So winter is coming, and if you like to buck the trend of being a near on recluse and growing your leg hair, then take a look at my little list of some of my fave places in my fave county.
King William, Chigwell
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be asked to review the King William in Chigwell. The food is absolutely spot on (I would recommend the pork belly), but the service was fantastic too, and you couldn’t help feeling like the staff went out of their way to make a fuss of you. The décor is so cosy, even if you don’t go to eat it is a lovely little place for a quick winter warmer. It’s not fantastically easy to get to by train, but if you are driving please be mindful your KA wont look great next to all the Ranges.
Lifehouse Spa, Frinton
If I ever go to a spa overnight, its Lifehouse. Having now been there twice, I couldn’t think of going on a Spa weekend anywhere else. Set in tranquil gardens, last time my rooms balcony actually opened up onto the little pond. The actual spa room itself has big floor to ceiling windows, so natural light engulfs you while you have a swim. If you are hard enough, have a go at the plunge pool, which is a small ice cold pool you dip into after the sauna. Do not be tempted to do what I did, mess about doing a little dance coming out and nearly break my ankle.
Barleylands as a general venue is a great place to spend an afternoon. Even in the winter, the craft village shops have a little rustic charm ( one of the shops is also home to my pet groomer who provides excellent service for the right price, and is Great with animals, she does my cat haha – https://www.facebook.com/Samsgroomingroom?fref=ts&rf=283138295202884).
Barleylands is also home to a farm, which isn’t massive so if you pop along in the winter you will be able to walk round its entirety without getting frostbite. I will warn you though, they do have VERY overactive goats who will stick their head through the fence and eat your bag of feed if you turn around for a SPLIT second to talk to someone. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you spend the three weeks after your visit having nightmares that you are being attacked by goat with better eyebrows than you.
Hanningfield Reservoir, Café on the Water
As lovely as it is in summer, there’s something refreshing about having a latte and watching from the warmth of café on the water of the still and silent lake. The food and coffee on Café on the Water is second to none, and if its dry you could round off with a brisk walk round the nature trail to, as old people say ‘blow the cobwebs out’.
The Kings Head, North Weald
In 2012, we went to the Kings Head for Christmas dinner, and it was lovely. It was so nice, that as soon as we found out we were going out again for dinner this year we went down and booked straight up again. Complete with log fires and exposed beams, this is a lovely places for a glass of red on a cold winters evening. The service is impeccable, and when we went for Christmas dinner the waiter even went out of the way to move Nan’s chair as people kept walking past and bashing her.
Thorndon Country Park, Brentwood
It’s long been argued that walking is the best exercise, and I have to agree. The weather should not deter you from getting up on a Sunday and having a nice long country walk. If you do find that you are hanging out of your backside, woke up next to a kebab and cant find your tights, then a nice long walk around Thorndon Country park will surely make you feel better. With it’s breath-taking views, there are plenty of places you can stop and marvel at nature and re-evaluate your life and tights inventory.
Freeport Shopping Village, Braintree
One day, as I had been getting over flu, I asked my ex if we could go somewhere ‘indoors’. In his infinite wisdom, after having been there before, he took me to Freeport in Braintree. For any people who are similarly stupid, it IS outdoor apart from the actual shops. (This wasn’t the stupidest thing he ever did either, bad times for four years of my life). The shops are like little huts, and if you visit anytime from the end of October onwards the fairy lights and decorations make it look like a magical Christmas village from some sort of children’s Christmas film. Aside from this, the bargains should draw you in, and you will most certainly be able to do most of your Christmas shopping.