Saturday, 5 November 2011

Just a little one...

We have had a lovely day. I am still feeling utterly rotten, but for the sake of sanity I filled up on cocodamol and we walked into town to The Palmhouse (which, by the way, if you're ever in Weymouth, is THE best cafe ever created - particularly if you have little ones - there's a huge play room where they can run riot whilst you enjoy a scrummy coffee and slice of amazing cake; if you want somewhere you can actually relax whilst the kids have a great time this is it!)

I topped my cocodamol up with caffeine then we headed home to rest up before going back out to watch the fireworks.

I don't know about anyone else, but I blooming love fireworks. In a properly childlike glee kind of way. I just love them. I was really excited about going to see them, and got Jellybean on my side by promising lots of whoosh bang pop crash booms.

On the way there Midget Gem fell asleep in the pushchair (bless) and Jellybean got really excited about the big big fire - but when we got there he was a little underwhelmed.

When the fireworks started Jellybean was - well - even more underwhelmed. He didn't really get the point. Midget Gem slept. Hubby told me, once again, that they were rubbish compared to the fireworks at Disneyland (to which I have never been, the sod).

Irrelevant. Totally.

I had a GREAT time. Seriously. I LOVE fireworks. Love. I grinned and oohed and ahhed and grinned and clapped like a seal. It was brilliant.

Then we came home, cuddled up to watch a DVD and the small people fell asleep on us :-) bliss.

To bed!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Jingle the Pup!

This morning there was a ring on the bell and the postman delivered a great big box. "What have you ordered?" asked poorly husband..."Nothing I can remember!" said I...

We opened it - and inside we saw this set - the Jingle All The Way interactive story book with the accompanying soft toy. 

I won this in a twitter competition a couple of weeks ago and had COMPLETELY forgotten I'd won it - so it was a great surprise! 

(To win I replied to their Friday tweet with the name of a childhood bear; mine is Ted T. Bear - he has a lovely wooly jumper, and a missing nose where our pet dog Glad tried to eat him; he's now one of Jellybean's little friends who comes out for special cuddles on bad days!) 

When we opened the parcel I was tucked into bed, being very unwell, and Jellybean had clambered up to sit with me with a pile of story books for snuggles - which was lovely. Midget Gem was snoozing too so Daddy had been reading his book - all in all, for a flat filled with revolting germy people, we were all managing to enjoy ourselves! 

There was a lot of excitement, however, when we opened the box.

Considering all the electrics inside Jingle the husky pup he's lovely and cuddly, you press his ear to turn him on and off and Jellybean had a lot of fun doing that even before he realised that the dog was going to respond to certain parts of the story. 

The story in the book is lovely - Jingle the pup is a lovely husky who finds friendship with a special little boy at Christmas time, with some help from a mysterious kindly gent in a big red coat! 

Through the book there are key phrases highlighted in red - when you read them clearly Jingle responds! He barks, he sings (in a barky kind of way) and he sounds very proud of himself. He is just adorable. 

This isn't a review really - I wasn't sent the item as a review, it was a prize, so Hallmark aren't expecting anything in return from me - I just want to tell everyone about the product range (there are others in the range, not all the characters seem to be available in the UK but the others which are available are Cooper the bear and Watson the raccoon!  

There's an app for the iphone too - which I downloaded - which reads the story and animates it like a wee cartoon; that was gorgeous too, but not quite as nice as reading the book because Jingle didn't respond to the cartoon. Jellybean did enjoy it though so I think he might get to watch it again now and then! 

According to the info on the app and packaging there's a second book - I will definitely buy that to expand our Jingle pleasure. I also think that for £19.99 the toy/book box set is really well priced as a Christmas gift and will be looking to collect all of the sets - we love books and soft toys - and if we can combine those two things for cuddly story times all the better! 

Jellybean has gone to bed with Jingle - I gave him Doggy Puppy at bed time and he was devastated because he wanted Jingle too - he's grinning in his sleep with one clutched tightly under each arm! 


Jellybean in a box, with a blanket, and Jingle. Obviously.

Thank you Hallmark - great prize, great idea - happy family! 

Thursday, 3 November 2011


I am a terrible wife. I am a HORRIBLE wife. 

This week the household - including the new Nanny - were overrun with gerrrrrrrms. (You have to say it in a Scottish accent for the full effect). 

