My chat with… Jimmy Doherty

Jimmy Doherty, Katy Pearson

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

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Let’s talk about last night… at Seven Hotel’s launch party

Seven Hotel, Katy Pearson

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 beauty menu at Essex’s the Beauty Shop

Vegan beauty, Katy Pearson, #whatkatydidUK

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

My chat with… OMD’s Andy McCluskey

OMD, Mark McNulty, Katy Pearson interview

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

It’s thanks to IVF on the NHS that I have my boy

Katy Pearson, scan photo, seven week scan, Sonny Jim, #whatkatydidUK

As a seven-week fetus – our first look at Sonny Jim

TWO years ago today I was sat clutching my husband’s hand at Bart’s Hospital in London.

After nine years of trying for a baby, five years of fertility treatments and a round of IVF, it seemed I’d finally fallen pregnant.

And two days before my 31st birthday we were waiting for a scan to confirm that it was definitely true, for a first look at our baby, to see its teeny little heart beating.

When Sonny Jim’s flickering heart flashed up on the grainy screen, I cried. He looked a bit like a prawn. Or maybe a crocodile. And it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Continue reading

Mums about town: Family fun in south Essex, Aug 11-Aug 20

the Princess Emporium, priory park, essex

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

Helping to stop another mummy ever experiencing this heartbreak

EVERYONE hates journalists right? We’re right up there with politicians and car dealers.

Except.

Except…when something like this happens.

Emma Cox is one of my dearest friends. She’s godmother to my Sonny Jim.

And when she went to visit her baby boy Alfie’s grave at the weekend, only to discover it had been dug up and another baby buried there, my job (nowadays done from home and squeezed in around Sonny Jim) suddenly did all the things I hoped it would when, age 17, I decided being a journalist would be pretty cool.

It meant I could get (some) answers, when no one was getting back to her and her husband. It meant I could help her to make sure no one else would ever find themselves in the same god awful situation. It meant her voice was louder and reaching more people than it otherwise would. Continue reading