Hello, blog readers!
I know I have been a little absent from the blog, but I had to go on a much-needed rest. Life has been so intense over the last few months of 2018, that I felt the need to book a little getaway to recharge my batteries, right after I welcomed 2019! But let's rewind a bit: Christmas came and went, and I had lots of fun playing UNO cards, Monopoly Cheaters Edition and some epic classic card games. The same was repeated on New Years Eve, since this year I took a much more 'secluded' approach to the celebrations. I wasn't up for being surrounded by drunk people, neither was I for all the queues, traffic and stress that comes with going out on New Years Eve. Instead, Bruno and I hosted a little get together at our house, where we played board games, watched movies and welcomed the New Year from home with a glass of Champagne. We watched the amazing London Fireworks on the TV, and stayed up all night playing games. I cannot remember the last time I pulled an all nighter...but boy was it fun!
In 2019 I want to continue to work on most of the same goals I had for 2018. While I still need to improve some of them, I also need to change my approach and choose different methods to make the other goals come true. For everything that I planned to do in 2018 and couldn't, I want to make 2019 the year where I experiment different ways to make those dreams come to life!
In 2019, I want to continue to inspire other people. I want to do more of the things that matter, and let go of those that don't. I want to start living more, without fear of what others will think of my choices or approaches. I want to make 2019 the year of living to the fullest; a year of travelling and exploring even more; a year of continuing to find my place in this world. In 2019, I want to continue on my journey and mission through veganism, learning new recipes and cooking more healthy foods. This year, I want to stop poisoning both my body and mind. I want to focus more on Yoga, meditation, exercise and the outdoors. I want to continue to spend a significant amount of time in nature, where I always feel calm and at peace. I want to keep exploring the link between nature and happiness. In 2019, I want to continue to read more books and watch more documentaries about subjects that matter to me. I welcomed 2019 with open arms, in the hope that this year will bring me nothing but genuine happiness, in whichever shape or form.
I hope that 2019 brings you everything that you wished for. I hope that all your dreams for the new year come true.
Since the final months of last year were somewhat stressful for me, I felt like it was time to get away exclusively for relaxation purposes. No, I don't mean camping or glamping; I don't mean booking a place somewhere remote, but then waking up at 4 am to go shoot the sunrise.... I mean it was time to take a few days off to recharge batteries, forget about the world, do nothing all day if I had to...and then return to reality feeling ready to take control of 2019!
I looked at a few flights and weighed the pros and cons of going away from the country, but since both Bruno and I had very little money to spend on a trip (I blame Christmas for this one...!); and Bruno was working throughout these two weeks, I opted for something 'easier'. And the choice was obvious! I was dying to go back to the Lake District, so another trip was definitely the right option.
We went on a two-day getaway to Windermere, until the 4th January, and we stayed at Beech Hill Hotel & Spa. I booked our stay easily, through Groupon, and from that moment I'd been in countdown, looking forward to a few nights away.
Driving to the Lake District was a pleasant experience, and as soon as we arrived in Windermere, I was amazed by all the beautiful scenery and luxurious mansions with enormous gardens! What a beautiful area to explore. Everything was surrounded by trees, and the lake was peaceful and inviting you to relax. We stopped in the town centre for some quick photos and to go in a few shops, before driving the final 10 minutes of our journey, until we arrived at our destination.
Once we arrived at the hotel, we checked in. It was 12pm, and even though our check-in wasn't until 3pm, they still let us check-in early. The hotel staff was incredible throughout our stay. I couldn't wait to explore the facilities!
The hotel looked pretty 'simple' on the outside, and I wasn't expecting such a warm, inviting vibe on the inside. But in reality, the hotel looked straight out of a magazine: the reception room and hall were decorated with Christmas trees, wreaths and fairy lights; there was a fireplace with stockings and a massive Santa Claus sat in a car by the windows, at the entrance of the restaurant. A small staircase behind the reception desk led to some of the rooms. The spa was through a narrow corridor and down a few stories from the ground floor.
As we opened our room door, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did I expect a room without a lake view - I am pretty sure we paid for a cheaper room without a view of the lake - but I was happy to see how big the room was. It was huge! I don't know if we got upgraded as a kind gesture, or if I signed up for more than I thought. Either way, it was a pleasant surprise to open the door and see the lake, a nice, spacious bedroom with wardrobe, TV, a decent sized couch that easily fit 2, maybe 3 people, and a little coffee table with too arm chairs. All in one room! The bathroom, and in particular the shower was slightly smaller than what I was expecting, but the rest of the room certainly made up for that lack of space.
But there was more! On the left side of the room, there was yet another dressing table, with a mirror, and some tea, coffee and biscuits. We were also kindly offered a bottle of champagne on arrival.
After we got settled in, it was time to try out the spa! We left the room and followed the directions to the spa. We went down a few flights of stairs until we got to the spa. The spa facilities had a few treatment rooms, lots of lockers and two shower rooms. We put our things in the lockers, got changed and I was ready to relax...
The inside pool was very inviting, and so was the steam room, and especially the sauna, but I have to confess that the highlight was the outdoor jacuzzi. I have decided I want to have a jacuzzi on my balcony, please! - If only...
