….well, Harwich, actually. Which is on the Essex/Suffolk border. But that’s not quite as catchy, is it?
Anyway, after my delightful friend Sean trecked all the way down from said sea port town for my birthay party back in January, he issued us with an invitation to come up and see him (he probably added ‘make me smiiiiile’, being the musical theatre performer that he is.) It took us a shoddy amount of time organising – over four months to be precise – but new jobs and MBAs and adulthood got in the way. Anyway, the bout of long weekends we were blessed with in May seemed like the perfect solution.
And so it was that on a sunny afternoon, I piled into my friend Nanna’s little car with inordinate amounts of shopping bags and two VERY glittery Lola’s Cupcakes for sustenance. We slipped on a little bit of ‘Slammin’ & Jammin’ (Nanna is nothing if not a BRILLIANT CD namer) and off we steamed.
Now, before I tell you what happened next, I must explain a little something. Before ‘Made in Chelsea’ came into my life, I was something of an avid ‘The Only Way is Essex’ viewer. I know, they were unenlightened times – but I had yet to be introduced to MiC, where the pale skins, white Blackberries, copious amounts of fur and friends with silly names made me feel infinitely more at home…Anyway, Nanna and I were delighted to find out that with a little tweaking, our journey to take us right through the Towie Motherland – Brentwood.
Feeling a bit like bold explorers crossing into a brave new world, we ventured into the town. Practically quivering with excitement, and with Kelis’ ‘Bossy’ blaring out of the speakers (our travel anthem of choice), we peered out of the car, looking for any perma-tanned pneumatic women, and their Ken doll counterparts. An old woman eating a sandwich on a bench, a bunch of 10 year olds, and some perfectly respectable people was what our eyes did in fact alight on…
Still, we were bubbling over with excitement, and doing our very own brand of ‘car dancing’ (pointy arm, pointy arm, wiggle, double dream hands), we shrieked with excitement as we pulled up round the back of Sugar Hut (as I’m sure all the worthiest Brentwoodians have), and proceeded to take photos in the middle of the road, nearly killing ourselves in the process. I bought some fake eyelashes, we cranked up ‘Bossy’ again, and then it was time to get back on the road and head to our real destination.
As the countryside leveled out, you couldn’t have had a greater contrast. Broad skies and yellow fields suddenly surrounded us, and soon we were winding our way into Harwich itself. After a slight technical hitch, whereby we drove past the same group of teens misspending their youths at least FOUR TIMES, much to their amusement, we finally reached the most divine little cobbled street, all tucked away.
We eventually located what we assume was the right house (I knocked on the door and then ran back into the car, we were welcomed into Sean’s house, the most incredible converted Tudor pub. The place had a wonderful atmosphere, and after a brief pause spent gawping at the bottle of champers Sean had been given by Cameron Mackintosh, admiring his well stocked kitchen (this blog is a euphemism free zone, please remember), and reapplying our lipstick we headed out for a drink. Sean seemingly knew everyone – and no one seemed especially surprised to see him ushering two young blonde girls around. We sampled some sort of Polish martini; sadly eschewing the Cosmopolitan, the description of which bore the legend ‘Sex in the City (sic) comes to Harwich!’.
After a delicious supper cooked for us by Sean, and copious amounts of champagne, we embarked on what passed for the local disco. ‘The Stingray’ is the local to end all locals. Teenagers breathed the same stale air as Harwich’s elders; framed pictures of ships hung on the walls, and you could get a glass of wine with an awful lot of change from a fiver. Unfortunately, much of the evening is a blur to me, but I do remember dancing with my shoes off, executing a wobbly cartwheel in the middle of the dancefloor, watching Sean pirouette gracefully, and finally gawping openly as a dead ringer for ‘Nessa’ from ‘Gavin & Stacey’ copped off with not one, but TWO not-ostensibly-disgusting young men.
I woke up early the next morning, breakfasted on a leftover Lola’s Cupcake, and marched off for a two hour seaside walk. By this point, I was firmly in love with Harwich. But the best was yet to come. Part two on the way…