Devonshire Woman

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My One Month Social Media Break…

I’ve always wanted to give this blogging a go, like treat it like my job. I have been blogging on and off since 2008, back then it was free wordpress blogs, that you simply added blurry pictures to, wrote your content and sent it out into the interweb. Now it is a whole new ball game, there is so much to know and learn, there are rules and algorithms and saturation of other bloggers and influencers.

The fact of the matter is, my blogs have never been a success. It’s not like i haven’t got content, i have photo albums of content all ready to be a blog post, my problem is this content never makes it into a post. The frustrating part about all this is my fear of missing out (FOMO), i am so busy seeing what every other person is taking photos of or writing about that i have left no time for myself. Doh!! Then there is the whole comparison is the thief of joy and before I know it, my blog is not good enough, my photos aren’t good enough and everything that I could be achieving is archived into the ‘could do better’ folder.

Scrolling…. scrolling social media is my arch enemy it would turn out. I am too scared to think about how many hours i have wasted scrolling. You know what happens when you scroll social media… life happens, all around you but you are in a bubble of perfect photos, of faces you will never look like, homes you will never be able to afford and dream lives that you will never have. Yet if all of this was not there, you may be able to look in the mirror and think I look OK today, my little home is all i need and my life is perfect as it is.

Due to my scrolling, i have what i can only describe as excessive noise, so many images, comments, ideas and things i want to do and achieve, all going around in my head. I decided at the beginning of the year, i wanted to reduce this noise and step back into Amy’s world, i have been in Instagram world for a bit too long.

1st January, I decided to take a social media break. The noise was too much, I was feeling anxious, angry that my life doesn’t feel as simple as it should be.

It is 31 days later and the noise has reduced, I am ‘back in the room’ if you like, things are beginning to sound clearer and I feel lighter. I am realising that I just didn’t have the balance quite right. I should live my life, write about it, share it and then have a little glance at what others are doing. Instead, I have been watching what everyone else is doing, checking again what everyone else is doing, thinking that would be good to write about on my blog, check what everyone else is doing, oh that blog idea is now old or obsolete, check what everyone else is doing… I think you get the gist!

I don’t think social media is bad, i have learnt a lot from others and feel inspired by their lifestyles and ideas. I think i have just been using it wrong. I still feel the urge to ‘take a photo of that’ as it would get a lot of likes on Instagram. The subconscious voice saying ‘check Instagram, you have a second free’ knowing full well, 30 minutes later i could still be scrolling!

Tomorrow, my social media break is officially over. Was it hard to do? At the beginning, it really was. I didn’t realise how often I checked my phone until i couldn’t anymore. For the first few days, I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself. I had forgotten how to fill voids of time – how sad is that?!! This past month has been truly awesome and a complete eye-opener. I feel calm and there is clarity where everything felt a bit like too many tabs were open in my mind. I have been more connected physically with people and it’s nice hearing news from people’s actual mouths instead of knowing it all already through facebook. I have baked for the joy of it and not just to take photos of my creations on instagram. I have read books, 3 whole books which is a massive achievement for this slow reader. I have felt more connected than ever to my children, we have learnt to play Uno and without fail play a game every evening before bed.

So will i be back on social media tomorrow? Probably not! I will not be putting the apps back on my phone anyway, but i may check in now and again. I have really missed some accounts on Instagram so i will enjoy catching up with them. My scrolling days are over, i like living in the actual world, the virtual one isn’t all that. I plan to blog and post more, rather than scroll, scroll, scroll.

Do you feel like you have the balance right when it comes to social media?

The Perfect Night’s Sleep is Just a Few Tricks Away…


Sleeplessness is a very modern compliant. While our ancestors fell into bed after a long day at work, physically tired out, we tend to keep going, our heads spinning with emails that need to be sent, meetings we’re anxious about and an endless to-do list. We have exchanged physical tiredness for mental exhaustion.

While you may not wish to change your job and go back to mining or farming like your ancestors, you can make changes to your home to ensure that you are living as healthy a lifestyle as possible. And when it comes to getting the best night’s sleep, your bedroom is the place to begin.

Get the Right Environment

Your bedroom should be cool, dark and comfortable to maximise the quality of your sleep. With this in mind, you should have a clear out right now of any electronics that glow all night (hello, digital alarm clock) and ensure that you have proper blackout curtains. Rising and sleeping with the sun may not be possible with orange streetlights right outside but a Lumie body clock light will simulate the effects, making it much easier to wake and sleep naturally.

