My 5 favourite Essex things

PUBLISHED: 13:37 25 August 2016 | UPDATED: 13:54 26 August 2016

EXG SEP 16 five things

EXG SEP 16 five things

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Award winning business consultant Anita Gray picks five of her favourite things about Essex

EXG SEP 16 five things  EXG SEP 16 five things

Anita Gray is inspirational, elegant, fun and energetic. Eight years ago she started a new career and now, aged 67, she shows no sign of slowing down. Understanding the power of networking with women, Anita runs three successful businesses creating connections, building relationships and giving confidence. She is regional director of the award-winning business women’s Athena Network South-East Essex and North-East Herts, founder of Brafternoon (the support group for ladies affected by cancer) and an image consultant. Anita lives with her husband in Harlow and has two sons and two grandchildren.

1 My Favourite Essex Restaurant

Alec’s, Navestock Side

I just love eating here! The fresh fish dishes are simply wonderful and the decor is eye-catchingly beautiful. Alec has restored the former pub with such flair and colour – featuring pinks, purples and blacks as well as different textures and shapes, and a spiral staircase. It’s all such fun. When I come home I always want to decorate!

EXG SEP 16 five things  EXG SEP 16 five things

2 My Favourite Essex Day Out

Thames Estuary

We love a day out along the Thames Estuary, starting with an early morning breakfast at one of Southend’s traditional Arches cafes that face the sea and are still going strong after more than 100 years. Then a walk along the pier – the longest pleasure pier in the world – although we usually catch the little train back before going on to Old Leigh. This picturesque fishing village is charming and old – it’s recorded in the Domesday Book. We’ll sit and watch the fishing boats bring in their catch of cockles and then buy some from the cockle sheds still dotted along the seafront.

EXG SEP 16 five things  EXG SEP 16 five things

3 My Favourite Essex Boutique

Blush in Epping

I love clothes and as an image consultant I know how much impact wearing the right colours can really have on somebody. If the colours suit, you shine and have bags of confidence. Blush is fabulous, it stocks a great range of good quality, fashionable styles at good prices too. The staff are ever so helpful and allow you to take items home to try with the rest of your wardrobe.

EXG SEP 16 five things  EXG SEP 16 five things

4 My Favourite Essex Place to Visit

Mersea Island

Visiting this tiny island in the Blackwater River is always a bit of an adventure, having to cross the Strood when the tide is right and then it’s quite magical with its old world charm and quaint shops. I seem to be back on the eating theme again, but Mersea is a Mecca for seafood fans like me. We visit the unassuming shacks and enjoy fresh fish, oysters, crabs and lobsters straight from the sea, washed down with a glass of local white wine while watching the sun setting over the water – perfect!

EXG SEP 16 five things  EXG SEP 16 five things

5 My Favourite Essex Memory

Going To The seaside

My love of the seaside must stem from my childhood. I can still remember aged three or four so excitedly travelling with my mother for a day by the sea. We’d have three tube lines to catch from Upton Park to Mile End then Stratford, then onto the steam train to Southend. My mother would make it such an adventure, packing as if we were off for weeks with literally everything from the primus stove to the beach ball. The only blight on the day would be my horrible knitted swimsuit that ended up round my knees when it was wet!

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