It'd be easy to think there wasn't much going on in Essex between the TOWIE nightclubs and the bright lights of the seaside. But it's actually a really fascinating county with beautiful buildings, picturesque villages and fascinating museums.
One such gem is the Tiptree Jam Museum, a small rural museum next to the factory where Tiptree jam is produced. You know Tiptree - the jam and marmalade with the classy black and white label that you see in the supermarket. Turns out it's named after the Essex village where it's produced. On the edge of the village, along with the factory, is a visitor centre with tea rooms, gift shop and a small museum.
I thought the museum would be within the factory, showing the process of the jam being made, but it's actually in a barn outside, focusing on the history of the brand, the factory and the village. It's not a big museum - you could see it all in half an hour - but it has some really interesting items.
For me, the most fascinating exhibit is a display of some of the more unusual labels and jars from the brand's history, showing how it has changed through time. Take a close look at the jar above - by appointment to "the Late King George V", it appeared on a jar produced shortly after the king's death.
That's not the only bit of royal memorabilia. The whole site might as well have "Queen woz 'ere" stamped on it - a plaque in the entrance commemorates her visit, and there are plenty of photos in the exhibition too.
One of the odder exhibits is a taxidermy four-legged chicken which was bred on a nearby farm. A plane propeller, wooden carvings and milk jugs are just some of the other exhibits lining the walls of the barn, while a 10 minute video plays on loop in the centre.
There's apparently more to be seen in the outbuildings around the site, with a focus on agricultural machinery. On certain days, you can take a tractor ride around the strawberry fields for a small extra charge - or you can enjoy the tearooms like we did (keep your eyes peeled for a further, scone-filled blog post...)
Tiptree Jam Museum, Tiptree. Essex, CO5 0RF. Entry is free.