It was last September (2012) when my friend Sam and I decided to take a tour of all the shops, bars and restaurants either owned by the THE ONLY WAY IS ESSEX stars or featured in the show itself.
Sam and I live in Essex and are fans of the show. It’s a show you either love or hate and to be frank it gives rather a false view of Essex and its residents. Believe it or not, most girls in Essex don’t have fake boobs and cosmetic surgery! I know only one Essex girl who’s had botox (me!) and one other who has had a boob job. It is by no means ‘the norm’ here in Essex! 😉 Certainly we’re not all air heads either – far from it.
For me TOWIE is just a fun unscripted show starring real Essex residents who give us windows in to their daily lives, whether it be a focus on their relationships, families, businesses or all three in some cases. For me, seeing familiar places on national TV gives me a little buzz, especially the times when they have filmed in my home town of Southend-on-Sea.
Sam and I split our tour over two days. We were simply curious, wanted to have a nose around the stars’ shops, eat at SUGAR HUT, and maybe meet a few of the cast on route.
We quickly found BELLA SORELLA. We hesitated briefly outside – how classy it looked! Lydia has a whole style of her own and dresses very elegantly. Unfortunately this photo does the shop no justice at all as you cannot see the window display – the shops opposite are reflected in the windows.
We stepped inside to be met by two lovely shop girls, one of which was Lydia’s sister Georgia. BELLA SORELLA is a classy boutique which also sells elegant gifts and stylish items to enhance the home. A double fronted shop it is quite spacious inside, uncluttered and it oozes style. I found a gorgeous 1940s style jacket and asked Georgia if I could try it on to which she was most welcoming and sweetly invited me to do so. Unfortunately it was a little too small for me or else I would have snapped it up there and then. I asked if I could take a photo of us inside the shop and the girls had absolutely no objection at all. One even offered to take the photo for us outside the shop and stood in the middle of the busy road to do so! Bless her heart. I sensed this was a daily occurrence for her. In fact during our tour we came across many other girls doing the same as us.
We left BELLA SORELLA and went in search of WITH LOVE JESSICA XX. We didn’t have to look far. It was a short walk down the same road on the opposite side. I was immediately struck by how tiny it appeared from the road and assumed it would be much larger inside. How wrong I was. It is quite tiny. On the television the size is deceiving. However, Jessica’s boutique has some very pretty lingerie and swimwear, not to mention some fabulous accessories and bling! I was drawn to some sunglasses as my cheap pair had cracked around the frame. I didn’t feel too guilty buying these lovely ones as I needed them. They came with a gorgeous hard case too.
I asked the shop assistant if she would mind us taking a couple of photos in the shop. I feel it’s always polite to ask instead of going straight ahead. She had no objection whatsoever. So, here’s a picture of me actually inside WITH LOVE JESSICA XX after I’d bought the sunglasses. There’s something about a classy gift bag! I’m a sucker for them!
Next on our list was NU BAR. This proved a bit difficult to find until we asked someone where it was. Unfortunately it was closed otherwise we may have stopped for a coffee. All we could do was peer through the windows and have our photos taken outside. Sadly, there’s not a lot else I can say about this bar. Here’s me in the sunshine outside.
We found both of these businesses tucked away in a quaint little street; such a pretty place. Sad to say we went in neither of these shops. It didn’t feel right to do so. Being salons it’s not like you can browse any goods with a view to purchasing. Therefore, we chose to just take some photos. Here I am, on the left, outside BELLES & BEAUS, and below outside LAURENS WAY. We later discovered that Lauren Goodger had actually been at her salon that day if only we’d popped in.
Visit my blog next week for Part 2 of the TOWIE tour. I will show you HARRY’S WORLD, LUCY’S BOUTIQUE, AMY CHILD’S BOUTIQUE, AMY CHILD’S SALON, MINNIE’S BOUTIQUE, and the hub of TOWIE, the SUGAR HUT itself! We even met one of the cast along the way. Not to be missed! 😉