GG and I have been leading a little bit of a jet-setting life recently when we flew to London for a wee bit of shopping and lunch, just because we could! We had been gifted complimentary flights to check out Stobart Air’s Flybe route to London Southend, launched at the end of October.  ‘Which’ Magazine voted Southend London’s best airport three years in a row, hence the pic below!

We chose the morning flight at 8.40am (there are three a day). It was wonderful not to be heading for the airport at an ungodly hour, like a few weeks ago when I headed over for a photo-shoot with The Bias Cut and had to be out of the bed at 4.30! Not a good idea when you need to look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

We left in torrential rain, (it was the day of the floods) and even with a 10-minute delay waiting for two passengers, we made it to sunny Southend Airport in 50 minutes.

Southend is tiny. So, it was off the plane in jig time, through the terminal and at the dedicated train station in five minutes and that is even at Graham’s pace. I reckon I could have got there much faster; the advantages of flying into a small airport were obvious.

We bought our return tickets to the centre of London and only had to wait ten minutes for a train. There is a lot to be said for travelling off-peak as we got the reduced price of £21 return each. I wonder if we could have got senior prices too? Seemingly there are four every hour and more at peak times. In 53 minutes, we were at Liverpool Street Station. Yes, we are that exact. And within minutes walking through Spitalfields Market.

We took a leisurely stroll of just over two miles to Covent Garden, walking by The Royal Exchange and The Law Courts, stopping for coffee right opposite St. Paul’s (below).

A quick stop to watch the skaters at Somerset House and then a few hours spent wandering around Covent Garden, beautifully decorated for Christmas.

A delicious, late lunch at a very busy Balthazar Restaurant (its sister establishment is in New York) brought us up to nearly 4 o’clock and it was time to hop onto the underground and back to Liverpool Street Station, where we got straight on a train to Southend. Talk about timing.

We gave ourselves far too much time and were back at the airport at 5.20pm ready for our 6.30pm flight back to Dublin.

We sat in pleasant surroundings and had a G&T to finish off our day. Ok, if we were really jet-setting, it would have been champagne!!

Even though there was a delay of 30 minutes due to flight crew having to travel from another airport, we landed in Dublin, where it was still raining cats and dogs around 8 o’clock.

Reasons to Recommend

  • First flight leaves at 8.40, not an early start.
  • Low-cost air fares. Prices are reasonable. From €19.99 one way.
  • Plane to train station up to 5 minutes. Compare that with the larger airports.
  • Train prices seem extremely good compared with other airports.
  • Trains are regular. Even at off-peak times you should not be waiting longer than about 15 minutes.
  • Time to Liverpool St. was 53 minutes on a very comfortable, not busy (off-peak) train.

If you want to ‘shop til you drop’, the train stops feet away from Westfield Shopping Centre at Stratford Station on the way to Liverpool Street. Or, maybe you want to grab a connecting flight to one of their other European destinations.

Next time. I plan on leaving GG at home and doing some real shopping. Anyone interested?