A Lady of Leisure

News, reviews and opinions on everything to do with leisure, from hotels and holidays to food and fitness, by national newspaper journalist and author Sarah Bridge.



Why you’re never too old to visit Las Vegas

Las Vegas holiday
The Bellagio hotel and casino – our home for the next seven days

Just a few days in Sin City brought about a miraculous transformation in my mother. For several weeks before our Las Vegas holiday, her main activity had been fretting about what to bring.

“Shall I take an umbrella?” she’d asked. I explained the temperature in May should be a balmy 40 degrees. She wasn’t convinced. “How about a mac then?”

Now, after just 48 hours in Vegas, she seemed an entirely different person. She got up from her sun lounger and said: ‘Right, I’m off to gamble and to have a gin and tonic. Can I borrow a hundred dollars?’

It was 10.30am. My 68-year old mother rarely drank and her total gambling experience had been the penny-in-the-slots at the seaside as a child. What had I started? Continue reading Why you’re never too old to visit Las Vegas

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True grit: A first-time skier braves a British Military Fitness ski trip in Courchevel

bmf holiday
A bunch of rather nervous newbie skiers try to stay upright, at least for the photograph…

Being escorted off the mountain-side by a French hunk on a snowmobile was not the way I had imagined the end of my first ever day of skiing, but it was certainly exhilarating.

I clung to him for dear life as we plunged and soared across the slopes checking for other waifs and strays as the sky darkened. When he deposited me back to level ground my knees were trembling like a Mills and Boon heroine.

bmf holiday
My mountain rescuer, John-Paul

Why had I not realised before that skiing would be so exciting?A combination of cost, inclination and complete ignorance about anything to do with skiing meant that I’d reached my late 30s without ever been bitten by the ski bug.

Various friends and colleagues would emerge from trips to France, Italy and further afield with tales of black runs and the mysterious ‘après’ but it was a completely alien world to me. Continue reading True grit: A first-time skier braves a British Military Fitness ski trip in Courchevel

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So it’s a bar – which doesn’t sell alcohol. Can this be a good thing?

redemption bar notting hill

Visitors to Redemption, tucked away in the unfashionable corner of London between Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove, first have to walk past an array of Notting Hill’s pubs and wine bars, packed with Bright Young Things knocking back the very latest in alcohol trends, from finely-crafted cocktails to locally-distilled artisan gin.

Those who ignore such delights and cross the bridge over the railway tracks, find themselves in a different world altogether – low rise seventies-style flats overlooking a row of extremely untrendy shops; a bookmakers, a kebab shop and in the middle, Redemption.

It is almost empty when I arrive at 6.30 on a Saturday evening, but within the hour every one of its five or so tables is occupied, by couples and groups of friends, and the two-strong waiting staff are cheerfully rushing around with orders. Continue reading So it’s a bar – which doesn’t sell alcohol. Can this be a good thing?

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Review: Quidam, Cirque du Soleil, Royal Albert Hall

cirque du soleil royal albert hall review

Having just a few months ago seen the jaw-dropping, mind-boggling spectacle which is Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’ at the Bellagio, Las Vegas, the Cirque’s Quidam show at the Royal Albert Hall certainly had a lot to live up to.

But while the London show didn’t boast a 1.5 million gallon swimming pool in which acrobats high-dived and from which grand pianos emerged – the Royal Albert Hall’s insurers might have had something to say about that – Quidam was a much more intimate experience which seamlessly combined moments of exhilarating high energy with awe-inspiring displays of quiet and focussed acrobatic strength and grace which had everyone memerised.  On several occasions during the show I realised that I had forgotten to blink or swallow for what seemed like an age, and my sharp intake of breath at one stunning sequence was amplified a thousand times as the entire audience did exactly the same. Continue reading Review: Quidam, Cirque du Soleil, Royal Albert Hall

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

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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?

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Sun, sea and romance on a Club Mark Warner singles holiday in Kos

Mark Warner holiday Kos
Mark Warner’s hotel in Latikira, Kos, Greece

Take dozens of single people, put them in a beach resort for a week, add sun and alcohol, and it’s simply a matter of time before holiday romances start to flourish.

It was just a couple of days into my Mark Warner holiday on the Greek island of Kos when the first newly-formed couple could be spotted. Walking hand-in-hand towards the beach, they looked happy, self-conscious and smug all at the same time. The rest of us were very happy for them – even if we did think that the holding hands thing was a bit twee – but we didn’t think the relationship would last much beyond the baggage carousel.
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For latest deals and prices click here markwarner.co.uk or call 0844 2730 426
Check out the Club Mark Warner weeks here: Club Mark Warner
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It didn’t even make it that far, as it turned out. A row one night over whether to go into town for late-night drinks meant that, what had started off so brightly had, in the way these things do, crashed and burned before the week was out. Still, no matter, there was more dancing and drinking to be done. Continue reading Sun, sea and romance on a Club Mark Warner singles holiday in Kos

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Dryathlon or Dry January: worth trying once

My friends in the drinks industry won’t thank me, but I’ve joined the growing ranks of those who have sworn off booze for January – hello Dry January! 

Swearing seems to be the appropriate word too, as it’s what I’ve felt like doing every one of the 20 or so times during the last two – is it only two?! – days when I’ve remembered what it is I can’t have anymore.

drythlon worth trying

There are many reasons not to do it, namely that drinking in moderation isn’t necessarily bad for you and can even be beneficial, or that it’s better to have a couple of alcohol-free days every week throughout the year rather than go cold turkey for a month and then go bonkers in bars for the rest of 2014.

What attracted me to the idea in the first place was, like with most people, the thought of the weight I’d lose and the money I’d save, both typical but perfectly laudable New Year’s resolutions.

But the main thing that tipped me over the edge onto a month of total and utter sobriety was my reaction to the prospect, the closer it became. Continue reading Dryathlon or Dry January: worth trying once

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News, reviews and opinions on everything to do with leisure, from hotels and holidays to food and fitness, by national newspaper journalist and author Sarah Bridge

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