July August 2015 Families NW London mag
Two go mad in Mersea
Upon returning from a long, childfree holiday three days into Midi-Me’s half term break, I owed her some uninterrupted mummy time. What could be better than a mother-daughter pampering trip?
A few phone calls later and I found The Crowne Plaza Colchester Five Lakesin Essex that would offer some mini (or should I say Midi)-treatments to my thirteen year old. Plus it was near Mersea Island, a secret place (I almost don’t want to tell you about it) of seafood fantasies that I had read about years ago but never visited, where oysters are fresh, cheap and readily available. MMMM… ME LOVE OYSTERS! And so does Midi-Me. This was for her, after all.
After dropping our bags off to the hotel, we didn’t want to waste the sunshine so drove straight to Mersea to find a beach, experiencing the frisson of risk that the tide might cover the bridge and leave us stranded on the island for hours (this happens about two days in every month we were told). I had poor mobile signal so I simply followed the road until we couldn’t drive any further. It’s an island after all. Wherever we ended up did not look very pretty. It had suddenly turned cloudy and cold. Midi-Me gave me a geography lesson, pointing at different bits of coloured rock, earth etc and I nodded and enjoyed pretending that I understood what she was talking about.
The next morning, we ate a big breakfast, and grabbing a hotel map, went on a three-mile walk that led us to an exquisitely dilapidated graveyard and caused a dog (and ourselves) some alarm when we inadvertently trespassed onto its owner’s property. We found the path back to the hotel down the side of the golf course, executing rubbish cartwheels and greeting kind, lady-golfers along the way.
Back in the room, I realised I had left my swimsuit and underwear in a neat pile on my bed - at home in Bushey. Midi-Me had however brought extra everything; thank goodness, I didn’t want to go shopping. I was walking a bit peculiarly and sensed people were looking at me funny as I entered the pool but I wasn’t wearing my glasses so it didn’t matter. I was freezing as the external door was left open for the guy who had come to fix the Jacuzzi which had had conked out before we’d gone anywhere near it. Good-natured Midi-Me humoured my complaints and even yielded to my insistence that she come with me into the steamroom (-for all of thirty seconds).
Soon it was linner time. Linneris our world for late lunch that serves as dinner – it’s essentially a warning in our home that I do not plan to re-enter the kitchen for any purpose other than to replenish my wine, but it works equally well to ease pressure on my wallet whilst on holiday.)
The Company Shedis a highly regarded, no-frills restaurant serving delicious seafood – on a no-prior-booking and bring-your-own-bread basis. We ordered 4 gigantic oysters followed by the entire hot side of the menu including scallops, prawns, grilled mussels and grilled oysters. It was, in a word, yummmmmm. We followed this with dessert at the charmingArt Café and found out there was an Open Studio event starting the next day featuring local artists.
In the morning we visited Leafy Dumas, an artist of delightful work who happens also to be a single mummy to a teenage daughter, just like me. I admired her bohemian style and fantasised about turning the shed into My Special Place of Writing, Art and Mid-Life Crisis (…just like I did when I took Midi-Me to the Roald Dahl museum and Jane Austen country in Bath. At time of writing, my shed is still full of things that belong, along with my artistic aspirations, in the dump.) We visited more artists, ate crab chowder atThe West Mersea Oyster Barand then it was back to the hotel for Midi-Me’s first ever facial! Of course it was a superb Clarins Facial with a very kind therapist. A special moment for me to experience with her and great for her to get a lecture about skin care from someone who isn’t her mother. This was followed by a romantic joint pedicure which Midi-Me promptly smudged while checking if it had dried. “It doesn’t matter,” I consoled, “life’s about the pedicure, not the topcoat.”