Fenwick Colchester

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the press launch of the new Fenwick store in Colchester. The store used to be known as Williams & Griffin, but was bought by Fenwick, who have eleven stores across the country. Williams & Griffin was known for being one of the last remaining independent department stores in the country, so I know a lot of people were disappointed to see it being taken over. But Fenwick are a family owned business themselves, and having taken a look around the store, I think the renovation and expansion of the old store will do a lot for Colchester high street.

The store looks amazing. It has been expanded by 50% to 120,000 square feet, and includes all the departments you’d expect to find in a department store; beauty, fashion, homeware, toys, stationery, and loads more.

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As you can see from the photos, everything is brand new and shiny, and looks amazing. The Christmas shop is already open – I know, it’s early,  but once the schools go back as far as I’m concerned Christmas is fair game. It’ll be a great place to go for Christmas gift inspiration, so I’m looking forward to going and having another browse!

It really is a very nice addition to Colchester High Street, so it’s well worth a visit if you are in the area.

*I was invited to the press launch, and received a goody bag to say thank you. All opinions are my own.

34 Before 34 ~ Have afternoon tea

I have had afternoon tea before, a couple of times, but I enjoy it so much that I decided to put it on my birthday list to encourage me to do it again, and it’s one that I’ve actually managed to tick off!

I went with my sisters and my niece, in lieu of a baby shower for my niece who was around eight months pregnant when we went. I am not a fan of baby showers, and nor is she, so I suggested that just the four of us should go out for afternoon tea just to spend some time together before the baby arrived (which she did, just last weekend).

It was down to me to find somewhere to go, and I settled on Buscall & Flynn’s in Chelmsford in the end. It’s a really unassuming building from outside, in fact, I’m not sure that I’d go in if I just walked past. But with a little research, it seemed as though it had some of the best reviews for afternoon tea in Chelmsford, so that’s where we ended up.

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For £11.95 per person, you get, as is standard with afternoon tea, a selection of sandwiches and cakes. When they take your order, they ask you what sandwich you want, so if there is a group of you, you could order four different choices, and then share them amongst you.

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On top of the sandwiches, you get a scone and small cupcake each as well. All of the food was really delicious; well made and completely fresh, so it’s well worth the money. In terms of the drinks, we ordered a pot of tea for three of us, but my sister Sarah doesn’t drink tea, so she ordered coffee. It was slightly disappointing to find that the two cups that she drank were charged separately from the afternoon tea itself – I think that a hot drink should come as part of the tea, regardless of what you are drinking!

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But all in all it was a lovely afternoon, and it’s always lovely to spend time with this bunch. Funnily enough, as we sat there waiting for our food, my dad walked in. He didn’t know we were going to be there, it was one of those silly coincidences! He joined us, though didn’t partake in the tea itself, and it was just a nice family afternoon. Especially once we got started on the face swapping shenanigans…!

Buscall & Flynn’s is a great choice for afternoon tea in Chelmsford; it’s a reasonable price, the food is delicious, and the staff are friendly. I just enjoy afternoon tea so much that I’m already thinking about when I can go again!

30. Have afternoon tea

34 Before 34

33 Before 33 ~ Visit a Town Called Ugley

Of all the things to put on my 33 Before 33 list, visiting a tiny village in Essex with a silly name might seem an odd one. But there is a good reason; one of my favourite bands, Ward Thomas, have a song called A Town Called Ugley, which tells the story of how they once got stuck in Ugley. When my friends and I went to see them last year, we decided to visit Ugley, because it’s not that far away, and take a photo with the sign. Not the coolest way to spend an afternoon, but really, I’m up for doing anything if it involves my best friends!

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As expected, ultimately, the trip did just involve parking near the sign, taking a photo, and then not really having much else to do. Ugley isn’t the most exciting place in the world, and though there’s a line in the song that goes “I swear we drove right past the old King’s Head / 25 times or more”, we sadly couldn’t find the old King’s Head. We looked, but the only pub was the Beautiful Ugley Chequers, so we nipped in there for a drink and ended up having a carvery lunch. And very nice it was too!

