As lockdown has eased in the UK so many things have finally become feasible – as you saw from Andreea’s fantastic previous post we were itching to get away as soon as humanly possible. But one trip quickly snowballed into a few trips and a couple of weeks later we were due to go away again.
We had actually been planning THIS trip since Christmas though after we received a gift voucher from my mum and her partner for a place called Lee Wick Farm. We had never heard of this place but from first glance it looked L-U-S-H, little tiny ‘Megapods’ and ‘Armadillas’, we were spoilt for choice… but as soon as we saw the megapods came with wood-fired hot tubs, we had our minds made up.
The farm itself is near the sea in Essex (in the east of England) but it is also close to something very near and dear to mine and Andreea’s hearts. Colchester, specifically the University of Essex. Andreea and I both attended UoE, across the same 3 years, for our bachelor degrees in Psychology and Computer Science respectively (buildings that faced each other and we were both in daily)… and we never met.
Unbelievable I know, we only really met well after graduation, but whilst much of our story has unfolded since, it still very much has its roots in Colchester, where the university is based. I still look back at the days we spent together (at weekends when I could get there from work) as some of the most amazing days of my life, because they created my most meaningful, exciting relationship ever.
So naturally when we knew we were going to Essex, we knew it would be rude of us to not indulge in a little nostalgia and stop off at the university en route. So we decided to take the Friday off, drive to Colchester, stay and then head to Lee Wick on the Saturday. Naturally though we needed somewhere to stay and nowhere was more fitting than Wivenhoe House Hotel; spoiler alert: we really love Wivenhoe House.
The University of Essex & Wivenhoe House
Friday was hot. Exceptionally hot. You could have roasted peppers on the car bonnet and inside our car was on fire.
We do not have air conditioning.
But, onwards we went – listening in keenly to Michelle Obama’s first podcast with her star guest… Barack. It was super interesting and I’m sure I speak for us both when I highly recommend it! My phone proceeded to overheat and turned off, but we still made it to the hotel in time. The reason we were going at such a specific time (i.e. the hottest, most skin-burning-est time of the day) was because we had booked vegan afternoon tea at the hotel – we weren’t sure what to expect, but let me tell you. Wow. WOW.
Oat milk for the coffee, plant based sandwiches, sausage rolls, scones and cakes… the selection was delicious and incredible and we were served by a wonderful, friendly and speedy server who in her own words stated: “I’m coeliac, so I understand that people’s diets, requirements and beliefs are to be understood and provided for.“, in short, she was awesome.
We mostly had all of the dining room to ourselves whilst we were there, social distancing measures were all observed and mostly enforced by staff, and the food was so good but so plentiful we had to take most of it away in a box! After a short break, checking in to our rooms though and closing the curtains and turning on the ceiling fans (we HAD to) we went and basked in the sunshine, enjoying our first real post-lockdown drinks whilst watching the birds and overlooking the beautiful sports fields of the university.
We then went for what would be the most nostalgic trip back in time we have had for a long time – a walk around the Colchester UoE campus (we even took Diana with us, so we could remind her how old we are and say phrases like “back then” or “all that time ago”). We even bumped into the latest campus cat!
Naturally though after a hard week of work, that amount of heat and the drive and walk… we were pretty tired. So we headed back to the hotel for dinner (surprisingly there wasn’t much on the menu on so we ended up ordering Papa Johns -they have a great vegan menu, the Marmite and Sheeze scrolls are SO GOOD, and the hotel were really cool with us ordering the pizza anyway so that was all fine!) – afterwards we had a nightcap drink outside as it was still so lovely and warm, and we made friends with the duty manager (who served us) was ABSOLUTELY lovely, honestly she was one of the biggest highlights of the hotel! As a side note, the staff here have to be some of the best in the world, we’ve been twice and I’m always surprised by how accommodating, friendly and just plain helpful they are!
The sleep was solid, comfortable and quiet, and actually a very nice temperature so we were well rested when we woke up, and ready to enjoy a nice plant based breakfast outside in the sunshine. There were a few issues at breakfast, such as veeeeeeery slow food, the toast-that-never-was and tiny tiny portions of beans and mushrooms, but all in all it was pleasant and the service was good, and the fact they did HAVE vegan options at breakfast is of course a win. Once we had eaten, we checked-out, went for a lovely-but-windy stroll around the beautiful, picturesque nearby village of Wivenhoe, drove to TESCO to buy some plant-based BBQ food and then headed off to Lee Wick Farm.