I am the last to be hit. I felt sorry for my babies and dosed them up and was nice to the Nanny (because I want her to stay!) but my husband? Nope. I was horrible. 

I went out on Friday evening with my new work mates (did I mention I got a job? And that I went out? In the evening? Sorry - back to the topic!)and my poor husband was so poorly all night but bravely looked after the boys. When I got home I woke him up (sorry, not intentionally!) and he was shivering and sweating and complaining he was ill...I wasn't very sympathetic!

I may even have muttered the words 'man flu' and 'drama queen'...maybe...

He spent the next few days getting gradually more ill and trying to carry on regardless - then finally admitted he was too ill and took a couple of days off sick. Today he's starting to look human again. 

I thought he was being a nancy and milking it whilst I was going out to work (WORK!) and was really grumpy with him.

Then I started to feel ill.

"Look" said I - "I have it too and I'm managing, I'm still doing things and going places and doing my job - we ALL have it!" (I know, I'm horrible, I don't know why he married me - probably because I was knocked up and he's a decent chap!) 

Then I woke up this morning after a sweaty, shivering, horrible night filled with nightmares and tears. Man oh man - this is a NASTY bug. This. Is. A. Nasty. Bug. 

Did he laugh? Rub it in? Say "I told you so"? 

No - he brought me vitamin tablets, let me sleep later than I should have whilst he watched the boys, got my clothes ready for work, packed me a lunch, woke me gently, cleaned the flat, looked after me. 

I went into work but was sent home at lunch time (I suspect I looked so revolting I was alarming them and they were concerned I'd share my lurgy) and when I got home he had two poorly, shouty children and had been up since 5am - and he sent ME to bed to rest even though I'd not treated him so well! 

I don't know what I did to deserve him - but this bug is surely my comeuppance? 

On that note, I'm going back to bed (after a dip in a cold bath because I'm dripping with hot-flush-sweats again) - night all! 

This is how I look today!

I totes stole this image from this source - thank you source - it is brilliant, as is your blog

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

I go driving in my car.

It's genuinely not quite a Jaguar - but it's awesome. If you missed seeing it on my post of a few days ago you can spot it in the photos of our trip to Corfe Castle at the weekend  

My car is my little bubble. I have complete control over the entire environment within my car. The temperature, the music, whether the windows are open or closed, who to let in there with me, what 'things' are allowed in there (not a lot, though I constantly shed litter into my husband's car; this weekend I put a banana peel in the pocket on the passenger side door. I don't know when he'll notice it's there...I should probably tell him...)

It's the third car I've owned. It's the first I've owned since passing my driving test and actually being able to use it to go places. It's the first car I've driven for any distance and the first car I've used to commute anywhere. 

I love my car. 

I've used it to travel to work for a week and a half. In that time I've seen three motorbike accidents (not witnessed the event, but seen the ambulances and police at the spot treating the rider of the bike; two looked injured but ok, really. One did not.) I've seen a further 4 motorbikes in states of what would generously be called disrepair - but which I'd call FUBAR. 

I had to drive my car up a grass verge to avoid a motorbike coming towards me on my side of the road, over taking on a corner and very nearly hitting my bonnet as I drove home. 

I saw one today narrowly avoid falling off his bike as his rear wheel skidded on a drain cover; luckily he wasn't going fast and managed to pop his feet down and balance himself. 

In a week and a half. 

Why do people do it? Why does having less wheels make you use less road sense? 

I get that accidents happen, I get that driving more means I'll see them more - but from the accidents I saw most were as a result of the rider doing something stupid - overtaking on a blind corner, paying too little attention to the road surface, hitting the curb trying to undertake in rush hour, running a red light to turn 'with' the flow of traffic. 

In Dorset, where we live, there's a huge campaign on the roads with 'Think Bike' posters. I do think bike. I used to ride one - and was lucky that it was so slow that my accidents didn't hurt. I had plenty! I think bike and I look for bikes - and most of the bikes I see are driving riskily. They drive down the white lines between lines of traffic rather than wait when the lights hold the cars up. They drive too fast. They weave between traffic. They skid. 

I think bike - I think it a lot, because in the week and a half that I've seen those accidents and smashed up bikes I haven't seen one car accident or wrecked car and it scares me. 

If I'm thinking bike - why aren't the people on the bikes thinking?

