A Weekend Yoga Retreat in North Wales

The sun certainly shone down on us this weekend for our yoga retreat with Bodywork Pilates.  Our home for two nights was the Loreto convent in Llandudno, a rambling building dating back to the 1920s, ideal for a group getaway.

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We had a good selection of classes to choose from, including some Pilates sessions too.

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My personal favourite is yin yang yoga which focuses on holding postures for a few minutes at a time (yin) and then moves to a more dynamic practice (yang).

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In between classes there was time to get out into the fresh air and explore the town.  If you have never been to Llandudno, it has a real Edwardian feel to it and is a beautifully kept Welsh seaside town.  With all the Black Friday madness that was going on in the world, it was great to switch off with the papers and a cuppa before heading back to our cosy retreat.

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The reason I do yoga is that it gives you a good mind/body workout and having a weekend to relax and get into the flow was perfect.  It was a great opportunity to meet and chat with some amazing women, to listen to their stories, and to bond over a shared interest.

Helen, who owns Bodywork Pilates, is also an ambassador for Tropic skincare and I took the opportunity to try out some of their organic and wonderfully scented skincare products which I had taken with me for the weekend.  I used the skin revive moisturiser during the day and the organic elixir facial oil at night.  I always use an oil at bedtime but this is particularly important when I’ve been out bracing the elements!  Both moisturiser and oil are soothing and gentle on the skin.

The smoothing cleanser is very like another of my favourites, Liz Earle, and provides a welcome blast of eucalyptus to your morning routine.  The toner is again, very gentle and lightly scented.

My favourite product was the face smooth brightening polish which gently exfoliates without leaving you looking pink!

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Overall, it has been a very relaxing weekend and I’m ready to face Christmas now!

 

 

Uetliberg

The final part of my Swiss adventure involved a trip to the top of the mountain which overlooks Zurich: Uetliberg.

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From our base at the wonderful Hotel Atlantis by Giardino, it was an easy walk downhill to the train station, passing this cute little troll house on the way (no idea what its purpose was as it was deserted).

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The trains in Switzerland all run on time and this cute little mountain train was no exception. We passed through fields initially, then little villages, until finally reaching the forest.   I was delighted to see that the cows do indeed have bells in Switzerland.  I think this one was a bull actually.

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From the train station final stop, it was a steady 15 minute uphill walk to the very top.  I’d like to say the view of the city was amazing, but as we were above the clouds we saw precisely nothing.  It was worth it for the walk in the forest though!

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On our descent we decided to go into the station café for a bite to eat.  I confidently ordered from the menu in my schoolgirl German, only to be presented with something like a weiner schnitzel.  Not what I ordered but no matter – I need to brush up on my language skills.

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On a clear day you can see for miles from the station we were told, but to be honest, we really enjoyed getting out into the fresh air and into the beautiful forest.

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November Aromatherapy Favourites

A quick run down of what I’m loving this month

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Neom Moroccan Blush Rose Lime & Black Pepper Candle

This has been going almost three months now and I light it virtually every day for an hour or so when I have my quiet time.  I’m in love with rose and this candle now smells like home to me as I’m burning it so often.  The only downside is that even though I use extra long matches, I am still struggling to light it without burning my fingers as it reaches the bottom of the glass.  You can probably see the black marks on the glass where I have dropped the burning match! I think next time I will go for a smaller candle.

Neal’s Yard Seaweed and Arnica Bath Foam

This smells almost medicinal (a good thing) and I’ve been using it after my long walks and yoga sessions to relax my muscles.  I’m a fan of anything Neal’s Yard really, but this one is new to me.  I’ll definitely buy it again.

Scottish Fine Soaps Tangled Rose Hand Cream

There we go again with that rose theme!  This is designed, made and packaged all in Scotland by a family business in Stirlingshire.  It doesn’t contain a massive hit of rose, but still smells fab.

Elemis Frangipani Monoi Body Oil

This beautiful exotic oil is solid at room temperature so I run it under the hot tap while I’m in the bath to liquefy it before slathering it on afterwards.  Expensive, but oh so worth it!

Sabai Soaps Lemongrass Bar

I’m no big fan of lemongrass if I’m honest, but I was gifted this soap to try and it really is rather soothing on the skin, unlike many soaps which can be drying.  I took it on holiday and really enjoyed using it.  The lemongrass scent is 100% natural so not overwhelming. I’ll pack it again for my next trip.  It came beautifully packaged too – so would make a good stocking filler.

