Category Archives: Travel

Camp Bestival – Are You Ready For Us??

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This summer The Essex Family are planning their first camping trip….to a festival….for 5 days…..with no family camping experience. An enthusiastic Mummy, reluctant camper Daddy, excited 4-year-old girl and 1-year-old who isn’t really such what I’m so excited about….what could possible go wrong?

The way I see it is what better way is there to kick off the last summer holidays before ‘big school’ than with a trip to Camp Bestival.

Set against the backdrop of Lulworth Cove and Dorset’s dramatic Jurassic coastline the wonderful pop-up world of Camp Bestival is built for experiencing your first ever taste of camping – a stunning location, steeped in history, providing one of the best campsites ever for a family festi-holiday! Add into the mix four days of amazing music, live shows, and over 100 things for kids to do, and its going to be non-stop fun all the way.

I am so excited about being a Camp Bestival Blogger.  I think experiences like this are so importance for my children. Life is about making memories, and this is sure to be one that lives on in our minds for a very long time.

I will blogging about the lead up to this great event here on An Essex Wife and also over at, I will also be live blogging from the festival on both sites. How very exciting.

If you have any camping or festival advice for families please do send it my way – I feel we may need all the help we can get!


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Lazy Summer Days

This is a big summer for us.

It’s all change come September.

Scarlett starts school, Orlaith will be in nursery 2 days a week and I am starting University (we don’t do things by half in this family do we?) so we really want to make this last summer as a gang of three one to remember.


I simply ADORE these two, they have made my life complete.  Having the chance to be at home with them, raising them, seeing them change everyday has been such an honor.  I will be forever grateful for these early days, when its been ‘just us’.  The days before school runs, deadlines and parents evening.  When I was the centre of their world.

We are so lucky to have such beautiful surroundings where we live. Picnic venues and long countryside walks are all around us, and we certainly make the most of them.


It’s especially important for me to raise the girls to know you don’t have to spend lots, or sometimes any, money to have fun. That just being being together is enough.

Just enjoying being ‘us’. Laughing, joking and making memories.

A picnic in the park, a walk by the river, a visit to a National Trust property, a day at the beach. There is so much do in Essex and the surrounding counties, so much to see, so much to learn, that we could never be bored.


As I write this I’m sat in the garden listening to the girls screaming with laugher, while they enjoy having their Daddy home early to make the most of the early evening sunshine.  Soon enough they will grow up and want to be spending their summer evenings with their friends, and that’s fine, it all part of growing up. All part of their journey from amazing children to awesome adults.

But it’s also why, this summer and those few more we have before they grow, we are dedicating ourselves to making memories that will last a lifetime.

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LolliBop, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, August 16-18 2013

It’s the time of year again where all my attention turns to festivals, although these days they are normally family friendly ones. Last years trip to Loillibop was such a success with the girls we can’t wait to visit again.


LolliBop, the UK’s biggest kids festival, is returning for 2013 to the AMAZING location of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

With an incredible line-up – all aimed at children under the age of 10 – LolliBop combines some of the hottest names in kids entertainment, as well as hundreds of activities, workshops and interactive areas.  The 2013 programme includes Dick and Dom, Skylanders, Science Museum Live, Cloudbabies, Skylanders, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Peppa Pig, Poppy Cat, the Wot Wots, Transformers, The Go! Go! Go! Show, the Mr Men and Little Miss Village Green Event and  Shaun the Sheep’s Championsheeps.

LolliBop’s live theatre tent – The Lollipalladiam – showcases performances from pioneering and internationally renowned companies and artists. This year it features Spooked, from the critically acclaimed Broken Rose Performing Arts.  Spooked promises a hilarious and spectacular blend of dance, theatre and spoken word featuring skeletons Molly, Jinny and Charlie. There’s also a brand new Discovery Zone, Meadows area, Enchanted Woods, Lolli Promenade and much more.

Scarlett is extremely excited about the Mr Men and Little Miss Village Green Event, as they are her current bedtime books of choice, I know Orlaith will fall in love with the Cloudbabies and The Essex Husband is most excited about seeing Dick and Dom again, Lollibop really is fun for all the family.

LolliBop, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, August 16-18 - Tickets: On sale now, from £20pp


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Baddesley Clinton, National Trust – Midlands Family Fun

During the May Half Term we took a little trip to explore what family fun the Midlands has to offer for some quality time together as a foursome.  We visited the lovely Baddesley Clinton National Trust property on the way up, then spent a night at Chesford Grange Hotel before coming home (in the torrential rain) via Hughenden Manor. Here is part one of our adventure.

Baddesley Clinton is a 15th Century house with a gorgeous moat all around. The grounds of Baddesley were breathtaking in the summer sunshine, we had such fun just walk around enjoying each others company.


