Category Archives: Fitness

Yoga at Bamford Spa

After all the planning (and then indulgence) of Thanksgiving, it was time to escape the city and chill out. I booked into a morning yoga class at and we skittered out to the country for a relaxing weekend.

Bamford Haybarn Day Spa falls under the umbrella of Daylesford farm shops, the tiny solitary cork plugging the stop in the huge demand for luxury home and lifestyle brands. It’s overpriced, full of desperate housewives, and it gives my husband the heebie-jeebies just pulling into the packed parking lot. But it does the trick with no Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware, or Dean & Deluca around the corner for competition.

The upside is that there’s no better place to pick up your organic veg, freshly baked bread, premium cheeses and basic household staples.

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Plus, did I mention they have a spa? Oh, that’s right, of course I did.

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The entrance is laden with the requisite line of bath and spa products, and a respectable stash of flimsy, flowing yogawear. I flirted with the thought of how much better my hatha class might be if I purchased a strand of Bamford Indian prayer beads… But I only had time enough for a pot of tea in the lounge before I had to be on the mat.

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Daylesford Bamford Spa Loungers

The spa lounge is a sun-bleached solarium with lots of plush linen loungers to nestle upon as you gaze out on the country landscape – basically, like looking out on my childhood back yard, but all the same, deeply comforting.

Daylesford Bamford Haybarn Tea Tray

Daylesford Bamford Spa Tea Tray

Up the spiral staircase and through the knee-walled practice space, is the entrance to the studio.

Daylesford Bamford Spa Yoga Room

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The hour and a half hatha class was an absolute dream – the instructor tranquilly chanted and coaxed us through the postures, and I came out feeling completely restored.

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The other perk to Bamford yoga is getting to do a cheeky bit of shopping before my ride comes to collect me.

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Later that afternoon, the boys went for their daily dose of recreation at the local golf course, and I tagged along. They teed up at the driving range, thwacking one dimpled ball after the next into the mist-coated yonder.

Cotswold Golf Course Driving Range Swing

Cotswold Golf Course Driving Range Swoing

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They made it look so easy, I couldn’t resist taking a couple of swings myself…

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With somewhat less finesse!

I definitely make a better caddy than a player.

Cotswold Golf Course Driving Range Glove

Cotswold Golf Course Sunset

As the sun set and the temperature started to drop, we retired our clubs and warmed up by a toasty log fire.

Cotswold Sunset Golf Course Path

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Cotswold Fire

I spent the evening warming my back against the fire, penning my letter to Santa Claus… Maybe those Indian prayer beads will make it into my stocking come Christmas day 🙂

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Getting Piste: Skiing the Swiss Alps

Visiting friends in Switzerland over the weekend, we set aside a day for one of my favorite sports. I’ve loved skiing since I was just a wee tot. My grandparents were avid skiers and got me started in the sport by getting me my first pair of boots and skis. They always recalled my first ever run down the slopes – tucking my tiny child-sized poles up under my armpits and zooming straight down, fearless. These days (as most adults tend to become with age), I’m a little more cautious. But although I don’t have the same dare-devil confidence, still nothing compares to a bright day spent breathlessly darting through the snow.

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And the Swiss Alps are stunning. Soaring high over the edge of Lake Walensee, with flabbergasting views of the unspoiled Churfirsten chain, Flumserberg is the biggest winter sports’ region in eastern Switzerland.

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The top of the slopes was buzzing with activity, families, ski team practice, even a marching band rehearsing for the upcoming town carnival.

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We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant and refueled with the most decadent, bubbling dish of rösti imaginable!

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We spent the afternoon swishing and swooshing down the mountains, taking in the jaw-dropping views of the Walensee and the green valley floor below.

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We stopped at a charming chalet for a glass of glühwein – basically, the Swiss version of mulled wine.

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When the daylight started to dim and the slopes were covered in shadows, we headed back to Zürich. Resting our achy bods, with a glass of red wine in hand, we spent the evening talking over dinner as the lights twinkled on the lake.

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Taking a Hike: Ancient Byzantine Ruins

After a few days on the boat bobbing along the southern coast of Turkey, we came ashore to stretch our sea legs on dry land. We hiked a gravely path up into the hills, encountering some local wildlife along the way.hike hike1

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We emerged from the forest into an open field with ancient ruins in the distance.  hike6

It comes in handy having a fiancé who studied Medieval History. We were able to identify the ruins as being from the Byzantine Empire and estimate they date between 12th and 14th centuries. The Byzantine Empire arose when the Roman Empire split and took the eastern half.  The folks who built these structures would have been Greek Orthodox and ruled from Constantinople (now Istanbul) which eventually fell, after a long decline, to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

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The scholars among us tried to translate some of these huge tablets – but it’s all Greek to me! hike12 hike13 hike14 hike15

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We scurried back down the hill, where our dinghy was waiting to shuttle us back to the boat.

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That evening we cruised into the port of Fethiye as the sun set.

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There might have been an impromptu dance-off on the roof…

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Despite my best moves like Jagger, I think I lost that one.

We pulled into the Fethiye marina at dusk, as canapés were being served on deck.

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After a nibble, we set off into Fethiye for a bit of shopping in the buzzing shops of the bazaar.

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A humdinger of a day – on land and at sea!

Sunset Yoga on a Turkish Gulet

While in Turkey, I had the pleasure of meeting the nicest gal (and fellow American expat) whose daily yoga classes onboard the boat were one of the most rejuvenating parts of the experience!