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I’m planning to try out some different candles soon, so if anyone has a recommendation for a good quality candle containing essential oils with an even burn and natural soy, please shout up!

What to Buy In Rhodes Town

Rhodes Town is a bit of a shopper’s paradise – especially if you like lots of colour and a bit of boho.  Rhodes was one of the ports of call on our Med cruise with Celebrity and as we have been here before, we decided on a shopping day.

I loved these colourful slippers but didn’t think they would translate too well in rainy Cheshire, so left them where they were.

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There were rugs and lanterns galore and unlike Turkey, there is no pressure to buy and no-one following you round the shop (I hate that – I am so British!).  I’d loved to have stuffed one of those lanterns in my bag, but as we were restricted to 22g luggage allowance it was a no go.

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I made a bee-line for the apothecary though and bought some natural soap, plus some locally sourced juniper essential oil (Juniperus communis).  If I can, I always hunt out essential oils on my travels to add to my collection.  Greece is such a great place to pick up natural products, in particular, those made with olive oil.

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I was quite taken with these ceramic beads which are made by a designer in Athens.  I thought they were quirky and colourful. A bit of fun to match a summer dress.

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I loved the look of these sea sponges, but hesitated to buy as I was unsure if they had been ethically harvested.  If I had asked the owner, I’m sure they would have said yes, but I would have to be sure.

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Overall, we had a great shopping experience and a lot of fun just looking.

 

 

A Night At One Of The Most Haunted Hotels in Britain: The Adelphi, Liverpool

Why I booked myself into the Adelphi when I am scared to death of ghosts and ghouls is beyond my comprehension, but anyway I did it.

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We were going to a concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic, the Adelphi is on route, it was a bargain price on Late Rooms (£49) and I really didn’t engage my brain.  I just clicked ‘book’.

Then (and I always do this after the fact) I checked Trip Advisor which mostly went along the lines of ‘do not stay at this hotel’.  Hmmm – have I made a mistake here I thought.  People said it made Fawlty Towers look good, or that it was like staying in the Grand Budapest Hotel.  But no-one mentioned ghosts.

I don’t mind camping out in a dodgy hotel if the price is right and it’s only for one night (you can always sleep clothed on top of the covers after all).  I also tend to take Trip Advisor with a pinch of salt as I never review anything myself and I suspect many like minded folk are the same. So I thought, oh well, let’s go with the flow.

Then, a little niggle popped into my mind.  Hadn’t this hotel been on the telly?  Hadn’t I read somewhere that it was haunted.  I always avoid haunted hotels as I know I won’t sleep a wink, so it seemed a mighty cock up had been made here.  Anyway, to check, I googled ‘Adelphi haunted’.

What popped up was terrifying.  Not only is it haunted, it is haunted by multiple ghosts and people actually pay to go on ghost hunting breaks here.  Flippin’ heck – this was getting very scary.   The third floor in particular is said to be possessed by a demon with people reporting being violently ill, feeling someone watching them, or in some cases, seeing someone rifling through their belongings who then disappeared into thin air.

Deciding to man up I turned up on the day and was delighted with the architecture of the public rooms: simply stunning and exactly what you would expect from a grand old hotel built in 1911.  It’s all marble walls and crystal chandeliers – faded grandeur at its best.

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Checking in, we were given a key …..to the dreaded third floor!  I had a momentary panic and thought about asking for another room, but not wanting to look like a nutter, I smiled and said thank you.

The room was huge and although minimally furnished (one tea bag between two people anyone?) it was clean.  The mattress was a little thin but I had no qualms about sleeping here.  Until about 11 p.m. when we were back from the theatre and the reality set in…..I was about to spend the night in a haunted hotel!

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Giving myself a talking to, I dropped off for a little while, only to be woken at midnight by that feeling you get when your mind is alert but your body won’t move.  I get this all the time, so no matter, but it did unsettle me and I decided the best course of action was to sleep with one eye open until at least four a.m. as I figured there would be no hauntings in the morning hours.

I had five blissful hours sleep from four ’til nine and have to say, the Adelphi was actually fine.  No ghosts, no poor service, no dirt.  A bit shabby chic maybe, but I can live with that.

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Would I stay again? Absolutely – although maybe not on All Hallows Eve: don’t want to go looking for trouble do we?

