Absolutely West Essex January 2023

Page 1

JANUARY 2023 PLUS ON THE HORIZON Top West Essex events to add to your calendar • WISH FULFILMENT Joining The Dream Factory's latest Woodford party • STRIKE A POSE The hottest thing in yoga comes to Chigwell Step into 2023 THE BEST IN NEW YEAR FASHION, FROM ROMAN ORIGINALS TO FRANCESCA ALLEN'S TOP TIPS STYLISH / INTELLIGENT / ELEGANT West Essex Top tips for mental and physical wellbeing SPECIAL HEALTH & BEAUTY
From initial architectural design through to completion.

New year. New broadband.

*This offer means you’ll receive the first 6 months for free, so you only pay the monthly charge for the remaining 12 months of the contract. Available only to new residential and non Gigabit Broadband Voucher eligible customers. Rated Excellent December 2022
This New Year, switch to Swish full fibre and enjoy your first six months absolutely free Visit swishfibre.com/absolutely
Finally I have reliable fast broadband Scan to get started
Jonathan W - Trustpilot, 22 Nov 2022

Our Winter Design Sale has begun, and you can save 15% off on a wide range of furniture and accessories to order, as well as up to 50% off on our premium ex-display items. We can help you make the most of your space with our free interior design service. You’ll receive a consultation in-store or at home, as well as 3D renderings of your space. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please visit us in-store.



their Basildon store
36 JANUARY 2023 CULTURE 22 2023 PREVIEW What's to come across the county this year 26 CHARLIE DAY Business advice from the Chelmsford local 28 BRAINTREE DISTRICT Why this part of Essex is picture perfect FOOD & DRINK 36 WHAT'S ON THE PLATE The Essex restaurants worth a visit in 2023 39 DRINKS How to have a healthy start to the year FASHION & BEAUTY 42 FRANCESCA ALLEN The Love Island star's top fashion tips 44 THE SHOOT New looks from Roman Originals 57 HEALTH SPECIAL Tips for mental and physical wellbeing 74 TRAVEL UK staycations to get away from it all INTERIORS 84 NATALIE RODRIGUES How a creative childhood evolved into an acclaimed interior design business 88 REAL HOME A £7m stunning property in Abridge 93 TREND Bring the golden touch into your home ABSOLUTELY-ESSEX.CO.UK ABSOLUTELY-WESTESSEX.CO.UK The online guides to inspirational living and what's on in Essex ABSOLUTELY Contents 44 74 15 ABSOLUTELY magazines
found at















Follow Us On Facebook @ABSOLUTELYESSEX @ABSOLUTELYWESTESSEX Twitter @ESSEXABSOLUTELY @ABSOLUTELYWESTE Instagram @ABSOLUTELYESSEX @ABSOLUTELYWESTESSEX Websites absolutely-essex.co.uk absolutely-westessex.co.uk For editorial enquiries please email: mark@zest-media.com For advertising enquiries: please call
004024 or email: celia@zest-media.com or please call
994764 or email: claire@zest-media.com Studio G06, Wenlock Studios, 50-52 Wharf Road, London N1 7EU; 020 7704 0588 Zest Media Publications Ltd. cannot accept responsibility for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts and photographs. While every care is taken, prices and details are subject to change and Zest Media Publications Ltd. take no responsibility for omissions or errors. We reserve the right to publish and edit any letters. All rights reserved. and bar owned by Terence and Caroline Howard and offering classical British dishes with a European influence using only the best locally sourced ingredients The Creek Flag Hill • Great Bentley • Colchester • Essex - CO7 8RE Tel: 01206 586435 or 01255 317950 thecreekgreatbentley.co.uk Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date on what’s happening, new dishes, booking availability & more. We look forward to welcoming you with a smile. 3 course set menu available. 2 for 1 cocktail happy hour Wednesday - Friday : 6-7pm We would like to wish our customers a very happy new year! Valentine’s Day Menu coming soon Check website for details

LETTER Editor’s

Iwas racking my brains when it came to this first editor's letter for 2023. In a moment of reflection, I suddenly realised I have never made a new year's resolution. I find the idea slightly pointless as it feels like many head into January with all the best intentions in the world, but once the cold, dark days take hold, resolve simply ebbs away. My solution? Make resolutions throughout the year. There will always be something that crops up in life that you want to improve on, so don't wait till 1 January to do something about it. Or, perhaps even better, watch others do amazing things instead.

A case in point is our special 2023 preview of things to do around the county. Our good friends at Visit Essex have given us a ringside seat of what to expect, plus they have also taken the time to give us a guided tour of the Braintree district.

Also looking ahead are two new columnists for the magazine, who will be cropping up on a seasonal basis in 2023. Francesca Allen has already been a cover star for us, and now she's showing us how we can look just as good with her new year fashion trends. Then we have the aptly named Jessica Spice heading to restaurants new and old that deserve our attention this year. Much better than going on a fad diet.

Happy new year!

Interiors Trend

how you can get fit
1 Travel Ideas for
3 2
The county's best venues to tie the knot (p49)
New year looks from
Originals (p44)
Corbin Mackin
in Epping Forest (p60)
an adventurous holiday in 2023 (p78) ABSOLUTELY’S January issue highlights
5 The Shoot
it's a gold rush in our homes
17 ABSOLUTELY magazines

10 things we Absolutely love


These luxurious and sustainable candlesticks are hand-cra ed from reclaimed table legs and gilded in genuine royal blue dyed silver leaf. £140 webbandgray.com


COS has partnered with Fair Isle knitwear designer Mati Ventrillon to create a range of sweaters with a minimalist take on traditional patterns. £79 cos.com


Breakfast is Bella Freud's favourite meal, so she has launched a range of egg cups and side plates especially for mornings. From £75 matchesfashion.com


Candy Stix are felt tipinspired gel nail pens that enable good results for a DIY manicure at home. They’re also super affordable at £6 each. lovecandycoat.com

18 ABSOLUTELY magazines


Featuring bold aquatic tones and dotted in gold, these Panconesi earrings add a sense of magnifi cence to the simple stud. £445 koibird.com


Bitossi Ceramiche's iconic blue cat is an enduring beautiful ceramic piece with a lavish glaze. £180 farfetch.com


For a look that says outdoorsy but stylish, you'll need one of Wylding's fl eece-lined boilersuits. Designed for all-weather swimmers, these are simple and practical pieces – and they look great too. £160 wylding.co.uk


Waves is Beja's bestselling bra and we love it with a matching brief in this Deep Ocean shade, £65 beija.london


The mysterious, smoky character of Jo Malone London's Oud & Bergamot is hypnotic and alluring, radiating with the clarity of crisp bergamot and orange. £145 jomalone.co.uk


The Hermes Nantucket is a small stainless steel, alligator and diamond watch, £6,580 net-a-porter.com

ABSOLUTELY magazines
Come and view our new range of home o ces or grab a bargain in our January ex-display sale.



Fresh from their acclaimed production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Colchester Operatic Society brings Shrek the Musical to Mercury audiences for the first time. Come and join short-tempered but good natured ogre, Shrek, on the adventure of a lifetime. With the help of a hilarious talking donkey, Shrek sets off to rescue Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon, so she can marry ruthless Lord Farquaad – but will it all go to plan?


2023 Preview 22 • Charlie Day 26 • Braintree 28 CULTURE
21 ABSOLUTELY magazines


Why 2023 will be the year to experience the wonders of the Essex coastline

22 ABSOLUTELY magazines

The National Coastal Tourism Academy has designated 2023 ‘The Year of the Coast’. With one of the longest coastlines in the country, Visit Essex, the county’s tourism body, takes you through all there is on o er along its 350-mile long coastline, from exciting coastal attractions and vibrant culture to the quaint and picturesque.


Along the coast, there’s plenty of culture and heritage to experience. In Southend-on-Sea, the Beecroft Art Gallery shows o over 2,000 artefacts ranging from 17th century Dutch paintings to contemporary works, while the Focal Point Gallery showcases contemporary visual art. Adventure Island, complete with a range of white-knuckle rides, will launch its 2023 season during February half term, ready to thrill all the family. With two theatres,

award-winning beaches, and the longest pier in the world, which stretches 1.34 miles out into the Thames Estuary, Southendon-Sea’s coastline is one not to miss.

Further north, Clacton-on-Sea hosts the delightful Princes Theatre with a mixture of musical shows ongoing throughout the year as well as their Easter Pantomime, Rapunzel. There’s also the West Cli Theatre, which puts on ‘The Summer Show’, a variety spectacular packed with comedy, song and dance. Clacton-on-Sea’s pleasure pier and arcades are always a family favourite, while the Clacton Air Show, a two-day annual event, being held on 24-25 August 2023, never fails to attract excited crowds to the area.


A trip to see Essex’s vast coastline in 2023 would not be complete without sampling the delicious seafood available on the water’s edge. Mersea Island is famous for its oysters, harvested since Roman times, and there

are charming restaurants on the west of the island that serve them up. The quaint area of Leigh-on-Sea near Southend also has a selection of excellent pubs and fish restaurants, along with its famous cockle sheds. There’s also the opportunity to head over to Old Leigh and view the once-busy fish port. For fish and chips by the seaside, Brightlingsea o ers up a traditional serve, or there are plenty of restaurants in Southend that specialise in the beloved dish.


While West Mersea is known for its array of shops, restaurants and fishing boats, East Mersea o ers the scenic Cudmore Grove Country Park and sandy beaches. One of over 30 islands in Essex, a walk around Mersea Island allows you to fossil hunt as well as explore the island’s saltmarshes and migrating birds.

You can also walk along the estuary in the quaint village of Mistley, taking in the

ABSOLUTELY magazines
“Southend-on-Sea has two theatres, award-winning beaches and the longest pier in the world”

stunning views over the River Stour. Or head to Burnham-on-Crouch, the historic town on the banks of the River Crouch that is home to a range of listed buildings, boat-building yards and sailing clubs. The coastal town will host the internationally famous ‘Burnham Week’ on Saturday 26 August to Saturday 2 September 2023.


Try a di erent way to see the coastline on a Thames sailing barge with Topsail Charters. They’ll take you along the Blackwater Estuary, all the way from Maldon, past Northey and Osea Islands and back, and you can also enjoy a cream tea while you cruise across the smooth waters.

If you’re looking for that perfect Instagram-worthy image, head to the Tollesbury Lightship; it’s an icon on the Essex landscape and should not be missed. Or take pictures at some of the pretty beach huts that line the county’s seafronts at Walton-on-the-Naze, Frintonon-Sea or Thorpe Bay near Southend.

With a lot to see and do along the coastline, why not turn your seaside adventure into a short break? Go luxe at the Roslin Beach Hotel in Southend to experience coastal delights in the south of Essex, or The Mistley Thorn in the centre of the estuarine village of Mistley, the perfect base to explore the north Essex coastline. For something a little di erent, take in views across the Colne estuary while cosied up in a stable cottage, lush cabin or unique pod at Lee Wick Farm Cottages & Glamping in St Osyth.

To discover more, see visitessex.com

“If you're looking for that perfect Instagram-worthy image, head to the Tollesbury Lightship”

Get to know…

Q Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?

A No! When I launched my first business (a theatre school), I didn’t know anyone who ran their own business so it was all alien to me. In fact, my parents were concerned about me running my own business, and warned me o the idea! I am actually quite disorganised and I get bored easily (this now works to my advantage as I’m always brainstorming new business ideas) so they didn’t think it would last. However, it turned out I had the tenacity and resilience it takes to run a successful business.

Q How do you look back on those days?

A I always wish I could go back and tell my 21-year-old self not to worry, and that I would be ok in the end, but hindsight is a great thing. I look back on those days really fondly. I used to sit in front of my computer waiting for sales to come in and I remember thinking, ‘you've got to go to them’ and I got really good at making sales and connections, which is why this became such a big part of my business.


I was nominated for an Essex Business Award in 2013 (which I went on to win) and they asked me: ‘what will you do if this doesn't work out?’ and I just said ‘it will work out, there’s no other option.’ Later on, I was told that it was this sentence that made me win!

Q How has this evolved into a company where you help others in business?

A The more I learnt about sales, the more it impacted my business. My first business didn't make any profit in year one, and it took me five years to get to six figures. Whereas my second business made profit from the first day and we made six figures within the

26 ABSOLUTELY magazines

second year. In my current business, we made six figures in the first nine months and we were multi six figures by year two. Each business I have run grows much quicker, and now that I understand how to scale a business to six figures very easily I can help others to put in the right sales strategy so they can see the same growth. My business has evolved to now running a successful business membership for other entrepreneurs and working with business owners to help take their businesses to the next level.

Q What do you o er?

A I run a membership (The Entrepreneurs Sales Lounge) course, a mastermind and one-to-one training to create the perfect sales strategy for your business. I also go into businesses and give them training so that their teams can make more sales.

Q What is The Entrepreneurs Growth Club?

A The Entrepreneurs Growth Club is my free online community on Facebook of over 7,000 business owners. I share my top hints and tips on how to create more sales in your business.

Q You are a mum of one – how does all this fit in with family life?

A When I first became a mum I found it really hard to juggle. I had become a business owner before I became a mum, so when my little boy came along I struggled to understand how I

could do both and felt really guilty. But then one day I just decided to stop feeling guilty. If I wanted to be the best version of myself that involved being a business owner and a mum, and actually my little boy was seeing that anything was possible! I hoped that he someday would have the courage and confidence it takes to run his own business too. He is a huge part of all of my businesses and knows exactly what I do and why I do it. When I franchised my Phonics business in Australia he came with me, I recently spoke at an event in Malta and he came with me to that too, and he loves the opportunities he gets to have because of my business.

Q Whereabouts do you live in Essex and what do you love about it?

A I live in Channels, in Chelmsford, and I absolutely love where I live. They have built houses on what used to be the Channels golf course and I live there looking out on the lake, it's beautiful and so tranquil.

Q Where would be your three favourite places in the county?

A La Maison Talbooth in Dedham is definitely one of my favourite spots. We got married there and we go back all the time as we love it. New London is one of my favourite restaurants. And Little Stars Theatre School, which o ers classes all over Essex – I set this up in 2011 and although I have nothing to do with the company now, my little boy attends the class and it’s his favourite thing.

Q What does 2023 hold in store for you?

A I want to scale my business from multi six figures to seven figures! All whilst selling easily and confidently and teaching other business owners that they can do the same.


ABSOLUTELY magazines 27
“My son is a huge part of all my businesses and knows exactly what I do and why I do it”

Why we love… BRAINTREE

Whether you prefer hunting for a bargain around market towns, exploring historic sites or taking in the beautiful countryside, there is plenty to do here

The Braintree district is home to three market towns – Braintree, Witham and Halstead – and each has something di erent to o er for shoppers and families alike.

Witham’s high street o ers everyday shopping combined with local independent traders and a range of Insta-worthy places to eat, while Halstead’s pretty high street lures you in with more independent shops and eateries like the Little Book Café located inside a 17th century cottage.

For serious shoppers, Braintree Village’s international brands attract visitors from across the world on the hunt for designer

label deals. The Braintree district o ers fun for all the family. Treat your little person to a visit to Braintree Village where you can make the day of it – catch a film or get your bowling shoes on, and even have a go at the climbing wall at Namco.

Within Braintree town itself, you don’t want to miss the monthly street markets. Whether you're looking for a bite to eat or to do some shopping, the street markets are a must-do social experience with a great buzz allowing you to meet the local makers and producers behind the products you buy.

