Sunday

An earthly blissful paradise of a day - Lime Wood House spa

Imagine lying on a bed of bubbles. In front of you the bubbles roll forward and off the edge of an infinity pool. The water is warm, the lighting is low, the walls are covered in dark slate and outside the trees are sprouting bright green in spring time.

Herb House spa
~ outdoor hot pool at the Herb House spa ~
Herb House spa
~ April sunshine ~

I'm in the New Forest at the Herb House spa in the grounds of Lime Wood Hotel and I'm with the sis and our mother on a girl's day treat. 

Herb House spa
~ hydro pool with a view ~
Herb House spa

Starting early-ish we chose to have a massages before taking our time to explore the other facilities.

During my massage I was impressed by the high-tech heated massage bed that smoothly brought me back into an upright position after the treatment had ended.

Herb House spa
~ entrance to the changing room ~
My senses had been stimulated by the smell of rosemary and my muscles un-knotted using Bamford essential oils.

Herb House spa
~ herbiary ~

Herb House spa
~ stone pestle and mortar ~
Relaxed and a little crumpled looking we three were reunited and invited to enjoy the facilities. Everywhere there were baskets of towels and flip flops in case you needed replacements.

Beside each other were the options of a steam room and sauna, while in a corner was a heated stone semi-circular seating area with a heated stone for your feet. It felt lush.

The indoor pool was serene and empty with a skylight flooding the space with light and calm. Outside connected by floor length glass doors was another heated pool.

Herb House spa
~ Indoor swimming pool at Herb House spa ~
We ordered raspberry smoothies and sat lounging, enjoying the late April sunshine and smiling a lot. (That was me doing the smiling).

Up a flight of stairs was more seating in amongst a roof herbiary. On one side a yoga class was in full leg-up progress surrounded by four gnarled old Olive trees and fifteen varieties of mint – ranging from chocolate, banana, pineapple, apple and coconut to better known spearmint and peppermint.

Mingled in with the mint were other fragrant herbs including bergamot and cotton lavender, lemon verbena and catmint, purple sage and rosemary as well as white lavender and variegated sage.

It was soon time for lunch so with regret we left this peaceful retreat for some refreshment. We ordered platters to share, choosing the Forest Board of home-cured charcuterie, smoked in their Smokehouse, with local award-winning cheese, herb house olives, tomatoes, house-baked bread and apple chutney. The other platter we ordered was the Raw Picnic Board with a small mix of salads, a variety of root dips, dehydrated flaxseed vegetables crisps, crudités and mini kitchen tortilla, which all came beautifully presented and tasted great too.

Herb House spa
~ cheese and ham platter ~
Herb House spa
~ salads and dips platter ~
Once lunch was over we had a wander round the grounds where I found a giant silver fish, a pond with tadpoles and an oak leaf swing.

Lime Wood House
~ silver fish at Lime Wood House ~
Lime Wood House
~ tadpoles in the pond ~
Lime Wood House
~ oak leaf swing ~

It was an earthly blissful paradise of a day. 

Lime Wood House
~ Lime Wood House ~

~ spring blossom ~

To find out more click on Lime Wood Hotel spa packages

Lime Wood, Beaulieu Rd, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7FZ England

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Friday

#FoodieFriday - Fine dining and afternoon tea in Rye

Not every meal is amazing, so I quietly don't mention the ones that are just ok. There is also, I have found out no guarantee that a cute looking tea room or a swanky fine dining restaurant will deliver on the essentials.

1) friendly and helpful service
2) tremendous taste
3) ethical, local and small business champion
and
4) superb presentation

With such a demanding list of requirements it's not surprising I don't go shouting about every meal I eat.

Perhaps the day we went to Rye we were lucky. Perhaps magically the universe realigned itself so I could have two great experiences on the same day, my birthday. Or perhaps Rye is just packed with great places to eat. I can't say for sure.

What I can tell you however is that I've found two great places to eat in Rye. Whether you're looking for a cream tea or a substantial munch, here are a couple of options that come highly recommended. 

Edith's House, Rye, Sussex
~ afternoon tea at Edith's House ~

Sunday

Day trip to Rye and its smuggling past

Once surrounded by sea, the town of Rye clusters up a hill with buildings dating back to medieval times and has a rich history of smuggling and battles.

There's a pub still in operation that was once visited by Elizabeth I, called The Mermaid Inn (a notorious haunt for smugglers) and houses have whimsical names such as The House Opposite and The House With Two Front Doors.

The House With Two Front Doors, Rye
~ The House With Two Front Doors ~

Oak plank from 15th century prison door, Rye
~ Oak plank from 15th Century prison door, Rye ~
Everywhere there are interesting features to look at or signs to read. It's not surprising it has inspired writers from Rudyard Kipling, who wrote A Smuggler's Song about here to the recently filmed Mapp and Lucia. It was also the home of John Ryan, the creator of Captain Pugwash (cue theme tune in my head).

Wednesday

When the #theFullFix nearly didn't happen

A few weeks ago, still in comp mode, I saw a competition to win a meal on a Facebook page I'd just liked. I didn't think much more about it until I found out I'd won! Yay! This was great news as I love food and the chance to have food cooked by a Chef in my kitchen sounded amazing.

