THE Mayflower in Old Leigh is one of the most delightful places to while away a Sunday afternoon.

Whether it be the middle of winter cosied up near the bar, trying out the many specialised ales, or a summer’s afternoon in the pub’s beer garden, which doubles up as a wonderful sun trap by the sea.

It was the latter for my wife Katy and I recently, and once again it didn’t disappoint.

On a sunny day I’ve found there’s usually a good, lively mix of people, families combined with couples who may be settled in for a lazy afternoon’s drinking.

I haven’t eaten in there for a while, so I was keen to give the much heralded fish and chips a go.

It’s an interesting set-up at the Mayflower. You can eat in many different places. On the benches out the front by the cobbled street, in the tiny restaurant which leads to the pub, in the pub, or out the back, where we were.

I opted for battered cod and chips. It had to be done. Katy went for scampi and chips.

Some classical sides (mushy peas, gherkin and a buttered roll) and then a ten-minute wait, supping my cider, in eager anticipation.

And the meal did not disappoint. The cod was quite simply huge. I’d say easily 15, maybe 18, inches in length.

And the old school batter was naughtily sweet and incredibly addictive. The chips were old school too. Crisp and chunky on the outside, fluffy on the inside. How chips should be.

Katy’s scampi was as good as the dish gets. Again, a more than decent portion with some scampi pieces two inches plus in size. They had decent crunch, with warm soft langoustines inside.

Make no mistake here. This place isn’t all about quantity, the quality is spot on too. If you’re hungry (and you need to be hungry) and fancy a good ol’ fashioned seaside treat, look no further. It’s no surprise the place recently won CAMRA’s south east Essex pub of the year – for the second year running.

I have to say we needed to sit for a good while after this feast. And let me be clear, with cider in hand and sun in the sky, that wasn’t a problem.

It seemed a “Mr Whippy”

and a mellowwalk along the seafront was the only way to conclude this Sunday afternoon.

And what can you say about a timeless Mr Whippy?

Throughout the years, for me, this dessert never loses its unique badness. Sugary, firm and foamy, and more than a little artificial, an ice cream like no other.

Hazy days by the south Essex seaside. You just can’t beat them can you? And, for me, a visit to the Mayflower can only enhance them.


Cod and chips £10.75

Scampi and chips £8.95

Gherkin £1.30

Mushy peas 95p

Buttered roll 85p

2xMr Whippy £4