Picking strawberries in his pyjamas: Sonny Jim in the garden
Helloooo strawberry season!
It’s a sure sign that summertime is here when strawberries hang heavily from their runners.
Last year more than 137,000 tonnes of strawberries were sold in the UK, with shoppers spending upwards of £1.3 million on the classically British berry.
And the cold start to the year (remember that snow?!) mixed with the recent warm days and cooler nights, has led to a slightly later start to the strawberry season. The resulting slower strawberry ripening means this year’s British strawberries look set to be packed with more flavour than usual. (Sonny Jim certainly seems to be enjoying the dozens he picks daily from our garden’s strawberry patch!)
And Essex has more than a couple of spots where you can pick handfuls of strawberries yourself. Here are some of the best… Continue reading
Bourn Hall Wickford: Me with fertility nurse specialist Angela Leach
A NEW multi-million pound IVF clinic officially opens in south Essex this week.
More than a thousand procedures, to help people struggling to conceive, will be carried our per year at the £5.2m Bourn Hall centre.
I was given a tour around the London Road clinic in Wickford ahead of the opening.
The purpose-built centre replaces a smaller, satellite clinic, which was in the same road, and is one of six Bourn Hall clinics in East Anglia.
Sarah Pallett, Bourn Hall’s business development director, said: “Our concern is people often go into denial about their fertility problems and put off getting advice through embarrassment. Continue reading
Essex lad: Jimmy Doherty (c) Rob Wilkinson
Jimmy Doherty is a farmer and TV presenter, famous for the show Jimmy’s Farm. He is mates with TV chef Jamie Oliver and the two film Jimmy and Jamie’s Friday Night Feasts together. Here he chats alligators, Southend road trips and Essex humour…
What is your favourite thing about Essex?
I’ve got such great memories of school trips to Colchester Zoo. I had a lovely upbringing in Essex and one of my favourite things, not far from Bishop Stortford on the Essex boarder there, was strawberry picking. I remember picking strawberries as a kid with my family, at a pick your own kind of thing where you have to go and weigh your basket and I would have eaten so many strawberries myself that I’d have about six in a punnet to be weighed, but I’d eaten about a kilo.
Essex provided for me, a great childhood – a mixture of town and countryside at the same time. And there’s a certain sense of humour that you get in Essex that you don’t find in many other counties.
Jamie and Jimmy’s café is on Southend pier… how did that come about?
My nan used to take me there all the time. And when we learnt to drive, all our friends had a little road trip to Southend and had fish and chips. It always had that element of escapism and fun. We could have taken the show anywhere, but Southend plays on our heartstrings, both me and Jamie, because growing up, Southend was, for me, always the place you went to for fun and Jamie’s family originate from Southend anyway, so it was a natural sort of thing to do. Continue reading
SageLoves: Founder Laura Marrs
Sick of shopping, but still want to get gorgeous gifts for the people you care about? I chat to Essex mum-of-two LAURA MARRS of personalised gift-finding service SageLoves about present buying and hint-dropping…
Q When did you set up SageLoves, and how does it work?
A SageLoves has been my brain child for the past year. I was always on the hunt for small unique brands to gift to friends and family, and in turn was always asked to hunt out gifts for them… that’s when my idea was born! Finally, I was able to put finger to touch screen six months ago, when I launched SageLoves website and social media platforms.
In a nutshell SageLoves is a personalised gift finding service with the added benefit of membership deals and discounts. You sign up, give me the brief and leave the rest to me. It’s the red-carpet treatment, no trawling the shops, internet etc…I work closely with a huge range of independent and unique brands and together a gift for specific occasions can be found. Continue reading
Mum-of-two and secondary school teacher CHLOE SPILLETT launched Chloe Gets Creative last year, breathing new life into tired interiors and putting the fun into nurseries across Essex. Here she chats indoor swings, instant updates and design mistakes.
Q What sparked your interest in interior design?
A Since I can remember, I’ve loved interiors. I come from a very creative/arty family and grew up in a beautiful house – my mum also has a great eye for home styling and I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree! I designed my first interior at 17 (my own bedroom at home) and I still love the way that room looked!
Q How can people/companies book you if they’d like you do work on a project for them?
A Just get in touch! Anyone can send me an email or message via my website (www.chloegetscreative.com)or social media accounts (www.instagram.com/chloegetscreative / www.facebook.com/chloegetscreative.) I’m always looking to take on new projects and collaborations
Q Where do you get your inspiration from?
A Everywhere! I live and breathe interior design. It’s just on my mind 24/7 so everything I see and do gives me ideas for projects big and small. Continue reading
Even the loos are lux: Ladies’ room selfie at Southend’s new Seven Hotel
Southend’s brand new boutique hotel opened its doors officially today, but I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch party last night.
The luxurious seafront Seven Hotel, in Clifton Terrace, offers 37 super lux bedrooms, a 70-person restaurant and a gin-centric cocktail bar, following a £4million project.
Last night I was among Seven’s first guests and enjoyed a decadent evening of sumptuous cocktails, in partnership with Tattinger Champagne and Copper Head Gin, as well as canapes from the new restaurant, Aurum.
The nibbles, prepared by head chef, Simon Webb, who has previously worked with the likes of the legendary Roux family, included monkfish cheek in black brioche buns, opulent oysters as well as carrot and orange ice cream (not a combo I’ve ever heard of before either!)
For one night, the tables in Seven’s plush restaurant were pushed aside to allow us to dance to tunes being played by DJ Shmia. Continue reading
Leigh-on-Sea’s Amy Kirkwood is one half of Beech House Property Renovation (www.beechhousedesign.co.uk.) She reveals why it’s important to get to know your home, how to speedily update your living space and reveals what inspires her…
Q How did you get into interior design and property renovation?
A I am first and foremost an artist and designer, with a passion for colour and pattern. But, I have always carried a flame for beautiful interiors, and more so after travelling extensively and owning my own properties that I have renovated as well. It seemed only natural, when the time was right, to revisit my love for interior design and fuse it, now, with my studio practice and our family property renovation business. I also make bespoke lampshades and create abstract paintings for interiors.
Q What’s the biggest project you’ve ever taken on?
A I have project managed a new build home, with Dave building it, where I worked with the client to design and style the interior. We are currently planning, designing and project managing the total overhaul of a Thirties’ bungalow on the coast of Essex into a two-storey beach house. Continue reading