After spending a few hours in the spa, we decided to take showers and get ready for dinner. Our first dinner at the hotel was included with the deal, so we've booked it for 7 pm, at Burlington's Restaurant. I was nervous to see the menu. As a vegan, I thought this would be a struggle. I had looked online prior to our visit but couldn't find anything, not even vegetarian on the menu! Luckily, after asking a waiter for some advice, they've come back with a different, vegan menu for me. I was very impressed! They even had vegan desserts! And...no, I'm not talking about a bowl of fresh fruit....I'm talking apple pies, etc. I went for a peas and mint risotto as a starter - best risotto I've had in my life! - and I went for a savoury pie filled with mushrooms, and served with a delicious sauce!
The view from the dining room was pretty spectacular, too. You could see the river, the trees, and you could even hear the birds singing. I was sure I had chosen a beautiful location and place to stay for our getaway.
After dinner, we decided to explore Windermere at night. The plan was never to drive too far away from where we were staying. The main purpose of this trip was not to see too much, but to relax and see little bits. The goal was to go on little walks, rather than fill our days with too much stuff.
We visited a few shops and got a feel of Windermere by night. Because all the streets were still illuminated with Christmas lights, it was extra special to walk through the streets that night.
Christmas shops....Christmas trees... Christmas lights....you get what I mean!
It was pretty cold that night, so after we bought a few bits from a shop - Bruno bought a few jumpers - we headed back to the Hotel. We both really wanted to experience the spa at night, especially that hot tub outside, so we got changed once again and went to the spa at night The spa facilities closed at 9 pm, but since it's winter, it gets pretty dark very early, so I was fascinated with the idea of getting in a hot tub when it's zero degrees outside. I mean...wouldn't you?
It was incredible! The hot tub was lit up, there were fairy lights all around us, and even though a few people were also using the facilities still, as it got closer to 8 pm, most of them left, leaving us with a practically private spa!!!
I spent some time in the sauna as well, but taking pictures in the spa was incredibly difficult. The camera lens kept steaming up, logically, so the number of photos I took that night was very limited.
We went to bed early, and we woke up at 7 am the next morning to go for breakfast at the hotel. My favourite hotel experience is the whole breakfast thing. I know it's sad, but nothing can quite beat a hotel breakfast experience. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, and having it in a hotel just makes the whole experience even more pleasant. Am I the only one? There's just something about hotel breakfasts! There...I said it!
We spent most of the day in the spa, and at night, after dinner (we ordered a take-away), we played dominoes. We had so much fun! I hadn't played dominoes literally in years! It was a great way to unwind, have fun and relax.
The hotel had a whole range of board games available for us to play with. From Clue to Monopoly, Cards and Dominoes, there was plenty of entertainment to choose from.
We went to the room and watched some TV before going to bed.
When I woke up the next day, I couldn't believe it was the last day at the hotel! Where did time go? Even though I wasn't stressed out at all during these two days, they sure flew by! Once again, we wanted to make the most of the day, so we headed down for breakfast at 8:00 am, half an hour later than the previous day, and I made the most of that breakfast! We had to check out at 11 am, so we decided to skip the spa, which opened at 9 am, and go for a walk around the hotel instead. There was plenty to see: the hotel was surrounded by tiny paths that led to the lake. The wooden and stone steps were mostly surrounded by trees or grass, and the lake water was transparent, which resulted in beautiful mirrored reflexions on the water.
I had fun photographing the lake and scenery surrounding me. I wanted to be able to remember this beauty forever. It felt so relaxing to just sit there and listen to the birds. I was in my element, and I kept thinking about one particular quote: Look deep into nature, and then you'll understand everything better'. This couldn't be more true.
It was time to say goodbye. We checked out of the hotel, and we drove to Windermere for one final stop before returning to Newcastle. Bruno fell in love with one of the jumpers he bought in the town center, and he wanted to get another one. I bought a few postcards with photographs from Windermere, and also a fridge magnet (classic!).
We also came across a few cute coffee shops like this one. At around 12:30 pm, we started heading back to Newcastle, where we arrived at around 2:30 pm.
I really enjoyed this getaway. I'm starting to understand and do something about the fact that travelling doesn't mean spending lots of money on flights, or saving huge amounts of money throughout the year to go somewhere far away. Little experiences like this one are more affordable, and equally, if not even more satisfying. Instead of depressing over the fact that I really, really wish I could afford a trip to Canada or the USA for a whole month...I might as well explore this country I live in, in the best way I can. Experiences are experiences, whether they happen 2 minutes or 2 hours away from where you call 'home'. In 2019, I hope to live more experiences like this one.
This trip was a great way to recharge batteries for the New Year that has already started. I will spend mine working on my commitments to myself, and on improving certain areas of my life. So, if I ever feel the need to travel, and my bank account laughs and me and tells me 'Travel where? To the park?...', instead of crawling into a ball and wanting to die, why not say 'Yes! Good idea! Let's go!'?
2019 will be a great year! I can feel it...
Happy New Year!