Sorry - I didn't start this intending to blog about bikes, bikers or accidents - but the bell end on the bike (scooter) that tears up and down the road we live on giving his mates 'backies' and hooting his horn is out again tonight. It's wet, it's a reasonably busy residential road, he is a pain in the arse and I wish they'd arrest him already; he always seems to know when the police come and vanishes just before they drive up. Grr. His friends aren't wearing helmets. One day he will hurt, or kill, one. THINK.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Now and then.

Six months ago I thought I'd never feel happy. Six months ago I didn't want to get out of bed to face another day of failing my children. We had just moved from a three bed house to a two bed flat at a time when we really needed more space, not less. My c-section stitches were healed but I was still sore. My hips were constantly painful after a pregnancy with horrific SPD. We still weren't getting much sleep with a tiny baby and the toddler had started waking a lot at night with the confusion of everything that was going on.

This blog was just a baby too - I'd started it to fill my family in on what we were doing and to use as a space to empty my head every day, ramble on about things I cared about, show off my babies and to reach out to people to tell them how I felt. Some days that was bouncing with joy, some days it was exhausted, some days it was utterly, utterly blue. 

Six months ago I was trying to work out how to turn my blogging, writing and guest blogging into a career. I was trying to work out how to find a way to get a job, not immediately but at some point, that would pay enough to make it worthwhile after childcare costs for two children under fifteen-free-hours-a-week age. I was convinced that I would never be anything other than a full time Mummy, that I would never matter to anyone, that I would just be a piece of lumpy, shapeless furniture for the rest of my life.

As a teenager I never looked ahead and saw myself with children. I looked ahead and saw myself in sharp suits, high heels, red lipstick and razor sharp hairdos. I saw myself as a professional of some type - a business woman. My own Mum and her Mum before her had set me an example I hoped not only to live up to, but to top; I wanted them to be as proud of me as I was them.

But six months ago...I was nothing. 

I know being a Mum and a wife is magical and that some people dream of that; I know I seemed, seem, ungrateful for that gift - but I also know I was letting my children, and myself, down by not being the best version of me that I could be, and by not being happy. Whatever you do in life you have to be enjoying it - or there's no point. To be a good Mummy it doesn't matter whether you're full time at home, work part time, work full time, study - none of that is what makes you good; being happy with your situation is what makes you a good Mummy. 

I love my boys more than I have words for - but six months ago I wasn't happy with my situation. Not because I don't love them enough - though I worry that's what they might think, or what other people might think. 

Now? Now I am so happy with my situation - and now I can give my boys the life I dreamed of for them.

Now I have a job - it's probably more hours away from the house than I planned - I miss my boys - but I think, for now, that's a good thing. I needed to miss my boys, I needed to want to rush home to them, to burst in and sit right on the floor and wrap my arms around them and just hold them. I needed to want to read them stories, not be bored of it. I needed to want to get out of bed and sit and play and get them dressed and fed, and not just think it was a chore. I needed to look forward to the weekend, to being home for two full days with my husband and my boys and two FULL DAYS to do whatever we liked it - because we just have two days, we make the most of them. We go out, we make a THING of them. We rarely did that before because I didn't make enough effort.

Some Mums are amazing at being full time Mums. Some Mums keep every day magical, special, busy and full of activities and groups and excitement. Some Mums are superhuman.

I'm not. I got to a point, a few months after Midget Gem was born, where I didn't even feel human. 

Then I told someone I felt that way.

Then I blogged that I felt that way.

Then I got some help. Then I felt a little better. Then I wanted to feel better still. I wanted to feel great. 

Wanting to feel great meant I worked harder at building what I'd done on a small scale into a significant thing - and that meant I was more than 'just Mummy' and I felt better.

That meant I got a job. That means I can support my family. That means I can clear my debts and remove the suffocating weight of financial strain. That means I can buy my children and family and friends Christmas presents, like a real human being. That means I can start to put money aside for special things like holidays and saving-like-a-grown-up. It means that I am using the degree I thought I'd never use. It means that for the first time since I was pregnant with Jellybean my husband isn't solely responsible for supporting us. It means that the pressure is off him to provide everything, and the guilt is off me for being a parasite. 

It means that I can teach my boys that in order to get anything you want you have to work for it and earn it - and that I can teach them the value of what we have.

It means I can buy new shoes.

It means that I miss them, I miss them so, so much - but I come home feeling good about myself and desperately wanting to make the most of the time between arriving home and tucking them into bed, to make the most of the TWO FULL DAYS that finish each week in one another's company. 

