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30 August 2014

Chewton Glen Spa Day with Next

I was recently lucky enough to be asked to go to the launch of the new Next Hedge End store, and myself and Emma spent a fab morning nosing around the wonderful new store and eyeing up lots of clothes and homeware bits! No sooner had we spent our vouchers, we were whisked off to Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa for what was one of the most amazing and special days I've had in a long time.

Chewton Glen is a privately owned luxury country house hotel and spa located about five minutes from me in New Milton in the New Forest.  The stunning hotel has 130 acres of grounds, a renowned restaurant and a spa that offers over 60 treatments.  I have hankered after going for a spa day there for some time so it was a real treat to be invited to spend the day relaxing in the spa and then attend a champagne reception and three course dinner (I think I speak for both myself and Emma when I say we felt like to rather lucky little ladies!)

The house is simply stunning, and as you draw up the private drive you really feel as if you're about to visit somewhere special.

Chewton Glen front

I loved all of the Hunter boots lined up for dashing out to the car on wet mornings!

Chewton Glen Hunters

When we arrived at the hotel we were taken through to one of the function rooms for tea and biscuits and to find out more about the day.  We were all given complimentary treatments at the spa, and those of us that had 1pm appointments were taken up to the spa area to fill out consultation forms. Emma had opted for a manicure and I picked a full body massage, so we excitedly made our way to the treatment rooms! My massage was absolutely incredible, so relaxing! I've never had a full body massage before and I had to try not to fall asleep, I felt totally blissed out.  I've mentioned I've been experiencing a lot of lower back problems and she definitely worked a lot of tension out of my shoulders, it was amazing.

After our treatments we went for a buffet lunch in the spa restaurant.  Both mine and Emma's eyes were a little bigger than our bellies and we piled our plates high with the yummy options on offer, and then went back for two helpings of dessert! Feeling a little full we then ventured down to the pool (full of chocolate mousse and going to a swimming pool is not ideal - oops!). Sitting outside in the jacuzzi bath in the sunshine was pretty perfect.  We then tried out all of their different hydrotherapy pools, the steam room and foot spa.

After a couple of hours enjoying the spa and attaining extreme levels of relaxation, we decided to venture outside to take in the grounds.  It really is a beautiful house and the grounds are simply stunning - there's also another outdoor pool tucked away to the side of the hotel.

Chewton Glen green Chewton Glen

We had fun in the leaf swings!

As well as the main hotel rooms, you can also stay in one of Chewton Glen's treehouses, situated in secluded spots in the forest.  You can just see in that photo one of the outdoor hot tubs.  Can you imagine lying in the hot tub in the sunshine, drinking a glass of champagne and enjoying the sights and sounds of the forest? There's even binoculars hanging from hooks in the windows for birdspottin - I think they've really thought of everything.

Chewton Glen treehouse
Chewton Glen woods

During a further walk around the back of the hotel we happened upon their bug hotel - I think these rooms are probably more in my budget than the treehouses (teehee!)

Chewton Glen bug hotel

There's even a beautiful walled kitchen garden, surrounded by wildflowers.

Chewton Glen kitchen garden

After nosing around the garden we then strolledback to the hotel terrace and stopped for a drink in the sunshine.  I opted for a local cider and Emma had a rather yummy looking non-alcoholic cocktail.

Chewton Glen outside
Emma at Chewton Glen

After all that exploring it was time to get changed for dinner.  The other press people attending were staying at the hotel as they'd travelled down from London, so we switched tops and put a bit of make-up on in the spa.  Doesn't Emma look stunning?

We went down to the restaurant for champagne and to take our seats at the dinner table.  The dinner table looked lovely with all of the fresh flowers.

Chewton Glen dinner
Chewton Glen dinner table

For my starter I had smoked salmon with sour cream and chive mousse, and shards of toast coloured with squid ink!

Chewton Glen starter

For my main course I had anglaise chicken and herb gnocchi.

Chewton Glen main course

For dessert I had strawberry pavlova with basil sorbet.  The basil sorbet was incredible, really refreshing and tangy - I must try and find a recipe!

Chewton Glen dessert

After all of that delicious food it was time to wave goodbye to Chewton Glen and the lovely Next ladies and head home.  It was such a wonderful day and I'm hugely grateful to Next for inviting me along.  Make sure you check out my post about the new Next Hedge End store, and pay it a visit if you're nearby!

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28 August 2014

Out and about: What's in my hand luggage?

I consider myself a pretty organised person - a lover of to-do lists and spreadsheets, with endless scribbled notes and appointments filling my Filofax, my finances carefully managed and all important documents filed in a box under my desk.  This level of organisation definitely extends to holiday planning - my pre-holiday routine usually involves creating files of all addresses we're staying at, organising travel insurance documents and tickets into a folder and researching local restaurants, as well as ensuring everything is ironed/charged/packed well in advance.

Even though we don't leave for the States until Tuesday, I've already packed most of my main bag (a big red holdall) and I've even started packing my hand luggage just so I can make sure nothing is forgotten!

Ritz recently got in contact about their newest product - Ritz Breaks, and kindly sent me an 'Out and About' pack so I can get my snack on whilst on the go! They sent me an awesome Mini Mi-Pac backpack with two packs of their new Ritz Breaks crackers, which are incredibly yummy.

