Wynyard Hall – Food + free gifts!

Wynyard Hall – Food + free gifts!

Hello Lovelies, 

Every year, despite being married, we still celebrate the anniversary of us getting together. It falls on December 23rd and even though we have our wedding anniversary to celebrate, it’s nice to take a day out of the Christmas madness and spend some quality time with each other as we are always running around tending to everyone else.



Image from Belle Bridal Magazine


Over the last few years, we have been going for a festive meal at Wynyard Hall in the Wellington Restaurant. For a ‘Christmas lunch’ in such a luxurious venue, we find the prices to be extremely reasonable and the setting, just out of this world.

Greeted with a red carpet at the door, you are escorted through the grand reception rooms of the Hall, all bedazzled and decked with beautiful decorations and on to the restaurant. Sitting in the ante room overlooking the lake and terrace with a pre dinner drink to peruse the menu, it’s like sitting in the set of Downton Abbey.
We have our table all booked already but what landed in my inbox this week? Only a bloomin’ exciting email about a free gift pot luck for all diners! I have done a quick copy + paste for you below.

 Wellington Restaurant Christmas Giveaway

Join us in the Wellington Restaurant for Afternoon Tea, Lunch or Dinner between 23rd November and 24th December 2013 for your chance to win a luxury gift from Wynyard Hall!

On arrival each guest will be given an envelope which (if you’re one of the lucky ones!) will reveal your prize.

Prizes up for grabs include overnight stays, spa treatments, Sunday lunches, afternoon teas and much much more.

To make a reservation for the Wellington Restaurant, book online or call 01740 644811 Option 2.

 

I thoroughly recommend Wynyard Hall for a special lunch or a perfect afternoon tea with your girlies or loved one in the run up to Christmas.

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* This is not a sponsored post. I am a customer + receive email offers as such.

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Rockliffe Hall Spa Review

Rockliffe Hall Spa Review

Hello Lovelies,


Get a coffee, light a candle and relax as this is a long review and I want you to relax along with me! Please bear in mind for decency sake I was not able to take any photos while in the spa so I have used shots from the Rockliffe website.

As I have already mentioned, Paul and I spent the day before our wedding anniversary in the spa at Rockliffe Hall, a luxury 5* hotel in Darlington, in fact the North Easts only 5* hotel.

Based in a tiny village on the outskirts of the town, Rockliffe is a fine example of juxtaposition. The grand old hall flanked by the new addition housing rooms and the spa, both blended as sympathetically as big budget architecture could allow, all of which sits at the bottom of a long driveway that wouldn’t look too out of place in a modern day Downton Abbey!
 
Arriving in the spa reception you are greeted with an overarching sense of luxury and opulence. From the deep piled carpet to the open space and chic clean lines of the spa boutique which itself stocks Daniel Sandler, Leighton Denny, Ren and [Comfort Zone]. The spa boutique often holds beauty events and the wonderful Daniel Sandler has held workshops here.

Upon checking in, we are shown up to the brasserie on the first floor of the spa for our induction and welcome drinks. We are introduced to all the staff by name which is a nice touch but I’m pretty sure most of the Katie’s in the north east must work there, blimey!
Seated to fill our forms, we are given a juice sampler to work our way through. Watermelon, beetroot and carrot are the main ingredients and I am afraid to say I duffed at them all. Thankfully Paul downed my 3 and his too! Pre ordering lunch was a great idea as it meant it was ready for us when we arrived, with a large selection for our set 2 courses. Helpfully, all the side dishes were listed too (at an extra cost).
On completion, we were the first to be shown down to the spa facilities. As I have been before we skipped the tour and Paul was ushered off to the mens changing facilities on his own while I had the quick guide to the ladies.  As far as changing rooms go, these have to be the most luxurious I have seen. Masses of space, walled with sturdy wooden lockers that are actually big enough to hold all the rubbish we ladies tote round with us.
On the vanity, you are spoiled for choice with make up remover, cleanser, toner, moisturiser and then a whole host of hair products by Clynol that wouldn’t be out of place in a hair salon. All for complimentary use. Why don’t more spa’s do this!!
After changing and meeting Paul on the wet side, we made a beeline for the hydrotherapy pool as it is a place of fantasy. Thanks to being the first in, we had a good 15-20 minutes of time by ourselves to use the pool and connecting experience rooms. This was a lovely touch for some nice quiet alone time. The hydrotherapy pool is an inherently a warm muggy environment but you can chill out on the wooden steamer loungers beside floor to ceiling windows looking out over manicured lawns and the golf course beyond. In this area there are 3 experience rooms, the foot spa thrones and some snail showers.
 

