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Our Spa Weekend!

Back in May I was very lucky and won a spa weekend with More magazine on Facebook which was sponsored by Gillette Venus Spa Breeze 2-in-1 razor. With the summer coming and things going on it took till now to have time to arrange a weekend we could spend away. The prize was for 2 nights bed and breakfast with spa treatments for 2 people at the Four Seasons Hampshire. After doing some research into the prize I had won I admit I became somewhat intimidated by it and was very self concious about going but I really should not have worried. The staff are excellent and very well trained in their jobs, they are welcoming and courteous at all times and they make it seem like nothing is too much trouble.

When we arrived we parked in the guest carpark and walked round to reception to take in the amazing views offered and to really have a look at this magnificent building. As we entered the main doors we were shown to the reception desk where our details were taken and door keycards and a schedule for the spa the next day were issued to us. We were then shown up to our room and given a brief set of directions and introduction to the facilities available to us. The room we were shown to was not one I was expecting, I hadn’t asked when it was being arranged for me which type of room would be booked, I assumed it would be one of the Mews rooms which seemed to be the basic room available but the room we were lead to was in the Manor House itself and it was beautiful as you will see for yourself from the pictures below. Upon entering the door to the room you find yourself in a plain vestibule with wardrobes built in to the right wall (these contain complimentary slippers alongside the hotel room staples of an iron and ironing board) the bathroom directly ahead and the entrance to the bedroom to the left.

As you can see the bathroom is beautifully decorated in mostly neutral tones, as you enter the room there was a shower cubicle to the left facing the sink unit and to the right is a seperated WC. I found the toiletries to be excellent and I was impressed by the range of sundry items that were provided for our use.

The bedroom is large, comfortable and both this room and the bathroom look to the grounds at the front of the hotel (view picture below) The bed is soft and much larger than the king size we have at home but it doesn’t have the anti roll together that we have in our own bed so while it is nice to snuggle in such a comfy bed, it’s also good to have your own space, especailly when there is so much of it! The TV was situated in the armoire which also housed the room safe, a DVD player and in the lower cupboards were the chilled and ambient mini bar items for the room. The first thing we did however was to make a nice cup of coffee after the drive up there and we were pleasantly surprised to find a fruit plate and bottle of water had been left for us along with a note of welcome.

We went out of the hotel for dinner each night and each time we returned it was raining quite heavily and so we took advantage of the valet parking for the rest of our stay.

In the morning we rose, got showered and dressed for the day and made our way down to Seasons (the hotels fine dining restaurant) where breakfast was being served. We were offered newspapers on arrival and shown directly to a table where a waiter approached offering fruit juices, coffee and water. It was explained to us about the buffet arrangements and to just help ourselves to the items on offer and we both decided to take advantage of it being a holiday and so had a (nearly) full english, well, being a buffet we got to pick out the bits we liked the most and enjoy those while not having to take any of the bits we didn’t. There was also a range of cereals and bakery items on offer as well as many different fruits so everyone would be very well catered for no matter their diet

After breakfast we wandered back up to our room and collected the vouchers and schedule and made our way over to the spa.

When we entered the spa area we were greeted warmly and booked in, we were given some forms to fill in about medical conditions so the day and treatments could be better tailored to our needs we were then split up, Dave going throught to the male area and myself being taken through the female way. I was shown around, the changing room is very well appointed and kept clean and tidy by the staff and the relaxation area where you wait for your treatments is very welcoming and has magazines and drinks to keep you occupied if you arrive too early. After being collected and taken to my treatment room I admitted I was nervous and this was my first time in a spa, I was put at ease right away and had everything explained to me that would be happening during the morning which was a foot ritual, body massage and a facial. Before we started I was to select which products I wanted to have used on me, I was given different scents to pick between and even different coloured lighting to set the room to how I wanted to feel after it was over. I admit, before going, i never really understood why people would go to spa’s, I couldn’t get my head round being massaged for hours and not be actually doing something but now, having experienced it, I understand, once you relax and let yourself enjoy it, it free’s your mind in a way from all your stresses and strains and stops you from thinking about anything and everything and I found so much peace in it, I really did relax totally. The facial was amazing, I have very combination skin, incredibly dry at the top of my face ranging to spot prone on my chin but the facial coped really well with that and my skin even today (24 hours + later) feels wonderfully moisturised without feeling greasy.

