Friday, 25 October 2013

Ragdale Hall

Ragdale Hall
Ragdale Hall Entrance
I do love a spa day and it should be law that all over-stressed, middle-aged women with too-long to-do lists get sent to RagdaleSpa at least once a year.  I got lucky this October half-term, visiting the spa with two fellow friends in need.
First stop was the spa area and we wandered around middle-earth named places like the Colour Cave, Candle Pool and Thought Zone but best of all was swimming through the warm water lagoon to the waterfall pool outside, enjoying the contrast of the warm water and cool, fresh air and plenty of chatting over the noise of the waterfall massagers.  
Waterfall Pool ©Ragdale Hall
Back inside we did a couple of lengths of the pool (just to show willing); a brief stint in the Jacuzzi and then it was time for a delicious back massage and facial which were included in our Refresh and Revive Spa Day.

Dining Room ©Ragdale Hall
Lunch in the dining room with its huge fireplace, great chandeliers and classical music playing in the background made the atmosphere slightly Downton, although  the Dowager would definitely NOT have approved the white gown dress code.  Thankfully, there was no obvious calorie counting on the menu:  starters served to the table were soup or smoked salmon and then a help yourself salad bar with lots of interesting aubergine, feta, watermelon, etc, etc and hot dishes including chicken tagine and duo of fish.  From the pudding choice, we went  for mousse, a very chocolatey brownie hiding beneath the white chocolate mousse. 

Ragdale Hall
In our dreams!©Ragdale Hall 
We slumped for an hour or so over coffee in the Verandah Lounge, reading out our horoscopes from a Harpers Bazaar magazine and debated the merits of doing an exercise class.  It seemed unlikely with friend relaxing on a beanbag looking as though she’d need a crane to haul her up.
Although reluctant, we did have four hours left and decided that maybe we needed to benefit fitness-wise from our day.  We couldn’t make up our minds which class to take with me pushing for the easier sounding anti-stress aromaball, but dear middle-aged friend (DMAF) surprised us with a burst of energy and her announcement that she was going to do ‘Beaming’.  The photograph of a smiling person one arm outstretched the opposite leg bent onto a thin piece of plastic looked far too complicated for me and friend on a beanbag, so we stuck with the aromaball anti-stress, which we didn’t regret as it was all eyes shut, stretching and lots of breathing over a rubber ball which, unlikely as it sounds, was very relaxing.

DMAF looked very pleased with herself after the ‘Beaming’ experience and we all put on our wet cozzies and had one more trip to the spa area, silly as schoolgirls as we turned on the thunder and lightning effect in the cave shower. 
The day had whizzed by and it was time for a final cup of tea, then back to the car, home and the too-long, to-do lists.

The good: All, but in particular the spa area and treatments.
The not so good: Having to leave – would have been good to stop over.
Go again:  Definitely, the sooner the better.

Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa
Ragdale Village
Melton Mowbray
LE14 3PB

Monday, 7 October 2013

Luscious Leaves in Leics, Notts and Northants

Back during my teenage years,  my parents suggestion without fail every October was to ‘go for a walk and look at the leaves,’ filling my teen soul with horror.  Now middle-aged me loves the Autumn and seeing the leaves turn as many shades of rust and gold as Sharon Osbourne’s hair, so  I’m looking forward to a few Autumn ambles, hopefully with a pub en route.  These are some of the places I’m aiming to get to. 

Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

Major Oak@2012 Experience Nottinghamshire
Did this walk at Sherwood Country Park last year, and even though it was a sunny Sunday  morning it didn’t feel crowded as we followed the easy woodland walk to the major oak – an oak tree over 500 years old, rumoured to be the oak where Robin Hood and his men met up,  now propped up like an old man with walking sticks.

Sacley Forest, Northamptonshire

The tree top walk at Sacley Forest which lets you see the trees from above sounds great if you’ve a head for heights, though not sure I’m brave enough to try their new Tree Ninja, an aerial ropes course, but it could be a way of prising my teen away from his PS3.

Wistow, Leicestershire

Not woods, but a really easy and varied circular walk across farm land and alongside the Grand Union canal with the mature, beautiful trees lining the canal reflected back from the water.  There’s something very soothing about watching the leaves slowly fall from their branches to create patterns on the water.   A circular walk with a great CafĂ© at Wistow garden centre which is well worth popping into, not to mention one of my favourite shops, Outer Space which sells gorgeous garden stuff, bunting, fairly lights, etc.