Each market town has a lovely public garden or town park and the villages which surround them are beautiful too. Finchingfield is the most photographed

village with a gorgeous combination of duck pond and village green. Its pubs and tea rooms, overlooked by cottages, a windmill and a medieval church, make it an unbeatable experience.

Coggeshall mixes brilliant bistros with a fascinating insight into Tudor England at Paycocke’s House and Gardens.

Just outside of Braintree, you can explore ancient woodlands and a worldclass arboretum. Markshall Estate is a wonderful place for a stroll, and you can finish o with lunch at its Orchard Kitchen. Markshall also hold regular events such as high tea and stargazing.

One of the most recommended attractions in the district is a walk or a cycle on the famous Flitch Way. Stop o at

28 ABSOLUTELY magazines

Rayne Station and visit Booking Hall Café for a delicious doorstop sausage sandwich and generous slice of cake to make those exertions worthwhile! Connected to the Flitch Way is Great Notley Country Park, which covers some 100 acres of open space and is home to Sky Ropes – a high rope course for both adult and child adventurers.

If it’s history you are interested in, take a trip back in time and find fascinating exhibits, stories from the district’s past and regular fun packed themed days for all the family at Braintree Museum. Events in 2023 include an exhibition of the talented artists who illustrated Ladybird books for more than 30 years. You can visit Braintree’s newest café afterwards and enjoy a cup of tea in the surroundings of the museum – an old Victorian building.

Looking for something iconic? Within the ancient grounds and its grand imposing walls, Hedingham Castle creates a place unlike any other backdrop for outdoor theatre and cinema, medieval fairs and jousts, vintage and car shows and living history. Cressing Temple Barns near Witham o ers fans of the past a glimpse of olde England via perfectly-preserved 13th century barns, with a reward waiting at the world-famous Tiptree tea rooms on-site.

Blake House Craft Centre is full of charm. Once a traditional farmyard, with a beautiful Essex corn barn in a courtyard of restored 18th and 19th century listed buildings of stables and cattle sheds, this wonderful site is now a craft centre that houses a wide range of small and friendly local businesses. One of the newest there is the Artisans Hub where you can browse through a unique

selection of locally made products, ethically sourced homewares, gifts and greeting cards.

The Braintree district is a great place to cycle, from quiet country lanes which meander through picturesque villages to more challenging hillier routes. If you really mean business, you could even retrace the 2014 Tour De France route through Finchingfield and Rayne and visit places of interest o the beaten track. If you take your cycling seriously you would be in good company when you stop o at Knead Food in Great Bardfield. Signed jerseys adorn the wall including Mark Cavendish’s world champion’s rainbow jersey. It makes the perfect pit stop.

Plan your trip to the district at visitbraintreedistrict.co.uk or visitessex.com

“One of the most iconic attractions is a walk on the famous Flitch Way”


For you and your business

Business Law

From start up to close down, from growth to recession, we’ll see you safely through the minefield of regulation, legislation and small print.

Commercial Property

We’re here to add to your investment with swift transactions, sound reports and robust leases.

Employment Law

Our complete HR and Employment Law service offers bespoke advice and support designed to meet the needs of your business. We specialise in advising on business restructures, redundancies, insolvency and TUPE.

Debt Recovery

Our robust system for collection gets your money and it needn’t cost you a penny.


Our experts work with professional advisers and clients ranging from individuals seeking IVAs or averting bankruptcy, to family-run companies and major multinationals.

Commercial Litigation

Our specialist team gets quick results where necessary or seek alternative resolution channels that save you money and disruption to your business.

Intellectual Property

Our expert brand management team are here to help you protect and exploit your valuable intellectual property assets.

For you and your family

Divorce, Separation and Child Issues

It takes years of training and experience to handle sensitive personal problems. We’ve got more than our fair share of both.

Wills, Trusts, Probate and Tax Planning

You’ve worked hard for your money. We’ll protect it for you and your future generations.

Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Our Specialist team can help you resolve disputes over land, property or money. We keep the costs in check and end in sight.


If you’re moving home or own a property portfolio, our property solicitors are as safe as houses.


Our specialists advise employees and directors on all aspects of their employment including discrimination and unfair dismissal and frequently advise on exit packages and contractual restrictions. We provide representation for Employment Tribunal claims and mediations.

Personal Injury Claims

Our team of claimant lawyers are among the best negotiators of injury settlements in the business, from relatively minor road traffic accidents to complex brain injury cases.

BTMK Solicitors Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales under registration number 05466421 whose registered office is at 19 Clifftown Road, Southend on Sea, Essex SS1 1AB. Offices in Southend-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea and Rayleigh. Meeting space available by appointment in London. N 03300 585 222 E info@btmk.co.uk www.btmk.co.uk (24/7 all offices) (live chat 24/7)


Q How does it feel to be part of the KURIOS family?

A KURIOS is a very special show. We’re a cast and crew of 122 from 27 di erent nationalities and it’s an honour to be part of such a creative and brilliant team. I’ve been with Cirque du Soleil for 13 years now, working on a few di erent shows including Amaluna and CORTEO, and I joined KURIOS as Artistic Director back in 2016. My job is to oversee everything artistic on the show: I work with stage management, wardrobe, coaches and performance medicine, who are all experts in their fields, along with 50 world class artists.

Q Can you tell us a little about the show?

A KURIOS is a show that really celebrates the imagination. We follow the journey of a scientist, who believes that a hidden, invisible

world exists. Set in the second half of the 19th century during the industrial revolution, the show takes aesthetic inspiration from this era, which was a time of great invention. It’s about the capacity to invent and dream, and we want people to leave the show feeling like anything is possible.

Q What’s unique about KURIOS?

A Every Cirque du Soleil show is di erent, and KURIOS is no exception. There are acts in our show that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. An example of this is Acro-Net… imagine it like the world’s largest trampoline. The inspiration for this act actually came from the safety net of a trapeze act on another show, which was a bit too bouncy. The creative minds took this as an opportunity to explore something never been done before, so for Acro-Net they made a net even more bouncy, to allow a team of six acrobats to propel another performer up 45ft in the air. It’s a thrill to watch and a huge crowd pleaser, when audiences realise what’s happening you can hear the excitement. Much like the show, this idea that just because something doesn’t exist yet, it doesn’t mean it can’t be dreamt up and made a reality.

Q What goes on behind the scenes?

A We have a technical team who are in charge of everything from rigging and automation, to lighting sound, carpentry and props. KURIOS has the most props of any

Cirque du Soleil show, 426 at creation, but we’ve also added a few more along the way! Their attention to detail is incredible, from big to small. We have a mechanical hand used in the show, which weighs about 750lbs and is driven by two artists underneath to drive the hand forward, and allow the fingers to move and come to life. Then we have wardrobe, who are a team that collectively maintain over 8,000 costume pieces – it’s phenomenal. The artists also do all their own makeup, which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours every day.

Q What’s your favourite part of KURIOS?

A That’s a tough question! Acts like Acro-Net, Rola Bola and Aerial Bike are wonderfully acrobatic, but there’s moments of real beauty that come from simplicity too. Continent of Hands is a very special act, where an artist creates a world just with his hands. It’s projected onto a hot air balloon so everyone can see the magic. His grandmother and grandfather were deaf, so they communicated with their hands, and he learnt this craft from them. Non verbal communication is a wonderful part of what we do and what makes our show so accessible wherever we go.

ABSOLUTELY magazines 31
Rachel Lancaster, Artistic Director of KURIOS, talks about the new show coming to London from the Cirque du Soleil team RACHEL LANCASTER
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities runs at the Royal Albert Hall from 13 January to 5 March. Tickets on sale now at cirquedusoleil.com/kurios


Back at the tail end of November, local charity The Dream Factory held an amazing ladies lunch afternoon. There was plenty of fun on o er for the 140 guests who attended, with a host of entertainers joining the charity’s patrons.

Special guests at the event in Lokkum restaurant in Woodford included Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, Michael Watson MBE, Colin McMillan BEM, Christine Ohuruogu MBE, and Harry Collett, an actor who has appeared in House of Dragons. Entertainment came from singer Kim Taylforth, saxophonist Paula Borrell, Samsara the Belly Dancer, Drag Queen Scarlet Diamonte, and Jon & Dave from the amazing Souledout band.

Everyone came to entertain at no charge, and all prizes for the ra e were donated, as were the auction prizes. The event raised approximately £13,000, which will help the charity fulfil more dreams for children and young people.

This came on the back of the remarkable story of four-year-old Quinn Gosnell from Harlow, who has recently been diagnosed with Wilms’ Tumor, which is a type of kidney cancer in not one but both of his kidneys. At the beginning of November, his dad Mike was overwhelmed with the support and comfort of friends and family. Mike wanted something good to come out of all this support and he decided to start fundraising for The Dream Factory. So far, they have raised over £14,500.

The Dream Factory grants dreams to children and young adults between the age of 3 to 25 years, who su er from lifethreatening, life-limiting conditions or have severe disabilities. It was created by Avril Mills BEM, who set up the charity in 2008, in memory of her son Oliver Mills, who died of Leukaemia at the age of nine.


MASSIVE SHOWROOM CLEARANCE SALE SAVE UP TO £6,545 ON PREMIUM HOT TUBS FREE EXPRESS DELIVERY & INSTALLATION INCLUDED WITH EVERY MODEL Quality Hot Tubs from the Experts The UK’s Largest Supplier of Wellis® Premium European-made Hot Tubs • FREE Express Delivery & Installation• From Sales to Servicing - we take care of everything • 14 UK Showrooms open 7 days a week• Knowledgeable staff & dedicated customer support Find us online Simply scan the QR code with your phone’s camera app and tap the banner *Introductory offer by annual Direct Debit. Offer ends 31 January 2023. For more information, visit rhs.org.uk/join or call 020 3176 5820. **Free at selected periods. Terms and conditions apply. RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262 Brighter days all year round JOIN TODAY With 5 RHS Gardens and 220 Partner Gardens** to explore across the UK, you’ll never be far from exciting days out and endless inspiration. Enjoy unlimited garden visits, exclusive discounts to our Flower Shows and events, plus so much more. Visit rhs.org.uk/bright23 or call 020 3176 5820 Your membership supports our work as a charity 1/3 OFF*
The most delicious and wallet-friendly way to beat the January blues… Grand Trunk Road, 219 High Road, South Woodford London E18 2PB 020850 51965 | 074834 46818 | manager@gtrrestaurant.co.uk gtrrestaurant.co.uk Love is in the air… and it tastes divine! Our Valentine’s Day menus are now available on our website MULTI AWARD WINNING INDIAN RESTAURANT LUNCH: Winter Warmer - 2 courses for £18.50 or 3 courses for £22.50 DINNER: January Comfort - 2 courses for £26 or 3 courses for £30



A new venue in Essex has been listed in The Sunday Times prestigious annual list of 100 of Britain’s Best Hotels, in the East England category. Boutique hotel and restaurant the White Hart Inn on Mersea Island opened in June 2022, and has quickly become one of the most desirable places to stay and eat in the UK.


2023 Preview 36 • Drinks 38 FOOD
35 ABSOLUTELY magazines


Determined to try a new cuisine or restaurant in 2023? An Essex blogger o ers up her picks that may just turn you on to something di erent

36 ABSOLUTELY magazines

hile most people begin their new year with resolutions to lose weight, cut back on the junk food and eat healthier, mine is to try as much incredible food as I can – and this year I’m keeping it local.

I am a self-proclaimed foodie, @beautyandthefeasto cial if you want to say hi and send me your recommendations. And this January I’m on a mission to find the most delicious food that Essex has to o er.

First up on my must try new year’s resolutions list is Noir, nestled along the high street in South Woodford. This restaurant only opened its doors in December and prides itself as a fusion restaurant inspired by the hustle and bustle of the streets in India. Whilst the decor looks chic and

Wstylish, it’s the menu that really excites me, with dishes like Indian mac n’ cheese and spiced chicken and wa es – elevated street food and I’m all for it! It’s worth noting that Noir boasts a large Shisha menu alongside their food o erings – some of the flavour combinations sound good enough to eat. For those of us who have decided that our new year’s resolutions would be a dry January, I would suggest checking out Coco Asia, found inside Lakeside’s shopping centre as they have launched their new alcohol-free brunch menu. You certainly won’t be missing out on the boozy drinks when they o er a zero-alcohol wine menu and an incredibly creative mocktail menu including the delightful sounding Sunset Breeze – a lavender cocktail with a hint of crushed lime and mint. The exotic flavour palate doesn’t end there, with a lotus and blueberry cheesecake garnering my attention. The brunch menu is inclusive of

both vegan and vegetarian options too, so there really is something for everyone.

How about we tackle our ‘to be more adventurous’ new year’s resolution with this next restaurant… Described as Portuguese fine dining, with the entire menu prepared completely from scratch, Alvaro’s is located in the main shopping district of Westcli -on-Sea, a ectionately known as the ‘Bond Street of Westcli e’. The menu is incredibly versatile and o ers some of the most stunning visuals, with the flambe dishes being cooked tableside. Whilst those performances may be a showstopper (if I do say so myself), the flavours really are the star of this show. With plates like Espetada de Mariscos – scampi, scallops and prawns, wrapped in bacon, skewered and grilled with garlic butter – on o er, how could I not want to explore this menu further?

Finally I come to my last resolution: Veganuary. For those of us giving up animal products, this one is for you: Stoked. This pandemic born restaurant brings authentic American BBQ to the UK, using traditional BBQ cooking methods. An entirely vegan BBQ restaurant sounds impossible doesn’t it? But the team at Stoked have used their imagination to bring us some unbelievable sounding dishes, like the brisket platter with the braised seitan brisket flank and the Baja phish tacos made from marinated banana blossoms fried in a ginger batter. Stoked have even curated a vegan craft beer list to complement their menu. Veganuary sounds like a walk in the park if every restaurant has such delicious options.

I’m not usually one for keeping my new year’s resolutions – I’m looking at you unused cross-trainer and barely read ‘Spanish for Dummies’ – but I have a good feeling about these resolutions. Here’s to 2023!

Jessica Spice is part of the roster @goodvibesonlytalent. If you would like to work with her please contact katie@goodvibesonlytalent.com

ABSOLUTELY magazines
NEW YEAR EVERYTHING 10% OFF SALE Established in 1960, Johnsons has grown to become one of the leading garden rooms specialists in the UK. Visit one of our 18 display villages to explore our beautiful timber buildings in person. NEED EXTRA SPACE .CO.UK Using the camera, hold your phone over the QR code above, then simply tap the banner. Find us online, it’s easy... one of our experts on: 01438 230010 www.anykitchenltd.co.uk info@anykitchenltd.co.uk Any Kitchen Ltd 101a HighStreet,Stevenage, Herts. SG1 3HR New Year? If so, book your free of charge To find out more, please call and speak to open for appointments Premier Partner Anykitchen_90x134mm Ad 2022.indd 1 18/12/2022 22:55


it easier to resist if you remove some alcohol from your home and reduce the amount of time you spend in places where alcohol is in abundance, such as pubs. Try fun activities such as bowling and crazy golf, keeping you busy and active.


One of the best things you can do to help you achieve your goals is to track your progress by monitoring how much you are drinking with a diary. This will also help you understand what you’ve learnt as you go through the process of changing habits. Make a note of what drinks you’ve consumed, why you drank them and how it made you feel.


