Restaurant review: Wing Shack, Loughton, Essex

I might live just 30 minutes outside London but my Essex town may as well be a world away when it comes to the food options available. Sometimes I don't want to travel all the way into London to get some decent grub. So I was so excited to hear Wing Shack had not long opened up in a town about 15 minutes drive from my house. There had been such a buzz about it and my chicken wing connoisseur boyfriend had raved about the buffalo chicken. I knew I had to try it sooner rather than later.

The prime time came when I had a day off work midweek and we were heading into London for a wedding. We stopped by here for lunch before checking into our glamorous travel lodge. It got pretty busy during our time there for a midweek lunch time which is always a promising sign. After falling in love with mostly everything listed in the menu we decided to have a feast!

My stand out star was the sweet and sticky chicken wings. Succulent meat was drenched in the sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds and sliced spring onions. They were outstanding! A close second was the fries smothered in hot buffalo sauce, cool blue cheese dip and lashings of melted cheese. Heaven in a cardboard box. I'm going to try and recreate these at home.

Wing Shack was such a joy to eat at and the prices were pretty reasonable too. We shared the feast in the top picture between four and it came to about £15 each which was a steal. I honestly can't wait to go back and I know I'm going to be a regular!


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!


Exploring the UK: Freeport Outlet Centre, Braintree, Essex

As much as I love the Big Smoke, I'm a little partial to my home county of Essex. Despite our reputation among others... I love exploring old favourites and new to me parts - it's home to some cracking places. One old favourite is the Freeport outlet centre in Braintree so when they got in touch to see if I fancied a day out, I quickly said yes.

Armed with a very generous voucher, I set off shop until I dropped. Freeport is home to a whole host of shops from homeware to beauty and fashion to electrical, there really is something for everyone. Lots of well-known retailers boast a shop at the outlet village. Ted baker, Adidas, Barbour, French Connection, Vans, M&S, Karen Millen and Hobbs are to name but a few. Thanks to my trip to Cologne coming up in a few days, I was on the hunt for some new bits and pieces to take there. Luckily I had no trouble finding things for my trip.

On the hunt for some comfortable shoes, something I don't own much of, I headed to Vans to treat myself to some plimsols. I was greeted with such a huge selection of different colours and styles and finally settled on a pair of plain black slim fit shoes. Then off to The Body Shop I went to stock up on some beauty bits and bobs for my holidays. The hand luggage restrictions get me every time. Finally I decided to treat my boyfriend to a new adidas zip up jumper to say thank you for being the chauffeur for the day. Not bad right?

Freeport really is a great day out, it's less than a hour from London on the train and savings can be up to 60% off the retail price. It's a fantastic place to get all your favourite fashion brands at a good discount. It means you can buy more right?! There's such a great selection of shops and new ones are opening all the time. It's easy to navigate and thanks to the industrial estate opposite, there's some fantastic places to eat - and even a cinema if you fancy relaxing after all that shopping!


14 reasons how you know you're a true Essex girl

1. You spend your life trying to speak nicely whenever you meet new people but they always see through the act. It's such a relief when you can just speak in your native tongue.

2. You find your Essex accent comes out in force when you've had a drink. You struggle to even understand yourself.

3. You have one pair of white high heels tucked away in your wardrobe. Because those shoes are the perfect summer shoe.

4. As soon as you open your mouth, everyone immediately knows where you come from. Then the jokes start.

5. You find yourself constantly dropping the H from words.

6. You've spend a good proportion of your childhood at Lakeside shopping centre. It was the only place to spend your Christmas and birthday money.

7. TOWIE may have put your county on the map but time someone shouts 'Shut UPPPP' in your face, you want to punch them.

8. You get annoyed when you go out and the TOWIE stars have cornered off the best part of the club. Just where are you going to dance now?! Then you feel all excited because you've spotted someone you've seen on the telly.

9. You have about 7 different types of fake tan in your bedroom for when the matter arises.

10. You go out in East London for a change of scenery on a Saturday night only to realise the whole of Essex had the same idea. There is NO ESCAPE! That's what you get for living 20 minutes away from Liverpool Street Station.

12. You still opt for an Smirnoff Ice when you go on a night out in a club. It's the cheapest thing and reminds you of your youth.

12. Innit is a crucial part of your vocabulary.

13. No 'out out' night out is complete without a shed load of bronzer. It makes the world go round.
14. You feel very protective over your little county and will defend it all night long. Only you are allowed to run it down.

Mayfield Bakery

It's always a winner when you find a gem so close to your home. Mayfield Bakery is luckily located about 15 minutes from my house in Essex. I can't rave enough about the cheese and onion bread. It's like pieces of heaven - delicious with a thick slab of salted butter.

Based in a rural setting, the bakery sells a whole host of different products. From handmade loafs of bread to pastries to cheese and cakes. You can buy local products and even have a lesson in baking bread. Something I'd like to try out! It's open daily and is always busy so make sure you get there early to get the pick of the bread.

It has a little café attached that does the best breakfasts. It's not the cheapest but it's well worth the money. This time I opted for scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and some seeded brown toast. The eggs were beautifully creamy and made the perfect partner to the salmon. I didn't want it to end! I had to take one of those gingerbread men home!

This girl is on fire

Black midi lace dress: Primark
Grey fur trimmed cape: Marks and Spencer
Black suede pointed pumps: Topshop
Black tights: Primark

My nan was given a voucher for High Tea for her birthday so I tagged along - never miss out on scones with clotted cream and jam! It was in a lovely venue called Mulberry House not far from my house, proving Essex is far more than Oompa Loompa tans and Sugar Hut. For just over £13 we were given a tray of sandwiches - smoked salmon always get a thumbs up from me - and an assortment of different cakes and scones. I can confirm that the mini carrott cake went down very well as did the mini eclair. Anyone else think cakes taste so much nicer in miniature form?

Have you got any suggestions for Afternoon or High Tea in around the London and Essex area? I'm always on the look out for new places!


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