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Chelmsford Beer Festival 2011

18 Jul
I love local produce, I love small producers and I love the personal touch.  Regular readers of my blog will already know I often frequent local festivals of food and drink to seek out the best of what this fine region has to offer.  The CAMRA Chelmsford beer festival is one such event that I look forward to year after year.  With over 350 real ales, 120 ciders and a large selection of local wines this year, all from independent brewery’s many from the Anglian region it fitted the bill for me perfectly.  Although At 6 months pregnant I was going to be unable to test out all the wonderful beverages on offer this year so I took along an army of willing taste testers to do my dirty work for me.

My Taste Testers
Rambo, Me, Mark and Mel

 The weather left a lot to be desired but we didn’t let it dampen out spirits.  My taste testers embraced their roles whole heartedly and were soon trying out all manner of weird and wonderful concoctions.   The bartenders were great, very knowledgeable and extremely helpful to us novices, and all volunteers.

Alongside the alcohol there were food stalls selling an array of food such as hog roast, BBQ, Thai and Italian.  For the children (and the big kids amongst us) there was also face painting and a couple of rides.
Live music was performed throughout the day; I especially enjoyed the Jazz in the beer tent.  Coldplace, a Coldplay tribute act, were the main event of the evening and they did well to get the crowd going right till the end!
All in all, despite the rain, it was a great day – and there were many sore heads the next morning as a testament to that.  I would strongly recommend a visit to a CAMRA beer festival this summer; a top day out and a good way to support small producers and CAMRA’s campaign for Real Ale. For details of up coming CAMRA events in your area visit  

Essex Food Festival

13 Jul

If you are looking for the best food the UK has to offer then I’m pretty sure you could fulfil most of your desires within Essex and Suffolk.  I know I may be bias but we have so much to offer;  Tiptree Jam, Maldon Salt, Kelly Bronze Turkeys,  Essex Pigs and Mersea Oysters, Rossi’s Icecream, Adnams Ales, Marriages flour,  Aspalls Cider and Copella fruit Juices to name but a few of the more famous brands on offer.  Then there are all the local stand alone providers selling their wares at all the wonderful farmers markets these fine counties host on a daily basis.  It’s not surprising with all of these culinary delights on the doorstep that we have also given birth to some of the countries top chefs.

So when talk of an Essex Food Festival began I could barely contain my excitement and the day itself did not disappoint.  The weather was great, which is always a bonus, and when we arrived at Cressing Temple Barns the place was buzzing.  As soon we paid our very reasonable £6 entry fee we were immersed into a foodie heaven.  With so much to try, do and buy we really didn’t know where to start.  We got stuck in to sampling many of the wonderful produce on offer and even with my high views of Essex food I wasn’t disappointed.   All the exhibiters were so lovely and helpful, and they clearly all believed in their products which is so refreshing to see.  I can highly recommend The Giggly Pig Company for truly unique sausages, especially their Lemon and Fennel creation which were divine and The Suffolk Pate Company for wonderfully scrumptious pates, their chickpea and coriander was my personal favourite, such a flavoursome dish with a real kick to it.

After sampling many foodie delights my attention was grabbed by a very interesting lady from Food Safari UK, an inspirational company that goes beyond your usual cookery lessons to give you a real food experience.  Whether you’ve always fancied mushroom foraging, butchery lessons, artisan bread making or a boat trip to catch your fish and learn how to cook it these people have the day for you.  I want to take part in every single one of their 10 experiences on offer; I just don’t know where to start.

Finally on our way to grab some lunch and listen to the live music we got chatting to a very informative, and I must say lovely lady, from Visit Essex.  Her wealth of information on things to do in the Essex area was astounding and I left armed with bundles of leaflets to read when I got home and with many ideas for days out and.  Just once again proving to me how very wonderful this fine county is.

Well done to the whole of the Essex Food Festival team, you put on one hell of a show; I cannot wait till next year.

Fun in the sun

7 Jul

There is so much fun to be had in Essex this month I’m not sure how I am going to fit it all in.

 I very thrilled to be attending the inaugural Essex Food Festival at Cressing Temple Barns this weekend coming (9th/10th July) for a showcase Essex’s finest producers, chefs, vineyards, farmers markets and food vendors.  Having visited Clapham Common last weekend for Jamie Oliver’s ‘Feastival’ and filling my belly with scrummy food all day I am so excited to replicate this enjoyment with truly local, Essex made products – the only way is Essex after all!

