Flying back from Luxembourg to London in a smallish propeller plane mostly full of my colleagues coming back from the same conference. The weather is terrible the whole way — high winds and clouds, lots of turbulence. Finally we start our descent into London City Airport, breaking through the clouds into driving rain. But as we approach the runway, suddenly the pilot guns the props and we zoom back up into the clouds.
“Erm, this is the pilot speaking. The winds are too strong for this aircraft to land safely, so we’re going to have to find another place to land…”
Next thing I know we’re bouncing down onto the tarmac at Southend Airport, which I never knew existed and is in a small town called Southend-on-Sea on the far eastern coast of England.
Fortunately in a country this small, landing “far from London” only means you’re an hour away by train. The airline hands us train vouchers and we go wait on the platform for the next one to come in.
I figured since we hadn’t died in a fiery crash, and we were only going to lose an hour or so getting back to London, I might as well take advantage of visiting a new part of England. Road trip!
My British colleagues didn’t seem quite so eager. When I asked them to tell me I should know about Essex, they were like, “Umm, there’s a reality TV show about people from Essex. And, uhh, Victoria (another colleague) lives out here and has a horse.” Talk about a ringing endorsement…
But to be fair, there wasn’t all that much to see from the train. Reminded me of the muddy parts of New Jersey outside of New York.