April 16th, 2013 | | permalink
Image by Sam Segar
Even on one of the greyest days, the sight of the honey coloured limestone buildings of Bath are enough to lift the spirits. On a sunny day the city has an even more dazzling charm, but whatever the unpredictable British weather, it’s easy to see why Bath is one of the jewels in Somerset’s crown.
As city breaks go Bath offers culture, chic shopping and the delicious culinary delights of the West Country, as well as, the chance to bathe in the rejuvenating spring water. Sold? Here’s our guide to the stylish spa city…
Where to stay?
Experience a taste of Georgian grandeur at The Royal Crescent Hotel. The decadent accommodation takes up two townhouses in the show-stopping Georgian crescent. Expect high ceilings, chandeliers and plenty of period charm. Plus, there’s a top-rate restaurant and spa facilities with a heated relaxation pool. The hotel is a 10-minute walk into the city centre, and the nearby Royal Victoria Park is a wonderful place to go for a stroll.
Cost: From £199
For more info visit: www.royalcrescent.co.uk
Also… For further pampering paradise, bathe in the spring waters of Bath Thermae Spa, enjoy spa treatments and yummy food.
Where to eat?
Tuck into seasonal dishes created from local fare at the award winning Olive Tree Restaurant. Love the sound of Slow cooked salmon, Eades golden beetroot and brambly apple puree? Perhaps followed by a Fine tart of shallot, violet artichoke, asparagus, goat’s cheese and oregano, and finished off with a sweet treat of Bourbon vanilla pannacotta, sweet Hendricks and marinated apricots? Stop drooling and book a table.
Cost: £26 – £45 per head
For more info visit: www.olivetreebath.co.uk
Also… Drop into Sally Lunn’s for a traditional ‘Sally Lunn bun’ or ‘Bath bun’, as they are also called. Enjoy a drink and bite to eat at Bath Ales’ new venue Graze Bar, Brewery and Chophouse.
Where to shop?
There are plenty of places to get your shopping fix in Bath, whether you’re after local cheese, antiques or the latest fashions. At The Guildhall Market, pick up antique costume jewellery and local food produce, plus chaps can have an old fashioned short back and sides at a traditional barber’s shop. Milsom Street and shopping centre SouthGate Bath offer designer and high street delights – and don’t forget to stock up on goodies at the Crabtree & Evelyn shop on New Bond Street. Afterwards check out the independent shops on Walcot Street and Broad Street– one of our favourites is Kiss the Frog Again.
Cost: Whatever your purse can handle!
Where to soak up culture?
The hot spring waters of Bath made the city a popular settlement with the Romans in AD40. They built a temple and bathing complex, now known as The Roman Baths, which is a must-see attraction. As well as soaking up the history, you can enjoy afternoon tea at The Pump Room. Make sure you try the hot Spa water, which contains 43 minerals and has been used for curative purposes for two thousand years.
Cost: Adults £12.75 (July & Aug £13.25), senior citizens and students £11, child £8.50
For more info visit: www.romanbaths.co.uk
Also… There’s no better time to visit the Fashion Museum, which turns 50 this year. To celebrate there’s a Fifty Fabulous Frocks exhibition featuring iconic names of 20th century couture.
Where is your favourite place in Bath? Tell us in the comments box below or on our Facebook Page.
April 5th, 2013 | | permalink
A springtime stroll through a beautiful garden can be fun for the family, make a romantic date, or offer some tranquillity if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle. But for those who want more than rambling past roots and shoots and revelling at rose beds, here’s our round up of hidden garden gems in the UK. From dining in one of the world’s biggest tree houses to learning about fragrances in a perfume amphitheatre, there’s something for everyone…
Chelsea Physic Garden
The luscious botanical delights at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London aren’t only beautiful to behold, they also offer a bounty of remedies that are used in modern medical practice. The garden was originally known as Apothecaries’ Garden and was founded in 1673. Today visitors can learn about which plants led to the development of aspirin and local aesthetic in the Pharmaceutical Garden, and gain inspiration for home gardens in The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants. Did you know that burdock leaves are the inspiration for Velcro, or that flax plant is tough enough to be used as armour? These are the amazing facts you can learn in this riveting section of the Chelsea Physic Garden, which houses a compact vineyard, heritage vegetable bed and an unusual fruit bed. But our favourite feature has to be the perfumery amphitheatre where you can learn about fragrances.
Cost: £9 for adults and senior citizens, £6 for students, unemployed people and children (5-15 years old)
For further details visit: www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
Photo by Charlie Hopkinson.