The following weekend sees the return of the CAMRA Chelmsford Beer Festival – in my eyes the best summer festival Chelmsford has to offer (Sorry V!).  This year will be a tame visit as I’m pregnant so no beer for me, however there will be plenty of food and live entertainment for me to enjoy and I never tire of watching my friends get drunk and then reminding them of their daftness the next day.

Finally I’m taking the husband to Jimmys Farm on the 31st July for their Beer and Sausage festival as his birthday treat – with sausage making demos, sausage eating competitions, live music, kids entertainment, rodeo pig and free access to the nature trail including the butterfly house it looks like its shaping up to be a great day out for out whole family.


I do love Essex, I never struggle to find things to do or for places to go.  I just hope we get some sunshine to accompany our summer fun. I’ll be back soon to let you know how we get on.

Ben and Jerrys Festival, Clapham Common

24 Jun

Now festival season is upon us we have booked our tickets to take the little lady back again to the Ben and Jerrys Festival – had a great time last year….check out our review on Festival kidz (great website!!)


Hylands Park – A great place to play and eat

15 Jun

For us lunch in the park is always a picnic, my wicker hamper is my pride and joy and I’ve lost count of the amount of must have picnic blankets I have picked up over the years.  I just feel that there is something so quintessentially English about a ‘proper’ picnic, ripping off a piece of bread, covering it in Brie, picking a few cherry tomatoes out the pot, pouring a glass of red wine and chatting for hours under the trees while the children run around needing only mother nature as their enjoyment is for me quite honestly my idea of heaven.   All that could make it better would be travelling there in the vintage split screen VW camper I have had my eye on – maybe next year!

Today however there was no picnic for mini-chef and me – with us going on holiday at the weekend I have been running down the food in my house for a couple weeks, meaning when I went to the kitchen this morning the cupboards were bare!

So off we went with a friend and her little boy to Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex to try out their playground and grab a bite to eat in the cafe.  The Adventure Castle Play Area is the best play park we have been to in the local area, catering for toddlers right through to teenagers, with equipment that can be used by all ages at the same time which I think is great for families with multi aged children.  It was nice and quite today (midweek, term-time) so Mini-Chef got lots of time to run around and play on everything – however I have been told weekends can get quite busy so arrive early for a few hours of playing before the masses turn up.

Once the little ones had burn off steam it was time to fill our bellies.  A short walk across the fields led us to Hylands House, an 18th century country house open to the public with a visitor centre, gift/craft shop and Huttons Courtyard Cafe.  The cafe was very busy on arrival and all outside tables were full – we opted for a nice inside table and were pleasantly surprised with how child friendly the place was.  There were many highchairs available along with booster seats for older children.  We found a box of goodies;  toys, colouring books and crayons to keep the children amused which was also a very friendly touch.  The menu was quite standard however I must say that the options for children were very good, quick bites for lunch like toast with toppers and a range of sandwiches right up to main meals such up to scampi and chips or sausage, mash and yorkshire pudding.  The meals were priced from £2.20 – £5 for children; they were served promptly, hot and with child sized cutlery (which I always appreciate) so that was wonderful. Mini-Chef had a Sausage sandwich which was seved with salad and carrot battons, it was eaten with a big smile and the mouthful I had was very tasty.  It was a large size childs meal the would suit toddlers to teenagers, if I were to go back again with two little ones they could share a meal and still be well fed.

We left the cafe with two full, happy and worn out children and headed back the car – I hadn’t even left the car park before Mini-Chef was snoring her head off and she went to bed for a further hour when we got home – so a fresh air bonus for Mummy too as I got half hour of housework done and half hour to catch up with Sky+, well 10 mins housework and 50 mins catching up on Sky+ but lets not tell the man of the house about that one!

I would thoroughly recommend a day out at Hylands Park, there is so much to do and the best bit it most of it is totally free.  I  will be heading back there in a couple of weeks with Mini-Chef and her Daddy, this time packing a picnic as I think my hamper is feeling left out, so watch this space for picnic recipes and outdoor activity ideas.


Hylands House and Park, Chelmsford, Essex –