Godmothers: Sonny Jim with my girls
Sonny-Jim has two godmothers. They are two of my closest of friends.
One is an incredible single mum to an almost 17-year-old lad.
The other is mother to three boys – but her middle son, Alfie, was stillborn.
Ashingdon’s Emma Cox was pregnant with Alfie at the same time I was expecting Sonny Jim. But as I cuddled my three-month-old tot, she gave birth to a sweet baby boy, who never cried and never opened his eyes.
This was almost three years ago. And I have been in awe of her ever since.
Losing a child must be the worst thing a mother can experience. It literally breaks hearts.
And for someone to be able to take that tragedy and try and do some good, takes utterly incredible strength.
Since Alfie’s birth, Emma, and her husband Danny, have raised thousands of pounds for Southend Hospital – the place where she gave birth to all three of her boys.
And, to mark what should be Alfie’s third birthday, she has organised – for the second year now – a fabulous charity ball.
Fighter mum: Shelley Legge
FROM the moment that my little boy was placed into my arms, I knew I would do anything for him.
There was literally nothing I would not be prepared to do to keep him safe and well.
He was, and is, the most precious thing in the world to me.
Which is why I cannot even begin to imagine the heartache endured by mums with poorly little ones. It must be the most horribly helpless feeling.
Leigh-on-Sea’s Shelley Legge, 38, is living that nightmare. Her 15-year-old lad has two rare types of blood cancer and is in desperate need of a transplant.
I chatted to her last Sunday at the #SwabforCharlie drive in Old Leigh, organised by Southend charity Gold Geese.
I was one of hundreds that turned up to be swabbed and added to the bone marrow register, in the hope of being the match that could save a life.
Cheers! In the Aurum Bar
Sonny Jim is almost two and a half. And I’ve never spent the whole night away from him. (Obviously nights out with 2am finishes don’t count… I’m always there when he wakes up!)
But my birthday is just a few days away, so we figured it might be nice to actually have a night away.
And with the Seven hotel and it’s Aurum restaurant and bar practically on our doorstep, we couldn’t have dreamt up a better spot for our first baby-free mini break.
The exquisitely designed boutique hotel is set high upon Southend’s cliffs, within the beautiful Clifton Conservation Area. With 37 stunning bedrooms, including 5 luxury suites, a 70-seater modern British restaurant, a gin-centric cocktail bar and outdoor sun terrace, it’s London lavishness right here on Southend’s coast.
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
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
Vegan: From kitchens to salons
IN the past decade, the number of people who consider themselves vegan has rocketed from 150,00 in 2006 to 542,000, according to the Vegan Society and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
And it’s also becoming a growing trend among our celebrities, with the likes of comedian Russell Brand saying “I don’t see why someone should lose their life just so you can have a snack”. A vegetarian since the age of 14, he went vegan in 2011.
It’s no surprise then, that veganism is now stretching from our kitchen tables to our beauty regimes.
Superdrug’s budget B Beauty vegan range has just launched and the Body Shop, Odylique and Hourglass are just a few of the brands with entirely vegan make-up ranges.
Now Essex’s Beauty Shop is among a handful of the county’s businesses capitalising on the trend, by offering a unique vegan beauty treatment menu.
So how did the idea for the menu come about, I ask salon owner, 26-year-old Courtney Smith? Continue reading
Coming to Southend: OMD (c) Mark McNulty
OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) have more than been around the music block.
With their 13th album just out, the Synth-pop pioneers have been at it since 1978 – with seven top 10 hits to show for it – and too many tours to mention.
Now back in the road again – and heading to Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion on November 1 – the band’s singer and bass guitarist Andy McCluskey was on bitingly good form and feeling a little philosophical when we chatted.
“Regrets? Oh God, yeh I’ve got regrets,” he groaned. “How long have you got? Listen we did everything we did for what appeared to be the right reason at the time. We made an album called Dazzle Ships which now is heralded as our masterpiece, a slightly fracture piece of genius music, but it destroyed our career. Continue reading