Spa Hen Weekend

My baby sister is getting married next weekend, so I have flown home to spend the last week of her “single” life with her, and that included her spa hen weekend… such a trauma to fly home for a spa break with your sister, Mummy, best friend and two ‘adopted’ sisters!

We stayed at Lifehouse Country Spa Resort in Essex.  Having never seen TOWIE, I can’t say that I was over excited at the prospect of a field trip into the darkest depths of Essex to watch the inhabitants at close range, and that also meant being totally unprepared!

WOW.

How do these girls manage to a) find time in their day for anything other than grooming, and b) fit so much make up onto their face?!  I am totally in awe of their skills.  The make up is flawless and there is not a hair out of place.  Imagine what they could do if they had taste!!!!!

(For confirmation, not all girls were this stereotypical over pained wanna be barbies!!  Also, it wasn’t just the staff who were like this, but a good few of the guests too!!)

The venue itself was beautiful  Set in 130 acres of grounds, it was just beautiful.  The English weather was for once playing ball and showcasing the countryside at its most beautiful.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was perfect.  We were so blessed.

We arrived and our cases were spirited away to our room while we were shown around the facility by a lovely, polite boy.  He knew the answers to every question we asked, and could deal with the slightly hyperactive bubble of excitement that was the 6 of us!!

After our guided tour, we quickly changed into our beautifully soft and fluffy robes and headed over to the treatment area for our massages.  Blissful.

After the massages, we got ourselves some freshly squeezed orange juice and went into the relaxation room whereupon I decided that I would sit in the massage chair and continue the therapists good work.  Epic Fail!  The fair was mean and beat me mercilessly!  Time for a spot of lunch then!

4 butternut squash soups, 1 BLT, 1 Buffalo Mozerella with Parma Ham (absolutely perfect), and a few portions of chips later, we headed into the spa area.

Again, WOW!  I started my little gaunt off in the mineral hydrotherapy pool/hot tub, and probably stayed in there twice the amount of time I was meant to!  It felt absolutely wonderful!  Next was the salt steam room, which would have been blissful if the irritating Scottish woman had paused for breath at any point.

(Note to Spa Goers – No one gives a toss about your child’s school choices and subsequent breakdown/tantrums.  SHUT THE FECK UP and respect the supposed quiet tranquility of a spa area!!)

After that we went for a wee swim in the salt water pool.  A little chilly after the steam room, but it felt so good to be stretching out the muscles that had been cramped up on the flight and the drive to Essex.  I would at this juncture like to apologise for one of the adopted sisters.  She’s a little loud and excitable, and didn’t respect the quiet tranquility of the pool area.  She was however told off and soon realised how she should behave!

After a brief spell in the steam room and sauna, and it was time to head back to the rooms to change for Afternoon Tea.

MAJOR PROPS to Lifehouse as they had gluten free bread.  No gluten free cakes, but who cares!  I got to have a sandwich too!  BLT with cheese.  Yummo!  Instead of the cakes, I had a Mud Slide cocktail…. totally works for me!!

After eating far too much, we headed back to our rooms to have a little relax and then get ready for dinner.  Yes… this spa break involved more food than was strictly necessary!

We arrived for dinner, mostly on time, and were given a lovely champagne cocktail.  After ordering we were sent a complementary starter of gaspacho (sp?!) soup.  Not my thing.  It all tasted too raw.  The main course thankfully arrived quickly and was absolutely divine.  For the first time in longer than I can remember, I ordered the vegetarian option.  I am not a veggie-head, but it just sounded yummy.  Roasted root vegetables with warm goats cheese.  Soooooooo good.  I could have eaten it all twice over.  Everyone else felt the same about their dishes, and there wasn’t a scrap left on our plates by the end of the meal!  Dessert is always a problem for me though.  I have a number of food allergies.  The waiter was knowledgable and helpful and when he didn’t have the answer, he checked with the chefs.  I ended up having a very nice butterscotch ice cream.  It totally worked for me!

At the end of a very relaxing and food filled day, I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow!

The next morning I was refreshed and full of energy so went to the gym.  It was the nicest gym I have ever seen!  Small, but a very good selection of equipment.  Very clean, and mostly empty!  Just the way I like a gym when I chose to embarrass myself with exercise.

Breakfast was another feast.  I had the English breakfast Buffet due to the presence of bacon!  Everyone else went healthy, well healthier, and had the Continental Breakfast.  No complaints and gluten free bread available again!  Score!

