Amy Childs’ guide to Essex

The former Only Way is Essex star chats about never travelling without sleep-rollers, holidaying in Dubai and five suitably ‘Essex’ places we should visit in her home county

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After leaving reality TV show The Only Way is Essex, Amy Childs has been a Celebrity Big Brother housemate, run successful clothing and beauty lines, and opened a boutique and salon in Brentwood. Not bad for someone who finished school with four GCSEs.

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There’s much more to Childs than fake boobs, big hair and stick on eyelashes; the entrepreneur is using her reality TV-fame for the greater good. She recently signed up to become an ambassador for the Make a Wish Foundation – a charity dedicated to giving children with life threatening diseases extraordinary experiences, while they are going through the toughest moments of their lives.

“It’s great to be involved with it and get behind an amazing charity helping children, who get to experience everything from going to a salon to driving trains,”  she says, “[I want to help] people appreciate the cause and help raise a lot of money.”

Childs adds that being on The Only Way is Essex is what has made it all possible; “It’s been amazing to be on TOWIE; it’s been the time of my life. I can’t believe it. I’m a manager of a salon. I have a clothing collection. I can’t believe it. I have to pinch myself every day.”

When she’s not working on her many projects in Essex, the star says she loves holidaying in Dubai. “I’ve been there 12 times; I love the food out there. I love the weather. I love the hotels. I get glammed up when I go there.” Although she won’t leave home without her hair accessories: “I can’t go a day without my sleep rollers,” says Childs. “You can just wake up with big, thick hair. You look good on the beach, you look good going out.”

Travel (and hair) aside, the star maintains that she could never permanently live anywhere other than Essex. “It’s so glamorous, its got great shopping, its very bling. And some parts of Essex are absolutely beautiful. I think the show has helped, but it’s always been a beautiful place. I would never move out of Essex, I absolutely love it here.”

Since TOWIE, Childs has seen a surge in visitors coming to gawk at the distinctive Essex lifestlye. “You won’t believe how busy Essex is on a Saturday or Sunday now,” she says, “It’s absolutely mental.

“We get recognised all over now, as far as Australia and Canada. So many people love Essex.”

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Follow Amy Childs’ guide to the top hangout spots in her home county…


The Amy Childs Salon, Brentwood

Amy says: “Come to me and have a nice pamper”

This Brentwood salon is a shrine to the reality TV star, with pictures of Amy Childs on the walls, Amy Childs branded towels, a cabinet of Amy Childs perfumes, shelves with Amy Childs beauty products, Amy Childs fitness DVDs and Amy Childs calendars. All staff wear purple dresses and rooms are splashed with pink and glitzy diamante. This is the place to get that Essex orange glow with a spray tanning session, a quick round of botox for that non-moving eyebrows look and some vajazzling (glittery private parts stickers) if you feel so inclined.


Visit Essex for real with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details


Sheesh, Chigwell

Amy says: “It’s a really popular restaurant serving Turkish food”

Built in 1547, this historic Tudor building isn’t the fist place you’d consider housing a Turkish restaurant owned by Lord Alan Sugar. Step inside and it gets even wackier. Décor is black, white, mock-crocodile, zebra-striped and guests eat with golden cutlery. But if you can ignore the bonkers surroundings the food is actually rather good. The hot flatbread and hummus, aubergine dips and hearty sea bass drizzled in lemon will hit the spot.


Sugar Hut Village, Brentwood

Amy says: “There’s good music, you can go clubbing and they serve lovely cocktails. I was there a couple of weeks ago. It’s absolutely beautiful inside”

This is the place to go if you want to bump into the cast from TOWIE. Dozens of face-offs, arguments, rendezvous and hook up scenes were filmed here and it’s owned by TOWIE cast members Ricky Norcross and his son Kirk. This is Essex to the max, so much so that if you’re wearing a baseball cap, hoodie or trainers you won’t get in. Those who dress up for the occasion will find a bling grotto of twinkling lights, chandeliers, disco balls and the ‘Essex mafia’ drinking Champagne cocktails.


Thorndon Country Park, Brentwood, and Weald Country Park, Ingrave

Amy says: “They’re both really popular for walks, and absolutely beautiful with a lot of greenery”
 
Not far from the glitz and glamour of Brentwood’s town centre, visitors can unwind at the 700-year-old Weald Country Park – the largest of the county’s parks. In spring it’s particularly idyllic, as bluebells and rhododendrons carpet the floor. There’s also a deer enclosure and outdoor activities throughout the year put on by the park’s rangers. Meanwhile, Thorndon Country Park is popular among cyclists and horse riders. Here you’ll also find the striking Thorndon Hall, built in 1764, previously known as the manor of West Horndon.


A known haunt of football players and their Wives and Girlfriends, as well as celebs including Pixie Lott, Olly Murs, Dynamo and Katie Price, Nu Bar has plush purple couches and lit up purple pillars, plays RnB, cheesy ’80s, and music from the likes of ‘DJ Gav’. Reem.


Visit Essex for real with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details


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Images courtesy of Alamy, John Winfield, Wiki Commons