Exploring Essex: A day in Leigh-On-Sea


Despite being a born and bred Essex girl, there's plenty I haven't done in this county of mine. The plus and minus of living so close to London... But what I have done is visit Leigh-On-Sea a handful of times. And it's somewhere I know I'll visit time and time again.




I headed to Leigh-On-Sea back in January for my birthday for a day of delicious brunch, cockles (my favourite seafood) and a chilly walk along the coast to blow the winter cobwebs away. So often I rush into London when I have some spare time but it was so lovely to stay close to home. It isn't the prettiest beach in the world but that's exactly why the cockles are famous - it's a prime location for cockle picking. Make sure you stop off at Osbourne Bros on the seafront before you go home. I often forget the coast is a mere 30 minutes away from my house. A quick hop in the car and I'm soon breathing in the calming sea air. I'm especially keen to go back for breakfast at Stop the World Cafe.




The town is full of cute independent homeware shops, pretty cobbled streets, the county's best seafood and enticing restaurants that have made me promised I won't leave it so long to visit again. I'll see you soon Leigh-On-Sea!


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How to spend 48 hours in Derry


Located in the north of Ireland, Derry is the only city in the Londonderry County. It's a city I've been to before as my boyfriend has family there but last time we didn't explore as much. However, this time we made up for lost time. It's not a huge city but one that has plenty of things to keep you occupied - a great place to spend 48 hours before exploring the beautiful Causeway Coast.

Where to stay
Maldron Hotel
Right in the city walls is where you will find the Maldron Hotel. The central location makes it the ideal place to explore, we found we were never more than a ten minute walk from everywhere we wanted to be. The reception staff are friendly and helpful, making the stay an absolute breeze. We were both so grateful for the huge comfortable bed to sink into at the end of each long day and loved finding chocolates on the pillow when we arrived.




Day one
9am - Get an early start and head down for an incredible breakfast spread. Offering a buffet cooked breakfast, continental pastries and meats, endless choices of cereals and a selection of fresh fruit and yogurt, it was the perfect start to the day.

10.00am - Start with a leisurely walk along the City Walls to help you get your bearings around the city. Derry is only completely walled city in the Republic of Ireland and the British Isles. Having recently celebrated their 400th birthday, the walls are full of history. As you'll walk around you'll see the famous Bogside with the murals, Free Derry Corner, St Columb's Cathedral, the Peace Bridge and the Guildhall.

12.30pm - Refuel with lunch at Blackbird. I mentioned this pub a few days ago but will say again, you need to try the burgers here. If a burger isn't your thing, it also does chicken wings, steaks, brisket and pulled pork. If you're a Londoner, it's pretty similar to Bodeans. I'll definitely be back to sample more of the menu when I'm back in the city.




2.30pm - Learn about the history of the city with a trip to the informative Tower Museum. I went on my first trip to Derry and can't recommend it enough. Despite growing up in the UK, I didn't really know much about the history of Northern Ireland as we didn't touch on the subject in school. The museum offers an incredible insight into the civil rights period and I came away with such an understanding of that era. It was really eye-opening. The museum also has a great open air viewing facility which offers a great view of the city. Stop off at the Craft Village to pick up some souvenirs to take home.

4.30pm - After the overload of information, head to The Bentley for a drink. The bar plays the football too if you are also a bit of a football widow like me... I have it on good authority from a local that the food is pretty decent too if you fancy popping back another time for a bite to eat.

5.30pm - Head back to the hotel before going out for dinner.



7.30pm - Make sure you book a table at Harry's in advance. Specialising in using local ingredients, Harry's is a taste sensation. The fish is probably one of the best I've eaten and I couldn't recommend the lemon sole highly enough. Be sure to enjoy the wine list too - it's a corker!

9.30pm - Finish off the evening with a night cap at Peadar O'Donnells. Here you'll find some great Irish music and friendly locals.

Day two
9am - Another early start to make the most of that delicious breakfast.

10am - Make a detour to the see inside the Guildhall, one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city. At the minute they have a fascinating exhibition about plantations and you can have a nose inside the council chambers and marvel at the stain glassed windows. Best of all, its free to look around!


11am - Walk down to Bogside to learn about about the Bogside artists and see the Free Derry Corner. We were lucky enough to have a local to tell us about it but if you're not quite as lucky, make sure you book a tour. They're run by people who lived through The Troubles and will offer a great insight into the history. You learn so much more than if you just read a book.

1pm - For a great selection of sandwiches, soups and jacket potatoes, Silver Street is the place to be. Located in Derry's oldest bar, it's great value for money with a good selection of beers and ciders on offer. No nonsense yet straight to the point - exactly what you need after a long morning of sightseeing.


3pm - Cross the Peace Bridge over to Ebrington Square. This is currently undergoing huge regeneration and looks like it'll be the place to be in a few years time. But at the minute it plays host to Walled City Brewery - Derry's first brewery in over a 100 years. Sadly it was closed when we try to visit but I have it on good authority from my boyfriend's family that it's well worth a visit. It's top of our list next time we're in the city!


5pm - Head back to the hotel to freshen up

7pm - Take a lazy stroll along the Quay to see the city lit up behind up and a great view of the River Foyle.




7.30pm - Book at table at Da Vinci's Grillroom for dinner. It has a great menu with something for everyone. I highly recommend the tomato bruschetta and the delightfully spicy cajun chicken. Be sure to try out the walk in wine room to pick your bottle of choice.

10pm - Head back into the city for a drink back at Blackbird to sample their gin!

For more ideas on things to do in the city head to Visit Derry, they have some amazing suggestions!
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Restaurant review: Tank and Paddle, Fenchurch Street, central London


A emailed popped in my inbox to see if I wanted to try a new pizza place that had opened up in the Square Mile. Open Monday to Friday, newly opened Tank and Paddle offers pizza, mac and cheese and beer, making it the perfect place for a catch up with Hannah. How could we say no to the ultimate comfort food after a day at work and beat the Monday blues? Pizzas are only £5 on a Monday.




Deciding to get two pizzas and share, we opted for the special of ham and pineapple and Billy Goat's Gruff with toppings including goats cheese, red onion chutney and spinach. Simple is best in my opinion.  The stone-based pizzas had a delicious thin crispy base and a generous amount of toppings which helped them gain a thumbs up from us. The ham and pineapple just had the edge though. We also ordered a side of the smoky mac and cheese. The addictive gooey cheesy pasta was filled with lardons of salty bacon - the perfect partner to the pizza. We enjoyed a glass of Brother's Hop cider to wash it all down.

Tank and Paddle is well-priced, in a good central location and serves delicious food. A great place to whittle away a few hours gossiping with friends. Thanks for having us!



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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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