Tag: essex days out

Easter at Barleylands

I love Easter time; lighter evenings, streets lined with blossom-laden trees, fresh starts and new beginnings. Even though I’m 28 now I still make the effort to celebrate the occasion in any way that I can and I’m lucky enough to have a family that understand the importance of it too.

Gareth and I spent this Easter in Paris so we couldn’t eat chocolate eggs, cook a roast dinner or do any of the things we usually might. When we got back from our trip we decided to have a nice day out with my family and do the most Easter-inspired, Springtime thing possible and feed the lambs at Barleylands.

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The Weald Park Country Show

I have never been to a country show before. I guess I’ve never really lived close enough to the countryside for it to be a thing. When we saw the Weald Dog and Country Show advertised, I wasn’t really sure what it was all about but I thought given the bank holiday weekend it might be nice to spend my Sunday doing something other than napping. (Although I did manage to find the time to do that too.)

I was pleasantly surprised by just how much was going on at Weald. As we entered I saw masses of tents, stalls, food vans and various ‘arenas’ seated out with straw bales. The atmosphere was lively, with lots of excitable dogs running around, people clutching boxes of hog roast and children with fistfuls of ice cream. I’m not usually a fan of overly busy or packed out events but Weald is a really big, open space and this country show was very well organised.

Naturally I wanted to see the cute farm animals first so we headed over to the stalls and pens that were owned by Gemma’s Farm. Honestly, it took all my willpower not to stuff my pockets full with adorable fluffy chicks. The Silkie chicks in particular really melted my heart. I’ve always wanted to own Silkies as they are such friendly balls of fluff.
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We stopped to watch a training exercise hosted by Canine Security. If I wanted a dog before this show it was only compounded further by this and the sheer volume of adorable dogs all around us. I must admit, the smaller ones did look particularly kidnap-able (but don’t worry, I didn’t steal any dogs. This time.)

Sheep racing was another fun event that drew a large crowd of mostly excitable children who were used as obstacles.

I definitely had a soft spot for Bellini who was just five weeks old, rather small and an absolute cutie-pie.

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The Weald Country Show had a really good mix of stalls, activities and events which made for a packed itinerary. We just drifted around however, catching shows as we passed them and sampling the freebies. It was really great to see lots of local businesses selling local produce and I was particularly pleased to see the RSPB stand recruiting members.

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One stall that we found particularly interesting was the Brentwood Model Boat Association. This quirky stall was packed with realistic miniature boats that were impressively detailed. I even spotted a tiny Steve Zissou. One man was driving a model boat on the big lake and it was fascinating to watch!

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We stopped for a bite to eat before watching the Motorbike Stunt Team perform in the main arena. This team consisted of a mother and son duo and although I’m not really in to the whole motorbike thing, I found myself really enjoying the show and cheering them on. This was clearly a crowd-favourite as a huge swarm of people gathered around the sidelines.

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And of course, no country show would be complete without a birds of prey display. Sadly we missed the main World of Wings flying event, however I was pretty happy with just observing the birds. I was particularly fond of the Tawny Owl.

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Another super-fun stall was one selling hats, gloves and accessories all made from Alpaca wool. To the side of this stall was a little pen with three alpacas inside. I have seen alpacas before but none as cute as these guys; I definitely wanted to get in the pen and give them a cuddle.

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On one stall we sampled the most amazing toffee vodka and fruit liqueurs. (I’m happy to report we purchased a couple of bottles.) I was also fascinated by the stall selling Antler cut offs (and I’m kind of regretting not purchasing one now. Not that I have any use for it whatsoever.) And of course, I naturally gravitated to the stall selling bath bombs and products.

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All in all we spent around three hours wandering around the stalls and watching the displays. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday and, as I mentioned previously, so well organised. I will definitely be looking out for more country shows to attend!

A Day Out in Southend-on-Sea (Plus a Competition!)

Please note, the following post has been sponsored by Essex Business School at the University of Essex. Please read through to the end to find out more about the fantastic competition they are running over on Instagram and for your chance to win £500 worth of Summer days out across Essex and London. All views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and Southend-on-Sea is my personal recommendation.

Southend-on-Sea holds many fond childhood memories for me. Long, sunshine-filled days spent on the beach, skipping stones in to the sea, burning my tongue on hot, salty chips and returning home on the train with hands sticky from candy floss and sand.

That’s why, when the Essex Business School at the University of Essex asked me to pick one of my favourite days out in Essex, I immediately thought of the seaside town.

A short drive from us, Gareth and I decided to spend an afternoon exploring Adventure Island and building some more recent memories.

Upon entering the park we were hit by the smell of smokey sausages and burgers wafting up from the food stalls, the bright lights and sounds of playful screams carrying on the wind. It rolled over me like a wave of nostalgia and I was instantly transported back to the summer I spent with a friend, gobbling up candy floss like it was going out of fashion before riding the Scorpion eight times, only stopping to empty the entire contents of my stomach, (like some terribly misguided afterthought.)