I know what works for me doesn't work for everyone - but it really works for me. 

Six months ago I was drowning. Now I'm walking on air. 

Britmums are running the 'nablopomo' - national blog posting month - and since I always fail to complete Nanowrimo I thought I'd give this a shot instead. I'm much more likely to post a blog than write a novel, after all. If you want to join in follow the badge and get posting. 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bye bye boobies

So - breastfeeding. 

I've posted about it before - and this is quite likely to be my final post on the subject - because it seems it's my final week as a breastfeeder!

I posted recently about Midget Gem cutting more top teeth - he has four top and two bottom now - and about how I was hoping him using them during feeds would stop. It never did - I often managed to pop him off before he REALLY hurt me, but he generally bit at every feed. It is SO painful having a tiny ginger baby gnawing on your nips. 

Being chewed on top of scabs? Yep - hurts as much as you imagine. Lots of tiny scabs? Yep, hurts just as much as you imagine! 

In preparation for my going to work full time last week we spent the couple of weeks previously giving him bottles during the day, and I was feeding in the mornings and evenings and in the night if he woke (ok, when he woke, not if!) and it seemed to be going ok. I did wonder if the bottles were encouraging the chewing of the boobs but since I didn't really have another option - as I wasn't going to be here to feed him - we had to get him used to getting his milk from another source! 

Last week I started back at work. The beginning of the week saw me frantically feeding just before I left to battle the traffic, praying I wasn't going to leak milk all over my new boss all day, then feeding frantically again when I got home to ease my sore, aching, very-full-of-milk boobs! 

Midweek saw me returning home with those very full, very hot, very sore boobs and sobbing with the pain as I tried to feed from them to a baby who kept chewing and drawing blood, and who wasn't very interested. He cried, I cried, the toddler cried - it was messy. Literally messy, actually. 

That night when he woke at 3am he wouldn't feed from me. The next morning he wouldn't feed from me - he screamed and fought me until I offered a bottle - which he took. Since then he's refused breast completely - so I've pulled out a minimising bra, padded myself up and ridden the few agonising days of my boobs making milk that nobody wanted. 


Tonight they're just tender, and appear to no longer be made out of concrete. This is an improvement. 

So how do I feel? I'm not really sure. I've admitted all along that I don't madly love breastfeeding - but I do love knowing that I can do it, that he's (they've) done so well on it, that I made that stuff myself in my own body and that it was our special time. 

I wept with guilt (and pain) when my milk let down in the evenings and soaked through dozens of breastpads until I just shoved a nappy in my bra to catch it (I soaked through that as well) and I sobbed in the shower when I expressed a little milk to stop the swollen, agonising throbbing of over full boobs. I sobbed when my husband gave the baby his bottle - but in another room, because he was so happy to finally be able to feed the baby and have that quiet time together. 

I also feel free, I haven't leaked milk for nearly two days and I don't smell of warm milk (or off milk) and on Thursday night my husband slept with the baby and I slept on the sofa - a full, unbroken night sleep - I've slept with the baby every night but one since he was born before that point - I've never slept in a seperate room to him at home - and it was lovely. I slept right through. He slept better too because my big milky boobs weren't right there by his head making him feel hungry! 

I don't know how I feel - I'm happy because it's a quite freeing sensation - I'm guilty because I feel like that - I'm happy that we did it for so long successfully, I'm glad that I'm not going to have tiny razor sharp teeth slicing into me 6 times a day. I'm sad that the new baby stage is over. I'm excited about him growing up. 

I feel sad. Right now I feel sad. 

The National Trust.

As a joint present for mine and my husband's birthday presents my Dad and Step Mum got us membership to the National Trust, which we are over the moon about.

We took advantage at the first available opportunity and all packed into my new car (also thanks to my Poppa Bear and The Fifi Lady!) and pootled off to Corfe Castle. The castle has been there for a great many years and was important in all kinds of political intrigue in times gone by - but was pulled down in response to said intrigue. A lot of it is still there and you can climb what's left of the stairs.

The castle is still amazing - it must have been breathtaking when it was whole, and the views from the top are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

The boys seemed to enjoy it - Jellybean loved the tents in the courtyard where he could pretend to be a knight with "a pointy fighting one" (that's sword to you and I) and play with the building blocks (they demonstrated the different building techniques for the various arches that still stand) and he loved the children's activity they had put on.

