Alphabet Dating - R is for Relaxation

Alphabet Dating – R is for Relaxation

Eastwell Manor Spa Break

We’ve been taking liberties with the alphabet again but I’m pleased to say we finally got around to our ‘R’ date. R is for Relaxation – something we both deserved after the not-so-great start to the year. We booked a lovely overnight stay spa break at Eastwell Manor near Ashford in Kent for our 5th wedding anniversary.

Eastwell Manor Spa Break

Eastwell Manor is a charming country house set in the Garden of England and was built between 1540 and 1550. In its impressive history of over 450 years it has had many owners, including Royalty! These days it is best known as a hotel offering spa breaks, afternoon teas and weddings.

We checked in to the Robert Curtoys room in the early afternoon – easily the largest hotel room I have ever stayed in! Complete with kingsize bed, chaise longue and Champneys flip flops, robes and toiletries. We headed straight down to the Champneys spa where we enjoyed the facilities and also had a facial each which we had pre-booked. The spa itself features a heated indoor pool surrounded by relaxation beds. There’s also a hydrotherapy pool, steam room, sauna and, my favourite, a jacuzzi.

Robert Curtoys room at Eastwell Manor

Eastwell Manor Spa Break

Our package also included dinner plus breakfast and lunch the following day, so after we were all fresh and clean after our spa session, we got dressed up and made our way to the Manor Restaurant where we enjoyed a three course meal. For starters I had the rainbow carrot terrine while Nick had the cheese souffle. For mains we both opted for the Eastwell brisket burger which was yummy, if not a little salty. Lastly, dessert. Nick enjoyed the white chocolate and passion fruit ganache bomb sorbet while I had the pistachio, orange and cranberry which included the most delicious ice cream (orange and cranberry mix? I’m not sure) as well as spiced oranges and olive oil cake. It was sooo good!

Pool at Eastwell Manor

After a super comfortable and relaxing nights sleep in our humongous bed, we enjoyed a buffet breakfast followed by a stroll through the perfectly manicured grounds. It was lovely to soak up the atmosphere while pretending you are on a television set.

Big comfy bed!

gardens at eastwell

We then returned to the spa for body radiance treatments which involved putting on an embarrassingly tiny pair of knickers (for me anyway, my husband got off lightly). Luckily it was all very professional and organised so my embarrassment was very shortlived. The spa therapist exfoliated my skin and then left me to shower. Once I was dry and my modesty protected with towels, she then massaged my skin using some gorgeous scented Champneys moisturiser.

Fancy starters in the spa restaurant

We also stopped in the Spa Restaurant for a light lunch prior to our treatments. We could have had several fancy looking courses there too but we didn’t want to be too full before our body treatments so Nick had chicken to start followed by some sensible pasta while I opted for a starter of salmon and then skipped straight to dessert – ice cream… and imagine my delight when I realised one of the flavours was the same as what I had for dessert the night before. Oh yes. You can put the girl in a classy setting but you can’t stop her from ordering ice cream for lunch! Ha!

All in all it was a perfect and romantic stay and one I would definitely like to repeat.

Eastwell Manor - a lovely spa break in Kent

We’re so cool

For more Alphabet Dating Adventures check out my series.

Alphabet Dating - T is for Tasting Tour

Alphabet Dating – T is for Tasting Tour

Copper Rivet Distillery Tour

There are many kinds of tasting tours you can do for alphabet dating letter T – tapas, street food, beer, chocolate… We chose to do the Copper Rivet Distillery Tour which is situated in the historic dockyard of Chatham in Kent.

The distillery is set in the Victorian Pump House No. 5 and brews vodka, whiskey and gin. Although the dockyard itself has a long history, Copper Rivet Distillery didn’t come into planning until 2005 and didn’t open for tours until 2016, so its relatively new.

Pump House No.5 - home to the Copper Rivet Distillery Tour

When you arrive at Pump House No. 5 you walk straight into the bar which proudly displays some of the awards that Copper Rivet have won. There’s a nice relaxed atmosphere there with a vibe of old-meets-new. The bar acts as a waiting area before your tour so if you’re early enough you can have a drink beforehand.