 

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Although it pains me to admit it, I’m not quite as brave as I was was back in those days. Looking at some of the newer (admittedly slightly more impressive and scary-looking) rides I wondered how I would fare. Gareth is of a similar disposition so at the very least I felt in safe company. We decided to start things off small. And when I say small, I really do mean small; we got on the Kiddie Coaster (yes, that’s the actual name of the ride!) Sizing up the miniature roller coaster I felt pretty confident. 1. There was a queue of young children waiting to get on the ride, and if a young child isn’t scared by it, than nor am I (just who was I kidding?) 2. The ride doesn’t have any loops. Any terrifying vertical drops. No stop/start element to make you feel as if your heart is going to explode. 3. It lasts all of two minutes. Max. 

It was fine, really it was. Maybe I spent the entire ride holding on to the metal bar until my knuckles were white, my stomach somersaulting as I listened to the girl sat behind me (of about four) laugh and exclaim happily as my life flashed before my eyes but… it was fine.

Anyway after that we didn’t go on any more roller coasters and the day was all the more fun for it. I was happy to discover that the Crooked House was still standing and just as crooked as ever as this was always a childhood favourite. Afterwards we stumbled in to the sunshine disorientated and slightly dizzy. I’m not sure if Gareth really got it but you can’t visit Adventure Island without paying the Crooked House a visit, it’s a must!

The Big Wheel was a gentle ride that we both greatly enjoyed, especially as it affords views across the whole park and the sea. The giant spinning turtle (Archelon) swings were another firm favourite, making us feel really rather relaxed considering we were in the middle of a theme park!

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There’s an indoor element to Adventure Island that wasn’t around when I was a kid. This space has soft play and rides for younger children. I think this is a fantastic idea as when the weather turns and it’s not so warm there’s still something to keep the kids occupied. I have to admit, I’m a big fan of carousels so I definitely eyed up the shiny, galloping horses and wondered if it was socially acceptable to have a go. As the ride was aimed at children though I thought probably not!

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The great thing about Adventure Island is that no matter what your age it will reduce you to the mindset of a small, excitable child. After a fun (albeit exhausting) morning of dashing between the rides we decided to head out and have some lunch on the beach. And when you’re by the seaside there really is no better option than hot chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. The lunch of a well-adjusted adult, I promise.

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After lunch we decided to check out the Pier which extends an impressive 1.34 miles in to the Thames Estuary making it the world’s longest pleasure pier. Naturally we opted for the train.

I have never taken the train down the pier before so I was pleasantly surprised by the experience and how much I enjoyed it. The retro-looking carriages rattled down the tracks at a slow enough pace that we were able to really take in the views.

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At the end of the pier we were happy to spot Ruddy Turnstones (which we affectionately named ‘sea-quails’ because of their resemblance to one of our button quails.)  After a little research we discovered that the RSPB were protecting the Ruddy Turnstones at Southend-on-Sea so we felt quite lucky to see them!

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All in all we had a wonderful time at Southend-on-Sea. There really is just so much to do and see; truly there is something for everyone!

Competition time!

Now you have read about one of my favourite days out in Essex, how about sharing some of yours?

Would you like to win up to £500 worth of days out across Essex and London and have a fun-filled summer packed with adventure? The Essex Business School at the University of Essex are running a competition over on Instagram to find Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction. (And trust me, the prize is a good one!)

This competition celebrates the launch of the new and highly anticipated BSc Tourism Management degree in Southend-on-Sea. If you want to see the world with an international career in travel and tourism, it’s not too late to apply for October 2017 entry.

How do I enter?

If you’re aged 16-25, you have until 18 May to snap a photo of your favourite place to visit in Essex and post it on your Instagram. Make sure to name your attraction in the caption, and let our friends at the Essex Business School know why you love it so much. It could be anything; from your local park to the bowling alley. Maybe like me you love to spend a day by the sea! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #essexyouthtourism and tag @essexebs so they can see your entry.

The most photographed attraction will be crowned Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction 2017, but the most creative, inspirational or fun photo will win the summer prize package. Follow @essexebs on Instagram to keep up-to-date with the competition and find out the winner!

For full terms and conditions please read here!

What’s the prize?

The winner will receive:

  • A pair of two day adult London Pass tickets with Oyster Travelcard 
  • Two Adventure Island Blue Annual Passes for Southend-on-Sea’s beachfront theme park 
  • Escape Live in Southend-on-Sea entry for four people 
  • Two Rollerworld Roller Disco tickets

Pretty great huh? So if you’d like your summer sorted this year, get your camera at the ready for some Insta-worthy days out!