When you're hungover, it's hard to get motivated to do much of anything. When you feel like you have a pounding headache and your stomach is doing somersaults, you just want to lay low. If you have fun plans the morning after a night out, it will be easier to keep yourself from going overboard and drinking too much.



There are a lot of reasons to drink. It’s cold outside, or you're celebrating a special occasion.

At the end of a long work week, a cold beer or glass of wine can be the perfect way to relax. However, if you find yourself drinking more than you want, or need to fit in with your social circle or satisfy your own habits, you should make an e ort to have sober days.

Changing up your routine can help you pay more attention to how much, and what kind of drinks you consume.


Beer, shares his top tips to curb your drinking habits this month


Herbal teas are a great alternative to alcohol in the winter when the temperatures fall. You'll be doing your health a favour by replacing evening alcoholic beverages with herbal teas. Unlike alcohol, most of them won't make you feel bloated, spaced out, or tipsy, but instead will help you unwind at night.


When you’re trying to cut down on your drinking, it can be all too easy to give in to cravings or temptations. You may find


You shouldn’t feel obligated to drink just because others are. You don't have to drink to fit in with a group and you should avoid people who try to make you drink when you don't want to. Explain your reasoning why and ask for support in your choice. Practice assertiveness, saying no and in the worst case, leaving situations you feel uncomfortable in.


When you do drink, try to drink at a slower pace. By taking your time, the alcohol will be less likely to go to your head and you’ll have a more memorable night. Have water in between your drinks to keep hydrated throughout the night. Also, if you’re socialising outside, you will end up saving money by savouring each drink you buy and curbing your consumption.

ABSOLUTELY magazines 39
ROCK@Theydon | 01992 926 495 | 18 Forest Drive, Theydon Bois, CM16 7EY ROCK @ Theydon


Braintree Village has announced the re-opening of Radley London following a major refit, which has seen the brand redesign its second new concept store, making it the second largest of its kind in the UK. Braintree Village’s new ‘townhouse’ store has been specially designed to create an elevated shopping experience. Founded in 1998, Radley London was born with a passion for artisan-made handbags, footwear, and accessories.


Francesca Allen 42 • The Shoot 44
41 ABSOLUTELY magazines

What's TO COME

In the first of her seasonal fashion columns, Love Island star and owner of Cloud Eighteen in Loughton, Francesca Allen, writes about the looks for 2023

Stepping into 2023, it's time to say hello to the newest trends that you should be keeping an eye on for the upcoming season. Looking ahead, and with the festive season over, it makes sense to step straight into one of my favourite trends; minimal dressing –something I absolutely love and always have.

Contrary to what some might think, minimal doesn’t have to mean boring, so don’t let the name fool you! Minimal dressing means you can a ord to go all out with the accessories; whether it be a simple pair of studs and matching necklace or an arm full of bangles and a sparkly headpiece. This is the perfect way to glam up any look!

Everyone knows just how much I love an accessory; I find jewellery to be equally as important in tying a look together as

42 ABSOLUTELY magazines
“Minimal dressing is something I absolutely love and always have”

makeup or hair. The little pop of colour or sparkle against a simple silhouette often completes an outfit perfectly.

On the subject of accessories, 80s fashion is making a big comeback; with leg warmers and soft sweatbands and headbands being key accessories to add a little fash-hun to any day time look.

Tailoring is something that will always be in; having key tailored pieces in your wardrobe that you can wear over and over again is always a good investment. I

recommend a blazer as we’ve seen over this year, oversized is the way to go and the bigger the shoulder pads, the better! Again referring back to the 80s with this trend, I can guarantee this style will carry you through 2023 and the years after. Throw over your gym set for a casual day look, or chuck on with a short belt and some heels for the night time, the possibilities really are endless.



My top buys to kick o 2023 are below – super easy to wear, versatile and great to add that little pop of glam to any look.


You can never go wrong with an oversized blazer –whatever the occasion, a blazer will do. It's also the perfect wardrobe item to dress up or dress down. Wear this blazer with jeans, matching trousers or even go casual with a hoodie underneath. Zara in particular is my go-to for all-things tailoring – I wouldn't go anywhere else!


As I mentioned before, a headband is the ideal way to add a subtle touch of glam to your look and a gorgeous Prada headband is the perfect statement piece to accessorise your locks, time and time again. Although this may be on the higher price point, this is a fantastic investment piece for anyone who likes to amplify a minimal outfit.


Finally, you can't go wrong with a bit of statement jewellery. These heart diamante earrings (pictured above) are by far one of my favourite pieces from the Cloud Eighteen collection right now. Pair with a matching bracelet and an all black outfit for the perfect pop of glam. I particularly like to wear these with an oversized black blazer dress and tights, meaning the earrings really shine.

ABSOLUTELY magazines

WRAP It's a

Keep warm in January and look stylish while you do it, thanks to Roman Originals in Basildon



With over 60 years’ experience in wedding planning, Milsom love nothing more than creating the ideal setting for love to flourish. With wedding packages in Su olk and Essex, inspirational food, the finest accommodation, and exceptional service, it’s easy to understand why Milsom Weddings are in high demand.


w w SPECIAL ISSUE absolutely-weddings.co.uk
49 ABSOLUTELY magazines
(Photo by Terri Pashley)
Something SPECIAL



From di erent ceremony options to a host of food and drink o erings, Braxted Park has everything to make your wedding special

50 ABSOLUTELY magazines

Set amongst the picturesque Essex countryside sits the beautiful 500-acre Braxted Park. A wedding venue with a di erence, where rich history meets modern luxury. This carefully curated space provides the perfect setting where forever memories are created and everything you could wish for is in this one breathtaking location.


Braxted Park is easily one of the finest wedding venues in Essex, sure to provide you with a special day full of grandeur and elegance for you and your guests. The venue makes an instant impression as you enter the gates, set at the end of a sweeping, torch-lit drive and that impression continues throughout every element of your wedding day.

This peaceful, picturesque, private setting o ers couples complete exclusivity that’ll make you feel as though you’re miles away from anywhere. However, you’re also still in easy reach of towns around Essex and just an hour away from London, too. It’s ideal for an escape to the country in a central location that’s easy to reach.


Braxted Park o ers a choice of ceremony options in which you can tie the knot. The bright and airy, exquisitely decorated

Orangery o ers a luxury space large enough to surround yourselves with friends and family. The magnificent arched windows and hand-painted frescos bring the beautiful gardens inside, whatever the weather.

For an al fresco space to say your ‘I dos’, the charming summer house in the walled gardens is full of secluded nooks and delightful surprises. This outdoor ceremony space enfolds all who enter in an enchanted circle of love.

If your heart is set on a religious ceremony, Braxted Park even has a church within its grounds. This perfect gem that dates back to 1042 is just a short stroll from the house, past the glittering lake. This means that your guests don’t need to arrange any transport or travel, everything is in one place and it’s just a seamless day of joy and celebration.


Bask in your picturesque surroundings with a drinks reception in the Walled Garden, mingling with guests around tranquil water features and blooming flower beds. The Pavilion is a grand and contemporary setting for your wedding breakfast and evening reception. It's incredibly versatile, capable of accommodating wedding parties of all sizes and it comes fully equipped with a dancefloor, well-stocked bar and state-ofthe-art sound and lighting system to make the perfect place to celebrate in style.


Your day could begin with elegant cocktails and canapés served in the Walled Garden, followed by a dining experience worthy of any leading restaurant in the glamorous Pavilion. And for the evening celebrations, choose between a delicious BBQ, hearty hog roast or tables laden with tempting tapas?

Whatever you choose, it will be made with passion and the very best produce, sourced locally wherever possible. Relaxed informality or sophisticated elegance, traditional British or a gourmet tour of the world, your chefs will be happy to help you plan your own memorable experience and deliver it to perfection.

Exceptional food and service of the highest order are at the heart of every wedding at Braxted Park, making sure that your special day is perfectly tailored to your needs. Braxted Park Kitchen, the in-house team headed up by Executive Chef Luke Davis, o ers

“Braxted Park will provide you with a special day full of grandeur and elegance”

a number of exciting catering options including fine dining-style dishes. You can collaborate directly with the chefs to create a bespoke menu that’s exactly what you were imagining for your big day.

If you are planning a cultural wedding, Braxted Park o ers you the opportunity to hire the venue on a dry-hire basis. This allows you to arrange your own catering and bar requirements, using the Pavilion’s

large capacity to plan the wedding you’ve always wanted in a stunning location. Dry-hire of Braxted Park is perfect for Asian, Jewish, Afro-Caribbean, Turkish and other cultural weddings, allowing you to make the day completely your own in line with your traditions and beliefs.


Your wedding day starts in the beautiful and secluded bridal changing room. This selfcontained courtyard retreat provides the ideal spot to prepare before your ceremony. The stylish space o ers space for brides and their bridesmaids to get ready. Best of all, it's just a few steps through the Lantern Room to the Orangery from this calm and relaxing setting. And there is also an equally private space in the Garden Cottage where the groom and his friends can get ready and relax before the main event.

The Garden Cottage is also the idyllic honeymoon cottage for your wedding night. Just a short stroll away from the Pavilion the cottage o ers a luxurious and calming space to retreat to at the end of the night. With a private garden, valley views and a hidden terrace, it really is the perfect honeymoon hideaway.

There are also a further 12 bedrooms in which guests can stay the night in the smart and contemporary stable block that has been recently renovated. With space for families and one completely accessible room, there’s something for everyone at Braxted Park. And of course, tea and co ee-making facilities and luxury toiletries are provided in each of the bedrooms.

Although Braxted Park is a secluded retreat, it’s also one of Essex’s best-placed wedding venues. In Colchester, just a short drive away, there are a variety of excellent hotels and B&Bs to suit all budgets. There are also places to stay in nearby Witham and the surrounding towns including Maldon, Braintree and Dedham.


Braxted Park has been a family home for generations, and the team prides itself on its ability to welcome all couples into the extended family. That same personal approach is present throughout the whole experience at Braxted Park.

From the moment you step foot on the grounds at Braxted Park for your first visit, the friendly team is there to support you every step of the way and make sure that your dream wedding becomes a reality. There is something for everyone to love at Braxted Park. From the enchanting grounds to the quintessentially English feel of the walled garden and the glorious country house at the centre of it all.


“From the moment you step foot on the grounds at Braxted Park, the friendly team is there to support you”
Anindescribablyromanticsettingforyourperfectday,MarkshallEstateistheoneyouhavebeenlookingfor... 2,350acresofsereneEssexcountryside 48hourvenuehire 2uniqueweddinglocations privatepreparationsuite Markshall Estate, Coggeshall, Essex, CO6 1TG weddings@markshall.org.uk 01376 565420 www.markshall.org.uk Celebrate at Ware Priory The perfect venue for every occasion: Weddings, Parties & Celebrations, Business Events, Meetings & Conferences High Street, Ware, Hertfordshire, SG12 9AL 01920 460316 | www.warepriory.co.uk @warepriory warepriory Choice of modern, traditional & historic surroundings A range of wonderful spaces to accommodate 10 to 200 guests Picturesque riverside location & beautiful gardens for those unique arrivals and photo opportunities Outstanding catering tailored to suit all tastes WARE_PRIORY_HALFPAGE_FEB22.indd 1 04/01/2022 15:04
Hubbards Hall Drive, Off Churchgate Street, Old Harlow, Essex, CM17 0NH For more information please contact 01279 354455 enquiries@thatamazingplace.co.uk www.thatamazingplace.co.uk More Than Just A Venue EXCLUSIVE USE MANOR HOUSE WITH WEDDING COTTAGE & 14 STYLISH GUEST ROOMS

Prepare to be AMAZED

Absolutely visits the 15th century country manor house in Essex that will wow you and your wedding guests

That Amazing Place in Old Harlow is one of only a handful of country houses to o er exclusive use of the venue for your wedding day. This means that their 15th century country manor house with stylish and contemporary interiors is exclusively yours for the day and night of your wedding. Licenced for civil ceremonies there is a choice of elegant ceremony rooms and during the summer months couples can choose to say their vows alfresco, beneath the outdoor gazebo next to the lake.

For dining, there are no minimum guest numbers and their maximum capacity for a traditional seated wedding breakfast is 150 guests. With a picturesque location and breath-taking views of the grounds and lake, That Amazing Place o ers the perfect backdrop for your wedding day. From the long driveway up to the house on arrival, to enjoying reception drinks on the patio with views of the lake, all

of your guests will enjoy the stunning scenery That Amazing Place has to o er.

For the night of the wedding, they o er overnight accommodation in their chic, comfortable bedrooms for your guests and their luxury wedding cottage for the wedding couple. Sleeping 31 people, this means that you and your guests can relax and unwind, without worry about transport.

At That Amazing Place they are very excited to announce that from spring 2023 you will be able book their 4 bedroom house, situated right next to the venue, for the night before your wedding. Along with the 4 double bedrooms (sleeping up to 8 guests) and 2 bathrooms, there will also be a large kitchen/dining room, a lounge, a bridal preparation room and a lovely large garden, perfect for relaxing drinks the night before the wedding and beautiful photos the following morning.

With the option to chill out and unwind the night before the wedding, knowing that you are right next door to your venue, this new accommodation will enhance the journey for the wedding party and help to make the whole experience totally stress free. The renovation will start very soon and they can’t wait to welcome new couples through their doors when the transformation is complete.

With 5* reviews on TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google, you can rest assured that your wedding is in safe hands and you will have a day with memories to cherish forever. Remember, your wedding is about more than just a venue, it’s about finding That Amazing Place to turn your dreams into reality, so get in touch and let your imagination do the rest.


ABSOLUTELY magazines





At Private Client by Bupa, feeling good isn’t good enough. Their ambitions for your health and wellbeing go much further. They curate a complete service for the mind, body and being, with premium health insurance plans that are designed to be used. From award-winning medical cover at home and abroad, to proactive wellbeing benefits and direct access to private specialists without a GP referral. Private Client by Bupa also gives you access to a worldwide network of doctors via the Global Virtual Care service, available 24/7 at the touch of a button. They’re here for you today, tomorrow, and for whatever comes next.

Call 0371 3460 409 or discover more at bupaprivateclient.com

ABSOLUTELY magazines 57


60 ABSOLUTELY magazines
Three secrets to becoming ninja-fit in Epping Forest in 2023 PARKOUR

Ilike to think I’m an easy-going, downto-earth guy who strives to find good in the world even when it’s easy to see barriers and negativity. I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles in my life so far, but I’ve learnt from each one and they’ve made me stronger.

I was an average student hoping to get five grade Cs at GCSE in order to gain access to higher education. I didn’t really know where life would or could take me after college.

I ended up joining the British Army. On my operational tour in Afghanistan key events turned my life upside down. Hearing and seeing the death of my brother after he detonated an improvised explosive device in service as a Royal Marine gave me an out of body experience. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Although the blast didn’t hit me physically, it hit home hard mentally, leaving me with post-traumatic stress disorder that I struggle with to this day.

I found that the only way forward was to set goals. From a young age I’d done parkour. Then when I joined the Army I was always at the front on the obstacle courses. I started to explore ways to use my ability to overcome physical obstacles to draw parallels that allowed me to overcome mental obstacles. Each goal achieved became a stepping stone onto the next.

I registered to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh gold award in my early 20s. It wasn’t an opportunity I’d had at school. I got a record-breaking time on the physical test and now over a decade

later I’m lucky enough to be a Duke of Edinburgh ambassador who speaks to new graduates at Buckingham Palace.