Dockyard gin - bar display

The tour was interesting. We learnt about the process of making the alcohol, the Russell family who set up the distillery and a guy named Abhi, the head distiller at the Copper Rivet Distillery and a bit of a genius in his field from the sounds of it!

The stills at the Copper Rivet Distillery Tour in Chatham Dockyard

The stills are all named after members of the Russell family who are no longer with us (but here in spirit. Pun intended). ‘Sandy’ the whiskey still, ‘Joyce’ the column and ‘Janet’ the gin still. Janet is a bit of a special one (I think our guide may have even said the only one like it!) and is a patented design. The other thing Copper Rivet are immensely proud of is that they are one of only a handful of distilleries in the UK who control the whole distillation process from grain to glass!

Janet the gin still

After being shown the stills and learning the history and processes, we were able to sample the vodka and the gin. The whiskey is busy maturing so won’t be ready until around 2020 so whiskey fans may wish to wait! I must admit I didn’t really enjoy the vodka, but vodka is not my tipple of choice. However the gin was pleasant and what we were really there for anyway. The Dockyard Gin is flavoured with 9 botanicals too – orange peel, orris root, lemon peel, elderflower, angelica root, green cardamom, coriander seeds, juniper and grains of paradise.

Copper Rivet Dockyard Gin

At the end of the tour we were given a full glass of gin and tonic to savour, complete with a slice of grapefruit – how Dockyard Gin is recommended! You can also buy bottles of the spirits to take home too.

After our tour we stopped off at one of the local restaurants in the dockside for some burgers and cocktails to round off a fun afternoon out!

The Copper Rivet Distillery Tour at Chatham Historic Dockyard - excellent idea for a date or fun afternoon out.

The Copper Rivet Distillery Tour lasts for around 1 hour and costs £12pp. If you enjoyed this you might like reading about the time I got tipsy at the XXXX brewery in Brisbane or some of my other Alphabet Dating adventures.

 

Alphabet Dating S is for Stranger Things

Alphabet Dating – S is for Stranger Things

How to host your own Stranger Things themed party

I’m a bit late writing about this now the hype around season 2 has kind of ended, but in a similar vein to the Elf night we hosted the other Christmas, we thought we’d invite people over and host a Stranger Things themed party.

So, if you fancy doing it yourself or perhaps want a head start before season 3, here’s how to host your own Stranger Things themed party…

Step 1: Channel Joyce channeling Will
Take a queue from Joyce Byers and string up a whole bunch of fairy lights. You don’t have to go as crazy as she did but at least get some nice coloured ones on your wall. We also hung some from the ceiling in our hallway too which culminated into a ball of light, you know, incase Will got in touch.

As for painting the alphabet on the wall like Joyce did, we just cut out some big black paper letters and taped them to the wire on the fairy lights so as not to damage the paint work. If you don’t want to draw your own letters, you can buy printable replicas of the tv alphabet here.

Host your own Stranger Things night

Step 2: Add some decorative touches
We printed out a couple of posters to stick up, one of which was Will’s missing poster, the other an E.T. inspired Stranger Things poster designed by my very talented husband. We also gave everyone temporary tattoos of the number 11, just like Eleven had.

Another idea would be to create a Stranger Things playlist (such as the theme tune and ‘Should I stay or should I go’ by The Clash) to play while you’re greeting your guests and eating dinner, kind of as a prelude before watching the show.

Turn your home into 80s Hawkins, Indiana with these Stranger Things inspired posters

Step 3: Create a menu
You can go even more extra than sticking ’11’ tattoos on your guests, by printing your own Benny’s Burgers stickers and then sticking them onto a retro style ketchup bottle and burger bar style food baskets. Not only did we do this, but my husband also designed a menu which consisted of Stranger Things themed food: Benny’s Build a Burger (burgers and fries served in baskets, add your own toppings such as onion rings, gherkins etc), Elle’s Eggo Delight (waffles, obviously, except we don’t have Eggos in England) and then to wash it down “Hawkin’s Lab Cola” aka cans of coca cola.

His creativity puts me to shame.

Be sure to create a Stranger Things inspired menu for your theme night

Step 4: Sit back and enjoy the show
In all the excitement of making everything themed around Stranger Things, don’t forget to actually sit down and watch the show!

