Before I emigrate, me and my Mum came up with a bucket list of all the things we wanted to do together before I left. There was a mixture of things we’d done before, enjoy doing and just wanted to do again and some things that were completely new to us. We worked out roughly a 1 hour radius from our home so we could do some things in an afternoon, an Essex bucket list with a small side of London!
Go for an Afternoon Tea
Being British, I’ve had countless ‘Cream Teas’ but had yet to have the bigger, more piggier version that is an Afternoon Tea! Cream Teas usually consist of 2 scones with clotted cream, jam and then a pot of tea or coffee. An Afternoon Tea is a Cream Tea, plus mini finger sandwiches and a selection of cakes. It’s a LOT of food! We were told if we couldn’t finish it all in one sitting, everything could be taken home apart from a little cheesecake because they wanted the little shot glass back!
I visited Perrywood Garden Centre in Tiptree and the Afternoon Tea cost £16.99 each. Highly recommended, they even custom made our sandwich fillings to suit our requirements. An alternative option is the Tiptree Jam Factory tearoom. Tiptree Jam is a product sold world wide, there is a little tearoom and museum that joins onto the factory! (If ever you’ve seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in the summer, people in white jump suits climb the trees to pick the fruit, it’s so funny they look just like little Oompa Loompas!)
Visit a Spa for a Steam Room/Sauna
I have a guilty pleasure for having a massage when I travel, when I’m constantly carrying backpacks it just feels like such a relief on my back and shoulders! But I’d never really been somewhere with a Sauna!
Aqua Springs in Colchester has a spa pool/jacuzzi, hydrotherapy pools, a sauna (a volcano sauna which I didn’t even attempt!), a steam room, a salt inhalation room (which really burnt my eyes and lips!), a monsoon shower and plunge pools. I got a bit of a kick out of standing under a bucket of ice cold water where you pull a chain to tip it over you, fun but FREEZING! It was an interesting experience, I was sweating in places I didn’t even know I could sweat! It’s quite a small complex and some of the rooms and pools got quite crowded, I was also the youngest person there which I found a little intimidating!
Entrance is £13 and you can stay for as long as you want. There’s a cafe, loungers and also treatment rooms for massages (at an extra cost).
Have Fish and Chips at the Beach
There are plenty of seaside towns in Essex such as: Clacton, Southend and Walton. One of my favourite things to do is get take away fish and chips and sit on the sea wall. Nowhere else in the world seems to be able to replicate the exact taste of fish and chips from a traditional British chip shop! It HAS to be served in paper as well with a little wooden chip fork! The seagulls add another dimension to the experience 😀
We visited Clacton and spent some time on the pier, went in the amusement arcades and on a couple of rides and took a walk along the sea front. For once the weather was on our side and it was a lovely day!
Walk the Flitch Way
Walking the Flitch Way is something we’d done several times before. It’s where the old railway used to run between Braintree and Bishops Stortford. We’ve still not made it the full length, we’re happy just to get as far as Rayne Station, have a cake from the converted station ticket hall and then walk back! It’s a completely straight route through trees, popular with cyclists and dog walkers. I highly recommend a stop at the Station cafe. The cake portions are huge, the sandwiches are literally the size of a loaf of bread, there’s seating along the platform and even a basket of blankets for when it gets cold. There’s a small museum in an old train carriage too!
Document my Home Town
When you’ve lived somewhere for 27 years, you tend to take your surroundings for granted. I wanted to make sure that I took my camera out and about with me and capture different areas of the town. I’ve been taking pictures of old buildings, unique street names and pictures of the fields and river area where I go walking a lot! Maybe in the future I can use some of these photos to decorate my new home in America!
Try a ‘New’ Independent Coffee Shop
There’s a bit of a theme going on here…cake, cake and more cake! Just like most towns, we have the Costa Coffees and Starbucks, but the poor little independent coffee shops and bakeries are trying to compete. At the end of the day, home made cakes win hands down. The coffee shop of choice was The Glass House in Braintree High Street. It used to be a book shop once upon a time! I had a slice of lime cake with coconut cream and pieces of tropical fruit in the middle and a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. Very nice! The slice of cake was less than £2!
Visit Somewhere in London That We Haven’t Been to Before
For us, we chose to do the 3 mile canal walk between Little Venice and Camden Town, via Primrose Hill (to see a different perspective of the London skyline). I’ve been to Camden many times but never really followed the route of the canal! A very different walk compared to walking along the River Thames! Once outside of Camden, the route was very peaceful, there were only a few people and the noise of the city was pretty non existent.
On a separate trip I finally went on the Emirates AirLine Cable Car!
Ride the Longest Tube Slide in the World
When London held the 2012 Olympics, the Orbit Tower was built outside the main Olympic Stadium. You may have seen it, it’s the big red twisted metal work thing, it looks slightly strange, but recently they built a tube slide from the observation platform at the top, twisting through the metalwork all the way to the ground! It’s the longest and highest slide in the world and just 40 minutes away from my town. I’m always up for new adrenaline activities and the slide was something I just had to do as soon as I knew it was being built!
*Side Note – At time of release, I haven’t yet completed this, I’ll be doing it on Sunday!*
See My Favourite British Band
I booked the tickets hoping the visa was going to play ball. When the dates were released I was unsure as to whether or not I’d still be in the country! I took a chance and it paid off. I saw ‘Busted’ twice in one weekend with my Sis and it was so much fun. I have been a fan since 2002…that’s 14 years ago! It was great hearing all the songs we loved while we were growing up. They haven’t yet ‘cracked America’ so I’m really happy I got to see them again before I leave because I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance again!
Unfortunately I ran out of time for:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
I will be back and I’ll make sure I see it on my next visit! I wasn’t sure when the visa would be completed so I didn’t want to book too many ticketed activities in case I then had to cancel them! They sold out so quickly as well so I’m hoping by the time I come back they’ll be slightly easier to get hold of!
What’s your favourite thing to do in your local area? I think it’s really important for everyone to play ‘tourist’ in their home town once in a while!