28. Visit a town called Ugley

 

Essex Bloggers Meet ~ Crown Street, Brentwood

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with the Essex Bloggers for the fourth time ( I never got around to writing up a post about the Christmas meet, but that will be forthcoming as soon as I find the photos from the day!). Haydn from Squibb Vicious organised a shopping evening at Crown Street, Brentwood, where we got a chance to take a look round the shops, and then go for a burger at the simply delightful Gastro Burgo Co.

Crown Street is a small pedestrianised walkway leading onto Brentwood high street. I worked in Brentwood for two years, and used to spend a fair bit of time on the high street, but was totally unfamiliar with Crown Street. I probably cut through there to get to the shops I needed to whizz round in my lunch break, but never really took any time to look at the shops I was walking past. On the day that we visited, it was market day – there were a couple of stalls set up on the cobbles, and I had to resist the baked goods that were on sale as I was saving myself for my burger!

We went into all the shops on Crown Street, and had a chat with the proprietors and had a lovely look around. French Quarter is a lovely little shop full of furniture, gifts, and interior items, and everything is so beautiful and individual. We had a chat with Lin, the lady who owns the shop, and she was so enthusiastic about giving local artists and manufacturers a chance to showcase their goods. It’s the perfect place to find a gift!

 

We also popped into Fusey, the clothes shop owned by Joey Essex. Now, I’m not a TOWIE fan at all, I’m really not. I only know who Joey Essex is because he’s one of those people who does stuff away from the show, and I’ve seen him on panel shows. But his shop is perfectly reasonable, even if the clothes aren’t really my sort of thing.

Deb , Alice, Penny, Haydn, Ria and me – some of the Essex Bloggers outside Fusey

We were lucky enough to be invited into two boutiques after they were closed to have a look around, and talk to the owners. Racquét Boutique carries a lot of big brands, such as Ted Baker, French Connection and Superdry. It’s all very much out of my budget, sadly, but it was nice to have a look at some very lovely items and wish I could afford them. The owner of the shop. Allison, chatted to us for ages, and I think that’s the best thing about individually owned high street shops: the personal touch.

 

The other boutique we went into was Violet Hill, and the clothes in there were really something special. We were also lucky enough to have a chance to talk to Alison, the owner of this shop, and she was clearly really passionate about bringing new and exciting labels to Crown Street. All the girls seemed to fall in love with the same dress, though nobody bought it. Haydn was umming and ahing over a Jones and Jones dress, and being the dedicated bloggers we all are, we totally enabled her, so she took advantage of her 15% discount and bought it!

  

After all the shopping, we went into The Gastro Burger Co for dinner. Masterchef finalist Chris Georgiou has taken all his skills and devoted them to making (as far as I’m concerned), one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten! Before the burger, we had a starter called The Volcano, which I believe is making quite a name for itself locally. It’s a nacho dish, which as you can see from the photo below, is quite enormous, and is very, very tasty. All of the meat used at The Gastro Burger Co is sourced locally, and even the ketchup is homemade! Chris took our order and was a charming chap; between the friendliness, the atmosphere and the food. it won’t be long until I return!

 

The Volcano and my cheese burger at The Gastro Burger Co. Yumsters!

I was really pleasantly surprised by Crown Street. Although the spectre of TOWIE looms large on Brentwood high street, there’s no denying that it’s a vibrant and busy town centre. And Crown Street is perfect, because it’s tucked away, and the shops feel quite special. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and I’ve already told my sister we have to go and take a look (mainly so I can go back to Gastro Burger Co for another delic
ious burger!).

 

Thanks so much to Haydn from Squibb Vicious for organising this meet up, and to Laurie from Crown Street for being a fabulous host. I had a really lovely day, and count many of the my fellow Essex Bloggers as good friends! We were lucky enough to get goodie bags to take away, and I’m very excited about burning this Made in Brentwood candle that the French Quarter provided; it smells like Chanel No. 5!

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