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In these credit crunch times, spa days seem to be not only out of our reach, but frowned upon. Yet, , despite our best intentions, it is only a matter of time before the imposed frugality just gets boring. That's when it is time to visit The Spa at Pennyhill Park. 5 star Pennyhill Park, nestled in over 123 acres in Bagshot, Surrey hosts The Spa,the largest spa complex in the UK with over 45,000 sq ft but yet it is not as well known as the Champneys or Sanctuary brands as it does not cater to the mass market. Pennyhill Park is 45 minutes from central London and houses the Michelin starred restaurant The Latymer as well as the more casual Brasserie Restaurant. Spa days at Pennyhill start at £175 which normally includes full use of the facilities, a 2 course lunch at Cafe Themis and a hour treatment of your choice. Without even taking in the luxurious treatment rooms, there was more than enough to keep us busy. We started off unwinding in the leather massage chairs on the first floor overlooking the pools and reluctantly got up after 30 minutes to try the other facilities including the jaw dropping "ballroom"swimming pool with piped underwater music. We wandered through the extensive Thermal Heaven(herbal saunas,aromatic laconiums, tepidariums, an ice cave and a schnapps steam room) like it was a big adult playground. We did peek into the Fitness Suite but decided to go back to lazing around. (Exercise, bah!).We managed to muster the energy to take the lift to Cafe Themis for our well-deserved lunch. We decided to go with the two course lunch buffet option at £12.95 as after all that hard work of massaging, scrubbing and floating, we couldn't possibly be expected to tax our brains to pick out what we wanted to eat. We topped off our hectic day with a snooze in the Sensory Relaxation Lounge with the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in. At the end of our experience, my husband and I felt we had been abroad for a couple of weeks and were blissfully chilled for almost the same period. The only problem is that from now on, any sort of pampering, will now be compared to the Pennyhill Park experience and somehow, I fear they may fall a bit short.
Arima is my hometown and has changed a lot since I was little. Even though it may not be as large as the capital, Port of Spain, or other larger cities such as San Fernando, Arima has a rich and varied history. Arima means "water" and is the fourth largest town in Trinidad and Tobago. It is home to the Carib Queen, who is the recognised leader of the few remaining members of the Carib Indians, who are indigenous to Trinidad. Arima is considered the gateway to the east and it is easy to access the North Coast of Trinidad from Arima and further afield such as rural areas such as Toco and Sangre Grande. Arima has a bustling shopping centre for those looking for souvenirs or local goods. It is close to Piarco International Airport as well as the large shopping centre in Trincity.It is also one of the main centres for Parang, which is the local Christmas music of Trinidad, which is sung in Spanish. Arima also has its own carnival, which is not a large as the one in Port of Spain, but has its own particular vibrancy. Arima is not a typical tourist destination but is definitely worth a look
As though of us who have visited Dubai know, nothing is done by halves in this country. We have all heard accounts of the luxury on hand during a visit but until you have been for yourself, it seems a bit unreal I visited Grosvenor House in November 2005 for a mini conference I was organising. I approached a number of the big hotels in Dubai for packages but was impressed by the level of service and professionalism exhiibited by the sales manager at the hotel. The hotel had only been open a few months before and the Dubai Marina was undergoing a dizzying level of construction but we were there for only three days and wouldn't be doing much in the way of sunbathing. From the moment of arrival at GH, we were taken care of. Nothing was too much trouble. The staff were extremely helpful even though I wasn't some big tipping sheik. The conference snacks were restaurant quality and the lunch and breakfast buffets were breathtaking in their variety and scope. They made considerable provision for all our dietary preferences as we had delegates from every continent who were accustomed to a high level of service. And the desserts (from French pastries, fresh fruit to traditional Middle eastern dessert), there wasn't much wiggle room in the trousers by the end of the stay. We were all upgraded to apartments even though one of the staff told me during the visit that some of the Royal family were staying there at the time. Therefore we had apartments for approximately £180 a night which included all our conference meals,drinks and snacks.By the time I left, I had a 6 months supply of Molton Brown toiletries as they refreshed them about 3 times a day for both the main bath area and the toilet as well. We were allowed to use the facilities of the sister hotel, Le Meridien Beach Club, which was just across the road so we had a short visit at the spa there.But the best part was as hotel guests, we managed to bypass the long and trendy looking queue that was snaking the length and breadth of the Buddha Bar, which was a fantastic experience. I am not much of a raver but I am aware that the Buddha Bar was part of an achingly hip chain of clubs and I am sure if we had not waved our hotel passes at the doorman, we would have never gotten past the beautiful people. The 15 foot Buddha dominates the two floors of the club/restaurant and it is not one for a quiet night out but we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Be warned, drinks are not cheap. In a rare moment of largesse, the boss sprung for champagne for everybody and when we got back home, he almost had a stroke when he saw the bill! :0 Overall, I can't say enough good things about the Grosvenor House. it is not a family resort, you are better off going across the road to the Royal Meridien for that. I am not sure if there is still a lot of construction in the area and how things have developed since my visit but if you are looking for a sophisticated adult break or a sleek business venue, GH will do just fine
For those of us who live in some of the more gastronomically barren parts of the UK, finding a tasty, cheap, fast food option is a bit challenging. You can probably find tasty food and you could probably find cheap food but rarely do you find the two in the same place! Except for Nando's. As a chicken lover from warmer climes, finding a juicy, well seasoned piece of chicken is a rarity until I found this Portuguese chain. Even my mother loves them and my mum can do some mean chicken. Everything about Nando's is welcoming; the simple yet tasty menu,the warm decor , the lovely world music in the background and the courteous staff. It is one of the few popular fast food options that are family friendly but you would still take a date to for a low-key meal. Prices are reasonable and there are also tasty options for vegetarians as well. Desserts are a bit limited but most people really go there for the chicken which you can see being freshly grilled just behind the till. You can also get free refills on fizzy soft drinks and there are a myriad of sauces to choose from to enhance your meaty options. I just can't get enough of that peri-peri sauce!
I have had my little Sony Walkman NW-E003 almost two years now and it serves me in good stead. As I mainly use it for the short commute to and from work and driving around town, it serves me as well as I have an adaptor for the cassette tape deck in my old Honda Accord. That way when the sat nav/cd player thieves in my neck of the woods peep in to the front of my car, all they see is the prehistoric cassette deck and swiftly move on. The earphones are good quality yet unobtrusive and it is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.The Sonicstage software is simple enough for a technophobe like myself to use For those of us, who do not need 300GB and a gazillion songs on our players, it is a nifty little gadget to have around. It is small, attractive and versatile. Two days ago, my husband managed to slam it in the car door by accident and it is still working!