Your bed is also really important and the right mattress really does speak for itself. To get high quality sleep, you must ensure that you are comfortable and well supported.  Whether you are a side sleeper or you sleep on your back, your spine should be perfectly aligned to that you don’t wake up with aches and pains. Have a look at silentnight mattresses for more information.

Good Habits to Prepare for Sleep

Sleep, getting to sleep and waking up are all still areas of research and there’s a lot we still don’t know about the process. But what we do know is that there are a few behaviours that help to aid sleep and some that prohibit it.

Good habits to get into are reducing the amount of blue light you are exposed to before you plan to sleep. Blue light tends to inhibit the production of melatonin (the hormone that triggers tiredness) and so you don’t sleep as easily. Using soft lighting and reading a book or magazine an hour before bed is a really good idea.

Taking a warm bath around an hour before bed can also really help if you struggle to get to sleep. The idea is that as the body cools after the bath, you simulate the natural cooling process that comes with a good night’s sleep.

Ditch the Bad Habits

One of the worst things you can do is start worrying while you should be sleeping. Checking emails, social media and even working late at night is pretty tempting for everyone but doesn’t help in the long term. Leave your electricals and gadgets outside the bedroom, or at least turn your phone onto airplane mode to avoid distraction.

A warm drink before bed acts a bit like a warm bath but if you favour tea or coffee, you might be self-sabotaging. Try to limit your caffeine intake to the morning to avoid being overstimulated when you want to rest. Hot chocolate is your best friend.

Beyond Escapes Spa Package Experience

A couple of weekends ago, husband and I were invited to experience a spa package at Beyond Escapes Devon. Since having our boys 7 years ago, we realised that we haven’t really done anything relaxing together, whenever we have been child free it’s to get on with all those niggly jobs that you just can not do with little people around. Husband has never been to a spa (say what?!) and it has been a while since I have visited one too, so we really wasn’t sure what to expect.

We decided to give the BE Indulged package a try, which included:

  • Prosecco or soft drink on arrival
  • Elemis Full Body Swedish massage or Elemis Superfood Pro-Radiance Facial
  • BE Tempted Restaurant Afternoon Tea
  • Full use of BE You Thermal Spa
  • BE You Spa £10 voucher towards facial and body products

The spa is located in Higher Blagdon which is near Totnes, with a sat nav it is very easy to find. The location is beautiful with sea views over Torbay and a wonderful view of Berry Head in Brixham.

If you are familiar with the area, this used to be the site of the old Barton Pines Inn but has been transformed into Beyond Escapes Devon.

We arrived and was taken to our treatment room. Husband opted for the Swedish massage and I went for the Elemis Superfood facial. Our spa treatments were in the same room which was really nice, they also have 2 separate single treatment rooms too.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

The spa treatment was a complete full sensory experience! Firstly, the beds were heated which instantly made me relax, there was soothing music playing, the room smelled divine of all the Elemis products. My favourite part of the facial was not only all the gorgeous products being used but I could feel the therapist waft the product under my nose before applying, making it a true aromatherapy experience too.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

The facial was amazing and my husband really rated his back massage. His job is highly manual and he gets pain in his neck and shoulders often. The therapist found lots of knots and ironed them out. His back has been feeling a lot better. The treatment ended with a refreshing glass of cucumber, lemon and lime water.

Following our treatment, we were left to get in our robes and flip-flops.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

The unisex changing room was clean and spacious. We put our belongings in a locker, which locked using our wristbands and we were ready to just chill.

Our first stop was the heated loungers, this is a perfect place to allow the oils from the spa treatment to sink in and also to sip on a nice glass of prosecco or juice.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

The view was spectacular, it was a beautiful autumnal day with a clear view of Torbay.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

Cheers to chilling with no children around!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

Our next stop… the thermal spa. We first tried the sauna, which was heated to a whopping 46c!!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

Then cooled off with a couples foot spa!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

Next, we tried the steam room…

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

And finally, the monsoon shower. There were two settings; red which was hot and blue which was cold, brrrr!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

Check out my post-facial and spa glow!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

After the thermal spa, we took the plunge and went out into the cool autumn air to enjoy the outdoor heated jacuzzi.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

The air was fresh and the pool was perfectly heated. We lay in the water and activated the jacuzzi and looked out over the countryside and sea. It was bliss. This was when we realised that we haven’t spent quality time together without the children for a long time and this was the perfect way to do it.

