Why have I not realised the boon of family pubs?

Zach Willsher, Benfleet, Essex, Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim
Living the life: Sonny Jim at the Zach Willsher

I made a bit of a discovery last Saturday night.

My brother was celebrating his 30th birthday at the Zach Willsher in Benfleet.

And, as most of my family were going to be there, including rather a lot of my cousins we don’t get too see that often, I decided we’d head along too.

Nevermind that it’d be a late night for Sonny Jim and he’d probably be rather grouchy on the back of it come Sunday.

His daddy was out at the football, so we’d give an evening at a pub a whirl.

What I hadn’t accounted for though, was the brilliant little play area at the Zach.

Totally fenced off, with tables for the grown-ups inside as well as outside, and a gate that actually closed (and had a handle high enough up that tots as little as mine couldn’t reach) it’s exactly what you need at a family pub in the summer-time.

I could chat, drink Prosecco (well, it was my brother’s birthday bash) and relax.
Easily able to keep an eye on my little boy, without having to hover. Sonny Jim had an absolute blast, running around and playing on the slide with his extended family, scoffing chips, and being continually amazed by “ooo coooold” ice cubes in his water.

I feel a bit like I’ve missed a trick this summer. I’d like a few more evenings like that. But I’m not sure there’s that many spots like it around here.

The pubs in Leigh-on-Sea are lovely – if you don’t have little ones that just want to run around and play, but have, as yet, absolutely no concept of danger.

The Green Man in Chelmsford has a great play area – but it’s a bit of a trek (no one is going to want to be the designated driver to there).

And I don’t know of any others.

So, if I’m missing one that you know of, close to Leigh-on-Sea, then help a mother out and give me a shout.

I might even buy you to a Prosecco if we see you there…

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