I have to say that I would indeed return to Lifehouse, and would recommend it to others.  There was a few issues, staff attitudes in the restaurant had room for improvement, but when these issues were raised, they were addressed swiftly and in a professional manner.

Who wants to book a weekend there soon?!

Dubai from the Sky

Just before Christmas, the girls and I took a wee helicopter ride over Dubai to get a different perspective on the city.

One word:  WOW!!!!

There isn’t much more to say, except take a look at these pics:

Crazy roads – so you can see how we all manage to get lost so often!

Sheikh Zayed Road – the busiest road in the Emirates.

Stretch of the coast line, with the Burj Al Arab in the distance.

The Palm.

Burj Khalifa.

More coast line!

General view with a metro station and the Burj Khalifa in the background!

Our helicopter!

Ironing

I hate ironing.  Statement of fact.  I take after my mother.  She hates ironing.  Why aren’t all clothes made to never need to see the iron?  It would be so much easier.  It doesn’t matter what I do or how many different ways I try, my clothes always need ironing.  I always put it off.  I now have a situation that everything I need to wear needs ironing, and I have guests for the next week solidly so don’t have time to do any.  I now have to spend a good hour at least ironing the clothes I will need.  Grr.

However, I have put off the gym to do this so maybe there is something I hate more than ironing!!

Tanning Time

What’s a girl to do with her weekend when she’s not drinking and is trying to save all her energy for her 2 guests that arrive this week?  Having thought long and hard, the answer has to be laying around in the sun being incredbly lazy!

That is exactly what I did yesterday at the beach at Barasti.  Barasti is one of the more popular beach bars here in Dubai.  It has a restaurant that does very good food, BBQ’s that smell devine, they have an area for live music, they have a GIANT screen for sports, and it has a beach club area with loungers and waiter service.  Genuis or what?!  Also, since the Dubai Boat Show is next week, there were some pretty little boats to watch as I laid there:

Today however, I am feeling lazy.  I think I am going to just stay by my building’s pool.  It’s not pretty, and it’s not heated, but I have my apartment upstairs and with a bathroom and a fridge, and there are no sleezy dudes hanging around.  Much easier!!

Wherever in the world you are today, make sure you find time to do some relaxing too!

Ice Skating in the Desert

For those of you who don’t know me, I used to figure skate as a teenager.  I don’t think I was ever any good, but I enjoyed it.  I rather suspect that I used it more as a giant gossip session than any form of real sports training!!

After a rather turbulant few weeks, I woke up with the insane urge to skate again.  For the record, the last time I was on the ice was my 18th birthday… a fair number of years ago!!!

So, off I went to the Dubai Mall to check out their rink.

Armed with my “beautiful”, blunt, blue wellies, I hit the ice… and remembered what fear really is!  Bambi may have had more co-ordination than me.  I haven’t felt so nervous on the ice… well, I don’t remember it as it was so long ago!

I had however paid my AED50 for my two hour session and so I wasn’t going to give in.  I was going to learn to skate at least one lap without clutching the bloody barrier like some amature.  So, I pushed myself, and then I pushed myself some more.  And you know what?  My body started to remember!

Soon I found myself gliding around.  I can’t understand why I ever stopped.  I can honestly say that it was the most amazing, relazing and liberating feeling in the world.  Once I had a little bit of confidence my body naturally found it’s centre and my posture automatially arranged itself for the right balance over the blades.  I literally had tears blurring my vision as I felt the pure joy of moving on the ice again.

At this point I would like to admit that I didn’t push myself too hard.  I went forwards and round in circles.  I didn’t even try a cross over, and didn’t dare attempt backwards when I was on my own!  I was just blissed out by moving so gracefully.  I had forgotten that the only time I don’t feel too fat, or too tall is when I am on the ice.  Don’t get me wrong, it was easier when I was thinner and younger, but no shoes ever make me feel as elegant or graceful as ice boots do…. even the ghastly blue wellies!

Towards the end of the 2 hours, when my legs were starting to shake through pure and heavenly exhaustion, and when I had mastered how to stop without running into the plexiglass, I asked one of the ice stewards to take my picture.  I had to commemorate the occasion of finding something I love, and falling in love all over again.

He took a number, but these two are my favourites… The first because I look thin and happy (please note, this is just a good angle and I do not look like this!), and the second because I was nearly run over by a 5yr old with a penguin!!!

So, will I be skating again soon?  Hell yeah!  I am going in 2 days time and I will be a repeat visitor to that rink for the rest of my time in Dubai.  I might even buy my own skates again because I know I will be able to do more with decent blades!