (4 days) and Tbilisi (3 days).

Weather: During my visit in mid-June it was hot, sticky and humid.

Travel clothing on the plane: One of my signature travel outfits is super comfy jeans, t-shirt, a jacket and worn-in trainers.

What you actually packed:
1 pair of sandals, 1 skirt, 1 pair of jeans, 7 t-shirts/tops, 1 long sleeve, pyjamas, underwear and socks, the usual toiletries, sunscreen, day contacts + solution, micro towel, adapters and converters, chargers, totebag, water bottle, playing cards, a little bag with travel documents, passport, notebook, pen, tablet filled with books and entertainment, 1 pair of sunglasses.

Did you wear everything?
I didn’t wear one shirt that didn’t match the weather and one pair of socks.

Anything you wished you had brought along?
More cotton tops/shirts to change for the evening. And proper shoes, I really need to treat my feet better and not wear Converse and cheap sandals for holidays where I plan to walk a lot.

Anything you wished you had left?
That pair of sandals I bought when the weather got nice and I remembered my other pair was broken. They lasted 2 days. I really need to look into a sustainable as well as comfy pair before summer ends.

Did you buy anything while traveling?
Just some Georgian wine and grape-wax snickers-style snacks.

Whats your go-to backpack for travelling light?


Tuesday, Three Travel Would You Rather’s

I feel like I’ve gone through all the possible travel-related ‘would you rathers’ here and here already, but I recently came across these three gems for today’s mini edition.

Stay in a palm hut along the seashore for seven days OR stay in a log cabin in
the woods
for one month?

A log cabin in the woods! I’m might be a bit skewed right now as I recently saw the fantastic film Leave No Trace, though I prefer my stay in the woods to be legal and my days with some light green gardening and a walk here and there and my evenings with red wine and a book. And can I request a lake near my cabin.

Would you rather jump out of an airplane OR explore the bottom of the ocean?

Without a doubt I’d rather jump out of the plane, actually 10 planes if needed! This Pisces doesn’t love the idea of getting too deep into the ocean as it just seems claustrophobic and not needed for me – and even the enigmatic duo of Wes Anderson and Steven Zissou can’t change my mind. Which is stupid as it’s a whole new undiscovered world out there, just not for me.

Have an unlimited money for RyanAir only, OR a £7,000 for British Airways?

A few years ago I would have chosen unlimited money for Ryanair flights, but today with limited holidays I think I prefer a flight that brings me close to my destination with a little bit of more comfort. Not that BA is what they used to be when I started flying with them but at least their luggage rules are clear. For now…

What would you rather?