A date was set and to be honest at that stage all I was thinking about was cleaning, cleaning and tidying, a Chef was coming to cook in my kitchen.

The meal was delayed and quite frankly I was glad, there really was more cleaning to do. The date was changed again because my friend couldn't make the new date. Then my friend could no longer make it and I asked another friend and the event was planned for last Wednesday.

That was the day a train derailed at Brighton station causing chaos. The Full Fix team valiantly carried on, carrying the prepped food in ice cooled bags, in the heat, through delays and train changes, all the way to Gatwick. 

Trains were passing through crammed with people because of the derailment, arguments broke out, the Full Fix team, concerned about the spoiling food turned back.

My friend meanwhile had not called, which I thought was strange until I checked Twitter. There I found seven tweet messages from the golden blonde one. Her phone had died and she didn't have my number. She had made it to a pub in Kemptown and borrowed someone's phone to tweet me and wait. 

She had been waiting for two hours.

OMG, I tweeted, I'll be right there. 

Meanwhile, the Full Fix team had rearranged the event to the following evening, but somehow I wasn't sure this was going to happen. You know when sometimes it's just not meant to be.
But I thought, I'll see this through til it happens or we decide to give up on the idea.

Strangely enough, the next night it did happen and it truly was worth the wait and the cleaning.

The only hiccup turned out to be when my phone stopped taking photos and videos because I'd run out of space.

Here are the courses I managed to take pics of and videos with James talking me through the ingredients.

Scallops on Himalayan salt block by Restaurant Fix
Scallops on Himalayan salt block by Restaurant Fix

Sunday

My top Three Bucket List Destinations

I spotted a competition a while back to blog about your top three travel bucket list destinations for a chance to win a holiday with Transun and see the northern lights. As tomorrow is my birthday and I've already tried unsuccessfully to see the northern lights I thought I'd indulge in a little virtual day-dreaming and share my top three destinations.

Each one I've been dreaming about for so long that I already know quite a lot about them from films, books, tv and Pinterest.

Most frustratingly I've been pretty close to all of them, some on more than one occasion, even glimpsing one at a distance, across traffic, yet still out of reach.

Florence


My dream desto - straight away Puccini's aria starts to play in my head. Think Room with a View, Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, Santa Croce and Miss Honeychurch. Think that kiss in the stifling heat and the poppy field. I have watched this film over and over and am transported every time to the banks of the river Arno and the art of Michelangelo.


There is so much art to see, and so many historic places and beautiful piazzas to visit that I'll name just one highlight that I'd love to see when I go there.

Hidden behind an unmarked door in the Uffizi Gallery is the entrance to the Vasari Corridor. It is closed to the general public and runs along the top of the Ponte Vecchio (the bridge across the river). Built in 1565 it gave the ruler Cosimo de Medici safe passage, which became indispensable after he escaped countless assassination attempts. For 200 years it continued in private use before becoming an art gallery of 16th and 17th century art and only open for private tours.

Versailles


The French palace built by the sun King Louis XIV and inhabited by royalty, aristos and all the rest until the women of Paris got fed up of starving and decided to go see Marie Antoinette. And that is possibly the worst summary of 100 years of illustrious history that you'll ever read regarding one of the most spectacular, lavish, ornate and enormous palaces ever built.

From learning about Louis XIV at school to becoming fascinated by the story of Helen Maria Williams and the French Revolution a few years ago, Versailles has kept coming up. I've travelled to Paris three times; once with my family, once on a charity hitch hike as a student and once on a conference to find out about Miss Williams.

The hitch hike from Cardiff involved hitching a ride with a lorry driver who told us he didn't like students, the Irish and wasn't keen on women. I didn't feel comfortable. Another ride, this time in France was with a lady with very long finger nails who drove erratically down a hill with bends in the road that made us silently hold our bags very tight and stare ahead rather nervously.

Rue des Hospitalieres, Saint Gervais, Paris
Rue des Hospitalieres, Saint Gervais, Paris

The winner is announced - Hotel Chocolat Easter egg giveaway and some stats

We have a winner! Massive thanks to everyone who took part, by adding a comment on here, clicking on Bits and Bobs Around Brighton or sending a tweet. Rafflecopter chose the winner and Hotel Chocolat sent them the prize. Dorothy from Winchester was delighted and has sent me an email to let me know it arrived yesterday. Woo hoo!

I also found out a lot about your favourite types of chocolate and as I love stats I thought I'd try and put the results onto an infographic. What I discovered is that my designs skills are not the best. Oh well. 

That said, it's still worth checking it out if you too like stats. 

For instance, can you guess what percentage of you chose milk (according to my very un-scientific study)?  Which is more popular white or dark chocolate?  And what percentage of you chose caramel? #statEaster 

Friday

Something for the weekend by Rosie Davis


Step off the streets of present day Brighton and into the Speakeasies of the 1920s.

It is clear to say that the chic style and risqué origins of the 1920s Speakeasies is becoming ever increasingly popular. Bars, clubs, club nights and music have been evolving into 21st Century versions of a phenomenon that first emerged around 95 years ago and the appeal is obvious. Underground, away from the eyes of the law and your average man, it was dangerous, and who doesn’t love a bit of danger?


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