 

The tepidarium is a mildly warm, lightly steamed room filled with strangely comfortable tiled reclining beds. It’s easy to nod off to sleep in here (I’m looking at you Paul!) 
 
The ice room, with its ethereal blue glow is next and as I am a hot body this has to be my favourite room. With a refreshingly chill temperature and aromatherapy scents I would stay in here all day. The ice crystals make a nice bracing post hot room treat, rubbing them across your forearms and face to cool down.

 

I am not a great fan of the hot experience rooms at all because I can’t bear to be that hot but there is a tropicarium, roman sauna and a caldarium – steam room which is great if you suffer from asthma or sinus troubles. Paul is a fan of all of these and spends time in them while I swim. He preferred the caldarium steam room, again, with no attention to detail overlooked it was spotlessly clean and just the right amount of luxury, befalling to the choice of tiles and lighting.
Now on to the pool, a huge 20m pool with a dedicated childs area is lined on one wall with beautifully ornate, coloured glass windows, letting beams of coloured light shine across the surface and topped by a huge bay window looking out on to lawns. My only disappointment with the pool was the start of a 45 minute long aqua aerobics class. I appreciate the gym members require this but I found it off putting and disruptive which is a shame as the space around the pool is very serene. Masses of loungers, chairs and tables, this is where the juice bar resides.
 

 

Complimentary iced water and ever changing fruit tea is constantly available as is a great selection of fresh fruit and a paid bar menu for goodies such as champagne. It would be nice if there was a short cut from the hydrotherapy pool lounging area through to the juice bar as it is one heck of a long slub when you’re carrying 2 drinks back to the quiet haven to avoid those annoying fitness fanatics (ha!)
My treatment time had rapidly crept up on us so Paul took himself off to explore the Nordic Walking route while  I sauntered upstairs with Katie, my therapist for the day, for a 45 minute long warm oil body massage. On entering the treatment zone you are again blown away by the opulence, you feel like you’re in a swanky mansion house somewhere. Shown in to my huge treatment room (Pine) I am told to sit and soak my feet while Katie and I discuss my needs. We decide to skip any arm and leg work and get rid of those damn laptop induced shoulder knots and do a great head massage too. 

 
 
After 45 minutes of loveliness it was time to head for lunch. On this occasion I decided to skip the sleep room but after a massage you can lie on a snuggly lounger and be tucked in under a warm fleecy faux fur throw, stick on some headphones with tranquil music on and chill out staring up at a beautiful stain glass atrium.
 
 
 
Lunch was delicious. The starters were amazing, Paul had bruschetta with parma ham and  poached egg while I had mozzarella, roasted red pepper and rocket salad. Mains, Paul had a huge cut of salmon with Moroccan cous cous and I had a chicken Caesar wrap with a side of fries to share. The wrap was rammed with chicken and the accompanying salad was garnished with anchovy fillets to carry through the Caesar theme. Paul had these off my plate and in his gob before I could blink! After our meal we were presented with a glass tray with Happy Anniversary wrote in chocolate and piled with hand made chocolates truffles. Mmm we felt like royalty.
 
