Nee-naws: My Sonny Jim in one of his terrific me&i T-shirts
When I was about 18, Ann Summers parties were a big thing. Cocktails and smutty chatter were the main thrust of the night. I actually know a girl who bought THREE rampant rabbits.
Fast-forward a decade, a few of us had our own mortgaged places, a few were married, a few even had a baby or two, and Jamie Oliver bashes were the way to spend an evening, a glass of wine in hand. I once spent an RIDIKULOUS amount of money on a squirrel-shaped nutcracker – that broke the first time I attempted to crack a nut with it.
Now a mama to the most darling of little lads, I think I truly realised that I’d entered another era when I threw my own me&i party. It was a lunchtime affair. With tea and coffee and cakes. And babies crawling around our feet. And the most LOVELY clothes for little ones (and, er, mums.) Continue reading
Essex girl: Bestselling author, Martina Cole (c) Charlotte Murphy
She has been writing bestsellers for 25 years and has achieved sales of over fourteen million in the UK alone. Here Martina Cole chats Essex girls, cockle sheds and loving bad boys…
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET VICE?
Emmerdale! On my life I have to watch Emmerdale, because of Cain Dingle. I’m trying to get up an online petition that he has to take his shirt off in every episode. Whether it will happen we don’t know but we can only hope. My other secret vice is I go to Leigh cockle sheds some times. When my daughter was very little I used to take her down the cockle sheds – she was six months old when she had her first jellied eel. And I still love it down there.
WHEN ARE YOU AT YOUR HAPPIEST?
I think when I’m with my grandchildren probably now, coz I’m getting on a bit. I do travel extensively though.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN ESSEX?
There’s so many to choose from, but one of my favourite places is the Boatyard in Leigh. It’s beautiful. Great food. I used to live on Benfleet Road. It was beautiful. It was like a footballer’s wife’s house. Had an indoor swimming pool, the lot. I loved it. When I moved over to Kent my daughter thought we’d gone poor. She said to me, Mummy have we gone poor, and I said not really, no! Continue reading
Footloose – Gareth Gates as Willard (c) Matt Martin
WHEN I chat to Gareth Gates – star of Footloose – the Musical coming to Basildon’s Towngate Theatre on August 21 – he is fulsome in his praise of our county.
“I love Essex,” he confesses. “It’s a great place, fun. My best friend in the world, Matt, he lives in Essex. He lives in Southend, so I’ll be staying with him probably while I’m performing.”
In fact, it transpires he even owns a house here.
Six students at Rayleigh’s Masters Performing Arts College actually have the Pop Idol’s runner-up as their landlord.
“I own a house in Leigh-on-Sea – a student house,” he explains.
“Matt [Plummer] is the principle of Masters – the performing arts college – and I bought a house literally down the road from there in Leigh for the students.
“I’ve got six students living there.”
So, he’s no stranger to Southend or even Basildon – where he has performed before. Continue reading
Find the fun: The Princess Emporium will be at Priory Park tomorrow
Play in the Park. Friday, August 11. 10am-12.30pm. Free. Suitable for all ages.
There will be water play, playdough, songs time with instruments, some books and arts and crafts. Oh and bubbles. Find the fun at Priory Park (the green space behind the museum.) Bring sun hats, sun cream, snacks, water, blanket, activities/toys to share.
Caterpillar Club. Tuesday, August 15. 10am-12pm. £6 per child. Suitable for one to four-year-olds.
A fun morning of indoor and outdoor activities for pre schoolers at Langdon Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve, Lower Dunton Road, Basildon. Booking essential, call 01268 419103. Continue reading
Fabulous: Farrow & Ball
When it comes to interior design, sometimes it can feel a bit like a closed shop. Finding where those elusive but oh-so lovely paints or pottery are stocked can be a bit of a mission.
Here’s where you can find some of those high-end delights – right on your doorstep.
Farrow & Ball
Iconic British brand Farrow & Ball began in the Forties as a small firm specializing in paints made in the traditional way with traditional ingredients.
Used by royalty (Prince Harry decorated his living quarters last year with a gray-and-pink color scheme, according to a consultant for the company) it offers a distinctive palette of 132 paint colours and handcrafted wallpapers. Continue reading
Fred & Noah fan: Fearne Cotton
YOU kind of know you’ve made it in the fashion stakes when Fearne Cotton posts a picture of herself on Instagram on Christmas Eve in one of your creations.
And then shortly after that posts another of her little girl Honey in one of your designs too.
Such is the rise of baby legging brand Fred & Noah – an empire run from a shed in a mum-of-two’s garden in Rochford.
Natalie Reynolds, 34, started making trousers for 0-4-year-olds while on maternity leave with her second son, Freddie.
Natalie was a lecturer in fashion design at South Essex College, running the fashion course, and initially making the leggings was just about her getting back into her hobbies.
But it very quickly turned itself into a serious income.
Natalie, who is an ex Thorpe Bay High School pupil, recalls: “It was exactly a year after starting the business that I was handing in my notice to the college and taking the leap to work full time on Fred & Noah at home with my husband. Continue reading
Play time: Sonny Jim in the garden at Bright Starts
Despite my mum, and my new sister-in-law both being priests, I haven’t actually spent that much time hanging around churches in recent years.
Yes, my little lad was Christened last year, but much to my poor reverend ma’s chagrin, we’re not exactly what you could call church regulars.
However, over the past couple of months there has been something of a change afoot.
The reason? Church playgroups.
Honestly, I can’t praise (sorry, couldn’t resist) them (yes, we go to more than one!) enough.
Entertaining little ones, especially once they start crawling and toddling about, can be expensive. Lots of mummy and baby classes require you to sign up and pay for a term in one hit. Of course, as soon as you do, your baby then decides the hour in which the class is held is now their new nap time. Continue reading