"Will? Are you there?"

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How to host your own Stranger Things themed party

Alphabet dating Q is for quad biking

Alphabet Dating – Q is for Quad Biking

Just what do you do for Alphabet Dating letter Q? Well here’s an idea… QUAD BIKING!

Both newbies to Quad Biking, hubby and I headed up to Tulley’s Farm in West Sussex, home to Southern Pursuits – the ultimate destination for adrenaline-fuelled activity days in the South East of England.

Before we got going on the Quad Bikes, we had a go at archery because neither of us had really tried that before either, plus Southern Pursuits have quite a few activities to choose from, be it archery, quad biking, clay pigeon shooting, air rifles or even axe throwing! (hey if you’re thinking about starting up Alphabet Dating then there’s plenty of ‘A’ date ideas right here!).

Archery at Southern Pursuits - just a short drive from Gatwick airport

Archery was fun but SO TIRING! Particularly for me as I have the upper body strength of a toddler! Hubby did quite well at it, however my archery skills won’t have Katniss Everdeen quaking in her boots anytime soon.

Next up for us was the main event – quad biking! We were quite fortunate that it was just the two of us, plus our patient and friendly instructor Tom. We were briefed on all the safety instructions, shown how to control the bikes and then we were on our way around the nursery track. The quad bikes were alot more powerful than I expected them to be so I felt a little nervous at the beginning. Southern Pursuits actually use powerful Yamaha 350cc quad bikes whereas most activity centres like this only use 125cc bikes.

Driving on the nursery track at Southern Pursuits quad biking day.

However, once we were off the nursery track and into the woods my nerves vanished and I was having a great time! We drove through the trees, along muddy paths, up hills, down hills and through big puddles. By some sort of miracle only my boots got dirty, not sure how I managed that but we had brought along some spare clothes and shoes for the journey home just incase.

Muddy quad biking at Southern Pursuits

Alphabet dating letter Q

The team at Southern Pursuits were all friendly, fun and professional and the place itself is a great day out for stags, hens, team building events or just those looking for alphabet dating letter Q ideas. It’s also just a short drive from Gatwick so great for tourists too.

Quad biking starts at £45pp + VAT and archery is from £17.50pp + VAT but there are package deals to be had too.

Quad biking fun at Southern Pursuits

Disclaimer: we were invited by Southern Pursuits to try out their activities, but all words and opinions are my own. Photography courtesy of Southern Pursuits.

Alphabet Dating - P is for Punting

Alphabet Dating – P is for Punting

P is for Punting but it can also stand for Peaceful and Picturesque.

What is punting?

Punting is simply travelling along a river in a flat-bottomed boat (known as a punt) while a guy or gal uses a pole to steer the boat. I guess it’s the English equivalent to one of the gondolas in Venice, although a professional punter (is that what they’re called?) might disagree.

Peaceful punting

Punting Canterbury

It’s quite a popular thing to do if you visit Cambridge (punting on the Cam) but as we live a lot closer to Canterbury, our punting experience took place on the Great Stour River.

Our trip was booked through Westgate Punts and was very peaceful and relaxing. I kept expecting the Boatman to start singing but then I remembered that this isn’t that kind of place. We saw plenty of nature including ducks, moorhens and their little fluffy baby chicks, as well as beautiful blue dragonflies that kept bobbing around near the boat.

Beautiful Canterbury, Kent

Much to our amusement we also saw a large husky type dog swimming in the river at one point, with me joking about it being the weirdest looking duck I’ve seen. Don’t panic though folks – the dog soon got out of the river and rejoined his owners!

Husky dog having a swim

Our boatman also pulled over to pick some blackberries off a bush which he and hubby ate. I was pretty dubious but sounds like they were quite sharp tasting so I didn’t miss out on much there.

I’ve visited Canterbury many times but seeing it from the river showed me parts of it I had never seen before. Our boat ride lasted around 50 minutes and was a pleasant way to start the day!

sitting on a punt

Punting Canterbury

If you enjoyed this then you might like some of my other alphabet dating adventures, which you can find right here.