Fed and watered and very happy
 
Royalty and luxury is one feeling you get as standard at Rockliffe, whether you buy a £200+ spa package or are there for a £50 swim day. You get the same treatment regardless and this is why I think it is the best spa in the North East and whole heartedly worth the money and the reason I personally have returned several times. Since the day it opened right up to present day, nothing is looking tired, nothing looks like it needs replacing. Everything is still just pristine. I will tell you, my biggest bug bear in spas and pools is grouting. I am disgusted by tile grout covered in mildew and you won’t find any at Rockliffe (unlike other big spas I hate to say!)
I was given vouchers for my 30Th in May by my mother in law and 2 brothers so that paid for this trip. Pauls spa morning + 2 course lunch was £65 (no treatment) and my morning spa, 45 minute treatment + 2 course lunch was £100. I even had pennies left over for a Daniel Sandler lipstick from the boutique!
If you are local and looking for a well deserved pamper day, Rockliffe is the one for you. If you are from further afield, make this a priority destination for a spa weekend hotel stay!
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Airport Money Saving

Airport Money Saving


Hello Lovelies,

My husband and I both travel extensively by plane. Whether it is for business or pleasure, we clock up quite a few flights per year, mix of national, short haul and long haul. 

We have a carefully honed routine now and try to stick to it to avoid hassle. Money saving isn’t so importing when you are claiming everything on expenses but when everything you spend comes out of your own pocket, you’re a lot more careful, I assure you!

It is reported that 88% of people who pass through London’s Gatwick airport spend more than they intended to in the terminal! Ouch!

With that in mind, and with the start of the winter holiday season kicking off, I thought I’d share with you my favourite money saving tips for air travel. 

Before you get to the airport.
Be sure to join mailing lists for the airport, your chosen parking provider and the duty free shops. You can get some really great money off coupons ready for your holiday.
If you require foreign currency, ordering via Travelex and collecting in the airport has always given us really great rates. If you have plenty of time, you can keep an eye out for Travelex’s frequent sales and promotions to really maximise your pennies. If you don’t have time to buy in advance, never buy from the airport as the walk up rates are never usually that good, hunt on the high street. I sometimes use M&S money.
 
 
Book your car parking in advance, you can use sites like Purple Parking. I always park in one of the shuttle services within the grounds of the airport. I can usually pick up a week’s safe + secure parking for between £30-£50 depending on location and time.
 
When deciding on which parking area to choose, I always strike a balance of one with a short connection time to the terminal (by bus and walking) but just far enough away for easy access from main routes because there is nothing worse than being stuck in a busy circular route to navigate the airport to get parked or landing back at 4am and having to wait 45 minutes for a shuttle bus for the 10 minute circular route when in fact you could walk in 2 minutes.
 