They had harnessed up a collection of teddy bears and rigged a zip line from the top of the castle to the bridge below - children could climb and send the teddy bears whizzing down the line then they were given a certificate. It took Jellybean a long time to decide on a name for his bear - Superted (good boy) - but he was amazingly good climbing all the way up. He picked the biggest bear (just like his mother) and insisted on carrying it himself all the way, though it was almost as big as he is!

He loved running and climbing around the ruins of the castle and Midget Gem loved the blowing air, the chance to be out with us all and the chance to watch his brother running around like a crazy face!

We popped into the traditional sweet shop and the cafe on our way out then enjoyed the walk back to the car - a mile of walk beside a river with arched trees overhead. Perfect.

We plan to visit somewhere with our membership most weekends - getting your moneys worth Poppa! If you haven't got a membership yourself i strongly recommend you get one - there are so many places you're entitled to free entry and free parking once you're a member (and the magazine is great) and it solves the "what shall we do with the kids this weekend" dilemma!

One last word to my Poppa - sorry I always pestered you and dragged you away when you were reading about the fallen down castles we visited in my youth - it's so frustrating!

Ragdale Hall

In my last post I mentioned that we'd been away on a spa break to the magnificent Ragdale Hall; I promised a review - and here it is. 

I didn't know what I was expecting when we set off to Ragdale - but the weekend started well with my husband and I talking to each other - with no children in the car and no Mister Tumble Sings CD blaring at us. This in itself seemed luxurious - so we were already feeling pretty special when we arrived. 

Coming around the corner and seeing the building I thought it was just a truly beautiful place, and wondered if it was going to be a bit pretentious; I thought it might be full of very well to do people being very well to do, and that we wouldn't fit in at all. I was worried we'd feel out of place. I was about to say as much to my husband when the valet popped up to carry out bag inside and offer to park our car - before I knew it we were bustled inside, greeted by name by the wonderfully friendly welcoming team and seated on a soft, comfortable chair being handed fresh coffee and the most delicious fresh orange juice I've ever tasted.

We were on the break as media reviewers - so when they were so welcoming and came to sit with us and talk us through everything the spa had to offer, to tell us to call down any time if we needed anything, and to offer a full tour I thought they were going all out to treat us well because we were writing a review piece; then I looked around and saw the same thing happening at every table, and over the rest of the weekend every time someone arrived - the staff are just superb. They're friendly, welcoming, chatty, happy - they make you feel like you're someone special and they're excited that you came. It's glorious. 

We had arrived in time for lunch and our bag was taken to our room as we sat down to a very, very tasty meal - all fresh and organic and delicious. The meals are inclusive when you stay at Ragdale - and so are drinks. Not the alcoholic ones - but juice, tea, coffee, mineral water are inclusive - which is a trick most places seem to miss and you leave paying more than you'd anticipated because you dared to request a beverage with your meal! 

After lunch we were shown to our room (my husband said we could find our own way but I said I'd like to be shown - I think it's a good job I did because Ragdale Hall is huge - we'd have been wandering for hours before we found our way the first time!) and found a sumptuous, fresh, comfortable room with stunning views. Massive fluffy dressing gowns and soft slippers waited for us - and we quickly got ourselves into those and headed downstairs to explore the spa.

Paul, the lovely gent who had welcomed us, gave us a tour of the spa and entertained us; I'm not sure whether he gets paid extra to crack jokes but I think he should. The atmosphere of the spa was blissed out and relaxed - the visitors were all smiling and snoozing on the many comfortable chairs, the staff all seemed happy and friendly, everyone seemed pleased to see Paul and happy to have more visitors to the spa. 

Once we'd had a good look around we were itching to get going and try everything - so we trotted back through to the thermal spa. 


There are so many different things to try to describe that I just don't think I can do it justice. The thermal spa contains (deep breath);
>the Thought Zone (a warm room with a calming light projector pointed to the ceiling - very soothing) 
>the Colour Flow Cave (a glass tiled room filled with steam and fresh, relaxing scents with dim lighting)
>the Candle Pool (my favourite - an underground lagoon lit by candles with twinkling stars in the cave like roof) 
>the Volcanic Salt Bath - another steamy room that smelt very 'minerally' with granite walls
>the Cave Shower - this is AMAZING - there are three experiences here; 1; the tropical rain storm - thunder and lightning inside the cave, with a deluge of warm water like the most exciting storm you've ever known. 2; cold mist - this is COLD, and has a strong minty scent so feels very fresh - lovely after a sauna or steam, proof that I'm hard as nails. 3; the waterfall - this is EVEN COLDER and a bit of a shock to the system after all the relaxing warmth everywhere!
>The Ice Fountain - literally a fountain of ice, collected in a large glass dish, for rubbing yourself down after the sauna (read; dropping into your wife's cleavage when she's falling asleep)
>The Scented Room - warm, slightly steamy, dried herbs with water steaming through them to scent the air.
>the Rose Sauna - glorious; images of rose blooms around the walls and the scent of roses in the air. There's a window looking out over the grounds which is lovely.

