Five Essex Things
Tracy Jones is a Christmas Day baby, and here picks her five favourite festive things about Essex
Christmas Day baby Tracy Jones picks her five favourite festive things about Essex
MY FAVOURITE SEASONAL SECRET
The development of London Southend Airport over the last few years has been absolutely brilliant for a cheeky, quick and easy weekend getaway and we are taking full advantage of it this Christmas – it would be rude not to when they have 30 destinations to pick from. We live just 10-minutes away, so it’s park up, five minutes to go through security (honest, really!), another five-minute walk (no train or bus transfer) and you are on the plane. About an hour later you are exploring a great European city. We just got back from a three-day jaunt to Antwerp for some Christmas shopping, culture and beer and it was much faster getting there from home, than it would have been to get to North London!?
MY FAVOURITE PLACE TO BUY THE TURKEY
I live in Barling Magna, which despite its Miss Marple name is just 10 minutes outside Southend. We have one of the hidden treasures of Essex – an amazing ‘meat emporium’ at Burton’s Farm, presided over by the legendary butcher Philip Splett. He is the inventor of what I firmly believe is the world’s best sausage, The Barling Beauty. It’s from here I will be getting my turkey this year, and lots of other Christmas goodies too.
MY FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS DAY WALK WITH THE DOGS
People tend to forget that Essex has one of the longest coastlines in the UK, and so our county is a nirvana for dog walkers, with miles of open spaces and lots of opportunities to get muddy and wet – hopefully the dogs, not the owners! One of my favourite walks with my cocker spaniels Flashy and Rusty is along the sea wall in Barling, looking out over the saltmarsh and watching the amazing wildlife go about its business.
MY MOST MEMORABLE CHRISTMAS GIFT
I first discovered the magic of Mistley a few years back when I was given a Sicilian Cookery Course as a Christmas present, and I have been back many times since. The Mistley Kitchen – under my culinary guru, chef Sherri Singleton – is a friendly, fun and relaxed way to learn more about all types of cooking. And the shop is amazing! I like to make a weekend of it by staying the night afterwards in her pub just up the road, The Mistley Thorn, which was once owned by Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. The local seafood is simply stunning.
MY FAVOURITE THEATRE FOR A CHRISTMAS SHOW
We are so lucky to have a really great theatre in Southend, as it gets the big London shows before or just after the West End, while top comedians and music acts often pass through – so you can get to see top notch entertainment close to home without the City prices. Of course, the highlight of the year is the panto! This year it is Ashley Banjo and Diversity starring in Aladdin and I know it will be a great night out for all the family.
The Mistley Thorn
London Southend Airport