Banter with Diversity
It’s got to be said, there are worse ways to spend a morning than chatting to Diversity.
The dance troupe from Wickford won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent, and is starring in Robin Hood and the Merry Men at the Cliffs Pavilion. And the group, which includes Dancing on Ice’s Ashley Banjo and the Greatest Dancer’s Jordon Banjo, really are Essex’s own version of merry men…
So, why are you back again guys?
Ashley Banjo: Why not, that’s the question. Why not? I feel like last year [Diversity starred in Aladdin at the Cliffs Pavilion] was so amazing. Not only was it really fun, it sold in record numbers and people really enjoyed it.
So, we were asked to come back again and it was a case of why not, it was great.
What are you most looking forward to?
Perri Kiely: They do really good cinnamon swirls downstairs!
Jordon Banjo: Ohhh gawwwd. Yeah. Treat yourself Katy, they do really good toffee cake down there too.
1am finish: Marco and me
“My mother didn’t raise me to be a c***”
So said Marco Pierre White as he draped his suit jacket around my shoulders and beckoned over a waiter to top up my glass of Prosecco.
This wasn’t what I was expecting when I set out that evening to interview the man who once made his protege Gordon Ramsey cry.
I was at Marco’s in Brentwood – the restaurant which launched in December and serves a mix of Italian-inspired dishes and American classics – to have a brief chat with the 57-year-old chef, while he was in Essex.
I expected a difficult, challenging man. I thought I’d be granted mere minutes with him. Let’s face it, this was the fiery fella who once cut a hole in the back of the chef whites of one staff member who dared to complain about the heat in his kitchen. He HANDED BACK his three Michelin stars after five years and retired from the kitchen – despite being first British chef to be awarded three – and the youngest (age 32 in 1994) in Michelin history.
So, I did not expect to still be chatting to him about family, children, and comfort food, six hours – and several drinks – later, in the wee small hours at the spot, just off the M25.
“Affordable glamour” – Marco’s in Brentwood
So, tonight is the big launch party for Essex’s first Marco Pierre White restaurant (at Holiday Inn Brentwood) and it’s set to be a bit of a bash.
Arg from TOWIE will be making a personal appearance and will be singing live, while Gemma Collins and others from TOWIE will also be attending to celebrate Arg’s birthday.
As well as being on the guest list tonight, I was lucky enough to be invited to give the restaurant a whirl earlier this week (I’m still full now!) And I got to chat to Marco himself.
So what’s it all about?
Well, Marco’s New York Italian is a dining concept ideal for dinner, light bites or cocktails (I gave a bottle of the Bottega Fragolino Rosso a go. Made from red wine grapes, it’s a slightly sparking wine that tastes rather like a Kir Royal!) Continue reading
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