After the morning treatments I met up again with Dave by the vitality pool and we decided to go into Cafe Sante for lunch and then a walk through the walled garden. Lunch was really tasty and the garden was lovely and peaceful to sit and enfjoy just being with each other and discussing what treatments we had both had already. We ventured back to the spa for our afternoon treatment which was a pedicure, it was strange letting someone else take care of my feet but I did enjoy it and they look much better for having it done.

All in all, we had a wonderful time as you would expect from visiting such a well known and well respected hotel but I wouldn’t say that we would go back. The hotel has great facilities and staff but I’m sure like most of you we could find much better things to spend £1,500 on but I do understand the price tag, you’re not just paying it for the service you get but also the exclusivity of staying there which to some is worth it but to me, probably not but I will always have the happy memories of my best win to date!


Parfums Love

Ever since I first heard I would be getting this set of perfumes I have been looking forward to them arriving as I love perfumes and collect them for both the beautiful bottles as well as the scents.

The EDT comes in some very pretty heart shaped bottles with colour coded caps matching the caps on the body fragrances. The outer packaging is fun and this matches the design on the body fragrance cans with the same name and survived being posted to me in a jiffy envelope so must be fairly robust. However, as you will notice from the photographs below the bottles are less than half the size of the boxes they come in so a bit excessive and misleading unless you are the sort of person who reads and understands volumes on perfume bottles. The EDT’s are 15ml (0.5 fl.oz) and the body sprays are 50ml (32g or 1.7 fl.oz) These perfumes retail around £3.99 and the body fragrances are £1 and they are squarely aimed at teens and tweens as can easily be seen on their website


The blurb on the website describes this as “The scent that allows the mystical feeling that takes you on a love filled journey. Run away and be set free with the scent that is all you and your love need.” it then goes on to describe the things you are supposed to be able to smell but on trying both the EDT and the body fragrance I have to say I really dont agree with it. The predominant smell is a very chemical one which is not very nice at all and this is followed by a very slight citrussy scent which soon vanishes again leaving behind just the chemical smell which is most unplesant but luckily doesn’t seem to last. This one really does show that most times you get what you pay for!


The website defines this one as “A scent for girls who want and believe in an idyllic love and true happiness”

I found this one to be very light and fruity, you can easily smell the blackcurrent that they tell you you should be able to in both of the products but not much beside it. I would definately say that this is my favourite of the three scents that I received. It isn’t very long lasting nor very powerful but it does smell lovely and fresh.


This is described as “A fruity scent, all about the two of you and nothing else matters……”

As soon as I sprayed this one I could smell the pineapple and then the mango/papaya crept in but then unfortunately so did the same chemical smell from the “Lost in Love” scent as well but it doesn’t seem to linger this time and soon it blends back to a fresh fruity scent thats really light and very pleasant.  This one actually apprears to be the most long lasting of the fragrances from the testing I have done and so if you can ignore the brief chemical taint, it’s wearable.

All in all I have to say that for the price these really aren’t that bad, well, other than the first one I mentioned anyway! They are obviously made with synthetic ingredients and very far below the level of most of the rest of my collection but 2 out of the 3 will be going in to my ones to use and the 3rd, well, the bottle’s very pretty!lol

It’s easy to see that most of the money for these products has gone into the design of the exterior, the bottles and the packaging of these very pretty items make them easy to pick up as a last minute, low cost gift. However, I think that if the same care and thought had gone into the products inside the bottles, those same girls receiving the gift would go on to re-buy this product instead of moving on to better things from other brands.

