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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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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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).

next_hedge end_002
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 d├ęcal.

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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Your toy story

I think most girls (and probably boys too, even if they pretend not to) remember their first teddy.

The comfort of having a stuffed bear under your arm, to nuzzle into and clutch closely at night, is one that's difficult to forget.  Some people still keep their childhood teddy bear - in a loft, at their parents house perhaps - or many bears sadly just get lost or given away along the way, left on a bus or a plane, packed into a charity shop bag or passed down to another child or a child of your own.

Being the sentimental type (and someone who is anxious about losing things), most of my childhood teddies (and new ones I've picked up along the way) still live in my bedroom.  So, when John Lewis launched their 'Your toy story' campaign focussing on retro toys, and asked me to write about my teddy bear - I didn't have to look far.

{ t e d d y }


The imaginatively named 'Teddy' came from Boots, and I think was bought by my Grannie.  He has a really retro and rather frayed Boots label stitched in his side.  I didn't have Teddy from being a baby but I do remember having him fondly as a child - the best thing about Teddy is he's so squishy so you really can give him a very enthusiastic hug.  I also love his facial expression, he looks vaguely surprised and excited all at the same time.

{ d o g g y }


Now, Doggy I have had for all of my life - he was given to me by my Grannie on the day after I was born, so his birthday is the day after mine and he is 30 years old! I realise he really is very worse for wear and has lost all of his fur, his ears, his tail, and quite a lot of his stuffing.  He has always had a ribbon around his neck that I 'twiddle' between my fingers or used to rub on my lips as a child.  Once I was put under general anaesthetic as a child at hospital and the only way they could bring me out of it was by rubbing Doggy's ribbon on my face! I don't care how 'sad' it makes me, he still sleeps in my bed most nights!

{ f r a n k  t h e  s h a r k }

Frank the shark

Frank the shark was bought from Ikea about six or seven years ago.  His face really made me smile and I had to bring him home! I once wrote a children's story about Frank the shark - it was about how Frank didn't have any friends because all of the other fish are scared of him.  But he's not scary really, he has a really silly face I think! Tom has kind of adopted Frank the shark and he usually sleeps on his side of the bed - shhhhh!

{ l e w i s  p i g l o o }

Lewis Pigloo

Lewis Pigloo, or just Pigloo for short, is the most recent addition and was bought a couple of months ago, also from Ikea.  Again, I was drawn to his funny face! He is super squishy and a good hugger!

Do you still have your childhood teddy?

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{ post is part of a PR collaboration }

Key A/W pieces - and how to wear

As I'm sat here looking out on torrential rain outside, shivering in my onesie and slippers, my mind has inevitably turned to investing in some new clothes for Autumn and Winter.  Even though it's still August, I think the time has come to pack away the vests and cutoff shorts and embrace scarves and cosy coats.  I've been keeping my eye on the trends for this A/W and have selected a few must-haves as well as pinning some inspiration as to how to wear them! Here's four items I'll be welcoming into my wardrobe...

The burgundy cape

Fairy tale dress-up seems to be big for AW14 - think big furry hoods, ruby reds and capes.  I'm thinking this berry cape would be perfect with skinny jeans and ankle boots (not quite Little Red Riding Hood, but close).

berry check cape, £25, Miss Selfridge 

w e a r   i t :

The folk-y wool jumper

A soft, cosy jumper is always a must for A/W - this patterned jumper from Urban Outfitters also ticks the folk-y/patterned trend too.

patterned jumper, urban outfitters, £42

w e a r   i t :

The geometric printed jacket

Geometric and tesselated prints add a quirkiness to jackets and coats this A/W - from squares, triangles, rectangles and pops of colour.  Keep it simple with a grid print duster jacket until it gets really cold!
neo grid duster jacket, daisy street, £34.99

w e a r   i t :

The oxblood fedora

Oxblood red, particularly the earthy brown tones in the colour spectrum seem to also be big for this season.  I love fedoras worn with chunky scarves and oversized sweaters.
oxblood fedora, daisy street. £9.99
w e a r   i t :

img credit: stockholm-streetstyle.com
If you're looking to pick up some key A/W pieces on a budget, don't forget to hunt for promotional codes online - all of the above linked stores/items have voucherbin stores where you can find discount codes to make investing in new season items a bit cheaper!

