11 Great Things to Do in West Essex in May

Great things to do across West Essex in May from brunch at King’s Oak to open gardens at Copped Hall, water sports at Lee Valley and an online happiness workshop

Lead image: Lee Valley White Water Centre (photo: Mark Sims for Vibrant Partnerships)

1 Aqua Bounce Reopens, Barkingside
From 12 April

For a fun-packed day out, head to Fairlop Waters this month, where Aqua Bounce has just reopened its doors for business. One of the biggest and best aqua parks in the UK, this giant floating obstacle course includes monkey bars, a football court, giant slides, rope swings, blast bags and much more. Wetsuits are included in the price of the ticket (£20 per person for a 55-minute session), which is good news, because trust us, you will get very wet!
Fairlop Waters, Forest Road, Barkingside, Essex IG6 3HN; aquabounceuk.co.uk

2 Happiness After Covid Workshop with Laila Rouass, online
23 May
Actress and happiness advocate Laila Rouass, who lives in Woodford with her fiancé Ronnie O’Sullivan and has just returned to our TV screens in BBC1’s Holby City. After studying the science of happiness at Yale University, Rouass now runs happiness workshops. The next, Happiness After Covid, is a two-hour online masterclass featuring a guided meditation and techniques to help you deal with anxiety, build self-compassion, resilience and start rebuilding happiness post-Covid. 7pm-9pm. £15.

3 Live Music Sunday Brunches at King’s Oak, High Beach
From 23 May

It’s all happening at the King’s Oak! After many months of closure, the High Beach restaurant and bar is back with a bang, with its beautiful outdoor dining pods available to book. Now sporting stunning Parisian or Venetian themes, the pods are the perfect place to wine and dine whether for a special occasion or with friends and family. In addition, the hotel’s renowned Live Music Sunday Brunches return, kicking off on May 23 with The Voice’s Vivica Jade.
Paul’s Nursery Road, High Beach IG10 4AE; kingsoakhotel.com

4 Sacred Sound Inspirations Gong Meditation, Epping Hall
20 May 

Now is the time for some relaxation. Experience the healing of sound and embark on a mystical, deeply meditative journey that celebrates spring with Sacred Sound Inspirations. Participants lie on a blanket or yoga mat and are bathed in the powerful and transformative sounds of the gong. A variety of Paiste Symphonic and Planetary gongs are used, taking astrological influences into account, as well as crystal and Himalayan singing bowls, drums, shruti, voice and many other instruments. Take your own mat, blanket and pillow. Doors from 7.45pm. Tickets are £17pp.
2 St Johns Road, Epping CM16 5DN; facebook.com/events

5 May Open Gardens Day at Copped Hall, Epping
30 May
Copped Hall’s first event of 2021 is go! The May Open Day will be restricted to the gardens and grounds only, but the toilet facilities in mansion will be available. Explore the Site of Earlier Houses and Walled Garden with plant and produce stalls as well as a bookstall and items from the Copped Hall Shop to browse, a BBQ and a licensed bar available. Timed slots are available for booking between 11am and 4pm and you will will be asked to display your booking confirmation and valid membership cards on arrival. Tickets are £7 (Friends and under 16s free).
Stables Courtyard, Copped Hall, Crown Hill, Epping CM16 5HS; coppedhalltrust.org.uk

6 Lee Valley White Water Centre Reopens, Waltham Cross
From 1 April
Lee Valley reopened many of its venues at the end of March. The White Water Centre is now back up and running, where you can enjoy a host of adrenalin fuelled activities from canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding to white water rafting, Hydrospeeding and even mess about in Hot Dogs (two-person inflatable rafts) on the white water courses. The Wildlife Discovery Centre in River Lee Country Park is also open, should you fancy getting reacquainted with nature beyond your local park.
Station Road, Waltham Cross EN9 1AB; visitleevalley.org.uk

7 Visit Daygustation, Wanstead
Having worked his entire professional life in the wine industry, Wanstead’s Matt Day decided to put his wealth of knowledge and experience to good use recently, opening up an independent wine shop on his own doorstep. Called Daygustation, it specialises in wines, beers and spirits from small, independent producers. In addition, the shop stocks a fine selection of cheeses from the acclaimed La Fromagerie, as well as other deli goods. You can also take a wine course with Wanstead Wine School or book a wine and cookery holiday to Tuscany or Champagne.
13a High Street, Wanstead E11 2AA; daygustation.co.uk

8 Get Cooking with 100 Fresh, Vegan Curry House Favourites
Grace Regan, founder of the UK’s first plant-based curry house in Walthamstow, has released a vegan cookbook called 100 Fresh, Vegan Curry House Favourites (Ebury Press, £20). The award-winning SpiceBox opened its doors in January 2019, introducing fresh vegan spins on curry house classics to Hoe Street – known as a foodie hotspot – and has proven a firm favourite with locals. The cookbook delivers easy, plant-powered curry house favourites like Jackfruit Jalfrezi, ’Shroom Keema and Chick’n’Tikka Masala.
Order from eatspicebox.co.uk

9 Visit the Oyster Shack in High Beech
The lockdown success story of 2020 has to be the incredible Oyster Shack in High Beech that has gone from strength to strength through tough times. With people queuing around the block, the owners were quick to bring in measures to keep everyone at a safe distance while still allowing families to enjoy being out in the fresh air enjoying fresh, delicious seafood. Now offering delivery of everything from lobster thermidor to curried mango prawns and incredible XXL king prawns. Open Thurs-Sun, 10am-5pm.
Located next to the Kings Oak Hotel. See @oystershack_

10 Eat at Your Pizza, Buckhurst Hill
Your Pizza is a great new addition to the Queens Road, Buckhurst Hill. West Essex Life columnist Haifa was particularly excited by its arrival, as her whole family loves pizza, so she was one of the first in line at the opening. With traditional options such as double pepperoni and ham and mushroom, the menu also includes some more contemporary pizza lovers’ favourites such as truffle pizza.
75a Queen’s Road, Buckhurst Hill IG9 5BW; ypizza.co.uk

11 Grand Trunk Road Reopens, South Woodford
From 14 April
South Woodford’s Grand Trunk Road reopened in early April with outdoor dining and new Indian flavours. Within the restaurant’s outdoor space, diners are able to indulge in the incomparable dishes, including grilled lamb chops, marinated with fennel, star anise, raw papaya and house spice blend, and the Kolkata fish curry, cooked in tomato, mustard and coconut sauce, as well as many more menu additions.
219 High Road, South Woodford E18 2PB; gtrrestaurant.co.uk

One to look forward to…

Wanstead Vintage Fair
5 June
It’s big, it’s back and it promises to be better than ever. Yes, we’re talking the Wanstead Vintage Fair, which returns on Saturday 5 June at its usual venue, the United Reform Church, with doors opening at 10.30am with a £2.50 entry fee. Top tip – if you’re determined to bag yourself some gorgeous pre-loved fashion and accessories, or something quirky for your home perhaps – for just £4 you can gain entry a full hour ahead of the crowd. As the expression goes: the early bird catches the worm!
Nightingale Lane, Wanstead E11 2HD; wansteadvintage.com

Read the May issue of West Essex Life magazine here



Lee Valley White Water Centre (photo: Mark Sims for Vibrant Partnerships)

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