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Tiny, sweet and quintessentially English, Leigh-on-Sea is a quiet seaside resort 30 miles east of London and a lovely family day trip. It’s still relatively unknown to London daytrippers probably because it’s in equivocal Essex rather than classy Kent. The main street of Old Leigh is lined with cheerful cafés, a gallery, a pottery studio, a couple of restaurants and plenty of pubs. Just around the corner on the seafront are cockle sheds, working boats and passing tankers out at sea. At the west end, a tiny sandy beach gives way to a muddy gulch when the tide goes out – kids love it, but parents might want to take some spare clothes and a plastic bag for the journey home. The attractions here are of the slow-paced variety although the Old Leigh Regatta in September provides excitement in the form of boating events, traditional greasy pole, pillow fighting and cockle-eating competitions.