Newcastle’s almost tiny airport
 
Sometimes, the onsite parking attached to the terminal is considerably more than others, yes it is handy to be in such close proximity if you have heavy luggage or small children but I once found out the hard way after paying £70 for parking that the route to terminal from the multi storey was so confusing and convoluted I probably could have been on a bus from the car park and in the queue to check in by the time I figured it out. Reading reviews of the airport and parking on Tripadvisor or parking websites is always handy if you haven’t visited it before.
If you are travelling from further afield to the airport, why not check out the local hotels. Most major airports have an onsite hotel, either joined to the terminal or in the grounds. Many of these offer stay + parking deals. For example, you need to be at the airport for 4am, you live 4hrs drive away and will be on a 12hr flight. Parking will cost £50 for the week. The onsite hotel may charge £90 for a room for the night before your flight, breakfast, parking AND a shuttle to the terminal. Yes it is £40 extra but you don’t have such a long trashy day to start your holidays and you can save money on the expensive terminal food by stocking up on a good hearty breakfast.
A good breakfast could help you avoid airplane food!
Check the airport website and make a list of all the vendors you may want to visit, whether it is a pub, café or stand alone retail store. Often you can find money off vouchers on the airport website or on the company’s own site that will make airport time a little more purse friendly. You can find free coffee vouchers, 2 for 1 meal vouchers and money off spend coupons for duty free. All you will need is either a printer or a smart phone.
If you decide you want to shop in the airport always check the RRP on the high street with the sales price in the airport or plane (via the website or a phone call) and then work out how much it may cost in your destination. For example a lipstick costs £15 in Boots, £11 in the airport but £9 in the country you are going to. It always pays to do a little homework and you can potentially save a fair whack of cash for buying those delightful tacky souvenirs!!
At the Airport
I am one of those fanatical people that get to the airport for the minute check-in opens. For me, my holiday starts the minute I go through the magical revolving doors and step foot in to the brightly lit marble mecca. It sets me up for holiday relaxing. Because I get there so early, I always make sure I check out the shops I want to visit first before I start to make purchases because something even quite as small as a bottle of water can vary by up to £2 in price between the newsagent, duty free, the coffee shop and the Boots concession. It sounds penny pinching but we mainly fly long haul and like to take water with us, for 2 people for 12hrs, those extra £s can make a difference.
Killing time, plane spotting!
To avoid having to buy water, we always take a folding water bottle each with us (invaluable when going to hot or developing countries where bottles aren’t as readily available). You can pop it in to your hand luggage and fill it up from drinking fountains once you are through security. It always comes in handy on the airplane if you want to stock up on water to save going back and forth to the galley, especially on night flights.
Filling up our bottles with water, not a bad view eh? North East coast of America
If you get sick of water, I pop a little squirty bottle of water flavouring such as Go Splash concentrated cordial from Tesco in my plastic liquids baggy. A couple of squirts makes up a pretty tasty squash and it is a saviour to quench thirst and to continue to use throughout the holiday. Again, a squirt of this in your refilled water bottle saves you money from buying drinks in the bar.
Airport lounges. We discovered these a few year ago and haven’t looked back since. Priced at around £20 per person, these can be an incredibly cost effective way to start your holiday. With alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, hot drinks and a myriad of snacks and hot food, it can sometimes work out cheaper to spend the money in a lounge and use their facilities to the fullest, than try to find a meal and few drinks and a comfy seat to sit in. Many lounges have zones for entertaining children so you won’t be pressured in to buying toys from the shops.
Back to shopping! Keep an eye out for brands special travel only offers. You can google your airlines online shopping brochures and Biza duty free to see if you can get a special edition or extra value pack. On a flight (to Cuba of all places!) I spotted a giant bumper jar of Elizabeth Arden 8hr cream in their inflight shopping. Never one to miss out a bargain, I bought it. The size vs cost was better than I could buy on the high street.
He thinks he is funny!
If you have time to kill on connections, make sure you hunt out the wifi and charging points. Some planes now offer (paid) wi-fi onboard so if you plan to use it for working etc, make sure you are charged up and ready to go as the charging points aren’t always working. Sitting close to a starbucks or bar can grab you some free wi-fi and sometimes you can get 2/3hrs of wifi for the cost of a Coke in order to get the code.
If you are boarding an un-catered flight but don’t want to pay the extortionate charges for snacks on board, make sure you head to the Boots concession that most airports now have. You can pick up a Boots meal deal which is more than enough for a short haul flight. £3 versus up to £10 is a great saving, especially if you are a couple or family… and the choices are usually healthier and a little more exciting! If you have a layover but going on a catered flight, I sometimes grab a meal deal and keep it for the connection to save me having to hunt out food.

What are your favourite money saving tips for travel? 

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Music related memories…

Music related memories…
Have you ever heard a song that is so far removed from what you’d usually like, but it magically transports you to another point in your time due to the powerful memories it brings back?
I am big on linking times of my life, experiences etc to songs. It could be a song about what I’m doing, or someone elses favourite song, or the song that was playing at the time.
My absolute song of the summer has been Armin van Buuren + Trevor Guthrie’s  This is what it feels like. You can watch the video on Youtube should you wish but the basic premise is Armin and Trevor driving round the American Desert in Mustangs fighting over women. Porn mogul Ron Jeremy even makes a cameo – What a legend!