I heard about Ninja Warrior and entered. At first I competed without training. Then when I immediately made the finals, I started to take it more seriously. I got a call to represent Team GB on Netflix’s Ultimate Beastmaster, created by Sylvester Stallone. They wanted me to compete against amazing athletes including Olympians.

I su er from mixed anxiety and depression and that’s something I manage every day, but it doesn’t stop me from chasing my dreams. My military career taught me the tenacity to overcome adversity and I used that skill alongside parkour, rock climbing and obstacle course racing to train.

I designed my own regime, listening to my body and… I became international champion. Somehow, I went from being the underdog to beating everyone with a huge margin. As winner of the Ultimate Beastmaster and also with a Ninja Warrior title, I’m ready for my next adventure.

How is my advice relevant to you? You have the perfect playground for all abilities right on your doorstep. I know, I’ve used it to train. Epping Forest is a gift. This incredible piece of the natural world is free to use and available to anyone no matter their ability. Being at one with the outdoors helps channel my stresses into positives. Climbing trees helps grip strength, running trails is great for cardio and designing my own real-world obstacle courses adds to agility and problem-solving.

All of this helps reduce my daily anxiety and my trauma from Afghanistan.

I have to be proactive with my physical and mental wellbeing and I do that through three key principles:


You can set goals at any level. Always have something to work towards and take pride in each of your achievements no matter how big or small.


For me, it’s rock climbing. It’s accessible even to beginners. You can relax and focus on selecting the best route because it’s agility of mind as well as body that leads to success. Pure strength isn’t enough.


I love parkour, it's accessible to anyone. We’ve all done it as children, so go back to your roots and explore the playground on your doorstep.

Corbin Mackin is part of the roster @goodvibesonlytalent. If you would like to work with him please contact katie@goodvibesonlytalent.com

“Epping Forest is a gift. This incredible piece of natural world is free to use and available to anyone”
ABSOLUTELY magazines

Q When did you first become interested in health and wellbeing?

A I’ve always been interested in health and wellbeing from as long as I can remember. My mum was always super healthy with mine and my sisters’ diet growing up.

Q What is Fringe Method Yoga?

A It’s about working week by week with the elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Air. Earth week is physically about the feet, legs and glutes. Emotionally it’s about the root chakra, grounding, foundations, stability, centring yourself. Water week physically is about glutes, hips, pelvic floor. Emotionally it’s about the Sacral Chakra, going with the flow of life, freedom, free movement in the body and mind, sexuality and sensuality… the ability to go with the flow. Fire week physically is about the core, detox, digestive system, liver, kidneys, cleansing, heat, and emotionally working with the Solar Plexus, power, inner strength and wisdom, letting go, gut instinct, feeling empowered. Air

week is physically about ribs, shoulders, arms, back, wrists and hands, with back bends and heart openers. Emotionally you are working with the Heart Chakra, love, compassion, breath, kindness, self love and care, light, positivity, heartache.

Q What would you say are the health benefits?

A The health benefits from yoga are beyond the physical. It moves the mind and frees up head space. That then has a knock on e ect on your overall wellbeing.

Q When did you first start using essential oils?

A I've known about essential oils from a young age also as my mum would use them when I was little.

Q Why do you work with doTERRA?

A I became aware of doTERRA essential oils around four years ago. I couldn’t live my life without them, from supporting

my physical and mental self. They are simply the best essential oils around.

Q What new essential oils are coming out that you highly recommend?

A There are always new essential oils being studied. Personally, I use certain essential oils at di erent times of the year. In winter I can’t live without Tea tree, Frankincense, Lavender, On Guard (a blend), Lemon, Wild orange, Oregano, Eucalyptus…. The list is endless.

Q What's next for you?

A I have lots planned for 2023, my aim is to support as many people throughout the year with Mini Retreat days and beautiful daily rituals. I am planning one very soon in the Chigwell area so look out for that! Most importantly, growing and learning more for myself and to see a little more of the world.

Follow Samantha @tulamind_

ABSOLUTELY magazines 63
THE FLOW Absolutely finds out a little more about Fringe Method Yoga with West Essex local, Samantha Collins

Choose from an array of treatments and day spa packages, using only the very best spa brands including the fantastic Elemis range, and unwind with a relaxing and personal experience.

There is a glorious open fire, hot tub and sauna and it is ideal if you are looking for a spa escape with friends or family or simply to enjoy an individual treatment if you live locally.

Talbooth House & Spa offers a number of treatments and packages, with something for everyone.

Chat to the team on 01206 806102 or email talboothhouseandspa@milsomhotels.com


Talbooth House & Spa is quiet, relaxed, discreet, and ideal for enjoying spa days or individual treatments during the week and at weekends.

You’ll be welcomed on arrival by the reception team who will introduce you to your therapist before heading to your treatment room. Talbooth House & Spa have six rooms in total, four double and two single. Three of these rooms are in the house, while the other three are poolside and so are ideal if you are looking for a spa escape with friends or family, or simply to enjoy an individual treatment if you live locally.


Choose from day and half-day options, and takeadvantage of a spa day package at Talbooth House & Spaand enjoy fulluse of the facilities, including outdoorpool, hot tub and tennis court. The spa packages have been specially

designed to deliver the ultimate in relaxation. Whether you’re looking for a full day’s spa and pampering, an evening of rejuvenation, a half-day escape from the busy world or celebrating a special occasion with friends, you’ll find something that’s just right for you.

Talbooth House & Spa are delighted to have partnered withElemis, for all their face and body treatments; they have a huge range of products and therapies that they know you are going to love. With the addition of theGel Bottlefor nails,Delilah Cosmeticsfor make up andSt Tropez for tanning, they’ve got everything covered so go and see them soon for a little you time.


Open Monday to Saturday, 9am-6pm, and Sunday 9am-5pm. Call 01206 806102 to chat with the team or to book your package or treatment.

New for 2023, they are excited to be launching yoga packages, for further details please email talboothspa@milsomhotels.com

“The spa packages have been specially designed to deliver the ultimate in relaxation”
Talbooth House & Spa o er a host of packages and treatments that are perfect to escape the outside world

Haswell Aesthetics

Medical Ltd is a CQC registered medical aesthetics clinic based in Langham, Colchester, Essex.

Our ethos is skin first, injectables second. Where art meets science and ethical, holistic care meets aesthetic medicine.



For a medical aesthetic consultation and assessment please see our website: www.haswell-aesthetics.co.uk

We o er a wide range of cosmetic injectables, medical grade skin treatments and medical grade skin care.

The founder of Brookside Aesthetics in Essex o ers up her top health tips


A feeling of mindful living and peace, this trend has grown in popularity over the last decade and has become more important to us all. In 2022, work-life balance and mental resilience were thrust into the spotlight like never before, and it’s o cially the 2023 home trend. The idea of mindfulness has become one of the most critical factors in wellness and holistic living.


Exercise is excellent for your physical and mental health and gets your blood and endorphins flowing. For the reluctant exerciser, here are a few fitness tips to get started:

• Find a friend– Exercising with a friend is far more fun than exercising alone. Plus, you can keep each other accountable to show up for workouts.

• Set goals– Don’t bite o more than you can chew. Set realistic goals and remember to pace yourself.

• Allow time for recovery– It’s tempting to be overactive with new workout routines, but giving your body time

to recover is essential. Use ice packs and heat patches for sore muscles.


I am probably not the first (and probably won’t be the last) to tell you to drink more water. Staying hydrated is so good for your health. Hydration improves sleep, clears skin, increases energy, and improves muscle recovery. Invest in a reusable or smart water bottle to drink more water. This way, you can track your intake and set goals for yourself.


Sleep is so essential to your health and wellbeing. If you have a busy schedule, that means late nights and early mornings. Butguesswhat? You’ll feel more focused and productive when you get enough sleep. Here are a few tips to encourage restful sleep:

• Take melatonin– Try a sleep aid like melatonin before bed. This helps reset your circadian rhythm so you can establish an earlier bedtime.

• Darken the room– Use blackout shades to reduce ambient light and early-morning sun.


Immune system health and support remain a top focus in 2023. Keeping your immune system healthy year-round is key to preventing infection and disease. Immune support supplements also continue to be popular, like probiotics. Probiotics are among the most popular dietary supplements and can provide good health benefits. We all have good bacteria that live in our intestinal tract, and it participates in a variety of important bodily processes, such as vitamin production, mood regulation, digestion, immune function, and more Probiotics can help with:

• Balance the friendly bacteria in your digestive system;

• Can help boost your immune system;

• It can reduce the severity of certain allergies and eczema;

• May help you lose weight and belly fat.

Here’s to a wonderful, healthy 2023! enquire@brookside-aesthetics.com 01245 363889

ABSOLUTELY magazines 67

Sprint to the finish with the Bowflex VeloCore, the revolutionary racer that leans left and right for a more natural ride.

Switch between stationary and leaning mode to target your core which, alongside up to 22” of HD touchscreen, 100 micro-adjustable resistance levels and compatibility with leading fitness apps, ensures the VeloCore delivers the most immersive cycling experience yet.

With a stylish aesthetic and unmatched versatility, the TuffStuff AXT-225R Home Gym is a fantastic addition to your strength area. Offering full-body machine-based movements, it combines popular functional training with a traditional press arm and leg station to offer the best of both worlds. A shining example of TuffStuff’s renowned quality and craftsmanship, you can be sure you’re training on some of the best home equipment available today with the AXT-225R. VELOCORE CYCLE 22IN SCREEN AXT-225R HOME GYM LIST PRICE £2,799 LIST PRICE £3,899 OUR PRICE £2,399 OUR PRICE £3,599 TRY IN-STORE TODAY Get a JRNY™ membership FREE for 12 months! The JRNY™ app* o ers trainer-led workouts, virtual coaching, streaming services and more! 7.5% OFF Use code ABESSEX0123 DISCOVER OUR RANGE OF TREADMILLS, BIKES, CROSS TRAINERS, RACKS, WEIGHTS & BARBELLS Try Before You Buy Expert In-Store Advice Never Beaten on Price 0% Finance Available † Visit us at 35 New London Rd, Chelmsford , Chelmsford, CM2 0ND or call 01245 808918 Code expires 5th February 2023. Prices may vary, see website for current price. † Subject to age and status. *Free trial on sign up. Subscription required after trial. THE UK’S NO.1 FITNESS EQUIPMENT RETAILER


Smash your 2023 wellness and weight management goals with a 360-degree bespoke Total Reset Programme at Vie Aesthetics

Are you one of the millions of Brits across the country setting wellness and a weight loss goals for 2023? As the “new year, new you” slogans are sounding all around us, the question is, who will keep going with those resolutions and who will succeed? Well, apparently, to a certain degree, this may be determined by our own genes, with genetic factors potentially determining between 40-70% of our BMI. Dr Liakas, Medical Director at Vie Aesthetics, reminds that “each one of us is unique and this explains why one size does not fit all. A personalised approach to your wellness regime based on your genetic and health data can address your own individual needs and work with your body to achieve a healthier and more energised you”.

The Total Reset Programme at Vie Aesthetics, who were named Global Aesthetic Practice of the Year in the MyFaceMyBody 2020 Global Award, promises to do exactly that. An initial in-depth health and lifestyle consultation, combined with DNA testing and blood screening, are used to tailor each client’s proposed individual plan. The aim is to work with your body and your lifestyle to help you detox and reset your body with the much-needed nutrients, vitamins and minerals and a medical regime. Tailored cocktails of IV Wellness Infusions, vitamin boosters, and glutathione injections are used in combination with medical prescription plans and devices to target problem areas, to achieve the best results and create balance.

The team at Vie Aesthetics have put together this personalised programme drawing on their expertise and resources from their well-established medical weight management, menopause, wellness, and aesthetic medicine clinics. The programme menu also includes weight loss and menopause medication, collagen supplements, light therapy, menopause

services, intimate health treatments, LED Light Therapy, EM body sculpting, and nutrition coaching. The Total Reset Programme is available both in their Harley Street and Rayleigh, Essex, locations.

“We are very pleased to be able to o er this personalised holistic approach to health, image, and wellbeing by bringing together evidence-based advances and technologies by a team of experts tailored to the needs of each individual client,” says Vicky Grammatikopoulou, CEO of Vie Aesthetics.

As a doctor-led, CQC-regulated and Save Face-accredited medical establishment, Vie Aesthetics provide safe and e ective, cutting-edge cosmetic, regenerative and anti-ageing solutions for skin, face, body, wellness, and hair through their signature and bespoke treatment plans.


For information and to book call 07899673578, email info@vie-aesthetics.com or visit vie-aesthetics.com

“It's a personalised approach to health, image and wellbeing”
Award winning practitioners dedicated to advanced medical aesthetics For further information and to book Ballingdonhall.co.uk Tel: 07798 846913 matt@ballingdonhall.co.uk Ballingdon Hall, Ballingdon Hill, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 7LH Dr Khan Botox & Dermal Fillers • Ellanse PDO Thread Lift • Spring Threads Silhouette Soft Threads • Skin Peels C02 Laser • Mole Removal Regenerative Medicine Fat Transfer • Plasson • 1 Reg Med Morpheous 8 • Lanluma Vitamin Drips • PRP Super Soft Laser Clinic Laser Hair Removal Tattoo Removal • BB Glow Facial Laser Carbon Facial Laser Vascular Therapy IPL Skin Rejuvenation Cavitation & Skin Tightening Laser Lipo • Fat Freezing • Lashes Dermaplaning Facial • Callus Heel Peel Treatments Ballingdon Hall also offers a range of wellness and spiritual retreats including yoga, spiritual enrichment, couples retreats, gut health and colour therapy.


Ballingdon Hall is a beautiful, Grade II listed, Elizabethan mansion, nestled on a hillside just outside the Su olk town of Sudbury. The house itself has had a rich and interesting history with generations of previous owners linked to the royal courts of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots and King James I.

It is also the Su olk home of Harley Street Skin Clinic founders, Dr Aamer Khan and his wife Lesley Reynolds. Their Ballingdon Hall Clinic is part of 21 acres of woodland, meadows, ponds and formal gardens. It is perfect for visitors who want treatments in a relaxed and tranquil setting. There is plenty of parking and is only a few minutes drive from Sudbury.

You will also find The Super Soft Laser Clinic, with a large range of services from beauty treatments to cutting edge laser techniques. Top therapist, Danni Cook, has

a wealth of experience with 10 years in the aesthetics industry and o ers a number of treatments including laser hair removal, IPL skin rejuvenation, fat freezing and lash extensions.

Ballingdon Hall also o ers a range of retreats from medical, fitness, weight loss and menopause to retreats focusing on spiritual practices and development such as meditation, yoga, breathwork and healing.

Lee Whyberd is their lead therapist with a focus on spiritual retreats using his many years of experience and knowledge.

Lee is a 3rd generation clairvoyant medium who teaches meditation and is also a certified sound therapist, specialising in tuning fork vibrational therapy and Bio-Well practitioner.

June Hayes o ers a wide range of healing practices including spiritual, theta, reiki, crystal and Rahanni Angel healing. June o ers private and group sessions and can create a bespoke session

for clients to get the most out of their treatment. She also o ers a luxury LA stone and crystal hot and cold healing facial. Interested in trying it out? June is o ering a 10% discount on any treatment booked throughout January 2023. For the latest day and residential treatments please look at the Ballingdon Hall website.


