Mother’s Day (Sunday 19th March) is fast approaching…. The best present of all is spending time together. Essex makes for a great meeting place, minutes from London by train and just off the M25. Whether you’re a mum looking to spend time with your little ones, or you are looking to treat your mum or grandma, we’ve rounded up the lesser-know gems of Essex which would make for a great Mother’s Day present. #SecretEssex

Behind the Scenes Tour at Royal Opera House

Go behind the scenes on a tour of the Production Workshop at High House Production Park in Thurrock. Discover the fascinating work of scenic artists and craftspeople who create the stunning sets and scenery for the Royal Opera House stage in London. Your tour will also include the beautifully landscaped garden, the kitchen garden and the refurbished 16th century farm buildings. Fridays, from £16pp. 30 min direct train from London, 15 min walk from Purfleet station. 

Mistley Kitchen Cookery SchoolCookery School at The Mistley Kitchen 

Whip up a storm in the kitchen at this hands-on cookery school in the village of Mistley. This is a fun, relaxed full-day workshop (max. 6 people) where you will learn how to make simple and delicious creations before getting to eat it! Choose from workshops themed on different cuisines around the world, led by nationally renowned guest chefs, food writers and wine experts across selected dates. Gift vouchers available. From £145pp, 1hr train from London, 3 min walk from Mistley station.

Crouch Ridge Vineyard terrace viewAfternoon Tea at Crouch Ridge Vineyard

Tuck into a delicious Afternoon Tea with English Sparkling Wine or Gin and Tiptree jam as you relax on the terrace. While away the afternoon overlooking the vines with beautiful views of the river Crouch. Gift vouchers are available, and bottles of wine can be purchased online with a delivery fee. £32pp.

Talliston House & Gardens Voodoo Kitchen

Tour and Afternoon Tea at Britain’s most extraordinary home

Journey across the world with a private 2-hour tour of Talliston House & Gardens. When you arrive, you will approach what looks like a standard semi-detached house from the outside but prepare to be amazed as you venture inside. Your guide, author and creator, John Tarrow, will transport you, your mum and up to 4 of your family or friends from The Hall of Mirrors in Italy to The Voodoo Kitchen in 1950s New Orleans, explaining how he transformed his house into a magical experience. After your tour, tuck into delicious homemade scones, tasty sandwiches and classic tea served in vintage bone china within the Victorian tower. An elegant afternoon! Wed-Fri, some Sun. From £35pp.

Talbooth House & SpaTalbooth House & Spa 

Treat your mum to some pampering at this boutique spa in the beautiful Dedham Vale. Choose from day and half-day spa packages with treatments ranging from Elemis facials and manicures to massages and scrubs. Relax and unwind in the hot tub, outdoor heated pool, sauna or cosy up by the fire with your magazine. From £80pp.

Thames Sailing Barge in Maldon

Cruise the Blackwater with Topsail Charters 

Cruise the River Blackwater and admire the serene beauty of the marshlands aboard an historic Thames Sailing Barge. You’ll sail past two of at least thirty Essex islands before heading back to quaint Maldon for a seated English Breakfast while moored at the quay. If you are looking to do something either side of Mother’s Day, Brunch, Sunday Roast and Cream Tea cruises are also available on selected dates. From £39pp. 

The Eight BellsSunday lunch at an historic pub

The Eight Bells, a 16th century timber framed pub, has all the olde-worlde charm of a traditional English pub, blended seamlessly with plush modern furnishings. Choose from a 2 or 3 course set lunch including delicious Sunday roasts at this former coaching inn in the historic town of Saffron Walden. From £27pp. Make a day of it; wander through the quaint streets filled with colourful cottages and check out the castle ruins. Don’t miss Bridge End Gardens while you are there, an oasis of calm and colour with free entry! 

Walking in Hatfield Broad OakWalking in Essex

We have some beautiful chocolate box villages to explore, off the beaten track footpaths at the edges of farmers’ fields, and disused railway lines to reveal a secret Essex that is best discovered on foot. Many of our walking trails start and finish at destinations with a train station or pub but if you prefer to ramble, we have a great interactive map showing all the footpaths in our county. 

If you liked this blog, follow us on Instagram @visitessex for lots more #SecretEssex ideas. 




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