We dried off and warmed up back in the sauna and then ventured upstairs in our robes to enjoy an afternoon tea in the BE Tempted restaurant.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

We were given a selection of sandwiches, including smoked salmon and cream cheese, turkey and cranberry and cheese and pickle.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

I loved all the mini desserts, but the macaron was my ultimate favourite.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

And finally, I left room for the cream tea. The scones were the freshest I have ever had served with a mini jar of jam and lashings of clotted cream. The cream tea was served with tea or coffee. After our afternoon tea, we had an hour left of our package so we relaxed on the heated loungers and watched the sunset and finished with a couple more minutes in the sauna.

Back in the changing room, wet kit bags were provided for our swimwear and also hair dryers.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

There were three individual lockable shower rooms, I enjoyed a post-spa shower, using some wonderful Elemis shampoo and conditioning products. This was the perfect end to our spa package.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

As part of the spa package, we also had use of the gym, but as we had our treatment at the start of the package, we were far too relaxed to try it! But maybe next time.

The staff were friendly and helpful. The facilities and spa were very clean. The spa is only small, which I really liked. Although others were using the spa, we had a lot of areas to ourselves most of the time. We truly had a relaxing experience during our spa package.

There is a choice of 3 packages available, BE Revived is a morning package (9am-1pm), which includes all of the above and a light lunch instead of afternoon tea. BE Indulged (1pm-5pm) is the package that we experienced and BE Relaxed (6pm-9pm) includes a treatment, use of the spa and also a 2-course meal.

A Beyond Escapes spa package would make a fantastic gift for yourself or loved one. Spa packages are priced between £75-£95 per person. It’s definitely something to put on your Christmas list and you can find out more on the Beyond Escapes website.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Beyond Escapes Spa Package experience

Disclosure: I was invited on the above spa package for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

Making The Christmas Budget Stretch

Christmas is fast approaching, I adore this time of year. What I don’t like is the pressure to overspend! This year, however, I have planned ahead and looked at ways I can make the Christmas budget stretch.

The first thing I have done is a present buying cull… it sounds drastic and I guess it is. It was hard but I spoke to some of my long distance friends and we have agreed not to purchase each other’s children presents this year. We are friends from university and our children really do not know each other, there is also the added annoyance of finding a gift small enough to post, postage prices can be a massive budget killer during the festive season.

For friends closer to home, we have agreed to do the same as last year. We did a book swap by simply exchanging a wrapped book that we had already read. This was great as it meant that my bookshelf got cleared of old books and replaced with a set of new (to me) books to read throughout the year.

Finally, I have been checking out websites such as www.gratisfaction.co.uk, which has helped me find some great deals on presents and also offers a lot of freebies, which helps me save money to put towards Christmas.

What have you done/doing this year to help spread the Christmas budget?

What I Ate and Drank in Bath

Part One of my Bath mini-break can be found here. The first night we went to The Stable as mentioned in part one, it was my first time visiting this chain and I wasn’t really that impressed. The pizzas seemed overpriced for the amount of pizza you got ( we stalked other people’s tables). By this point we were really hungry so husband and I went for a pie, I chose the wild rooster, which contained chicken, gammon and leek, served with rosemary & thyme potato wedges,
slaw and tomato chutney.

Bath weekend www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

I’m sad to say it was just ok. Nothing special and not very filling. The four wedges that came with the pie just didn’t cut it for me sadly.

The next morning we headed to The King of Wessex pub, which was the local Wetherspoons to the hotel. I haven’t been for breakfast there in a while so went for the mushroom benedict.

mushroom benedict The King of Wessex pub bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

It was gorgeous! I will definitely be having this for breakfast again soon. It tasted so fresh and I loved the rocket too. I used to hate rocket but my taste has changed as I have gotten older.

I said goodbye to the boys and waited in Bath for my family to arrive for my girly weekend. My Mom arrived first, so we went for a drink at The Courtyard Cafe. I was still full up from my breakfast and knew I probably had a few indulgent days ahead of me, so I opted for a green juice.

The Courtyard Cafe Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

We headed towards our air bnb and waited for all the family to arrive, once all 7 of us had chosen where we were sleeping, filled the fridge with breakfast bits, snacks and alcohol from the nearby Sainsbury’s. We decided to head to the local pub The Red Lion which is part of the sizzling pub and grill group. It wasn’t busy but we had to wait for ages (about 50 minutes) for food and the service was so slow behind the bar. By the time the food arrived, it had gone 9pm and I was beyond starving. I ordered stilton and mushroom chicken (Grilled chicken fillet with a roasted flat mushroom and Cropwell Bishop Stilton, served with mash, peas and a creamy mushroom & brandy sauce).

the red lion bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

The meal was actually quite nice. The flavours were good and the chicken was juicy. I cleared my plate in no time. It was such a shame we had to wait so long for drinks and food as the pub was virtually empty. I probably wouldn’t go there again for that reason.