For further information and to book call 07798 846913 or email matt@ballingdonhall.co.uk

Ballingdon Hall, Ballingdon Hill, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 7LH, ballingdonhall.co.uk

ABSOLUTELY magazines 71
How a trip to Ballingdon Hall could be just the answer for mental and physical wellbeing in 2023
Discover iconic sights and hidden gems along Europe’s waterways explorer s... For the Including • Luxurious and modern five-star ships • Fascinating tours and excursions • Full board Forever Curious Abbotts Travel, 134 George Lane, South Woodford, London E18 1BA Tel: 020 8989 9445 info@abbottstravel.com | www.abbottstravel.com | Instagram @AbbottsTravel *Ask your Abbotts Travel agent for full terms and conditions. • Return flights from a selection of regional airports • Riviera Travel Cruise Director and Concierge Free drinks package for July & August 2023 departures* The Blue Danube 8 days from only £1,349PP Rhine Cruise to Switzerland 8 days from only £1,499PP Douro, Porto & Salamanca 8 days from only £1,519PP April to October 2023 May to October 2023 March to November 2023



Where better to learn to ski than in the luxurious environs of postcard-perfect St. Moritz? Blue skies are almost guaranteed here, and there are winter activites galore, even for non-skieers. tschuggencollection.ch

Staycations 74 • Hayes
& Jarvis
73 ABSOLUTELY magazines

The great UK


We all need a little cheering up in January, so here’s our pick of the hotels you don’t have to travel too far to for a much-needed escape

74 ABSOLUTELY magazines

FROM £129 PER ROOM horwoodhouse.co.uk

Escape to the Buckinghamshire countryside at historic Grade II listed property Horwood House. Built in 1911, the hotel combines heritage and comfort to ensure a luxury getaway at a low-price tag; don your wellies and roam around the expansive 38-acre grounds, visit the boutique H Spa and enjoy dinner at British restaurant, Harry’s Bar & Kitchen, which serves up the finest fare using locally sourced seasonal ingredients. For a wallet-friendly getaway, book your Buckinghamshire break today, with rooms from £129 including bed and breakfast.

CAREYS MANOR HOTEL & SENSPA (New Forest, Hampshire)

FROM £130PP careysmanor.com

Located in the heart of the New Forest, Careys Manor & SenSpa – an enchanting hotel and Thai spa boasting 18th century grandeur – invites guests to embrace the peace of the season with its ‘Autumn Sunset Dining Break’, saving up to 15% o . Near the ancient moorland and woodland of the New Forest National Park for crisp country walks, retreat to Careys to enjoy crackling fires, cosy loungers, an array of restaurants, four-poster bedrooms designed with tranquillity in mind and the award-winning SenSpa, home to sensational hydrotherapy facilities. The package includes an overnight stay with breakfast and use of leisure facilities, along with an autumn cocktail and £35pp allowance for dinner at one of the three restaurants.


FROM £149 PER ROOM downhall.co.uk

Looking for a ‘Snoozy Sunday’, see in the new week at Down Hall Hotel, Spa & Estate, where you can unwind for the evening in the picturesque Essex countryside. Located just 45 minutes from central London, the 19th century Italianate mansion boasts a newly refurbished Garden Room restaurant and terrace and is surrounded by 110 acres of gardens, woodland and parklands. The luxurious countryside property caters for all the family with sporty facilities – including a Padel tennis court and five-a-side football pitch – alongside a dedicated outdoor play area for the kids with games of giant chess and badminton.


for pub stays


FROM £60 PER ROOM reverepubcompany.com

As the cold nights drift in, chase the winter gloom away and discover the best of the countryside with Revere Pub Company. With ten stunning locations across England, discover your idyllic winter escape, with hotels near stunning woodlands for countryside walks and market towns for a shopaholic's getaway. Ideal for couples, families and four-legged companions, Revere Country pubs o er the perfect combination of comfort and adventure, serving up hearty seasonal dishes, roaring fireplaces and warming cocktails for a cosy winter escape.

YOUNG’S HOTELS (London and South of England)

FROM £140PP youngs.co.uk/our-hotels

With seasonal menus, spacious boutique rooms and roaring fires, there’s no better place to set yourself up than with Young’s and its ‘Winter Retreat’ package. Whether you’re after a frosty ramble in the countryside, a seaside escape or to explore the city, enjoy a two-night stay including breakfast, a two-course meal on either night and a complimentary drink on arrival, all from just £280 per couple. With locations in London and across the South, all with stunning features and family rooms available, meet with loved ones for a welldeserved break this winter – there’s even space for four-legged friends.

THE MONTAGU ARMS (New Forest, Hampshire)



Set in a quiet corner of the New Forest, The Montagu Arms o ers rural charm, fabulous food and cosy bedrooms with an abundance of history and nature to be explored. With a ‘Glorious Autumn Dining Break’ package with savings of 15% o , guests can embrace the great outdoors with a cosy overnight stay, complete with a hearty New Forest breakfast, and taste the season at The Terrace restaurant, o ering exquisite fine dining menus that showcase the very best in British game. Relax in front of a log fire or take advantage of the spa facilities at nearby sister hotel, Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa, for the ultimate winter relaxation.



Our beautiful, iconic 400-year-old Hotel, sits beside the River Nene in the idyllic surroundings of the conservation village of Wansford, in Cambridgeshire. roughout its history the Hotel has hosted an incredible array of famous and Royal guests including Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and many others. Having completed an extensive restoration, the Hotel has once again regained its reputation as one of the region’s nest. It now cleverly displays all its historic glory with luxuriously appointed rooms featuring painstakingly restored medieval replaces combined with all of the modern technology and conveniences we all enjoy.

With two restaurants to choose from we know our ‘foodie’ guests will be fully satis ed! Fine dining can be enjoyed in our Michelin recognised, 3 rosette awarded ‘Prévost’ restaurant. is showcases a contemporary Tasting Menu by our Executive Head Chef, Lee Clarke and Head Chef Sam Nash, all paired with the eclectic wine choices from our Sommelier.

Relax and unwind in our Courtyard Bar and Lounge, smile at its unique playful décor, enjoy the music and the warm friendly atmosphere. Even outdoors, if the weather suits, in the historic courtyard setting warmed by our open repit.

Haycock Manor Hotel, Wansford - in - England, Peterborough PE8 6JA T: 01780 782223 | E: hello@haycock.co.uk | www.haycock.co.uk

Around the world in 70 YEARS

In 1952, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II took the throne at the young age of 25. London was engulfed in what would come to be known as the “Great Smog”, bringing the capital to a halt for four days. The iconic musical movie, Singin' in the Rain starring Gene Kelly, premiered in New York, and India held its first general elections, with some 360 million citizens eligible to cast their vote. Amid these era-defining events, two ex-servicemen were about to make their mark in the world. Mr. Hayes and Mr. Jarvis, having recently returned home from the war in Italy, realised they’d left a part of themselves behind. They remembered the sun-dappled Mediterranean landscapes and inspiring Renaissance cities that had played witness to the war. They recollected old times with friends and comrades, before coming upon an idea…

What if they could, under di erent circumstances, re-discover the wonders of Italy on their own terms? And more importantly, what if they could help their companions do the same? Together Mr. Hayes and Mr. Jarvis began retracing their old routes to the places they’d visited during wartime, with an aim to redefine and restore their own memories of Italy – and perhaps also those of the soldiers they’d fought alongside. The result was a collection of personal and extraordinarily detailed itineraries created out of a desire to help. Hayes & Jarvis was born.

Within a few years, Hayes & Jarvis became trusted advisors to a new kind traveller, seeking out detailed, personalised experiences. The company was soon renowned for the style and comfort of its journeys, and luxury became synonymous with the brand name.

In 1960, Hayes & Jarvis cast their net further into Europe by o ering specialist

78 ABSOLUTELY magazines
Hayes & Jarvis: seven decades of of exploring the globe

holidays to Greece, Spain, Portugal and Madeira. But it wasn’t until 1975, under new ownership, that Hayes & Jarvis truly branched out into the world, with the introduction of long-haul holidays, beginning with specialist journeys to Kenya.

Charter trips to Penang and Thailand followed, as well as packages to Egypt, Goa, the Maldives and the Caribbean. The company’s European programme continued to thrive. So much so, that the company’s Knightsbridge store soon became the place for royalty and ambassadors to go, to discreetly arrange their leisure travel.

By the 1990s, Hayes & Jarvis was well and truly established as part of the fabric of the UK’s luxury travel industry. By the turn of the century, it had become Britain’s largest tour operator to India and the secondlargest long-haul operator in the country. Acquisition by First Choice in 1998 led to

the brand becoming part of the Travelopia Group, a niche collection of specialist travel companies, where it remains today.

Since 1952, the world – and the way we see our planet – has changed beyond most people’s imaginations. Today that’s also reflected in the company’s commitment to promoting responsible tourism. Hayes & Jarvis have made it their mission to protect and support the local environments, the people, societies and the cultures of the places their guests travel to. A sustainable travel business goes hand in hand with the way it treats the environment and its people. The aim: to enable people to explore and enjoy our planet without harming it. As a part of that commitment, Hayes & Jarvis o sets the CO² emissions for each and every trip made by its guests and sta .

Hayes & Jarvis has come a long way from its humble beginnings, with two friends

dreaming over maps of their past travels through the Italian countryside. Today, the travel experts at Hayes & Jarvis o er personalized, one-of-a-kind journeys to more than 70 destinations worldwide with a portfolio of memory-making holidays, authentic experiences, and safaris. The company still hand-picks all of its Travel Consultants, based on their own specific, expert travel knowledge and their ability to inspire. For a flexible, hassle-free experience, every Hayes & Jarvis guest is assigned their own personal trip coordinator o ering roundthe-clock support for the duration of the trip.

So while Hayes & Jarvis has grown, technology has changed, and the way we travel has developed, the goal and spirit of the company have remained the same: a wish to help travellers discover and rediscover our incredible planet.


To find out more about Hayes & Jarvis, or to start planning your own personalised, tailormade trip, visit hayesandjarvis.co.uk, call the Hayes & Jarvis travel experts on 020 8106 2403 or email them at hello@hayesandjarvis.co.uk



magazines TRAVEL • TREND
The Achton XEP Goggles in Army Green, £175 messyweekend.com
MCARTNEY KIDS Green & White Ski Goggles, £100 childrensalon.com roxy-uk.co.uk
Fly High Men’s Technical Snow Bib in True Black, £220 quiksilver.co.uk
Rainbow Ski Jacket, £199 childrensalon.com
Jetty Women's Snow Gloves in Black Flowers, £50 roxy-uk.co.uk
PAR DEUX Girls Black & Pink Pom-Pom Hat, £29 childrensalon.com
Navy Blue Logo Snow Boots,
Cozy Sound Women’s Technical Jumper in Medieval Blue, £90 roxy-uk.co.uk
SUNDAY SKI The Élégance Méribel, St.Moritz & Courchevel Ski Suits, £445 mysundayski.co.uk Get the whole family ski-season ready LET IT SNOW
ATLANTIS TRAVEL • 16 Brook Parade, Chigwell, Essex IG7 6PF • 020 8559 9007 • atlantistravel.co.uk On Seabourn Encore you will discover Asia in all its glory from bustling cities to gilded temples, gleaming skyscrapers to orchid-draped isle, with extended overnight stays for deeper explorations. Or guests may sail to the stunning Philippines and discover Malaysia’s hidden gems. You may head ‘down under’ on Seabourn Odyssey for sophisticated cities and breathtaking natural splendours, including majestic fjordlands, roaring geysers, unspoiled scenery in Queen Charlotte and Milford Sound and charming ports such as Akaroa and Dunedin, boasting a proud Scottish heritage. You may take the time to enjoy Australia & Asia with Inclusive Economy Air! Call us for lowest prices on Seabourn Cruises on 020 85599007 SEABOURN’S EXTRAORDINARY Australia & Asia In Winter 2023-4! with inclusive economy air & optional hotel stays
01708 736700 www.bodywash.uk sales@bodywash.uk A12 Eastern Avenue, Romford, RM5 3AL Visit our showroom which is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm. We close on Sunday’s. Bring along your room dimensions and let us help you plan your new luxurious bathroom. NOBODY DOES IT BETTER THAN BODYWASH SALE NOW ON Fr ee bathr oom heating with all or der s over £3500



Why let a blank screen rule your space, when you can have a piece of art? Sculpted from wood or fabric and aluminium, Harmony catches the eye and invites conversation even in standby mode. And when you're ready to watch, it puts on a show. The powerful speakers glide apart, the television floats into the space, a performance that takes movie moments to new heights. Products shown: Beovision Harmony, BeoLab 90 & BeoLab 50 in Bespoke Bronze Tone. bang-olufsen.com

Natalie Rodrigues 84 • Real Home 88 • Trend 93
83 ABSOLUTELY magazines



From getting creative in childhood to championing one to one client interaction, a Chelmsford interiors expert lets us into her design life

84 ABSOLUTELY magazines

Iguess my love for design started as far back as I can remember – and it started with colour! As a child I was obsessed with dressing up in my mum’s clothes and choosing the wildest combinations to put together. I was a child in the 60s and 70s so there was always plenty of colour and wild combinations. However, by the age of 11 I think that had tempered somewhat. My parents let me choose the design of my bedroom and I remember going for a natural, biophilic design of grasses depicted on the wallpaper and plenty of plants and wooden furniture.

The arts were always important in my family – I was encouraged to not only attend ballet (very badly!) and to play the violin (also very badly!), but I used to do pottery and was forever drawing and painting which I loved, particularly still life. When you are looking at a subject to sketch you are focussed entirely on how each line makes a shape, how two surfaces meet and what colour and shading gives to a drawing and it makes you a master at observation. So, you tend to use these skills when looking at all the details in the world around you, anything from architecture to how a piece of furniture is put together.

Although I had a creative background, I fell into property management for many years as the role suited my home life and the flexibility around bringing up a family. However, I was never satisfied and realised that my design projects for friends and family at the weekend was what I really wanted to be doing, so once

my family were old enough and were less in need of me, I retrained and went on from there.

At the end of my studies at the world-famous KLC School for Interior Design in Chelsea, I managed to graduate with a Distinction and was Runner-Up Student of the Year! The studies were so detailed and they demanded such a high level that by the time I graduated I had the confidence to go it alone and to have my own business doing what I had loved for so many years.

I wanted to appeal to as many people as possible, as I believe that everyone has a right to have great design in their homes as the benefits to this is not only aesthetic, but has such a positive e ect on mental wellbeing. I knew that I was not interested in o ering a digital design service like others o er, where everything is done through email. That, to me, never gets to the heart of the client or the design. A good design can only come about through interaction with people, so meeting the client and being on site when the design is coming to fruition is important to me.

I now specialise in three main areas: growing families, young professionals and discerning retirees! Each has their own particular needs and design requirements, but all need one thing – to achieve a beautiful, yet functional home that suits their own uniqueness – and that is where I come in.

I o er an entire home service from designing kitchens, bathrooms, pantries to master bedrooms and living rooms. I prefer to provide

“I wanted to appeal to as many people as possible as everyone has the right to great design in their homes”

a full service which is all aspects from space planning, to producing rendered 3D drawings, lighting design all the way through to sourcing the right furnishings, whether it be the right window treatments or the most gorgeous sofas. I can refer trades and can also o er project co-ordination to ensure everything runs smoothly. The ultimate goal is to take as much pressure o the client as possible.