After you by Julie Buxbaum

Most works of fiction start out in fairly normal circumstances, we get to know the characters and then something happens and we see how they deal with the aftermath of the event be it good or bad and then we leave the characters in most cases wondering how things went from there, especially if the book was so well written we came to care for the protagonists. This book is different from most because that is the point at which we join the characters.

We see the story unfold from Ellie’s point of view, as we join her she’s comforting Sophie, the eight-year-old daughter of her recently murdered best friend, Lucy. Ellie has dropped her job and the husband she’s been slowly drawing away from to go and comfort her goddaughter through this traumatic time in London, three thousand miles away from her home in Boston. As we journey through the days of trying to get life back on track, we see these two broken people bond over the reading of a childrens book, The Secret Garden.

As each persons story unfolds we learn the reason why Ellie feels so strongly that she needs to be with Sophie right now, we watch the hurt surface as she finds out Lucy had been holding back before she was taken from them about what her life in London had really been. We see Greg coming to terms with the loss of his wife and suddenly having to deal with nightmares and bedtime stories instead of his legal work and the late nights he was used to. And then there’s Sophie, already grown-up well beyond her years in so many ways and yet still so much a child who mostly doesn’t have the words to explain what she’s feeling.

There are good things that happen to those around this nebulous grouping but to tell you those would take away the joy they bring when you need them to in this sad and yet life affirming tale. The true joy of this book is in how amazingly well each character is written, there are no hero’s or heroine’s here, just real people struggling to cope in the aftermath of losing a loved one.

When I heard about this book I was intrigued by it, wondering if it was my sort of book at all as I normally read happy books or ones with mysteries that get resolved but something about it caught my attention and made me want to read it. When I began it I pushed aside all my feelings of apprehension and just concentrated on the story. I am so glad I did, it caught my imagination very quickly and soon I was involved in all of their lives, I laughed and shed a few tears as I traversed the months alongside Ellie as she tries to come to terms with everything that is happening to and around her and when I turned the last page I felt at peace. Yes, bad things do happen but they dont break us as much as we think they will when they first happen and that is the message I have taken from this book. I probably won’t read it again for a while but when times are bad, this would be a great book to read to give hope that things will get better. In my experience, then generally do, we just need something to remind us of that 🙂

Nelsons Arnicare – Bath & massage balm

I was recently sent this lovely product to test and give my views on prior to it’s launch next month and have been testing it out for the last couple of weeks and have found it to be incredibly helpful for me.

I tend to suffer with restless legs at night which leads to every few weeks I will suffer cramps in my calves waking me for a few days running. Once I received this I decided to try it out on those cramps, rubbing/massage doesn’t really help much other than to ease the current cramps and let me get back to sleep again.

I was woken earlier this week with my calf muscles cramping badly, I reached for the balm and poured a small amount into my palm and set about massaging to release the cramp and ease the ache it leaves behind. The first thing to notice is the smell, it’s faintly lavender and slightly medicinal but not unpleasantly either. I found the balm quickly warmed and was absorbed easily into my skin but still leaving me slick enough to continue rubbing. I found that my cramp eased and the aches were gone in a much quicker time than normal and after washing my hands I was quickly on my way back to sleep. Most surprising for me was that I next woke in the morning, usually I am woken several times a night with cramps once I have had them once and usually it continues on for the next 2/3 nights. The next night I thought about it and decided to try massaging the balm into my legs before going to sleep, I did and found I slept straight through, on the 3rd night (when I would usually still be being woken) I decided to not use the balm and see what happened and again I slept through with no recurrence.

I have also used the balm to ease the aches and pains associated with exercise and found it to be very effective. I pushed myself on the treadmill this week and by the end of the day one of my legs had become so sore it was painful to put weight on it. I massaged the area that was causing the pain to me and within a minute or two the pain eased right off and I was able to continue on with my day without further pain or effect from the extra exertion.