The next day we had breakfast at the air bnb and had a look around the Roman baths (blog post coming soon). There was a lot more to see in the baths than we thought so didn’t get out till well past lunchtime. We wanted to do the tourist thing and headed to Sally Lunns Buns (i never knew Bath was famous for its own buns) for a bite to eat. There was a choice between sweet and savoury buns, I went halves with my cousin and we went for 2 savouries to share. The first was the Welsh Rarebit Special with buttery mushrooms, dry cured smoked back bacon and home-made chutney.

Sally Lunns Buns www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

And our second choice was Salt Beef, traditional recipe home cured salt beef with a honey mustard sauce.

Salt beef Sally Lunns Buns Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

Both were delicious that I couldn’t pick a favourite. The bun was like a brioche, light and fluffy. We were too stuffed to try a sweet one, next time maybe.

After heading back to the airbnb to spruce ourselves up, we headed back into Bath for cocktails at Las Iguanas.

It was 2 for 1 on cocktails so we bought a few and played swapsies. I went for Vanilla Mai Tai (Havana Club Especial Rum, Absolut Vanilia Vodka, lime, almond, bitters) and Pornstar Martini (Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum, apricot, Funkin passion fruit, vanilla, pineapple, with a shot of cava). The cocktails were nice, the mouldy passionfruit in all our cocktails wasn’t!

Cheers!!

Las Iguanas Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

For our evening meal, we headed to a new place for all of us. Tapas Revolution.

We paired up and went for the set menu. My cousin and I opted for the Del Chef.

And added an order of Torreznos Con Mojo Dulce. We also shared a jug of classic Sangria which i forgot to photograph but was sweet and delicious. I think i managed to get photos of all the tapas, so this is what we ate…

  • PAN CON TOMATE (Toasted bread, garlic, tomato and olive oil)

  • TORTILLA DE PATATAS (Classic Spanish omelette with eggs, potato and onion).

  • ALBÓNDIGAS EN SALSA (Beef and pork meatballs in a rich tomato and vegetable ‘sofrito’ sauce).
  • CROQUETAS DE JAMÓN (Deep-fried Ibérico ham and béchamel croquettes).

  • CALAMARES FRITOS A LA ANDALUZA (Squid strips tossed in flour, deep-fried and served with aioli and lemon).

  • BACALAO CON PIPERRADA (Roasted cod loin with olives and slow-cooked red peppers).

Tapas Revolution Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

  • TORREZNOS CON MOJO DULCE (Crispy pork belly with sweet and spicy sauce).

The meal was delicious, I love trying lots of different flavours. I would definitely head back again and try some other dishes.

After the meal, we headed next door to the Absurd Bird for some more 2 for 1 cocktails. Now this place knows how to serve a decent Pornstar Martini, they were gorgeous and the passion fruits were fresh on top so they beat Las Iguanas cocktails hands down. I think we bought all the Pornstar Martini’s!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

The next day we headed to the Thermae Spa in the morning and picked up lunch after from Pret a Manger. I purchased the crayfish salad and coffee. The salad was ok, I have had better, it just needed something else as was a bit bland.

pret a manger www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

We had our final walk around Bath before heading back to the airbnb for our last evening. My sister tried to see if we could find any secret bars, the closest one we found was the Dark Horse bar. The cocktails were quite expensive. My sister paid £9 for a tiny one that didn’t taste anything special. I opted for a cider.

Dark Horse Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

That was the highlights of what I ate and drank in Bath. I am heading back there this weekend with my university friends. I will definitely be heading back to the Absurd Bird for the cocktails and we have also booked in to eat there too, I will report back on the food also.

Have you been to Bath? Do you have any recommendations on places to eat and drink?

A Mini Break in Bath – Part One

At the beginning of the month, I spent a couple of days in beautiful Bath. Once a year myself and family (all girls) meet up for a weekend of giggles and exploring a new city. This year we chose to visit Bath. We only live 1.5 hours away, so myself, husband and 2 little men decided to venture there, the day before my family was due to arrive and have a night in the city before the boys headed back to Devon and I stayed in Bath.

The first thing i will say about Bath is WOW… just WOW! There is something about this city that really captured my heart. The history and buildings were amazing.