Once you've experienced all that there's another highlight - the outdoor pool. The pool is warm - like getting into a bath warm - and you descend the steps, via the foot spa as you enter, submerge then swim through a cave doorway to the outside area of the pool; there's a (warm) waterfall and a number of secluded bays to sit in, with massage jets to ease aches, soothe pains and surprise husbands. 

We worked our way around everything then headed back inside to the original pool - huge, beautiful, with a rock pool area that hides a jacuzzi, another waterfall and more massage jets - magnificent things - then showered and headed for our inclusive treatments.

We'd opted for the full body massage. This was my first and I thought it was going to be very odd - but my massage therapist was an absolute joy. She was friendly, happy, loved her job (I did TRY to get some dirt out of her, she didn't know I was there for a review - but she just raved with happiness because she loved her job so much and was so happy to work there - you can really tell that the whole staff are happy) and aside from one moment where I thought "I'm only wearing knickers and a total stranger is rubbing warm oil into me" the whole experience was heavenly. 

I reluctantly left the massage with the suggestion that I ought to have them more often (yahaa!) and feeling totally, totally blissed. 

We went for dinner - another huge success - and then most of the visitors seemed to drift to the lounge rooms with huge glasses of wine and laughter, or to their rooms to take advantage of the chance to lounge on huge comfortable beds and watch some of the selection of DVDs you can borrow (for no extra charge) - we thought about it, but then decided we could go to bed or watch a film any time at home, but we were never going to have an outside pool...

The pool, outside, at night, with the stars out overhead and the warm waterfall washing over you - well it's something magical. We were the only people in there and it was one of the happiest moments of my entire life. I felt totally relaxed, totally connected to my husband and myself for the first time in months, calm, clean, happy - it was magical. If you go to Ragdale - no, not if, when - when you go to Ragdale - I absolutely insist you take advantage of the outdoor pool at night. You will love it - did I mention it was magical? 

The next morning - after the best sleep of my life in the most comfortable bed ever made - we were brought our breakfast in bed (oh my lushness that breakfast) and then hurried downstairs to enjoy some more time in the spa and try out the water gym (which is an odd experience) then sat in the lovely soft basket chairs reading our books until lunch. We saw the same people as we prepared to leave and they chatted to us about our stay - the entire staff of Ragdale hall do their work brilliantly. They genuinely seem to be happy, they make it a happy place to visit, they are professional and efficient but friendly and relaxed, they're superb. 

Overall I have to say just one thing; go. Go to Ragdale Hall. Never mind all those other spas - this is something truly special. Truly special. They've hit the nail right on the head. 

Prices for Ragdale range from £69 - £165 for a day break to £345 for a weekend break; the package we had was the Overnight Reviver - prices range from £196 to £259 per person with meals included, full access to the thermal spa and activities/classes/gym etc. and an inclusive treatment. Worth every single penny. 

When you're there there are a lot of chances to 'top up' with extra treatments and the prices are very reasonable - and very luxurious. There are also little boutiques and shops dotted around to treat yourself to some lovely products or jewellery and gifts that, rather than being expensive and a bit of a con - which they could be considering they've a captive audience - are beautifully stocked and very reasonably priced indeed. 

The one, tiny, complaint I had was that the showers - though generously kept supplied with glorious shampoo and conditioner - had both in pump top bottles. I have A LOT of hair, and you only get a tiny amount out with each pump. I had to pump over 300 times (yes, I counted, I like to count) to condition my hair, which was very time consuming. Worth it though because the conditioner was lush.

I'm planning another trip to Ragdale at Easter - you'd better book now or I'll totally have your spot. 

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I received the weekend break with no charge from Ragdale Hall to review; they didn't force me to say nice things about it - I just love it there.