The balm may also be used in a bath and I can see it being very helpful used that way, I personally do not like baths prefering showers and when I do enjoy a bath I prefer to let the child in me loose and have bubbles rather than oils! But all in all, this is a product that I will be keeping in stock and would recommend trying especially to those who, like me, are just getting into regular exercise and suffer from the aches and pains that make it most difficult to get into a routine.

More information on this and their other products can be found on Nelson’s website alongside some fascinating information about arnica and it’s uses.

African Black Soap

I did a trade a few months ago with Ben & Jerry’s via a Fairtrade promotion they were running. I offered to send three of my friends a gift in return for some Shea butter and Black soap. I was lucky enough to have my bid chosen as the winning one and duly sent off gifts to 3 volunteers who in turn told Ben & Jerry’s that I had completed my side of the deal and my bid was then accepted as the winning one. It was a fun competition to take part in and I know a few of my friends were also lucky enough to have their bids accepted as well.

I was really pleased to win this prize as I’ve been using shea butter products for some time now and know how nice it makes my skin feel so I was naturally curious about the pure substance and the black soap, I’ll review the shea butter itself once I’ve tested it a bit longer and more fully but now onto my review of the soap.

The first thing I noticed was that there is no real scent to this soap, after years of using various types this came as a big surprise to me and I became a little sceptical about if I would like it as part of soap use for me has always been the smell, it’s always been how I choose which one to buy when shopping and probably the reason for how dry my hands have become! After getting over this and discovering that black soap is not actually black but more a creamy brown colour I decided to test it out and this is where I made the biggest mistake. When you buy the soap you can normally purchase it in either 100g bars or 1k blocks, mine came as bars and I assumed that is how you use it like all soaps but it isn’t! The soap becomes very soft and tacky very quickly when wet and doesn’t dry very well even in a soap dish so I waited it out till it was dry and cut it into 4 pieces which seems to be a much better way of using the bars. The bars cut very easily with a sharp knife, they are a lot softer than they appear!

Now on to using it, it’s only this year that I have returned to bars of soap after years of using handwash. I had forgotten how good it can feel to use a bar of soap, it takes the clean hand feeling to a totally different level that liquids cannot match. Well, this soap actually goes even further than that. Within a couple of rubs of the bar you have your hands full of a rich creamy lather, as you rub it around it feels more like rubbing in a hand cream than using soap, it is an experience that I found very pleasurable and after rinsing and drying my hands I found I did not need to use a hand cream, my hands felt wonderfully moisturised, very soft and smooth. I then set about thinking of a way to test it in the shower (bath would be no problem as you can just put it back on a dish when finished with to dry) The way I came up with was to pull a piece off about the size of a small grape and I pushed this into my shower puff, this worked very well and I found I had the same results again as I did with my hands, my whole body felt wonderfully clean, moisturised and cared for. I then came up with an idea!

I was sure I’d read somewhere online (I’m not sure where) that black soap is good for the hair/scalp so I decided to try it out, I still had some of the piece of of soap left in the puff so, once the puff was full of the creamy foam I rubbed it into my hair, I found it wasn’t like using shampoo, there was no instant lather and to a certain extent I couldn’t feel it on my hair at all. I rinsed off and then discovered that my hair felt much different to normal. My hair is very fine so I’m used to being able to wring it out after washing but I found I couldn’t. I thought for a minute and assumed it meant my hair must have gone really greasy from the shea butter in the soap but decided to dry it and find out for sure what had changed as I could always wash it again and I am so pleased I did! My hair wasn’t feeling strange due to greasyness, it was streange due to it being much much thicker and fuller than it has been since the disasterous bleaching attempt in the 80’s but this time it feels soft and silky and looks really healthy.

I love this product and can see myself using it for years to come, all I will say to you is, if you decide to try it, please make sure you get real African black soap and not one of the cheap imitations that are being mass produced in Europe and America!

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