With the cost-of-living crisis now a permanent mainstay, parents nationwide have to cut their cloth accordingly. 

It seems a distant memory jetting off for a few days to Barca and ambling with the kids around Gaudi’s quirky architectural concoctions and so, with a school holiday on the horizon, we instead look at day trips to glamorous places of yesteryear such as, er, Southend.

As a Hastonian (Hastings) born and bred, I knew exactly what to expect from such a seaside offering and I was not disappointed.

The day kicked off with a ‘first’ however as we visited the Cat Café, located up a nondescript back road somewhere near the High Street. With fort Knox style security, we waited in the ‘holding’ area before admittance was garnered, and we entered to be met with a lovely little fella who looked like he was suffering the effects of alopecia totalia. With 15 cats in attendance, for the uninitiated, it is basically a café with cats roaming about.

Then, in place of the ramblas, we took a walk through Sarfend High Street. I got overly excited when I saw an HMV and followed this up with a "ooh… there’s a Primark"’ and "ooh…there’s a Marks and Sparks", before the family informed me they too had eyes and that every High Street in the country has such retail offerings.

With a cold front moving in we warmed ourselves up with a portion of (eight) chips for the princely sum of £4.50 as the owner explained that local businesses were suffering, as we all are, and I nodded in agreement and wondered just how much potatoes have gone up in price. 

Now loaded up with saturated fat which put a huge full stop on my Slimfast diet, we ventured into the seafront theme park which, like Hastings, had a selection of the most obscure and random concoction of individuals one could wish to see. As the kids went on rides and I bemoaned my bad back, we people watched. It was like being in the home end of a Newcastle game as 20 something men whose partners looking on in fear, accompanied them around with their tops off (the men, not the women) and openly displayed tattoos that were as badly spelt as they were unethically pleasing.

And so, in the rain on the way back to the shires, I undertook a ‘marks out of 10’ audit on a day out in 'Sarfend'. Averaging in at a solid seven, we all agreed we would not want to live there as conversation turned toward how much it would be to set up a cat café?

  • Brett Ellis is school teacher.