Lee Wick Farm Megapods
Some of the roads on the way are a little windy, and we were stuck behind a moped going about 25mph in a 50 zone for about 15 minutes on windy roads, which was not infuriating in the slightest…
…but we did make it to the Farm absolutely bang on time, in fact about 5 minutes after we could check in. We had booked Megapods 1 & 2, #2 for us and #1 for Diana, they’re closer together than Megapod 3 is, hence the decision and actually #1 has a really nice separate shower shed which is rather spacious and cosy. The immediate view was incredible in the sunshine.
The Megapods are well equipped and you can optionally book the hot tubs along with BBQ and fire-pit packs for the evening when you’re chilling outside; the booking system they use so you can arrange this up front before arriving is very straightforward and intuitive, but a brief note to anyone considering staying in the Megapods. They are cozy, warm and have everything you need… except bedding, hand-wash and towels, only a base sheet on the bed and washing up liquid is provided so don’t get caught out and make sure you bring your own, as I forgot to bring hand-wash, and had to quickly drive about 5 minutes up the road to the co-op to get some (which only irked me as i’m trying to minimize trips to shops and other busy crowded places at the moment).
Once we were suitably prepped though, we proceeded to do 3 things: prep the BBQ dinner (whilst enjoying a cold beer), light the log-fired hot tubs and run away from a very curious wasp (who seemed interested in my enjoyable cold beer!) – but let me tell you, we found these INCREDIBLE, way-more-eco-friendly disposable BBQs at TESCO and managed to grill up a feast!
Once we had finished eating and washed up we all decided it was time to climb into the hot tubs… but there was a slight problem.
Rewind slightly in the day and we had had some issues with the door locking mechanism on Diana’s Megapod, it seems that was just the day it was due to go ping – now helpfully the owner himself was kind enough to drive down and take a look and he did what he could (unfortunately both doors had gone it turns out – and couldn’t be locked without the keys, but it was fine, we just locked Diana in overnight and I protected Andreea from harm! Well… ok the other way around!) however during the conversations while he was around he was saying how you really have to “keep the fire absolutely roaring”, because there is so much water to heat in the hot tubs.
So I did. I kept those fires hot, hot like the sun. Unfortunately I was too good at keeping it hot, and the water rapidly hit well above the recommended temperature and when we tried to climb in at about 7pm, well after dinner, none of us could and Diana ended up looking like beetroot. But fortunately by about 7.30pm we had managed to force ourselves in, with cold cava in hand and a beautiful sunset to enjoy.
But then something magical happened. It began to rain. I mean it really rained. We were soaked (or at least any parts of us not in the hot tubs) and it was one of the most incredible moments of my life.
There we were, probably around 8.15/8.30pm, sat in a wood fired hot tub, with bubbly, feeling very merry, watching a beautiful sunset in the middle of the rain… we just didn’t care and we loved every single second. It was one of those crazy, ethereal moments that was like an outer body experience. Nothing but the serene calm and quiet of the countryside, the pitter-patter of rain and the laughter the emanated from us as we lived every single second in that moment, and it’s a moment I will never forget.
Lee Wick Farm was a wonderful trip, and for what you get it is remarkably good value, so I would heavily encourage anyone considering it to book and try it for yourself, if not just for those incredible hot tubs – you’ll thank me if you do!
The following morning we woke up and actually the hot tub was still fairly lukewarm, so Andreea and I enjoyed a nice hot coffee overlooking the fields from the hot tub, and then as quickly as it had arrived we had released Diana from her pod, eaten a hearty breakfast and set off for home (in thankfully much lower temperatures).
Wivenhoe House Hotel:
– Comfort: 8.5/10
– Value for Money: 6/10 (the rooms were a little expensive)
– Staff: 9.5/10
– Vegan Friendly: 7.5/10 (knocked by dinner options mostly)
– Would Return?: Yes
Lee Wick Farm (Megapods):
– Comfort: 7/10
– Value for Money: 8.5/10
– Staff: N/A (but the owner was lovely!)
– Vegan Friendly: N/A (bring your own food & if you’re plant-based bring your own disposable BBQ as the provided grill is not super clean)
– Would Return?: Yes