Ritz Breaks

The backpack is the perfect size for hand luggage and will be really useful on my Trek America adventure.  I tend to always pack snacks in my hand luggage as there's nothing worse than being hungry on a long plane journey.  Buying snacks is definitely a favourite hobby of mine so you can bet I'll be hitting up the supermarket to get some sweets and other bits to accompany my Ritz Breaks in my plane bag.

Ritz Breaks

Electronics wise, I usually pack my compact camera in my hand luggage and my SLR in my main luggage.  You never know what photo opportunities you might miss out on the plane - obviously the classic 'wing and clouds' shot is not to be missed... As well as my camera I'll obviously also have my phone, my iPad Mini and my Philips Downtown Denims headphones.  I've loaded loads of books onto the Kindle app on my iPad Mini so I'll definitely be doing lots of reading on the plane and hopefully whilst we're away too.

I always pack a few skincare/cosmetic bits as there's nothing worse than getting dry and dehydrated skin from all that recirculated plane air.

Ritz Breaks

Here's what will be in my (clear) make-up bag:

Tisserand Focus Aromatherapy Rollerball (to keep me feeling energised and de-stressed during the flight)
Pai Skincare Rosehip Biogenerate Oil (to keep my skin hydrated and combat the effects of the dry air on the plane)
Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask (I usually apply this before a snooze on a night flight as it's so quenching and soothing)
Jurlique Citrus Hand Cream (to keep my hands feeling soft throughout the flight)
Maybelline Baby Lips (I don't tend to wear make-up on flights so this will give a bit of colour and keep my lips hydrated)
Lush Sweet Lips (to get rid of any dry skin - and it tastes amazing!)

I also usually pack slippers or fluffy socks and maybe even some comfy jogging bottoms to change into if it's a longer flight.  Of course I'll be raiding WHSmith's in the airport for some magazines too.

What are your hand luggage essentials? Oh, and make sure you check out the MEGA yummy Ritz Breaks if you're a snack fiend like me!

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27 August 2014

Hedge End Next Store Launch

Here is a little known fact about me.  I love a good retail park.  I know, I know - you might laugh, but I secretly love visiting all the big 'superstore' versions of my favourite shops.  What's not to like about being able to go on a mega shopping spree and browse all of their stock at your leisure?  I have been known to look up local retail parks when we visit new places - sure, tiny boutique-y shops are cool, but there is a lot to be said for a superstore.  (I even get excited about shopping at new supermarkets I haven't been to before, I like finding out what different, cool foods they sell.  Totally weird, I know).

Next will always have a special place in my heart as a brand - particularly their amazing homewares department which in my opinion is the best on the high street.  But I also adore their shoes, clothes, nightwear - pretty much everything they sell, actually.  So what happens when one of my favourite brands, opens a mega, pretty amazing looking superstore (one of their biggest in the country), about 45 minutes from where I live? Well, luckily I was invited along to take a peek and find out...

The new Next store in Hedge End (near Fareham - between Southampton and Portsmouth) is visually, just stunning.  As we drew up outside, it was clear that the store was going to be totally awesome both inside and out.

Next Hedge End store

There's a Costa on the top floor, so after being treated to a cup of tea, we were taken on a tour by their store manager Sean.

The first thing that struck us was how light and bright the whole store is - light floods through all of the glass panelling and as you stand in the entrance area you can't help but feel impressed by the scale of it all (and the hanging armchairs of course).

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Next Hedge End store

It even has a real tree growing in the entrance area, strung with pretty bunting...

Next Hedge End store

One of the main aims of the store is that it is eco-friendly and minimises its environmental impact, which ticks some major boxes for me.  The store was built on the site of Wildern Mill, and actually use materials from the old Wildern Mill buildings in the building of the store in order to reuse and recycle materials.  It has solar panels on the roof to generate electricity, and even bat houses in the woods adjacent to the store to protect the local bats.  I think that's pretty cool!

Mine and Emma's favourite part of the store was the garden centre area.  There were open sections in the glass panelling so you were sort of outside and inside all at once - there were so many beautiful flowers and plants and even summerhouses! (Can I move into one please, they are so pretty!)

Next Hedge End store

Of course, my next stop was the shoes.  Their womens' footwear department is rather impressive.... It would have been rude not to pay it a visit after they made it look so lovely and neat, right?

next_hedge end_001

I rather fell for these blue brogues - they might have to hop into my A/W wardrobe... I think the pretty pastel colour will mean they bridge the gap between this weird Autumn-Summer we're currently having and whenever Autumn actually turns up for real!

next_hedge end_007

Of course their homes department was pretty as a picture...  I love this 'house rules' wall décal.

Next Hedge End store

We also paid a visit to their Menswear department - so many beautiful tailored suits and leather brogues - swoon.

next_hedge end_009

We were kindly given a £50 gift voucher to treat ourselves to something from the new store but I'm afraid I gave the Menswear department the swerve (sorry Tom!) and spent £80 in their womenswear department (okay, I bought a pair of shoes too - oops!) I will share what I bought at a later date in a little outfit post. I also picked up a couple of summer-y dresses and tops for my impending USA adventure.

After our shopping spree, we were taken off to the beautiful Chewton Glen for a spa day and dinner - but I'm going to save that for another post, I can't wait to tell you about the wonderful day they treated us to!

Are you a Next fan? Will you be visiting their new Hedge End superstore?

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