 

 

Zurich City Break

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If you were to ask me what my ideal city break involved, it would go something like this: fabulous architecture, amazing history, a river running through it, a strong sense of identity, foodie heaven, cute coffee houses and quirky shops.  Well, Zurich has all of these things in abundance.  In fact, it is so pretty I’ve had difficulty in choosing photos for the blog as the temptation to just photo-bomb you with pretty squares is huge!  On top of that, we are in the run up to Christmas, so the city’s festive vibe (think hot chocolate, sheepskin seat covers in outdoor cafes, sparkly window displays) only enhanced the experience!

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Not only did my Lonely Planet competition win include flights with Swiss Air and a fabulous stay at the Atlantis by Giardino, we were also given a Zurich City Pass which gave us 72 hours free transport in and around the city.

Steve is drawn to water so the first thing we did was jump on a boat for a lake tour.  The autumn colours were breath-taking!

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The trip takes one and a half hours and is free with the Zurich card.

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The city is right on the waterfront, so it was only a short hop into town to see the Fraumunster and its amazing Chagall windows.  We were very lucky to have popped into the cathedral just as an orchestra was rehearsing for that night’s performance of one of Bach’s cello suites, so we took a pew (literally) and enjoyed the music.

Next was a coffee shop recommended by the hotel: Schobers.  It’s like a winter wonderland in there, with the most amazing cash register I’ve ever seen.

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There are squares in abundance, each with multi coloured buildings that are just so typically European.

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We visited the very grand Metropol Café, famously frequented by Albert Einstein, who, it is said, developed his revolutionary theories in the early 1900s whilst sitting here with a drink.   Just look at those impressive columns.

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We also enjoyed a hot chocolate in café Odeon, where, in the first half of the century, writers, artists and intellectuals would hang out to discuss politics and culture.  The décor is grand and the place just oozes history.

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One of the prettiest areas is the Fisherman’s district where long, low houses lie along the water’s edge.  This district is crammed with antique shops and individual boutiques.

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Split across both sides of the river Limmat, the city is ideal for a city break because it is easily covered on foot.

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The architecture is a real mix of traditional and modern, with some lovely old squares having quite unusual pieces of art.

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You didn’t have to look far for traditional houses though, many with flowers spilling over the balconies.

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This was such a beautiful place to visit in the run up to Christmas.  I’ll leave you with a photo of this fountain in one of the many impossibly pretty squares.

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Feel Good Challenge with Highland Spring

Highland Spring is on a mission to encourage healthy hydration. Because when you’re 100% hydrated, you’re much more likely to be on top of your game – mentally, physically and emotionally.  I was asked if I’d like to take part in the feel good challenge and of course, I said yes!

For me, as a heart attack survivor, it is vital that I stay properly hydrated not only because it reduces the number of premature atrial contractions that I get, but it keeps my energy levels up.  I’ve learned this from experience and if my heart is playing me up, the first question I ask myself is: have I drunk enough water today?  If not, I top up immediately.

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Green tea, herbal tea and good old PG all count towards the two litres I drink a day, but  most important of all, is plain water, just as nature intended.  I know some people don’t like to drink unadulterated water, but luckily I enjoy it: iced, lukewarm, sparking or still – any will do.

During my spa break last month there was huge emphasis on hydration: we were encouraged  to drink water and herbal teas – there were jugs of water provided, topped up with fruit or cucumber: delicious.

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Research shows that 66% of Brits don’t feel they always drink enough water on a daily basis so Highland Spring have provided some top tips on how to keep hydrated and feel good.

Did you know?

•         Drinking water can make you happier: brain scans show that when you’re properly hydrated the parts of your brain associated with anger, fear and alertness are de-activated.

•         Lots of us visit the doctors for fatigue each year, when actually the problem could be due to dehydration. Keeping hydrated can help give you the energy you need!

•         When you’re hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. It’s much easier for your body to pump blood through the blood vessels to muscles

•         Staying hydrated before and during exercise helps avoid cramp. Hydration levels are affected by how long and how hard you are exercising, so if you are sweating or in a warm environment you might need to drink more than usual

For my personal challenge, I decided to have water with me on the go at all times.   Not difficult as it’s easy to slip a small bottle of water into your handbag, or fill up a re-usable water bottle for the gym.  I’ve also been taking a small bottle in my pocket for my weekly country walk.

Do you think you could find a way to add some extra water into your life?

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