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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Superdrug Optimum PhytoHydrate: Review

As I was going to be staying in the five star Swiss spa resort Atlantis By Giardino I thought I would take the opportunity to test out Superdrug’s new Optimum PhytoHydrate products which have been developed alongside Swiss skincare specialists to harness the hydrating properties of birch water.

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I was invited to review the SPF Day Cream £14.99 and the Micellar Water £4.99 – both exceptionally well priced.

Birch water has been used medicinally for many years for its detoxifying and hydrating action.  The water is harvested from mature birch trees in spring, when the trees absorb water from the soil. The birch tree filters the water and a small amount of it is tapped and used as a supplement in drinks, or as a therapeutic agent.

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The message at the spa was loud and clear: hydrate!  There were jugs of water everywhere flavoured with fresh fruit and cucumber, plus delicious herbal and detox teas.

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I have mature skin which has a tendency to dehydrate quickly, so I use a daily face cream with SPF plus a facial oil at night.  I used the PhytoHydrate first thing in the morning and topped it up after my spa and relaxation sessions.  My skin felt plumped and perfectly hydrated.  The SPF of 15 was fine for an autumn break, but come summer I would need a higher SPF of at least 40.

The micellar water, I swept across my face after my usual hot cloth cleanser and after removing my make up at night.  It has a fresh toning effect and a delicate scent which I liked.

I really liked these products and wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.

 

 

 

 

Atlantis by Giardino, Zurich

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to readers of my blog that I read Lonely Planet magazine, nor that my bulging bookshelves contain Lonely Planet guides to far flung places such as the Amazon, Australia and Thailand.  I buy them for inspiration, education and as often as reminders of places I’ve been.

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This month, thanks to a Lonely Planet competition, I struck the jackpot and won the most amazing city and spa break in the urban retreat, Atlantis by Giardino just on the outskirts of Zurich.

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From the moment we were chauffeured from the airport in the hotel’s sparkling white Range Rover (with heated massaging seats no less!) to the minute we were whisked back to the airport after five blissful days, I can honestly say we were treated like very special friends.  Instead of having to stand at reception to check in, we were offered iced tea and hot towels whilst our details were taken.

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The rooms are beautifully appointed and equipped with everything you might need, including robes and slippers, a free mini bar stocked with local soft drinks and Swiss chocolate, a Bose sound system, Nespresso machine, flat screen TV and my personal favourite, a huge walk in rainforest shower.  Above is the view of the city from our room which had a huge balcony to enjoy in sunnier months.

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Because the hotel is just outside the city, there was no noise pollution, unless you count the tinkling of cow bells (yes- the cows really do have bells in Switzerland) or the occasional sheep calling out.  Oh, and in case you think being a couple of miles away from Zurich is a disadvantage, I should mention there is a free shuttle back and to into town at whatever time suits you.

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The hotel has the most stunning floral decorations. Orchids (real ones) everywhere plus bowls of fresh fruit dotted around should you ever feel peckish.

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The hotel has two restaurants, the two Michelin starred Ecco and the casual dining Hide & Seek where we had dinner and breakfast.  The choice was staggering at breakfast, with continental breakfast, or cooked, with eggs prepared to order.  The buffet even including a fresh honeycomb.

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We had dinner at Hide & Seek on two nights, each including a wine flight of carefully chosen wines to accompany each course. My favourite dish was this shrimp coconut bisque which tasted out of this world.

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We visited the spa every day to take advantage of the pool and Jacuzzi and the soothing Dipiu spa products.  I enjoyed an aromatherapy massage too, with Franco, who has the most magical hands! I was massaged to within an inch of my life, and as a trained masseuse myself, I can tell you he was good!

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There is so much I want to tell you about the city, that I will cover it in another blog post, but in the meantime, if you ever find yourself looking for a break in Zurich, then this is the place to book.

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Port Guide: Messina, Sicily

We visited Sicily earlier this month as part of our Mediterranean cruise with Celebrity.  The approach via the Messina Strait was gorgeous, even though it started at 7 a.m. and I was still in my PJs.  Still, it gave us a great excuse to chill out with breakfast on the balcony.

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We disembarked mid morning as we had no specific plans for the day, instead, choosing to wander the streets and discover hidden gems.  One such gem was the Chiesa di Santa Maria Alemanna.

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This is not the biggest church in Messina, nor the most famous, but for me, the Moorish style architecture made it a winner.  It reminded me of the Mesquita in Cordoba which we visited in spring.

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There were virtually no other tourists visiting, so obviously it was not on everyone’s radar.   The main church, Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani is huge and dominates the main square.  Very grand!

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We stopped for an espresso in a back street café and enjoyed a leisurely half hour watching the world go by.

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The architecture of the city is amazing – all pastel colours and shabby chic styling.  Certainly not what we expected and much more beautiful too.

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I’m a sucker for a bit of peeling paint!

 

Review: Julie Davies Flowerstart

Last month I completed Julie’s four week course: Flower Arranging for Busy Mums and today I have put my skills to the test by making a floral tribute for my Auntie Eileen who passed away recently.  I know it’s not a patch on a floral arrangement you would buy from a florist, but the important thing is that it has been made with love and with Eileen’s favourite colours.  I’ve included some bought British flowers, some flowers and greenery from my own garden, a couple of silk hydrangeas that were in Eileen’s front room, and tucked in amongst them, is a tissue, as Eileen never went anywhere without one.

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I’ve also made my own little arrangement at home using flowers from Eileen’s garden, in her 1930s Sylvac vase.  It’s displayed on her Queen Anne table which, as you can see, now has pride of place in my hall.

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Thanks Julie for getting me to this level of confidence!

This is a perfect course for people who are time strapped and cannot attend a weekly class.  I can’t believe how much I was able to learn online and with Julie’s support.

The great thing for me was the video step by step guides, followed up by one to one tuition to know how to improve for next time.

I am a keen gardener, so plants are in my blood anyway, but this has really reignited my passion for flowers and encouraged me to bring them indoors!  I find myself going round the garden and thinking ‘that would look good in a vase’.  Also, my vase collection has expanded massively as I cannot pass a charity shop without picking up another!

I recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in flowers as it will change the way you look at them forever.

Christine