Communication is absolutely key to having a great relationship between designer and client. It is my job to glean as much information from the client as possible, which can take time, so that I fully understand what they are wanting to achieve. Only after I have a full client brief, can I then translate this into a beautiful and unique scheme for them. Gauging the client’s reaction to a design presentation is really important as this is the time to carry out any tweaking or last-minute changes. Once I get the go ahead, I keep the client fully informed throughout the whole process with regular site visits, emails and zoom calls, whichever is appropriate at the time. This is their design for their home and I am very respectful of that.

I recently completed a design for a retired couple in Chelmsford who had not really done anything to their property in 40 years! I was tasked with refurbishing the hallways, living room, dining room, snug, stairs and landing. It was certainly challenging as, in the clients’ words, ‘we are rather set in our ways’. However, the renovation was amazing. Dull, plain interiors were transformed into bright, sunny, colourful spaces, exuding a fun and joyful personality that matched the client.

At the moment I am doing a whole home for a wonderful client just outside of Stock. We started with his home o ce, which was great for me as the brief was to create something as

‘funky’ and ‘out there’ as possible. The client trades in vintage items from the 60s so it was important to create that vibe. His o ce suite is totally bespoke and has a specific design to it that is unique to him, so I am very proud of it as it is truly stunning. I am now in the process of completing the designs on the orangery, master bedroom, second bedroom and living room. The client has gone for the whole home service so I am also sourcing all of the furnishings, fixtures and equipment and project co-ordinating the trades. It is also my first time specifying a smart controls system within the home, which I believe is only going to become more and more popular, particularly within mid-to-high end properties.

Chelmsford is such a great base for me – I can jump on a train and can very quickly get myself uptown, which is important as lots of my sourcing and inspiration is from there. Likewise, I am in the heart of some very beautiful countryside with all that it has to o er. There are some wonderful properties round here that I am just itching to get my design hands on! rodriguesinteriors.co.uk

86 ABSOLUTELY magazines
“There are wonderful properties in Chelmsford that I'd love to get my design hands on”

Winter Sale Starts Online Boxing Day Instore Wednesday 28th


Talk about the great outdoors... Absolutely is visiting an outstanding country residence set in about 30 acres of exceptional gardens and grounds. This delightful family home is orientated so that the principal reception rooms take advantage of the views over the grounds, unsurprisingly so.

The mature parkland was designed by Lord Lambourne, a former President of the Royal Horticultural Society. The grounds are gated and include three lakes, numerous broad leaf and evergreen trees providing all year colour and interest including the rare handkerchief tree.

At the head of the entrance drive behind electric gates is a spacious four bedroom Lodge House with its own garden curtilage and garaging. The combination of the graceful country house, attractive setting and close proximity to London makes this a remarkable house.

88 ABSOLUTELY magazines
Absolutely heads behind closed doors of an outstanding country estate in Abridge

What’s more, planning consent has been granted to replace the main dwelling with a substantial new mansion.

The main house o ers an entrance hall, six reception rooms, various domestic o ces and a kitchen/breakfast room. The first floor comprises six bedrooms and three bathrooms plus an attic room on the second floor.

The Lodge House, which is located by the main entrance, o ers three reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room and a bedroom suite. The first floor has three bedrooms and a bathroom. There is a private garden to the rear and a driveway

leading to a detached garage.

Bishops Hall sits in about 30 acres of amazing grounds with a variety of trees, plants and formal lawns. There are pathways around the estate which provide a perfect way to enjoy the grounds. There is an assortment of outbuildings and garages. The estate is accessed via security gates which lead to a long sweeping driveway, past the Lodge House, to the front of the house. The planning consent adds a new entrance to be built from Hoe Lane.

Bishops Hall is well situated o a country lane in the lovely stretch of

countryside to the south of Abridge village. The beautiful surroundings are all the more remarkable considering the close proximity of the centre of London and underground railway services. The village of Abridge has the usual village amenities, restaurants and public houses, with a more comprehensive range of shopping, educational and recreational facilities to be found at Chigwell, Loughton and Romford.

Bishops Hall, Abridge, Essex, RM4 1AJ is on the market with Savills Loughton for £7,000,000. For more information, call 020 8498 6600 or visit savills.co.uk

ABSOLUTELY magazines 89
36-38 Hatch Lane, Chingford London E4 6LQ 020 8524 1821 020 8529 5345 bedsbedsbeds.net
today to explore all our mattresses.
of our knowledgeable staff members can help you find the right mattress and will tell you more about our delivery options. Comfortable, High-Quality Mattresses and Beds Celebrating 50 years of family business January Sale starts on the 1st January. ADAMS_SONS_HP_ABS_ESSEX_NOV2022.indd 1 24/10/2022 15:07 *Up to 50% OFF Windows, Doors, Conservatories and Extensions, no minimum spend. Terms and conditions apply, please ask for more information. Offer ends 31st January 2023. WINDOWS • EXTENSIONS DOORS & CONSERVATORIES UP TO OFF * Visit your nearest showcentre today 2 Stanway Retail Park, Peartree Road, Colchester, CO3 0LX Poplar Nuseries, Coggeshall Road, Marks Tey, Colchester, CO6 1HR Get your quote online www.sehbac.com or over the phone 0800 666 444





The Thrillsome Trio: A Watchful Eye, Lunatic and Memories of Summer are modern talismans. Each comes in a fi ne bone china vessel with 22 carat gold embellishment. £80 wow-uk.com



Paul Smith's fi rst candle collection comes in beautiful reusable glass containers. The fragrance Bookworm was inspired by Paul's own book-fi lled offi ce. £65 paulsmith.com


Vilshenko's fi rst candle collection is inspired by Slavic folklore and traditional Matryoshka dolls, and each candle represents one of the four seasons. £120 vilshenko.com

3 4 5 2


The Rajathra candle transports you to a maharaja’s retreat in the hills of Rajasthan with tose and patchouli, sensual spices and a sultry animalic scent. £350 ginori1735.com

ABSOLUTELY magazines 91 1
Eym's new scent Eden is a blissful mix of violet leaf, cedarwood and neroli. These chemical-free candles use pure essential oils for a positive effect on emotional wellbeing. £39 eymnaturals.com 2
0800 098 4045 sbiproducts.co.uk/solar Solar Security Shutters • Solar Venetian Shutters • Solar Roller Garage Doors • Solar Zip Screens Insulate and Secure your home! Solar Security Shutters supplied and installed by SBI Solar Shutters 100% Solar - 100% Independent. The greener alternative to conventional electric shutters. SBI_ABS_DEC2022_v4.indd 1 16/11/2022 16:45 ecodesign ready 2022 All Clock Stoves are ECO Design 2022 ready as standard. Clock Blithfield DS 13 Responsible and renewable heating, that you control Transform your home with a UK EcoDesign Clock Stove Exquisite Dutch woodburners ORION_HP_ABS_ESSEX_OCT22.indd 1 15/09/2022 14:52



Gold Lightning Bolt Mirror, £75 antipodream.co.uk


Metallic Gold Twist Taper Candles, £4.99 giselagraham.co.uk


1970 Gold Ceramic Candle, £110 beaumonde.co.uk


Gold and Emerald Green Artemis Poster, £35 gracedigitalartco.com


Angelique Ornate Gold Wall Mirror, £295 frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk


Eichholtz Las Palmas

Table Lamp Gold, £974 sweetpeaandwillow.com


Have a sparkling start to the new year

FY Cassia Vase, £49 iamfy.co


Geraldine Gold Giraffe

Table Lamp, £145 beaumonde.co.uk



Gold Metal Multi Hands Candle Holder, £150 rockettstgeorge.co.uk


Gold Bobble Edge Wall Mirror, £145 luxeology.co.uk



Tall Gold Metal Vase, £119 luxeology.co.uk

Frida Kahlo Print, £13
1 The Old Iron Works, Maldon, Essex, CM9 4LE Telephone: 01621 841300 sales@wickham-flooring .co.uk www.wickham-flooring.co.uk Local Flooring Specialist Contact us or visit the showroom for a huge selection of carpets and flooring Specialist Amtico One Supplier WICKHAM_FLOORING_HP_ABS_ESSEX_JAN2023.indd 1 13/12/2022 10:27
95 ABSOLUTELY magazines BLINDS 2 GO William Morris Sunfl ower Honey Rollerblind, from £48 blinds-2go.co.uk
Meadow Pattern Flower Wallpaper, £78 mineheart.com
Joy Of Print X Tori Murphy Zig Zag Tea Towel, £32 torimurphy.com
Betsy Pleated Lampshade, £195 tinkerandtallulah.co.uk
Vintage Mushroom Forest Pattern Cushion, £32 inkanddrop.com WELSH OTTER Caernarfon Blanket, £145 welshotter.co.uk HOUSE OF HACKNEY Velvet Pillow, £88 anthropologie.com
POWER OF PATTERN Beautiful florals, stripes, geometrics and abstracts INTERIORS • TREND AMBAR + WALALA Cityscape Cushions, £130 ambarldn.com
Tulip Pattern Wallpaper Mural By William Morris, from £37 wallsauce.com
SAVAGES Deco Martini Copper Patina Wallpaper, £150 divinesavages.com
Experts in All Aspects of Flooring | Decades of in House Experience | Carpet, Luxury Vinyl Tile, Rigid Core (SPC) | All Commerical & Residential Flooring | Beautiful and Professionally Laid Flooring We stock ALL Flooring Accessories and Underlayment’s | Welcome to both Public and Trade Our Suppliers: Brampton Chase | Cormar Carpets | Abingdon | Distinctive Flooring Unit 1 & 2 The Old Maltings, Hall Road, CM9 4NJ | 01621 851809 | sales@maldoncarpet.co.uk | maldoncarpet.co.uk MALDON_CARPET_HP_ABS_ESSEX_JAN2023.indd 1 13/12/2022 16:02


Looking to get in shape this year? Then stay at home

Exercising has become very di erent in the past few years. While people hoping to get in shape once had to drag themselves to a crowded gym every morning or battle with the elements during their weekend bike ride, you can now get a productive workout from the comfort of your own home.

The technology behind workout streams and virtual classes has been available for years now, but the pandemic and lockdowns forced people to properly utilise it at last. Thousands of people joined Joe Wicks’ virtual PE lessons each morning, whilst others splurged on Peloton bikes or similar equipment to get in shape without stepping outdoors.

There are many benefits to exercising at home. It saves time and money by removing the need to travel to a gym. It makes working out during lunch breaks much

easier for people who work from home. It’s also great for people at the start of their self-improvement journey who might not yet feel comfortable exercising in front of others.

So, what do you need to get a good home workout session in? Obviously, some equipment is a must, so don’t be afraid of splashing out on a few dumbbells. Exercise bikes have also developed significantly in the last decade, now often being equipped with a screen to easily join virtual classes. But the real key to getting your body in shape is a fast and reliable broadband connection.

Virtual classes and online workouts rely heavily on following exact instructions to make sure you keep in time with the rest of the class. Therefore, any sort of lag or drop out can drastically impact your session. No one wants to be halfway through a downward dog while the rest of the yoga class is already on to the tree pose.

The strong connection you get with high-speed broadband is also important, so

you can hear the words of your instructor clearly at all times. Not to mention the fact that many virtual exercise classes come with a price tag, so you want to be getting your money’s worth by enjoying them in high visual and audio quality.

The best way to guarantee a solid home workout is to ensure you have a Full Fibre broadband connection, like that o ered by Swish Fibre. Swish provides the UK’s fastest broadband (see swishfibre.com for details), meaning you won’t have to worry about poor connection or dropouts while you’re getting a sweat on. The massive bandwidth of Swish also means that no matter how many people in your home are using the internet at once, there won’t be any slowdown.

Head over to swishfibre.com/absolutely and see how faster broadband can help you smash your fitness goals for 2023

ABSOLUTELY magazines 97

We take happiness seriously

At St Joseph’s we support the intellectual, spiritual, physical and emotional growth of every student.

Children who thrive are the happiest of all.

Independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 2–19. Nursery open all year round

Prep School Thurs 2 Feb & Sat 13 May Whole School Sat 18 March
Join us for our Prep and Senior School Open Days. Family tours also available, to find out more please visit stjos.co.uk or email admissions@stjos.co.uk


St Joseph’s College Ipswich recognises that children vary in the ways and pace of their learning, and does not select on academic ability alone. The academic high fliers are stretched and mentored here, but so, too, are those on average trajectories. They take the happiness of all their students seriously. They are also rightly renowned for sport, and understand that just as academic learners vary, so also do young players. They want everyone to participate. It’s a hands-on, I’m-glad-I-tried-that kind of place. stjos.co.uk

Talking Head 101 • Oak-Tree Group 113 • New Hall 115
99 ABSOLUTELY magazines
of Tomorrow’s World At Colchester Prep & High School, we are creating the changemakers of the future. Combining a forward-thinking STEAM-based curriculum with a global perspective and a deep sense of social responsibility, our teachers embed a love of learning in every child whilst nurturing inquisitive minds who will shape tomorrow’s world. Other Admissions Events • Year 3 & 4 Journey Around the World Event - Saturday 4 February 9.30am - 11.30am A co-educational independent school for ages 2 to 16 Saturday 4 March 10am - 1pm Call 01206 217116 or visit colchesterhighschool.co.uk Open Morning


Q How long have you been the Head at Avon House and what originally attracted you to working there?

A I have been Head for 13 years and prior to that was Deputy Head. Avon House is a very special place. Mrs Ferrari, the proprietor, always used to say that creating a happy space for children to be nurtured and taught in was a recipe for young learners to thrive in later years. This is as true today as it was when I first joined the school.

Q What have you loved most about your time at the school?

A I have had the privilege of taking a single-

form entry to a two-form entry school. I think that extra-curricular provision is so important and I enjoy being part of helping pupils develop beyond the classroom. The main thing I love about school is knowing that when I engage with a pupil they are centre and first as we work together.

Q What makes Avon House special?

A Laughter. We laugh a lot at school, but that does not mean we are not taking our learning seriously. Without laughter, the challenges that we face would be all the harder. We are also so lucky to draw a family community from a variety of backgrounds and cultures at

Avon House, this enables us to demonstrate respect for each other in so many ways.

Q Do you feel privileged to oversee such an important stage of your children’s educational journey?

A This can be seen as a cliché, but there are no words to describe the honour and privilege it is to teach at Pre-Prep and Prep level. These formative years when foundations are firmly laid for the future are so important. It is also during those first school years that pupils can be bold and try new things. Not everything will become a passion, but by giving a variety of

101 ABSOLUTELY magazines
Amanda Campbell, Head of Avon House Preparatory School, on the joy of overseeing the start of a child’s educational journey

pursuits a try I know they will find the key interests that can last well into adulthood.

Q Do you have a particular ethos?

A Our school ethos is based around respect, friendship and celebrating each other’s successes. Post-pandemic we are so much more aware of the mental wellbeing of those in our care and using the character education model introduced by our Head of Prep we have seen what a di erence can be made when we share how we are feeling.

Q What would we find in a typical classroom?

A This is a di cult question to answer as an Early Years classroom will be full of the buzz and chatter you would expect to see and hear as our young learners explore topics through practical engagement. Higher up the school that buzz of

pupils learning does not disappear, but will be di erent with talk partners, reasoning and problem solving together as well as those quieter moments when private study needs to take place.

Q What have been the highlights of the school year so far?