Colby is a Manuka Life instructor in London, certified in yoga, private instruction and retreats. Her buoyant energy really served to invigorate the practice – and the soothing sway of the boat just added to the sessions.

Manuka happens to have a line of colorful, lightweight yoga wear that is some of the most comfy and flattering that I’ve ever tried. This Active Seamless Tee had me humming “Ommmm” as soon as I slipped it on! I am definitely going to check out their shop on New Kings Road for more of this collection.

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As the sun made its westerly decent into the hills, we unfurled our mats for a soothing sunset practice.

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One of my favorite benefits of yoga is that it promotes awareness of the body and breath. Breathing is a lot like a wave, rolling in as you inhale and flowing out as you exhale. To be on a yacht, rocking gently on the water, really emphasized that sensation.

Practicing yoga outdoors, I could smell and taste the sea with every breath. And rather than reaching for the ceiling or extending out toward a wall, I found myself gazing up at the emerging stars in the dusky sky and stretching for the brilliant glow of the sunset on the horizon.

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I savored and clutched every minute of this session – truly the most peaceful and relaxing yoga class I’ve ever had.

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Namaste! xx

Battersea Park 5.6k Race

Running is bad for you.  For real – new research out last year from the Mayo Clinic found that 1 in 10 marathon finishers showed scarring to their heart after the race. Over time, distance runners strain their cardiac muscles, putting them at increased risk of heart attack. There you have it – another reason I’m not big on running. There are others: it wrecks your knees and joints, it wreaks havoc on your skin, and am I the only one who has never experienced the “runner’s high”? There’s my two pence on running.

That said, it is bikini season and, with vacation approaching in a mere two weeks, only drastic measures will suffice to get me looking my poolside best. Plus, it’s for charity! The race took place in Battersea Park and raised money for WaterAid, a charity which provides safe water and improved sanitation to impoverished communities in 27 countries. It was a gorgeous afternoon, with plenty of sunshine and a cooling breeze. It was time to throw the caution of proven scientific research to the wind… and run!

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Battersea Park

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Crossing the finish line!

Crossing the finish line!

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Time to go home and lay on the sofa!

Richmond Park

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Even city slickers like me have an inherent need for nature now and then. Concrete and grime, screeching trains, and congested sidewalks often wear me out – and I have to hightail it for a grassy little patch in the country. Today I went on an urban safari – in Richmond Park. Pedalling around the landscape, I encountered swans, deer, horses and plenty of doggies romping through the open pastures. It’s easy to forget you are on the outskirts of London – until you pass a clearing and catch a glimpse of the Shard in the distance.

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After working up an appetite cruising around all afternoon, I was desperate for a bite to eat. The Victoria gastropub in nearby Sheen is a local favorite and we could smell the fragrant outdoor barbecue as we arrived. Sitting in the sunny conservatory overlooking the patio, we feasted on a selection of chargrilled grub before heading home for an evening deciphering the Sunday crossword.

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King prawns a la plancha | garlic, parsley & lemon butter

King prawns a la plancha | garlic, parsley & lemon butter

Summer special spiced lamb burger | tomato chilli jam, tzatziki

Summer special spiced lamb burger | tomato chilli jam, tzatziki

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Chocolate mousse | honeycomb & chocolate crumble

Chocolate mousse | honeycomb & chocolate crumble

London is sweetest in the summer!

Lomax Chelsea: Secret Spin Club

I’m not a fan of spinning. I’m not necessarily a fan of exercise itself for that matter. But when I hear there’s a secret club opening on Fulham Road, I’m there.

If the cover charge to get in means getting on a bike, so be it. I was dying to check out the Secret Spin Club at Lomax Chelsea.

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I love the way fitness studios these days are cleaning up their act and trending toward becoming the sceney, club-like places people want to go to. Like the surge of London’s members-only nightclubs that charge an annual fee for the same indistinguishably predictable night out again and again, no one wants to subscribe to a gym for a year, be bored by April, and then have to concoct lame excuses to oneself to try to avoid going. What if – an inevitable if – someplace cooler pops up and I’d rather go there?

Lomax is that place. It’s also the long-awaited prescription to the luxury gym membership. It’s almost – dare I say it? – Americanized. It is simultaneously the place that democratically allows anyone to come and go as they please, and the place to which you keep coming back. It’s ingeniously devised. From street level, it’s a gourmet cafe which sits behind a two-story arched glass front. Serving nutritious, signature dishes packed with colourful superfoods, daily specials are splashed across the giant chalkboard behind the coffee bar, and stocked in neat cardboard packets in the open deli case to take away.

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The equipment in the RealRyder spin studio certainly wasn’t the stationary bike I was expecting. This machine moves and steers like a real bike, requiring balance and core strength. The 45-minute class pumps to the throb of an energizing, urban soundtrack that I wasn’t sure I could tolerate at 7:30 in the morning, but two tracks in I was wishing I had my mobile in my back pocket so I could Shazam everything. The instructor was wicked – a word she uses a lot as she urges you through the routine, and which is totally fitting as she is wicked cool and the class is wicked hard.

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When it’s all over, head to the locker room upstairs stocked with REN products. My singular gripe about Lomax is the £1 charge for a towel. I don’t carry change. Plus, after paying £30 per class that’s just really unpopular. Throw in the towel already! Seriously.

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I had a sneaky peek around the rest of Lomax: personal training pods, a sunlit Reformer Pilates studio, and even a treatment clinic offering everything from sports physio to acupuncture to skincare.

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They are always running some tempting special offer on classes or healthy goodies, so pop by or book a class online.