Category Archives: Wellbeing

Preparing for the Blenheim Triathlon – your support for Leukaemia Research much appreciated

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is usually a beautiful, serene, quintessentially British sort of place, where visitors happily amble around admiring the stately grandeur of the birthplace of Winston Churchill before enjoying afternoon tea and dithering over trinkets in the palace gift shop.

Next month however, the  peacefulness of the 300-year old building and its Capability Brown-designed grounds will be ruined as several thousand competitors, including me, descend upon the site for the annual Blenheim Triathlon.

The usually-serene courtyard will be packed full of row upon row of bikes underneath which will be piles of towels, shoes, helmets and other necessary kit, and throughout the weekend barefooted, wetsuited competitors will be seen gingerly making their way down to the start of the race, an icy plunge into the waters of Blenheim’s lake.

blenheim triathlon
Blenheim Place in its usual calm and serene state – before the lycra-clad hordes descend for the annual triathlon

All around the grounds spectators will line the route to cheer on their friends and families as they first swim across the murky water and then cycle and run around the course before staggering, exhausted and muddy but cheerful, over the finishing line. Continue reading Preparing for the Blenheim Triathlon – your support for Leukaemia Research much appreciated

Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa: serious pampering

Walking into a really gorgeous hotel room can be such a bittersweet moment. There is the initial reaction of ‘Wow! This is really, really nice….!’ and delight that this is actually all yours for the next 20 hours or so.

Then there is the sudden realisation of ‘Oh, but then I’m actually going to have to leave here and go home…’

Followed by: ‘Why can’t I live here forever?’

Such is the effect of walking into a room at Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa, a 17th century old country house set in nine acres of land, which has recently invested millions in its new luxury spa facility neighbouring the hotel.

ockenden manor hotel and spa
Ockenden Manor – the spa building is a separate building a short walk away

While the rooms in the hotel itself are older and more traditional, I was staying in ‘Clara’, one of the newly-done up rooms above the spa itself. The room instantly gave off a feeling of impeccable luxury, but in a nice, comfortable, relaxing way, rather than a starchy, soulless, hotel sort of a way. Continue reading Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa: serious pampering

Equinox gym London: super-pricey but will get you super-fit

equinox gym london
The rather impressive Art Deco-style workout space at Equinox Kensington.

Equinox London could possibly be one of the most expensive gyms in Kensington, London or even the country. And it doesn’t even have a swimming pool.

But the US fitness chain Equinox, which is huge across America but which has only one outlet in the UK, in London’s posh Kensington postcode (a personal training club is scheduled to open this winter, in the even posher St James’s district by Piccadilly – check out E for Equinox ) is not going to apologise for its eye-watering prices.

‘It’s not fitness – it’s life,’ proclaims its website. And who is going to cut corners on ‘life’?

So you pay your £205 a month membership fee plus a £400 initiation fee and the cost for the current month, and embark on your journey of transformation. Continue reading Equinox gym London: super-pricey but will get you super-fit

After the Fast Diet, there’s Fast Exercise, but aren’t we missing something?


There’s nothing more than the fitness industry loves than the newest fad, the latest trend, the ‘next big thing’.

It guarantees column inches in newspaper supplements and magazines as the new idea is relentlessly promoted in books and articles by its creators. It is then even more relentlessly plugged by the bandwagon-jumpers who can spot a new trend at fifty lunges and launch their own versions of the so-called big idea.

Then fitness chains start offering classes and then there’s the DVDs, the music, the accessories and then of course, the backlash as everyone starts to wonder whether it was such a great idea in the first place and we all go back to whatever kind of exercise we were doing before and actually secretly much preferred (even if is it sitting on the sofa watching repeats of The Biggest Loser.)

From Reebok step to spinning, Pilates to Zumba, every few years there comes along a supposedly revolutionary idea which will transform the way we approach the idea of getting fit.

And the latest supertrend is finally here – hurrah! HIT (high intensity training) also known as HIIT (high intensity interval training), or Fast exercise (by the doctor-journalist who brought you the Fast Diet) is the new exercise fad of early 2014 and – here I am, getting the backlash in early – I think it is completely and utterly missing the point of what exercise is and why we do it. Continue reading After the Fast Diet, there’s Fast Exercise, but aren’t we missing something?