A As is usually the case when I look back on the school year, I am amazed at just how much we pack into the school calendar. Black History Month this year saw a broad field of guest speakers including some of our parents who gave insight into the theme of black women in history. We have had several pupils see individual success in sporting pursuits in karate, swimming, running and badminton. We have ended 2022 with our Reception year group Nativity, always a season pleaser and great to see the young learners taking their first steps on the stage.

Q And what are you looking forward to in 2023?

A I am looking forward to the new initiatives we have in place for thematic days as well as new residential visits in the Prep school. As a UNICEF Rights Respecting gold school, we have a huge responsibility to ensure that other schools join this fantastic initiative which enables children to have a voice on a global platform. I am also looking forward to developing our partnership with The Woodford Wells cricket and tennis club, and personally I am really looking forward to becoming a grandparent for the first time!

Q When pupils leave you, what

will they be prepared for?

A Education has changed greatly since I first started teaching, but one thing remains. We are hopefully inspiring children to achieve the best they can in a wide range of subjects and interests so that when they leave us and look back and reflect on their time at Avon House, they will feel a great sense of achievement for how far they have come. Prep school is about preparation academically for the next stage of learning, but it is also about establishing good interpersonal and life skills that they carry with them forever.

Avon House Preparatory School 490-492 High Road, Woodford Green, Essex, IG8 0PN avonhouseschool.co.uk

“Our ethos is based around respect and friendship”
NOW RANKED 22nd BEST PREP SCHOOL by The Sunday Times Up seven places from last years rankings

Forest is a large, vibrant, co-educational independent school that o ers outstanding academic progress and personal development, award-winning pastoral care, and an engaging and comprehensive co-curriculum. Forest bene ts from a tremendous location, surrounded by ancient forest but situated within a wonderfully diverse part of North-East London with 30 acres of grounds.

Forest - Where People Grow 0208 520 1744

| E17 3PY
www.forest.org.uk | admissions@forest.org.uk

Guiding LIGHT

Natasha Devon speaks with authority about young people because she talks to them, all the time. In fact, her work still takes her into an average of three schools, colleges or universities a week. She’s a body image campaigner and was awarded an MBE for her activism on mental health issues. She’s also, clearly, a very good listener.

Toxic is her first foray into fiction and was inspired by some of her conversations and focus

groups with young people. It explores the grey area around bullying and centres on a bestbuddy school friendship between Llewella and glamorous new girl Aretha that takes a negative turn. Natasha believes toxic teen friendships can be hard for an outsider to spot, let alone understand. “When we think of bullying, we think of something tangible,” says Natasha. “But then there are all of these incredibly sophisticated ways that young people find to torture each other and undermine each other’s self-esteem. So that’s what I’m trying to focus

Natasha Devon talks to young people, a lot, making hers a voice to listen to when it comes to helping them (and us) navigate the light and shade of growing up
ABSOLUTELY magazines 105

because there’s no protocol for that in schools, and rightly so, it is a very nuanced thing.”

Natasha says a close teenage friendship is di erent. “It’s really intense. It’s a kind of platonic infatuation, I think.” She points to the changes that happen in the teenage brain that make such friendships vital, but also volatile.

“We’re supposed to be having a greater reliance on our peer group because that’s how we establish independence from our parents. So it makes total sense how much young people are investing in their friendships. But, by the same token, they’re at an age where everybody’s discovering who they are and trying on di erent identities.” Boundaries get crossed and pain, misunderstandings and confusion can follow.

Setting boundaries and protecting yourself are big themes in Natasha’s discussions with young people. That includes protecting themselves online, where so much harm happens in the teenage friendship landscape. “That’s very much where I’m trying to lead them – digital citizenship. That’s not a term I invented. I’m an ambassador for a charity called Glitch and it’s a term they use a lot. It’s this understanding that we have an online life and that it’s not just about consideration of others in the way we behave online, it’s about being safe online ourselves.”

Sound advice, but do young people understand how big an impact social media is having on their lives? Natasha’s answer, rather ruefully, is no they don’t. “I love working with teenagers

ABSOLUTELY magazines 106
Tel: 0208 504 5045 Email: admissions@wgprep.co.uk www.wgprep.co.uk Independent Co-educational Day School For 3 - 11 Years Registration Open for 7+ Assessments Assessment date: Saturday 25th February 2023 Book a 7+ Tour www.wgprep.co.uk

– they are some of my favourite people –but the only thing I find challenging about them is that they are natural libertarians. They don’t want to think that their way of thinking or their behaviour has been influenced or manipulated,” she says. “Trying to introduce this idea that the brain is plastic, and therefore the more of something we do the more the brain develops in that direction, is quite di cult.”

She focuses more on encouraging young people to think of self-care and, rather like art curators, surround themselves with what she calls “the nourishing stu ”.

Natasha speaks from a position of personal knowledge about the dark avenues young people can go down. She started having panic attacks at the age of around ten after a series of destabilising and traumatic family events, including the death of a cousin, but was only diagnosed years later, at 31, with an anxiety disorder. A decade on, it remains a part of her life and can be managed. “It doesn’t define who I am, and it doesn’t stop me being happy, productive or anything anymore. But it was such a long journey to have got to that point.”

It was her own therapy journey that inspired her interest in mental health and shaped her career path. Today, Natasha Devon’s work with schools centres on helping young people to understand that the mind is something to nurture. “Everybody has

got mental health and it’s something that we can monitor throughout our life, that will change throughout our life. Knowing that about yourself, being armed with that knowledge, is not something to be frightened of, it’s something that can really help you.”

There are pinch points that test young people’s equilibrium. Natasha’s survival guide, Yes you can: Ace School Without Losing your Mind is for one of those pinch points – the transition to Year 9. “That is the year when everything happens,” she says. She means the classic teenage stu : first love, changing bodies and growing self-awareness. It’s full of practical wisdom, with recipes, exercises and advice on everything from study routines to creative breakout activities – and also fun quizzes. “Including lots of quizzes about things like ‘are you a lark or a nightingale?’, ‘what’s your motivation?’ helps to keep their interest. They’re learning about how they learn at the same time.” Underlying it all is a “sca old” approach – helping them build on existing knowledge – and showing that good mental health and good grades can co-exist.

Natasha has listened to the concerns of young people for well over a decade now – from body image and bullying to their sense of being constantly scrutinised and failing to live up to expectations and ‘perfect life’ social media narratives. And

now Covid. Unsurprisingly, post-pandemic issues are in the conversations. “The big thing that I’m getting from young people is this sense of unfairness, also this sense that they’ve been written o .”

She thinks we adults could help by toning down the negativity – what she calls “lost generation rhetoric”. She chooses a glass-half-full approach. “I’ve been having lots of conversations about how, when you look at the most successful people, they learned to adapt their goals in response to their experiences,” she says. “Also, I talk about how important it is that they’ve learned to motivate themselves to work from home.” She discusses the self-knowledge they acquired during Covid and home schooling – including coping strategies they can use again. “It’s trying to get them to flip the narrative,” she says. “See it as an advantage that they had the opportunity to learn those things.”

Having escaped her destructive friendship, Toxic’s heroine Llewella concludes: ‘The thing about clouds is, they pass. And, if you’re very lucky, you have some lights to guide you home’. This is a pretty good description of Natasha Devon’s approach to working with young people –helping them to manage those inevitable clouds and discover their guiding lights.

Toxic is published by UCLan (£8.99).

Yes You Can: Ace School Without Losing your Mind is published by Macmillan (£9.99). natashadevon.com

“Teenagers are natural libertarians. They don’t want to think that their way of thinking or their behaviour has been influenced or manipulated”


Pupils, parents, ponies and stable sta celebrated the o cial launch of a community partnership between Bassett House School and Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre (WSPC). Bassett House children in Years 5 and 6 are now enjoying riding lessons and ‘living curriculum’ classes at WSPC, just a few minutes away from their school in London.

As well as learning to ride – on both real and mechanical horses – the pupils are finding out about all aspects of horsemanship, including caring for ponies. Bassett House is also using this opportunity to take learning out of the classroom, so pupils are studying animal science and physiology in WSPC’s learning centre.

The school’s support for the WSPC helps to ensure its long-term viability. The much-loved west London charity, which was founded in 1989 and is an RDA school, provides riding opportunities and equine therapy to students with physical disabilities and learning di culties. It also o ers riding

and other horse and pony care activities to members of the local community.

Bassett House Head Kelly Gray and WSPC’s Founder and CEO Sister Mary Joy Langdon cut the ribbon at the celebration ceremony. “We are so grateful for this community connection with Bassett House School. Long may it last and develop,” said Sister Mary. “There is so much more than riding here, so much for young people to gain from coming to the Pony Centre.”

Kelly Gray spoke of the “precious experiences” that Bassett House pupils are having at WSPC – their commitment to community service, as well as the thrill at being with the horses and learning to ride – and the extra benefits that brings. As WSPC is a registered equine therapy centre, children are taking part in therapeutic exercises during their riding lessons designed to enhance their wellbeing.

For the pupils of Bassett House this is pony heaven, with regular opportunities to ride and engage with the equines of WSPC and also understand more about how a stable works. One parent has commented that her daughter didn’t draw breath for about an hour describing the grooming, the riding and a special pony called Magic. Another pupil said simply: “I have had my best day at Bassett yet!”

To find out more about the work of Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, visit wormwoodscrubsponycentre.org.uk

BASSETT HOUSE PUPILS LOVE MEETING THE PONIES Bassett House has celebrated the launch of a unique community partnership with Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre
Contact admissions@ahsprep.co.uk to register your space Fees from £3,650 per term • Entry Years include Nursery (3+ years), Reception (4+ years) and Prep (7+ years) 490-492 High Road, Woodford Green, IG8 0PN All pupils receive a Junior Membership to The Woodford Wells Club included within their fees. Wraparound childcare options also available. AVON HOUSE PREPARATORY SCHOOL An Independent Preparatory School for Children Aged 3-11 Years OPEN MORNING FRIDAY 24TH FEBRUARY 2023 9AM – 11AM


An ‘Oak-Tree education’ has become a desirable choice for many families across Essex and North East London. The OakTree Schools, comprising Braeside, Coopersale Hall, Normanhurst and Oaklands, all in the Epping Forest area, are known for their small, nurturing environments, outstanding education, personalised service, dedicated teachers and extensive facilities.

At this time of year, the focus is very much on those looking to sit the 11+ exam for entry into Year 7 at the Group’s all-through schools. The Group has recently announced that from September

2023, Coopersale Hall will also be welcoming Year 7 pupils into the school as it makes the transition into an all-through school, just as with Braeside and Normanhurst. Prospective pupils are now able to sit just one entrance exam and be considered for entry into Year 7 of all three senior departments.

All o er some part-scholarships each year to attract children with particular academic abilities or creative talents. Entry into the Oak-Tree Group’s senior departments is always very competitive, but this year, with the additional opportunity of a place at popular Coopersale Hall School, the application process is busier than ever.

Claire Osborn, Group Education Principal, says on the demand:

“There are many reasons why local families, and those further afield, are choosing an Oak-Tree education. For a start, we o er a wide range of subjects with a varied and challenging curriculum. The schools benefit from specialist teachers and specialist facilities, including science labs, ICT suites, art/design technology studios and music studios. The schools also have a reputation for having excellent success rates at GCSE. At Braeside in 2022, nearly all of the outgoing Year 11 students achieved 100% passes. At Normanhurst, the school celebrated an excellent set of GCSE results with 98% of grades at grade 4-9.

“There is a culture of happiness across the schools in the Group, with successful strategies in place for wellbeing and support,” she continues. “Happy, active, engaged children learn better, and they are encouraged to find what makes them happy and fulfilled alongside their academic studies. Beyond our extensive academic programme, we also provide an enriching range of clubs and activities, with opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.”

11+ Entrance Exams will be held at Coopersale Hall School on Monday 16 January, and Braeside (girls) and Normanhurst on Tuesday 17 January. Sit just one entrance exam to be considered for all three of The Oak-Tree Group’s Senior Departments. Contact the schools directly or register for the exam online.

braesideschool.co.uk normanhurstschool.co.uk coopersalehallschool.co.uk

ABSOLUTELY magazines 113
One entrance exam, three incredible opportunities
“The Oak-Tree Schools are known for their small, nurturing environments”
Open Morning Thursday, 2nd March 2023 9:30am - 11:30am Excellent Inspection Reports Small Classes & High Academic Results 11+ Exam Preparation for leading Independent Secondary Schools Featuring annually in the Sunday Times Top 100 Prep Schools 103 Palmerston Road, Buckhurst Hill, Essex IG9 5NH Call the school office on 020 8504 7372 to arrange a tour Further info available at www.loyola.essex.sch.uk Loyola is an outstanding Catholic Independent School for boys in Essex aged 3-11, Welcoming pupils of all faiths Come and spend a morning at our school, with a guided tour and the opportunity to meet our Headmistress, staff and pupils. 7+ also welcome. “Loyola Preparatory School is an outstanding school” Diocese of Brentwood Inspection Report 2019 LOYOLA_HP_ABS_ESSEX_JAN2023_V1.indd 1 12/12/2022 10:24 “A splendid school, catering for bright children and those who will seize opportunities.” Good Schools Guide High Road, Woodford Green, IG8 0RF | 020 8505 4821 | www.bancrofts.org

Laps of HONOUR

It was a brilliant couple of days racing from the New Hall Swim Academy at the ISA National Final in the London Aquatics Centre and the Swim England National Winter Championships in She eld. At the ISA National Final, 14 New Hall Academy swimmers in Years 6-10 represented the East Region. The swimmers performed superbly to achieve 26 medals in total: 8 gold, 14 silver and 4 bronze. Record-breaking performances came from Archie Tebbutt (new Year 7 record in 50m Backstroke and 50m Freestyle) and Michelle Shadipe (new Year 8 record in 50m Butterfly). Archie Tebbutt, Jacob Sugden and Austin Brook were part of the Year 7 relay team that

broke both the boys’ Freestyle and Individual Medley record, while Ava Wilson and Lola Wonfor were part of the Year 9 relay team that broke the girls’ Freestyle relay record.

While the junior swimmers competed in London, Swim Academy Captain Jack Skerry (Year 13) travelled to She eld to compete at the Swim England National Winter Championships. Jack is still eligible to compete as a junior in the 18 and under categories, and after he won an outstanding five events in the open age group at the East Regional Championships in Luton, Jack qualified for all open finals.

“I’m so pleased with my performance – by far my best result from a major meet,” he says. “I’m really excited to get back to training with the long course season fast approaching. My next big competition will be the British Trials in April and, next time, I’m aiming for gold!” In the 50m Backstroke, Jack gained a bronze medal in the open final and a silver in the juniors. In the 100m Backstroke and 200m Backstroke, Jack came 4th and 5th in the open final and gained bronze medals in the juniors.

Jennifer Rice, New Hall’s Head of Swimming, comments: “I’m so pleased with the results from the ISA Final and the Swim England National Championships, with more medals gained than last year and multiple records broken. I’m very proud of everyone’s hard work leading up to the Finals and their fantastic performance. Jack has taken a huge step up this year and put himself on a senior stage nationally, gaining his first senior medal. He is truly an exceptional role model for his junior swimming teammates.”

Alongside a successful academic programme, New Hall School provides excellent facilities and training for budding sports stars and fantastic music and performing arts provision. The Catholic boarding and day school for students aged 1-18 has a distinctive ‘diamond model structure’ and a strong ethos of pastoral care, which supports students in their endeavours, allowing them to achieve success in a wide variety of fields.


