I’ve just returned from a blissful 4-day break at Ragdale Hall Health Spa in Leicestershire (that’s right in the middle of England for my non-UK friends – around 2.5 hours’ drive from my home, west of London). I went with my Mother – it’s something we’ve been doing for a few years, to celebrate our birthdays and have a little mother-and-daughter time. It’s her treat to me – and quite a treat it is!
When it comes to health spas, Ragdale Hall is in a league of its own. They have an elegant estate in a beautiful rural setting, a wonderful attitude to customer care, a stupendous array of treatments, a creative and imaginative way with food, and fabulous facilities. Hard to beat, on every level.
From the moment you pull up at the door and a young man emerges to take your case whilst another valet parks your car, to the moment you leave, there is no detail left unattended. It’s one of those places that looks perfectly sublime on the surface, but you can only imagine what goes on backstage to deliver that calm, professional and infinitely relaxed ambience.
This year, visiting Ragdale Hall with over 50 fewer fatty pounds on my bones was a truly invigorating experience in a host of new ways. With more energy to spare, I enjoyed a brisk walk and a swim every morning, before blissing-out in the thermal spa. I found the gym! I walked around all day – like everyone else does – in a towelling robe (not previously possible, as the only robe which fitted me last year weighed a ton and left me sweating and uncomfortable). I enjoyed a wonderful dry flotation experience (again, not possible last year, as I exceeded their weight limit for this facility). I made healthy choices at the generous lunchtime buffets and turned my back on all the yummy desserts – awarding myself many smug-points as I watched others heap their plates. I was exfoliated, scrubbed, buffed, massaged and aromatherapised until my skin was velvet-smooth and my muscles stretched. At the gift shop, I bought a bracelet with a magnetic clasp – something I could not have done last year as even my wrists were too big. I slept well. Yes! I slept wonderfully well.
I took some homework with me, as it seemed an appropriate place to re-focus and plan the next few months and years: The Life Plan by Australian Life Coach, Shannah Kennedy. I read cover-to-cover and begin some of the many exercises designed to help me figure out what I want from my future. I know… some people think that’s all a bit cranky, but not me. I was a Life Coach for a while, so you shouldn’t be surprised – I do actually practice what I preached! I’ve done this kind of life audit in one form or another three or four times over the years, and it’s always proved worthwhile. This time, healthy lifestyle is front-and-centre of my priorities. I boosted my resolve still further by ploughing into Sugar Salt Fat – How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.
Do I sound a little evangelical about my Ragdale experience and the opportunity it gave me to celebrate my dietary and lifestyle success to date, whilst looking forward to a healthier and more energetic future? Guilty as charged, m’lud.
I came home relaxed and refreshed (not even the long crawl down the M1 could have disrupted my blissful state), ready for the second half of my healthy weight-loss journey – the next 50 pounds (and more…).
Back home in the garden, my amelanchier – my beautiful Singing Ringing Tree – had burst into blossom. It looks perfect in its shower of white flowers, for just a few days, and I’ve occasionally missed it – but not this year.
You can see why I love it and why it feeds my soul, can’t you?