If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be spending some of the precious summer holidays on an island off the coast of Essex, I may have thought they were slightly bonkers.
Paul’s family have had connections with Mersea for a long time, and over the years more and more of them have moved to the island. Still, I didn’t know much about the place at all apart from that it was a really, REALLY long way from us. And that it was in Essex. However, with the rise of Insta a few years ago we started to see a few pictures of the family here and there, and it looked like somewhere that had a LOT more sunshine than we do and where everyone seemed to be doing fabulous things on the beach, or on the sea.
So when we were invited this summer to go and stay, I was more than a bit excited to see what Mersea had to offer.
We love a road trip, and we’re generally not daunted by the prospect of taking our kids on long journeys. However this was to be our first lengthy trip with the littlest one and so we had to be prepared. She is almost 12 months and unlike the boys, she has NOT been a fan of travelling in the car for more than 15 minutes or so. An early start, LOADS of snacks (honestly, we’ve learned to triple what we think we’ll need) and plenty of tunes……
And we survived! After a loooooong but pretty painless (if you ignore the 227 renditions of Row Row Row Your Boat we had to sing) we managed to time it right with the low tide and we made it! We headed straight for the house, which was easy enough as although the island isn’t that small, most of the houses are packed into one area so its fairly easy to find your way around. After some food and a quick cuppa (obviously) we headed straight for the beach, which happily was just at the end of the road. We turned the corner to our first glimpse of the sparkling sea under perfect blue summer skies, and spied the tops of the beach huts that we had heard so much about.
I had told everyone I know where I was going, and not a single one had heard of the place. I had even told a lady in a supermarket queue who was from Essex, and SHE hadn’t even heard of it. And despite a bit of press coverage in the last couple of years, I think it is still one of England’s best kept secrets. It is just lovely.
Despite having a poorly baby for some of our stay, we managed to make it to the beach a LOT. One morning, after a really rough night I was up early on the beach to give her a nap in the sling as she had been up for half the night. As she slept, I walked and walked and watched the sun rise, bringing the beach huts to life as the light fell onto their colourful shutters. It was so early we were the only ones out for a long time, and then slowly but surely people started coming and opening them up, and getting set up for their days by the sea.
A lot of life on Mersea revolves around the beach and the harbour which is super busy with fishing boats and oyster farms along with watersports. The boys were excited to see that the Micro Scooter head office is based there! Its a bit chaotic and messy, and that is exactly why I liked it. This place is for living, and not set up to cater for tourists as so many coastal towns can be.
We walked/scooted all the way from where we were staying to the harbour on one of the days to have a good look around. So many cute cottages!
I even had a go at paddle boarding – eek! Despite being slightly terrified, I have wanted to try it for a long time now so when I was offered the chance I just went for it. I was the slowest and spent the whole time at the back of the group of lovely ladies I was with, but I loved it! Except perhaps for the moment a fishing boat was coming straight for me (I think even the guy leading us was worried for a moment then) but all ended well – with a glass of prosecco as all paddle boarding sessions should. I have no pictures of this – I love taking photographs but balancing on a paddle board AND taking pictures? Way too much for me!
We loved Mersea. It was a long way to go for us but it was definitely worth the trip. I can see why people make the move here from London and other busier cities and towns, the rhythms are so relaxed and being surrounded by the sea makes for a lovely lifestyle.
There is something so magic about time spent as a family, under the sun with the sea air surrounding your face. Just don’t tell anyone about Mersea – we wouldn’t want to let the secret out now would we?