Have you invested in anything for Autumn and Winter yet?

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{ post contains a collaborative link }


30th Birthday: Camping Weekend

Many, many months ago, an idea formed in Tom's mind to hold a surprise 30th birthday weekend for me where we would go camping alongside lots of other friends and have a meal on the Sunday with our families too.  Now, those of you who know me will know though I am probably one of the most difficult people ever to plan a surprise for.  My addiction to crime and law type programmes (see: currently ploughing through Scandal) is mainly because in another life I'd have loved to be involved in the Police in crime analytics or anything investigative - so as soon as I caught a whiff that something was being planned I naturally cross-examined Tom until, a few weeks ago I pretty much had everything figured out and had completely spoiled the surprise.  I know - I am AWFUL.  The good thing though, is that finding out all of the plans meant that I had loads to look forward to (and could plan what I was going to wear - isn't that always the downside of a surprise, you're never wearing the right clothes).

SO - the weekend before last, we headed off to Eweleaze Farm near Weymouth for three nights of camping by the sea, on a farm - what could be cooler than that? What I didn't know until a couple of days before is that Eweleaze Farm has farm animals wandering around, a stonebaked pizza oven and hot food cabin, piglet handling and sheep shearing and even a meditation tent and a Turkish Bath.  It was a rather special campsite to say the least! Tom had also arranged for us to stay in a bell tent, complete with super-comfy double bed and lots of fairy lights - right up my street! I think Bodhi liked it too...

Bell tentBodhi camping

One of my friends arrived that night with her own tent to pitch outside ours, so we had a little party in our tent with some champagne! Tom and Kate cheekily arranged some birthday cupcakes and candles so that when I popped out to go to the loo they were waiting for me when I got back! They were absolutely amazing and disappeared pretty quickly....

Birthday cupcakesBirthday cupcakes

After a couple of drinks, the three of us and Bodhi decided to go for an explore of the campsite and to search out some food.  We were treated to a rather beautiful sunset...

Sunset Bodhi and Tom

As I mentioned, the campsite has a hot food cabin, a stonebaked pizza van, a bakery, a patisserie and an ice cream shop!  You can sit outside and eat your dinner under strings of fairy lights.  We opted for pizza, and after a bit more champagne and some campsite wandering, we were ready for our beds.

Food area
Hot food

The next day we got up and had a leisurely loll in camping chairs in our PJs, before brewing cups of tea on the gas stove and visiting the hot food cabin for breakfast baps (we had these included in our bell tent stay - pretty awesome!) A couple more of my friends arrived, and then also Kate's family, so we had two little girls to use as token children to give us an excuse to visit the piglets! The brown one was my favourite.

Piglets Pig

We also went for another walk around the campsite and along some of the South West coastal path.  I think you'll agree, it's a pretty awesome location for a campsite!

Campsite view Beach

In the evening it was BBQ time, and some of Tom and mine's friends who live in nearby Weymouth joined us for some BBQing and cider and champagne drinking! We love our two little BBQs, they are perfect for camping or BBQs in the garden for just the two of us.


Archie the pug definitely liked the smell of the barbecue!


One of our friends brought with her some home-baked and utterly delicious Oreo cupcakes, as well as a Bose speaker, so we blasted out 90s R&B tunes and munched on cake until it got dark - also lighting a campfire to keep us warm.  Unfortunately around 10pm the UK's version of Hurricane Bertha set in, bringing with it almost immediate torrential rain and strong winds! We then all did the campsite rain scramble - grabbing whatever needed to be put indoors and hiding in our tents watching the rain.  This brought the party to a rather sudden close and we all snuggled into our duvets and tried to sleep through the storm (which was totally impossible).

The next day we cured our sogginess and slight hangovers with McDonalds breakfasts (the hot food cabin was so busy they couldn't sell hot food!) and I waved goodbye to my friends, with Tom and I filling the remaining day and a half with trips to the Turkish bath, reading, walks around the campsite and post-storm snoozes.  We also had a lovely meal out on the Sunday with both of our parents at the Pie and Ale House in Weymouth.  Perfection - and what an amazing way to celebrate my 30th birthday! Tom is a good egg for organising it, isn't he? I am a lucky lady!

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