It really was a whistle-stop tour for my little family. We booked a night in a Travelodge in the centre of Bath and got really lucky with our family room as it was huge! And rather than one of those sofa beds that are normally in these rooms, we had a corner room with 2 extra single beds, we all had a very comfortable, enjoyable night.

We headed straight to The Circus to see the circle of gorgeous townhouses. It was almost like being on a film set. I could just imagine Oliver or Mary Poppins being filmed here. I can only imagine how grand these houses are or must have been when they were first built.

Next we walked a little further and approached The Royal Crescent. The Royal Crescent, is one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks. It was almost breathtaking to see it and again so grand. We probably ruined many tourists photos by playing an impromptu game of ‘it’ on the grass green in front of it, but when you are sightseeing with a 6 and 4 year old, what else can you do?

Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

All the major sightseeing and places to visit are in walking distance. We decided to cut through a park to get back into the centre and saw some beautiful gardens.

Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

And found the amazing Victoria Falls Adventure Golf.

Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

We did a bit more sight seeing.

Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

And because we didn’t need to drive anywhere, we stopped at the Garrick’s Head for a beer and sat outside watching the world go by.

Bath www.devonshirewoman.co.uk

We popped back to the hotel close by and rested up before heading out to dinner. The hotel was close to the theatre so a lot of the restaurants were full. We did manage to get in at The Stable although i wasn’t that impressed. I’ll explain more in my ‘what i ate in Bath’ blog post which is coming soon.

Like i said earlier we had a great night in the hotel, being so central i was worried about noise but it was so quiet and Bath isn’t really a city where there is a rowdy night life.

The next day the boys all packed up and headed back to Devon and i waited around for an hour or so for my family to start arriving from the Midlands and London. So i didn’t have to lug my big bag around with me, I found a baggage storage shop that held bags for £3.50 all day. We used this shop again during our stay so i recommend it if you have time on your hands and a lot of baggage!

It really was a last minute, quick stop over with the boys but it was nice to do some sightseeing and the crazy golf was perfect at keeping our little men entertained. Now the grown-ups were arriving the real being a tourist began…

To be continued.

5 Random Monday Musings

It’s time I dusted off my keyboard and wrote a proper blog post! So I’ll keep it short and sweet for now with 5 random Monday musings for this wet (in Devon anyway) Monday evening…

1. Don’t underestimate your worth if you are a stay at home Mum…

I became a stay at home mum back in 2011 when I had my eldest son (my work basically said come back full time or beat it…) so I said ‘laters’ and off I went! In fact, it was awful, but that’s a whole other blog post! Other than doing general admin for my husband’s business, I felt like I wasn’t contributing and felt frustrated being the house cleaner and cook. In January, when a work at home job came my way,  i was overjoyed to get it. It was nice to be doing something different. I enjoyed the job but unfortunately, I couldn’t dedicate the time to it with still having my littlest at home 2.5 days a week and my husband needing more help with the admin side of the business. So I recently handed in my notice. I was sad that it didn’t work out but it did make me realise that I love my role as a stay at home Mum. When I was working my second job, it was cutting into my time with my boys, something I have invested the past 7 years of my life to. I am going to fully embrace my role as Homemaker, it’s a job I love and should never have underestimated myself and my value to my family.

2 How freaking amazing is The Greatest Showman?…

The film is amazing, the songs make me want to dance like the albino twin in ‘From Now On’! I’m thinking of making it my summer goal to learn the dance routine but let’s keep that between you and I shhhh!

3. I have a slight obsession with watching people clean on Instagram…

I love a good bit of house cleaning and nothing motivates me more to clean than watching others on Instagram clean their sinks/bins/toilets 🙂

4. I’ve always said that I will never EVER watch Love Island…

That was until I flicked over to Itv+1 last night and got sucked in… god damn you Love Island. It felt like watching Big Brother but when it didn’t use to be shite. I have a few questions though, do people in their early 20’s not eat much? I don’t think I have ever looked like the girls on there! ‘Ya know what i mean?…’

5. It’s time to start blogging more consistently…

One thing I did take from my little job (as discussed in musing numero 1), is how hard working I am. I dedicated more time than needed for my work to ensure it was perfect and met my client’s briefs. I kept thinking that if I had been so dedicated to my blog with my time and effort, I could actually make something of it (maybe?) So that is what i am going to do. I have 2.5 days child free a week, 1 day will be dedicated to my home, 1 day to my blog and half a day for everything else.

 

So that’s all that is in my head out on the interweb! Happy Monday everyone x