Poor old Essex has been the butt of English jokes and target for snobbery for decades. Its inhabitants are ridiculed for their bottle-blonde manes, promiscuous persuasions, witless ways and loud cars. But throw the stereotypes aside and you’ll discover a county filled with diversity and diversions. Here lies historic Colchester, Britain’s oldest town with a burgeoning arts scene. Sleepy medieval villages hide down winding lanes and amid countryside that inspired the painter Constable. But if you’d rather skip culture and seek out Essex’s saucy stereotypical soul, make a beeline to Southend-on-Sea, the most popular fun-in-the-sun resort near London.