The interior of this house reflects its heyday in the Elizabethan era, when it was a haven for persecuted Catholics. Scarlett loved looking round the house and was especially intrigued by the ‘secret rooms’ where the priests hid. She was also in her element completing the ‘paintbrush hunt’, managing to find 10 of the 12 hidden paintbrushes.


Of all the National Trust properties we have visited this year I have to say that Baddesley have the most friendly staff by far.  The lovely gentleman manning the ’50 things’ stall couldn’t do enough for the children.  We played croquet, fed ducks, built dens and went of a great little bug hunt.  Lots to tick off in the girls complementary ’50 Things’ scrapbook.

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I would highly recommend a day out at Baddesley Clinton if you are visiting the Midlands, just make sure you pack a big picnic as the ducks are little scavengers.

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We had such a lovely family day in the sunshine – was the perfect way to spend the bank holiday.

For more information on Baddesley Clinton or any of the National Trust properties please visit

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Afternoon Tea At Hanbury Manor

I recently treated my wonderful MIL to Afternoon Tea at Hanbury Manor for an afternoon of relaxation and girly chit chat.

Am I the BEST daughter-in-law ever or what??

The grounds at Hanbury Manor are breath-taking, This stately 17th century Jacobean style country house, set in 200 acres of spectacular Hertfordshire countryside, is the perfect location for a girly lunch or family celebration.


The food was amazing. The cucumber sandwiches were served on a bread infused basil (which I could have eaten 100 times over), and the scones were served warm with the most deliciously sweet jam. I was in ‘lady that lunches’ heaven.

The staff were attentive, yet not over the top. We both felt very comfortable, relaxed and throughly enjoyed our afternoon. We spent most of the time plotting reasons to return.


Post indulgence we couldn’t resist a little sneaky peek around the hotel and spa, it certainly lived up to exceptions.

I think I may have to return sooner rather than later to try out the treatment rooms. For, like, blogging purposes of course.

The things I do for my readers! *cough*


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A Visit To Flatford Bridge Cottage and Flatford Mill

It was over 2nd wedding anniversary last week and we decided to treat ourselves to a child-free break to celebrate.  We stayed in The Pier Hotel, Hariwch the night before and then enjoyed the day together in Frinton, Flatford and Dedham.  I had a wonderful time with a wonderful man, I’m a very lucky girl.

I have already blogged about our stay at The Pier and our morning walk in Frinton, now here is the next part of our adventures…

Whenever we go away I like to try to make use of our National Trust membership. For a while now I had been wanting to visit Flatford as people kept telling me how much I would love it, so staying so close by the night before it seamed silly not to go.


From the moment we arrived and walked down towards the river I was in love.  It’s just so beautiful. We first had a look round the John Constable exhibition and then took a stroll down to Flatford Mill to see the location of his famous painting, The Hay Wain.

Making sure we are in the right spot...

Making sure we are in the right spot…

The scene of The Hay Wain

The scene of The Hay Wain

I had heard rumor of a tearoom located back up by the visitor centre so we headed off to find it.

It was set on the river, overlooking a pontoon where cute rowing boats can be hired.  Being the silly people that we are we didn’t have any cash on us to hire a boat, but in a way I was glad as this is now a good excuse to go back and visit again with the children.


We had such a lovely time walking around together chatting and enjoying each others company, I really do love spending some one on one time with my darling man.

For more information on Flatford Bridge Cottage and Flatford Mill visit the National Trust website.



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A Seaside Stroll In Frinton

It was over 2nd wedding anniversary last week and we decided to treat ourselves to a child-free break to celebrate.  We stayed in The Pier Hotel, Harwich the night before and then enjoyed the day together in Frinton, Flatford and Dedham.  I had a wonderful time with a wonderful man, I’m a very lucky girl.

I have already blogged about our stay at The Pier, now here is the second part of our adventures…

After breakfast we decided to drive the short distance to Frinton for a morning walk to blow away the cobwebs, and to ease the guilt of the 1 million calories I had consumed thanks to the amazing food at The Pier.


I love the British seaside, and walking along the front at Frinton is one of the places where I feel the most happiest in the world.  To me it is what real seaside towns should be like.  I love how old-fashioned and quaint it is. No gaudy amusement arcades or groups of hen and stag doos. Just people walking around enjoying their surroundings, appreciating how lucky they are that places like this still exist.


My other favorite pastime when in Frinton is indulging myself in a spot of beach hut envy.


Is there anything more British that a beach hut? One at Frinton is right at the top if my ‘Lottery List’.

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The Pier, Harwich – A Review

It was our 2nd wedding anniversary last week and we decided to treat ourselves to a child-free break to celebrate.  We stayed in The Pier Hotel, Hariwch the night before and then enjoyed the day together in Frinton, Flatford and Dedham.  I had a wonderful time with a wonderful man, I’m a very lucky girl.

