January 2018 Things

Husband persuaded me to use some of my precious leave for the first week of January so I had a very quiet start to 2018.  Still managed a couple of things to get me out of the house though!

Celtic Manor – again
The Celtic Manor has rapidly become our hotel of choice for last minute breaks.  We managed to fit in afternoon tea and I had an incredibly relaxing Elemis facial where I managed to suppress my ongoing cough for a whole hour.  I was quite impressed with myself.  On the way home from Cardiff, we managed to fit in a visit to the McArthur Glen Outlet in Swindon (of course) but also Ikea – it was a breeze as everyone else had gone back to work.

Everyman Esher
I love an Everyman.  When Husband demands I see a Star Wars or a Bond with him, I will only go if he can promise it’s going to be an Everyman.  Esher is our fifth different branch – to be honest, it’s not really that close to us, but we felt like a change and couldn’t be bothered to go all the way into London.  We had an excellent hot dog and fries, I bought a bucket of popcorn, and we settled into the sofa in their beautiful art deco screen.  I was a little worried as there were a bunch of children scattered around the auditorium, but Husband actually enjoyed listening to their animated chatter about his favourite franchise.

As for the film – eh, it was ok.

Sara Pascoe – LadsLadsLads
I love her.

Network at the National Theatre
An astonishing piece of work which I have yet to write about (I need to get on that).

Coffee and fries in Brighton
Someone in my team went to Brighton for the weekend and I recommended she visit BeFries because it’s just the best.  I told Husband that we were talking about those beautiful Belgian fries at work, and the next thing I knew, we’d booked a weekend away at The Grand.

An entire weekend break just to eat fries.  I can’t think of a better reason.

August Things

August is birthday month in the Untold Blisses household.  And what do birthdays mean?  A trip to the…

Celtic Manor!
Our new birthday tradition – a trip to my favourite UK hotel which this year included afternoon tea, a trip to the spa, and much booze.  WIN.

We bought a car
I adore my car.  His name is Kasper and he is my favourite possession.   But he’s getting on a bit, and I feel like he needs to retire to a nice farm in the country, so Husband and I took a trip to the car shop to look for something new.

The new one won’t be here for a couple of months yet so I have plenty of time to find a name for it.  And also to say goodbye to Kasper.  Oh no, I can feel the tears coming already.

Jessica Jones
I have resisted Jessica Jones for such a long time, dismissing it as too similar to Veronica Mars, or too superhero-ey.

I was wrong about that – it’s amazing and there are not enough episodes.  We’ve now moved on to Daredevil to see if that gives me the same feels, after which we’ll get started on The Defenders.

Bicester Village
I do feel bad for Husband this year, as I haven’t really helped him figure out what to get me for my birthday.  We’re both still trying to do this mindful/purposeful shopping thing so he didn’t want to buy me something for the sake of it.  So we took a quick drive up the A34 to Bicester Village to see if anything took my fancy at the Liberty Outlet store.

It turned out to be the quickest visit I’ve ever made as we just dipped into Liberty and Kate Spade, I decided on a Liberty purse, then we were back on our way.  We’re nothing if not efficient.

Much skincare
I’ve talked enough about my first online Sephora order but this month I also managed to scoop up a silly amount of K-Beauty from TK Maxx, and bought the Net A Porter On The Go Beauty Kit which has an awesome amount of fun things to try.  I really do need to start using this all up (what was that I said about mindful shopping?).

Happy birthday in a hot bath

I don’t quite know how I managed it, but I convinced Husband to go to the Celtic Manor for his birthday this year.  We visited a lot last year – it felt like every time they emailed with a special offer, we booked up, and we even spent our anniversary there.  To say I’ve become obsessed is a bit of an understatement.

We had planned to continue the visits this year, but time has got away from us and we found ourselves in August without having made a trip into Wales.  Fortunately, we managed to find some time in amongst Husband’s many overseas business trips and spent another wonderful afternoon, evening, and morning in one of their signature rooms.

You can’t go wrong with a signature room – gorgeous huge bed, marbled bathroom, Elemis toiletries, and turn down service.  I wouldn’t want to stay in any other room.

We booked afternoon tea as treat – another great reason to visit.  Last year, we had winter themed tea, so it was fantastic to try the summer version with inventive and tasty sandwiches, savouries, and cakes.

The Prosecco was an added bonus.

After tea, I managed to fit in a 50 minute Elemis facial at the Forum Spa which came with a shoulder, arm, hand, and scalp massage.  I love the treatment rooms at the Forum Spa as you can truly relax without noise coming from other rooms.

A stay on the signature floor gives you access to a lounge with yet more free Prosecco, and also delicious cocktails like my Raspberry Swizzle.  It was so good, it gave me an instant hangover.

We decided to order in room service because we didn’t feel like putting fancy clothes on, although there are so many restaurants to choose from.  We ate burgers and fries as the sun went down, followed by a lovely bath with the Elemis products, before falling asleep in front of the Hunger Games on TV.  We had a blissful sleep, and woke in plenty of time for the delicious signature breakfast.

And they’ve already sent another discount code for a return stay.  Can’t wait to go back.

Celtic Manor Hotel, Newport

CelticManor_8Onto my second hotel stay of July – a conference trip and overnight stay at the Celtic Manor in Wales.  I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this one, as I’ve felt a bit of conference fatigue this year, and I’d made an assumption that the hotel wasn’t going to be that great.

I was way wrong.

To make it clear, I was actually working for the two days I spent there.  There were a whole bunch of seminars about our records database and I learnt a lot.  Many exciting (if you’re me) developments and lots of things to look forward to (again, if you’re me) in forthcoming updates.

But there was also a bit of downtime, which allowed me to spend a significant time in the spa.  YES!

When my manager and I arrived, we were told that the actual conference was three escalators down.  Whoa, this was a big hotel.  Crazy Vegas size.  There was an insane amount of space downstairs, and I’ve just read that they’re building an even bigger centre which looks very impressive.  In a break, a plan was made to visit the spa, just to see if they had any availability at the end of the day.  And what do you know, they had time for us both to have a Elemis facial.  At £20 for 25 minutes, it was ridiculous value for money and left my skin feeling zingy.

After the facial, I said goodbye to my manager as she wasn’t staying overnight, and checked into my room.

For some fortuitous reason, I had been given a Signature Room – new decor, Elemis toiletries, complimentary wine and chocolates, HUGE bed, and access to the Signature Lounge and restaurant which I visited for breakfast the following morning.  I even got a signature smoothie with my toast.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As I was there alone, I didn’t fancy going to the conference dinner but they were all booked up at the Forum Spa so I was preparing to curl up on the HUGE bed and read. On flicking through the brochures, I suddenly realised they had a second spa up in the Golf Club and managed to get a massage appointment.  YAY for the Ocius Spa!  I trekked up the hill, spent a wonderful 25 minutes getting my back pummelled, and then wandered back down the hill in time for some room service.

My yummy burger arrived at the same time as the turndown service, another treat that comes with the Signature Room.  I should have said yes for curiosity sake, but I got a bit flustered so said I didn’t need it.  I did get a free Elemis lip balm though which was AMAZING.

Lots more work followed the next day, but I snuck away at lunch to have a manicure.  It was possibly the best conference/spa break I’ve ever been to.