ABSOLUTELY magazines 115
We find out more about New Hall Swim Academy winning 30 medals across two di erent championships


Hundreds of Chigwell School pupils, their families, and sta proudly watched the 112-strong committed cast members of Year 7, 8, and 9 pupils in at least one performance of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!

Jr takes audiences on a wild adventure through Victorian England as the young, orphaned Oliver Twist attempts to navigate London’s underworld of theft and violence, searching for a home, a family, and – most importantly – for love. When Oliver is picked up on the street by the Artful Dodger, he is welcomed into a gang of child pickpockets led by the conniving, but charismatic, Fagin. When Oliver is falsely accused of a theft he didn’t commit, he is rescued by a kind and wealthy gentleman, to the dismay of Fagin’s violent partner in crime Bill Sikes. Caught in the middle is the warm-hearted Nancy,

who is trapped under Bill’s thumb, but desperate to help Oliver, with tragic results.

Chigwell School were delighted with the overwhelming volume of students who signed up to participate in the musical. Working with the students on this project has been an immense amount of fun and has really brought out the best in their students. From being able to dash quickly onto the stage to take part in a chorus number, to commanding the audience’s attention with breath-taking solos and carefully choreographed scenes, their students have thrown themselves into the challenge with admirable energy and enthusiasm. They have endured long rehearsals after school, being told to ‘smile’ and ‘project’ at the end of a complete day of work, full of lessons and sporting events.

“Oliver was a brilliant production,” says the school’s Head, Damian King. “All members of the cast were quite outstanding, and their performances were exceptional.”

Ciara McCarthy, the school’s talented music teacher and director of the play, adds: “We have so enjoyed working with our marvellously talented young pupils. To have had such a deep pool of talent to work with has been an immense privilege. Perhaps more importantly I would commend the manners, attitudes, and positivity of our students who have made this project such a joy to complete.”

The cast made us smile, they made us laugh and we were all richly entertained.


The crowds packed into New Hall for four brilliant shows featuring Chigwell School pupils, leaving a smile on everyone’s faces
“To have had such a deep pool of talent to work with has been an immense privilege”
Established in 1629, Chigwell is a top co-educational day and boarding school for 4–18 year olds situated on an extensive 100-acre campus, close to London. For more information about our lovely school or to book one of our Open Days, please visit our website chigwell-school.org If you wish to arrange a school tour, contact us at admissions@chigwell-school.org Co-educational independent age 3 to 11 central line woodford St. Aubyn’s School Assisted places available at 7+ Assessments will take place in March For further information please contact the Admissions Registrar: registrar@staubyns.com 020 8504 1577 Bunces Lane, Woodford Green, Essex IG8 9DU www.staubyns.com Registered Charity No: 270143 bravely fortiter faithfully fideliter happily feliciter
homehubgroup.co.uk There’s no place like Home Hub With no pressure sales, transparent pricing and exceptional service levels you’ll feel right at home with Home Hub. Our elegant lifestyle showroom is now open in Epping, call us to book an appointment. @HomeHubGroup 01992 948 980 essex@homehubgroup.co.uk 137-139 Epping High Street Windows • Sliding Doors • Bifold Doors • Roof Lights Bifold doors, sliding doors and roof-lights available for next day delivery.

Situated in a quiet and tranquil location is this stunning eight-bedroom, 18th century farmhouse, set over three floors. Standing on a plot of approximately 0.78 acres, six of the bedrooms are en-suite, there is a summerhouse with jacuzzi and sauna, plus an annexe o ering a kitchen, lounge area and a bedroom with en-suite.

ABSOLUTELY magazines 119
balgoresproperty.co.uk PROPERTY BERRY LODGE £1,750,000£1,850,000 RM14 GUIDE PRICE

Our Balgores Loughton office is centrally located at 110 High Road, IG10 4HJ . Our expert team is headed by Branch Manager Jack Clarke and we are committed to providing the highest level of service in Loughton and the surrounding area to buyers, vendors, landlords and tenants. Bringing together our unique and unparalleled dedication to complete customer service, our expertise in local property & lifestyle and our exceptional approach to marketing & communication, we honestly believe our agency is the most effective in the area.

Loughton is a sought-after location, with close proximity to London so there’s always plenty of interest from buyers from the capital as well as local Essex residents who are looking for their next move up the housing ladder. We have a long list of qualified, eager buyers waiting to

purchase their next home in Loughton and the surrounding area. If you’re looking to sell we’re here to help. You can book a free no obligation market appraisal with our team either on our website at www.balgoresproperty.co.uk/ property-valuation or by contacting us directly.

Basildon t: 01268 271 110 Gravesend t: 01474 369 955 Chelmsford t: 01245 492 424 Brentwood t: 01277 216 800 Hornchurch t: 01708 470 756 Dagenham t: 0208 592 1038 WE LOVE WHAT WE
Loughton 110 High Road, Loughton IG10 4HJ | sales@balgoresloughton.com | 0208 502 1559
Clifton Road, Loughton Two bedoroms, conveniently located close to Loughton’s high street Balgores Loughton | Guide Price £500,000 Romford t: 01708 755 507 Upminster t: 01708 259 539 Loughton t: 0208 502 1559 South Woodham Ferrers t: 01245 323 729 Ongar t: 01277 369 925 Wickford t: 01268 763 477 balgoresproperty.com Dunmow Road, Fyfi eld Four bedrooms, desirable village location offering grounds of approx 0.6 acres Balgores Ongar | Guide Price £900,000 - £950,000 The Summit, Loughton Four bedrooms, no onward chain! Balgores Loughton | Asking Price: £1,000,000 Churchill Close, Ongar Stunning three bedroom semi-detached home Balgores Ongar | Guide Price: £600,000 - 625,000

Hunt Property Services is an independent boutique estate agency with a portfolio of luxury properties for sale and rent in London and Essex.

We are also the agent for Repton Park, an exclusive gated development in Woodford Green, where founder and Director Hayley Hunt has been a resident for over 20 years.

Our award winning team of experts will provide you with an outstanding bespoke service to guide you through every aspect of buying or selling a property.

We have also been recognised for providing excellence in property renovations, proudly winning Woman in Build Award two years running.

The Hunt team are available for consultations, market appraisals and viewings seven days a week.


Luxury ground floor three bedroom, two bathroom apartment situated within the prestigious gated development Repton Park.

Guide Price £900,000

Ground floor three bedroom two bathroom apartment set within one of the original period blocks Alexandra House. Many victorian features high ceilings, sash windows and is immaculately presented throughout.

Occupying a pretty corner of Repton Park this stunning property has a grand entrance hallway with an abundance of natural light. Open plan high specification kitchen with quartz surfaces, funky breakfast bar and separate dining area, leading to a spacious lounge with French doors to a south facing private gated garden with decking and forest views.

Principle room is a great size double with a newly fitted en suite shower room. Bedroom two also a double & bedroom three currently an office is also another bedroom space if needed.

Two private parking spaces. Benefits Virgin Active Gym & Spa, 24 hr concierge, nighttime security guards and enjoy 145 acres of mature parkland & being surrounded by Claybury Woods.

Situated on one of Buckhurst Hill’s most sought after turnings is this detached three double bedroom property which is offered to the market with no onward chain. The house sits on a superb plot backing onto Lords Bushes, offering enormous potential to extend and improve to create a stunning family home to one’s own specification.

This beautifully presented four bedroom detached property is situated in a stunning location. Surrounded by Epping Forest in a cul de sac of similar detached houses, making a perfect retreat for any family or downsizers. There are two reception rooms, a principal bedroom with en suite, contemporary fitted kitchen, garage with utility area and a delightful west facing rear garden.

Way, Buckhurst Hill Guide Price £975,000
Guide Price £1,125,000
Oakland Place, Buckhurst Hill


Hayley Hunt o ers up a new year message for both buyers and sellers alike

First o , I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year. I sincerely hope 2023 will be a happy, healthy and prosperous one, not just for you and your family, but also for the country as a whole.

One thing’s for sure, it’s certainly shaping up to be an interesting one for the property market! In recent years, January has been an extremely busy time in sales, with many making their new year resolution to move to a new home, perhaps after having spent the Christmas holidays cramped up in their old one! Indeed, this time last year saw an

incredible 54% increase in tra c to leading property portal Rightmove, while many others reported experiencing a similar phenomenon. While this year’s stats are not yet in, I’d wager that visitor activity is much more muted. However, don’t listen to the scaremongers who suggest house prices are plummeting and the market is screeching to a standstill. Trust me, there’s still plenty happening out there, especially at the high end, which is what Hunt specialises in, and where interest rate increases are unlikely to change plans. Even at the lower end, there are still people ready, willing and able to move for a variety of valid lifestyle reasons, perhaps they’ve switched jobs, added to their family, have got married or divorced, need to downsize, find themselves in debt or are sadly recently bereaved.

The fact is, life goes on, whichever direction the property market is going in, and people still need to move. However, sellers should take note, now is not the time for overly ambitious pricing. It’s also worth noting that for those looking to purchase at the lower end, there’s going to be plenty of great deals to be had, which should go some way to mitigating the hike in mortgage rates, as should last September’s cut in stamp duty, one of the few lasting legacies of Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous ‘mini’ budget. Another

benefit of the current situation is that the huge imbalance between demand and supply is starting to shift, which will also go some way to reducing the pressure on house prices.

In stark contrast to the sales side of the business, the lettings aspect could not be more febrile, with demand in the rental market continuing to push up prices at an unprecedented rate. In fact in certain quarters it’s suggested that the rental market could outperform house price growth in the UK. Interesting times indeed!

Whatever your property requirements, we at Hunt would be delighted to help. Why not give us a ring for friendly, informative, no-strings-attached advice. huntpropertyservices.co.uk

ABSOLUTELY magazines 127

How the


It will likely come as no surprise that there was significant growth in the rental market last year. Not only did rental prices increase, Zoopla reported that the imbalance of supply and demand pushed rents to the highest seen in 10 years for single income households. The requirement for rental properties was 46% above typical levels, whilst in contrast the amount of homes available was 38% below the five year average.

As we look ahead, it is expected that rental growth is likely to slow in 2023 as Zoopla further reports that single renters are spending 35% of their income on rent and as we can all appreciate there is only so much people can a ord to pay.

With this possible slow in growth it is understandable that there could be a nervousness around purchasing a buy to let property and embarking on becoming a landlord; however there are many positives to the market and it is important to recognise that any slowing does not mean decline.

Along with rents currently being at record highs, and the supply vs demand discrepancy anticipated to remain for the foreseeable, prospective tenants are increasingly looking to commit to longer tenancies

to ensure stability in what is a competitive market. Additionally the mortgage rates uncertainty has seen some first time buyers postpone their purchase plans in an e ort to save a larger deposit or secure a better rate in the future.

If you’re considering becoming a landlord, the new year is a great time to get in touch with your local lettings agency to talk through the steps of letting a property and the benefits of having that property managed by professionals.


On the market

Durden and Hunt welcome to the market this exceptional four bedroom detached home in Loughton

Internally this property benefits from an immaculate large through kitchen and diner that opens out onto the garden as well as three spacious reception rooms, one of which is currently being used as an office. The first floor consists of three bedrooms, two of which have fitted wardrobes that are complemented by an outstanding family bathroom. Another family bathroom is on the ground floor as well as a separate downstairs WC. The master bedroom covers the second floor, which includes an ensuite and a dressing room.

Externally this property offers a private drive with space for three cars and a good sized garden with patio area.

128 ABSOLUTELY magazines
James Hunt, co-founder of Durden & Hunt, takes a closer look at what 2023 could mean for landlords


Q Tell us about your background in law…

A I first had an interest in law at A-level where I took part in work experience at the Crown Prosecution Service, and I knew from there on that I wanted to pursue a legal career and so I went on to study Law at university. At university I was able to really obtain an insight of various areas of law and when I graduated, I had great ambition to qualify as a solicitor, which I went on to achieve.

Q Did you know early on what type of law you wanted to specialise in?

A I always thought that I would enjoy being a barrister specialising in criminal law and attending court. However, after participating in mock court trials, I realised the centre stage was not for me!

Q Today, what practice do you work for and what is the business known for?

A I am employed at John Fowlers LLP and the firm o ers a variety of legal services in both the private and commercial sector. We pride ourselves on providing reassuring legal advice that you can rely on. Personally, I specialise in residential conveyancing.

Q What do you love best about your job?

A I love that no day in the o ce is the same. There are always days which are more stressful than others, but I love that at John Fowlers, we are like a big work family that support each other. I love that every day I am helping clients through what is, or what can be, one of the most stressful times of their life. It is

rewarding when we reach completion day and the clients get to pick up their keys!

Q Where are you based and what do you love about it?

A I am based in our main Colchester Town Hall Chambers o ce. We are located just o the main high street, which makes us easily accessible for our clients. The firm was established in 1924 and we are proud to be the go-to solicitors in Colchester, Essex, and surrounding areas. On a personal note, being in the town is great to be able to pop out for a spot of shopping or just to grab a co ee and have a wander.


ABSOLUTELY magazines 129
Absolutely talks to Lauren Ward about the eclectic approach of John Fowlers LLP, not taking centre stage and the joys of Colchester

Haven House Children’s Hospice’s 20 TH ANNIVERSARY

Throughout 2023, Haven House Children’s Hospice in Woodford Green will be reflecting on its 20-year history, looking to the future, and thanking you all for your support that makes their care possible.

Throughout the last two decades, Haven House has been dedicated to caring for thousands of babies, children, and young people in our community with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness and extending this support to the people close to them.

Haven House was first conceived in the early 1990s as the brainchild of Sue Irwin, a registered nurse and health visitor. Like many community hospices at that time, the initial plan had been to raise enough funds locally to create a purpose-built children's hospice. However, after several years of fundraising, Sue was alerted to the Mallinson Estate, on the borders of Essex and north east London. Through the support and dedication of Sue's friends and early Haven House supporters in 2000, the hospice acquired a 99-year lease on The White House, a locally listed former family home set in four acres of protected woodland.

From first supporting families with the Toy Home Loan service, to opening the in-house bedrooms and then holistic care centre, Haven House remains dedicated to its mission of providing the highest quality palliative and holistic care services to babies, children and young people and their families where and when they choose.

Residential and community services extend across north east London, West Essex and north east Hertfordshire including respite andend-of-life care. In the hospice children benefit fromplay activitiesas well asday and overnight stays. Children can access a range of therapies, including music, physiotherapy and therapeutic yoga and

there are support groups for mums, dads and siblings. The hospice team also care for families in the comfort of their homes.

Sian Wicks, Chief Executive at Haven House, says: “As the charity celebrates its 20thyear, it is impossible to mark such a milestone without recognising the support from our local community.I am forever grateful for the magnificent support we receive – without you, our supporters, we simply would not exist. Thank you. Together we can continue to make extraordinary memories to be cherished for the next 20 years and beyond.”

The team at Haven House will be sharing key moments and memories from the past 20 years and inviting the community to get involved throughout the year to celebrate. To find out more, keepan eye on the Haven House website at havenhouse.org.uk and social media channels

130 ABSOLUTELY magazines
Why 2023 will be extra special for the wonderful local charity
Everyone’s talking about…


Find us online, it’s easy...

Using the camera, hold your phone over the QR code above, then simply tap the banner.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.