Here is the first part of our adventures…

The first part of our wedding anniversary break was spent at The Pier in Harwich.  I love the Milsons Hotel group, we have stayed with then in the past at their other properties and always had a wonderful time.

The Pier Hotel is set right on the waterfront at the very British seaside town of Harwich. Harwich is a place that holds very happy memories for me.  It is where my beloved aunt and uncle live and where both my girls have had their first feel of sand between their toes.  Being so close to Walton and Frinton it often gets overlooked, but I think people don’t know what they are missing.

The town is a real working port. With ferries and cruise-liners leaving many times a day I never fail to be amazed by the size of the ships that go past. It is also one of the best places to go for fresh fish, you couldn’t get restaurants closer to where the fish is landed if you tried!

the pier

The hotel its self is as part of the coastline as the Ha’Penny Pier and docks, composed of two listed buildings loving restored by Milsoms to their former glory.

Our room was great; very spacious, with the most comfortable bed and a view that took my breath away.


The view from our bedroom window at sunset

Before dinner we popped round the corner to meet my Aunt and Uncle for a quick drink in The Alma, a very quaint local pub that I have become extremely fond of over the years and one I certainly recommend trying out if you are ever in the area.

After a quick catch up over a couple of G&Ts we headed back to The Pier to have dinner.  We ate in the downstairs Bistro as the upstairs restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesday evening.  It’s a lovely relaxed dining area with wonderful views over the water and very attentive staff.


Spanish Omelet

I had a Spanish omelet to start and a spiced aubergine dish for my main while Rob had a 70′s style prawn cocktail followed by a fully loaded burger. The food, as I have come to expect from any Milsons restaurant, was fantastic.  I could have eaten my starter about ten times over.


Spiced Aubergine and Chapati

For dessert I had a chocolate pot with warm cookies and marshmallows.  It was divine, a melt in your mouth taste explosion.

After dinner we took the rest of wine up to our room and, as it was almost midnight, opened our cards and reminisced about all the amazing things that have happened in our first two years of marriage.

It was the perfect way to start our anniversary.

If you would like to find out more about staying at The Pier, Harwich visit


Disclaimer – we were given the stay free of charge for the purpose of this review but the views expressed are all my own.


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26.2 miles…..

I think my husband is all kinds of awesome.  26 miles he ran this weekend, thats one thing ticked off the bucket list.

He is quite simply amazing, a hero in the eyes of me and my girls.

We saw him three times along the route and welled up each time.


When he called to say he had finished I couldn’t help the tears from falling. I was so relieved it was over, and so proud of all he had achieved.

We had a wonderful day in London with our friends, my darling girls were little angels (baby Essex even had an hours nap at the side of the road) and Scarlett was jumping up and down with joy each time she saw her Daddy ran past.


London did itself proud this weekend.  Once sign I saw along the route summed it up perfectly for me…

Run if you can, walk if you must, but finish for Boston









26.2 miles – rather him than me!!

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Legoland Windsor – A Fun Family Day Out


One of the things I was most looking forward to about becoming a parent was having fun.  Going on days out and making amazing memories. Going to places that as an adult you can only go with children. Legoland was one such place.

We are very lucky that the girls have an uncle who works for the Tussauds group, and even luckier to land a friends and family day pass prior to the opening of the park for 2013.


Legoland in March has its issues, firstly it was FREEZING and secondly not all attractions were ready (some don’t open till May) but we still had an amazing day.

What I loved most was how geared up it was for little people.  There were only a handful of rides that The Little Lady couldn’t go on at her height of 1m tall.  Baby Essex was also able to come on some rides with us too (not that she was that impressed by this judging from the tears).


There are toilets dotted all over the park, another plus point when out for a day with the children,

As we walked from one part of the park to another there was hours of fun to be had looking for the lego man and animals hidden in the bushes and by the ponds.


Food, as you would expect, was a little on the pricey side.  However we took a packed lunch with us and then just bought a hot drink and some chips at lunch time (which come in the shape of lego pieces, totally worth the £2.70 a portion).

I would struggle to pick a favourite attraction. The Lego Legends of Chima 4D movie was great (be prepared to get a little wet), the Atlantis Submarine Voyage was educational yet so much fun and The Little Lady loved driving school complete with her own driving license.


We also popped into the Legoland Hotel to have a look around.  I was very impressed and will certainly be planning a summer visit to stay there.  As the weather was so cold we couldn’t do any of the water rides in the park, so that a good enough excuse for me to go back!  I also really want to take Baby Essex back to explore the Duplo Valley Splash and Play area that opens in May.


We all had such a wonderful day, The Little Lady hasn’t stopped talking about it since we got back, and for me it will always be the day I got to take my big girl on the Waltzers for the first time, I will remember her laughter and squeals of ‘I’m getting fizzy’ for the rest of my life

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