The Mail on Sunday sent Wickford-raised Liz Jones to Wickford's very own dog hotel The Essex Pooch Palace, run by Tracey Rust. (Click on the link to read Jones's piece.) Here dogs get pampered while their owners are out at work, have their very own stiletto-shaped dog bed and even a four-poster bed, all for £20. Liz likes the hotel though she doesn't seem to think too much of her home town of Wickford, "the last place in the world where globalisation hasn't reached". Maybe she prefers Barking. Liz is happier with the blonde staff of the Essex Pooch Palace though and pens a fierce defence of Essex Girls: "I have to wonder at people’s prejudice: not just about pampering pooches, but about a woman’s choice to dye her hair, and wear glittery nail polish, and a pink T-shirt, because Essex girls are feisty, fearless and clever beneath all that slap. Underestimate them at your peril."