Do you love the idea of dining in one of the world’s biggest tree houses? Or witnessing the magnificent Grand Cascade water feature tumble 7260 gallons of H20 down a series of 21 weirs? Or discovering myths, legends and fascinating facts about deadly plants in the Poison Garden? At Alnwick Garden in Northumberland you can do all this – plus get lost in a bamboo labyrinth and see a staggering 3,000 David Austin Roses.
Ten years ago the Duchess of Northumberland began renovating the derelict and forgotten site, and now it’s one of the most enchanting gardens in the UK. As well as learning about plants, flowers and vegetables at the Roots and Shoots Garden, adults and children can be educated on how to cook them as part of Jamie Olivier’s Ministry of Food programme. Just don’t get any ideas about cooking with belladonna (aka deadly nightshade)!
Cost: Adults £12, children (5-16 years old) £4, concessions (students and aged 60+) £10.80
For further details visit: www.alnwickgarden.com
The Secret Gardens of Sandwich
Hidden away from public view for almost a quarter of a century, The Secret Gardens of Sandwich in Kent were in such a state of unruliness that they were almost lost forever. But in 2004 an ambitious restoration project began, and now the gardens are back to their former green glory of 1911. Surrounded by an old stone city wall, The Secret Gardens of Sandwich offer a tranquil escape into nature.
If you want a proper getaway you can even book luxury accommodation at the manor house in the grounds. Spanning 3.5 acres, the show-stopping sights include the rare plant the Wollemi Pine – dating back to the Jurassic period – and the beautiful island Lake Patricia, which can be reached by a small bridge. Cream teas are aplenty at the Salutation Tea Room. A must-see event is the Sandwich Dahlia Festival (September 7-15), which celebrates the 76 varieties of the plant in seasonal bloom.
Cost: Adults £6.50, children (under 16) £3, children (under 6) free, Senior Citizens £6
For further details visit: www.the-secretgardens.co.uk
January 28th, 2013 | | permalink
by Katy Moon
Does the thought of snow-capped mountains, relaxing in cute chalets and wearing brightly coloured ski gear fill you with excitement?
These lovely things appealed very much to me when my housemate invited me on a ski trip to Val d’Isère in the French Alps. My big concern was that I’d never skied before. Only a few weeks ago I thought that salopettes were a type of puppetry (it turns out they are padded ski trousers) and a snow plow was a vehicle used to disperse the white stuff (of course it’s also a nifty ‘brake’ manoeuvre to bring you to a halt when you’re skiing).
But after a spending a week on a Mark Warner beginners’ ski holiday, I’ve picked up a few essential skills to survive on the slopes. Here’s how I got on – along with some winter sports break beauty tips…
As I ventured to the mountains on the first day, I was filled with hope when a trail of small children zoomed past me with the fearlessness of mini Eddie the Eagles. “Surely skiing can’t be that difficult, I reassured myself.”
Unfortunately, in the same vein as Eddy from Absolutely Fabulous and Bridget Jones, I wasn’t a natural at the sport. But my ski instructor, Chris, was very patient and rescued me when I fell over (a lot). By the end of the week I could do turns and snow plows and learnt the most important rule of skiing according to Chris: ‘Don’t panic!’
While skiing proved a challenge, I fell in love with the magical resort of Val d’Isère. The chalets and hotels are iced with a thick layer of snow and look like gingerbread houses, with fairy lights twinkling from the rooftops. One of my highlights was swimming in the heated outdoor pool at the Mark Warner hotel while it was snowing – it was amazing!
During my ski holiday I also learnt a few beauty lessons…
Beauty tips for skiing
1) It might be cold on the slopes but the sun’s harmful rays are still at work – so apply sun block and don’t forget to protect your lips with a SPF lip balm, such as the Gardeners Lip Butter with SPF 15. A healthy glow is becoming, but a face you could fry a full English breakfast on is never a good look.
2) Skin requires extra TLC in cold weather conditions, so make sure you use a rich moisturiser after showering. No matter how quickly you want to get back into your ski gear (or PJs), we recommend slathering on Crabtree & Evelyn’s Goatmilk Body Cream, blended with lavender and alpine flowers.
3) Wear gloves on the slopes, as hanging on to an icy cold pole on a ski lift is not a pleasant experience. Also, treat yourself to our flight friendly La Source Great Escapes set, which contains a Hand Therapy to nourish mitts, Body Lotion, Body Wash, a Nail Buffer and a Cotton Case.
4) To avoid blisters from snow and ski boots, invest in good quality ski socks or ‘tubes’ as they are also known. Après ski, take care of your tootsies by indulging in a La Source Effervescent Sea Foam Foot Soak and applying La Source Ultra-Moisturising Foot Therapy.
5) After a long day perfecting your snow plow – your muscles will be aching. So take a dip in the tub with Gardeners Soothing Muscle Soak and then you’ll be ready to glam or groom up and enjoy the delights of après ski.