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Childhood holiday memories with Travelsupermarket

Childhood holiday memories with Travelsupermarket

Hello Lovelies,

Recently, I was invited to take part in a blogger campaign, reliving some of our favourite childhood holiday memories for the chance to win £1000 in conjunction with Travelsupermarket. (you can follow them via Twitter at @travelsupermkt)

The deadline was August 20th but as my regular readers will know, its around this time that the 1st anniversary of my Dads passing happened so I actually missed posting before the deadline.

With that in mind, I had actually wrote the post and decided to post it any way as I enjoyed writing it and it features Dad so I thought I’d share a more personal post with you all, my extended interweb family.

For many years, my parents and I went on holiday to a small, quaint fishing village in Majorca called Cala Bona. The Hotel Cala Bona was right on the harbour side and very picturesque. For over 20 years, we returned every summer (as well as exploring other countries!) and were greeted with the same friendly service.  For several of the years, the same staff worked each high season and we got friendly with the staff and watched their families grow.

We watched the sparse resort of Cala Bona grow, with more and more hotels, bars and shops appearing, alongside old favourites. For anyone that has been – Julies Sandwich shop – Best butties EVER!!!

Dancing to the Tony Peppon disco, discovering Macarena for the first time and then the legendary Mediterraneo entertainment show. I even still have some of the garlands he used to hand out!




My family circa 1988, when smoking in the airport was allowed!
 
 As I am an only child, I have lots of memories of my Mam jumping in to the pool with a rubber ring on her bum to make wobbly waves for us to bob along on and playing mini golf in the baking heat with my Dad, except for the day I missed and hit him on the head with my golf club! Watching the street performers in the harbour, people watching from a pavement bar, riding the “wally trolley” to Cala Millor for ice cream sundaes. My Mam possibly being on German You’ve Been Framed after being filmed having a top half swimsuit malfunction at a water park that was renamed Aqua Titty. Hiring ‘Chuckle Brothers’ bikes to cycle along to the desolate residential area of Los Pinos, which is now a bustling resort. It was here that my parent’s found out I smoked at 16 and I remember begging Mam not to tell Dad… but she did!

 

Short bob + long hair wrap = 90s child

Later on, when I wanted to take my husband away for his first ever summer holiday way back before we were married in 2006, there was only one place I could think of to take him. Hotel Cala Bona. It’s the perfect mix of modern facilities, Spanish lifestyle, scenery, party and peace. The hotel isn’t a 5* huge resort but it is clean, tidy and very, VERY nice.

 

With Paul, we have funny memories of being on a vineyard day trip with the OAP gang and them getting him DRUNK on the wine tasting while I drank Coke and ended up the only sober person on the coach, having to help all the old drunk grannies on and off! Shy, painfully shy, Paul helping out with the street performers when they dragged volunteers up out of the crowd, it was a proud moment! Paul sitting in a childs rubber dingy, pasty white, clutching his pint of lager, bobbing around the pool, a true brit abroad!

Classy eh?

After a week on his first summer holiday he was now a holiday convert, which is pretty lucky as I’m a holiday-addict!

 
White for tans right?
 

Fast forward 6yr to 2012 and the chat of my impending 30th and my Mothers 60thbirthday celebrations started. I had always promised to take Mam back to Cala Bona, just me and her for a girls holiday and leaving Dad and Paul at home. May 2013 was going to be our big girls adventure to Cala Bona.

 

Unfortunately, before we could book, my Dad died in August 2012. This put a halt to any holiday plays with Mam.

 
If I could pick a dream holiday, or an ideal holiday…. It previously would have been China or Japan…. Now it is Cala Bona with my Mam and Paul. I think it would be a touching trip to take with our new, smaller family unit to a place we ALL have good memories of. It might be a bit sad at first but with the 1yr anniversary of Dad’s passing coming soon, it would be a great reminder of the good times and a break after a very stressful year. A chance to make our own new good memories.

 

So there we have it, a belated competition entry and some shameful holiday photos from when I was a kid!

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