Hello everyone

I’ve been away for 4 days taking a short break. It was great.  We had glorious weather and for two of those days we stayed in Cedar Falls Health Farm in Somerset.

I’ve been going to Cedar Falls for years having spotted it whilst driving past one time, and thinking ‘oooh, I wonder!’  As this stay was the 7th time we’ve been there I think you get that it’s got a special place in my heart, mind you I only come when there’s a deal (which they do have) as this not somewhere a pensioner with my feeble pension can go to on the full price.

Nevertheless, in comparison to some health farms Cedar Falls is very reasonable (up to a point because I think before I book and gulp when I get the bill). But also it’s so not a corporate place, instead it has an old world charm and an ever so slightly shabby chic feel that is actually very comfortable. See below.

And this.

I swear some of these chairs and settees are the same ones that were there when I started coming to it years ago – please don’t ever change them!

Most of the guests (who are 98% women) go around in a white dressing-gown. But not me. I don’t like that look at all, so I wear black leggings with a white t-shirt (both from Peacocks) and a thin cardi (which I’ve had for years and was bought for next to nothing in the supermarket store Asda) plus some jewellery and my LookFabulousForever black bag. Actually, I think that’s quite conventional gear and I might have a look at the Urban Outfitters’ sale rack again as there was an ace tracksuit bottom in neon green (they were something like the ones in the link but reduced to £25) that I quite fancied – might just go for them!

The food, btw, is amazing and of the highest quality, and not too much, but neither is it too little. In fact, I saw some people going to the lunch-time buffet more than twice!

For the next two days we were in Bournemouth, which is a place I went to many times as a child (in the 50s) as we had two ancient relatives to visit: one was great-aunt Violet who lived as a permanent resident in a hotel all her life! And then there was great-uncle Hugh and great-aunt Queenie who had a maid called Violet (who was very like Mrs Overall although perhaps more like the older version that Julie Walters played in the ‘two soups’ sketch penned by Victoria Woods – which I can’t find ). They lived in one of those large gothic houses so typical of Bournemouth’s past that disappeared years ago and probably has in its grounds the ubiquitous blocks of flats that are peppered all over Bournemouth.  Actually, not a place that I want to return to again, I think, although if you’re interested there are some amazing beaches to lie on when the weather is warm. There are some good cliff walks.

And it was really sunny for the time of year.

Wearing my old faux leather charity shop jacket (so old) and pink Peacocks’ jeans with a charity shop cotton scarf.

The pic below was taken in Poole, which had some great charity shops, and you’ll see the two items I bought there very soon!

It got really hot (for the UK) that day, so off came the jacket and there’s my charity shop striped top bought in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. This was bargain at £3, but can I tell you that in that area (up-market Suffolk) that type of striped top was the only kind of top worn and for sale in the shops. Yes, shops like Joules and Seasalt Cornwall seemed to have a ‘look’ that was so samey. And I could see that a striped top was the ‘uniform’ for that area. But this top seems to go well with the shoes, I think.

Now, I have come to a decision.  Going away for a 4-day break was great but not relaxing, as in neither of us like driving all that much. Anyone who lives over the pond, you’ll just laugh, because distances for people in the UK are so different to yours and, indeed, Europe. I mean, I remember when I lived in Switzerland driving for over 2 hours just to see a film! But, now, I’m not keen to be driving for 3 hours to get somewhere. And our roads are not particularly relaxing places to be, so, instead, the cities on my bucket list of city breaks are going to be reached by train, which when they work are good to use. The list is for starters: Edinburgh during the festival, yes; Bath, yes; Bristol also; and I think, Liverpool; and maybe even Dundee, which has just had an amazing V&A museum built on its waterfront. Honestly, we used to drive everywhere but in future all those cities are going to be reached by train.

But what do you think, is it our age?  Perhaps it is, but if the train can take the strain, why not!

That’s all for now

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper

P.S. Future posts will be about hair and hair products, and also coats for the colder weather 🙂




35 thoughts on “How do you relax on a short break?

  • 1st October 2018 at 10:53 am

    I don’t drive, so take trains and buses everywhere

    If you plan your trips and advance book, you can get some excellent bargains. Megabus is also good

    Registering with the train companies helps with offers too

    You can do a group booking on train trips to get discounts. Sometimes single bookings can be cheaper than returns

    You just have to adjust your mindset for public transport – watch the time!

    Once on board the transport, you can relax, earplugs though to allow for people who aren’t as considerate with their electronic gadgets, or use your own gadgets

    Another plus is you can both enjoy the scenery and eat without having to pull in. I usually travel solo, so have to be careful re belongings if I go to the loo, but not a worry if there’s more than one of you

    There can be delays, but same for road trips, you will get refunds from the transport companies if delayed

    • 2nd October 2018 at 9:17 am

      That’s so interesting hearing your point of view. There are plenty of trips we can make by train and that’s how we’re going to do it in future. A few places might still need the car, but, we are, at some point, going to give up the car, so trains and buses (which are amazing in Brighton) and even coaches are the next step for us. We can always hire a car if we want to. Yes, I agree it’s an adjustment which I don’t see as a negative – actually with regard to global warming there really are too many cars. And there are definitely too many cars on British motorways!

  • 1st October 2018 at 11:05 am

    So agree about driving Penny. Not relaxing at all. We are off for a short break to Glasgow in a couple of weeks as it is a direct train ride. Lots to see there even if the weather is less kind. Other places you might consider are Chester, Newcastle and Birmingham. All have lots to see, good art galleries and museums plus other places. I’d say definitely Liverpool too. I love train journeys and if you book far enough ahead you can get very reasonable fares and even go first class sometimes. Which for a long journey is less extravagant than you might think as you get fed plus coffee, juice and water!

    • 2nd October 2018 at 9:21 am

      I really liked Glasgow when we visited a few years ago, which was before the art school got burnt down (gosh twice!!!). The art school library was just lovely and I do hope they i) rebuild and ii) determine what caused the 2nd fire as I don’t think a 3rd fire could be sustained.

      I also loved Newcastle when we last visited (some years ago) and Chester, but Birmingham, don’t know it, so that’s on my list now. And yes, I’ve heard that one can travel 1st class for quite a reasonable fare if booked in time.

      Enjoy your short break 🙂

  • 1st October 2018 at 11:58 am

    Very timely. I am at Forest Mere Champneys as we speak.. or type! Have been coming here for years on my own snd treat it as a retreat. My luxury is a good room with lake view only affordable to me with their regular 60% reduction. I don’t book any treatments as I find no need as I can use local people much more reasonably priced. I swim, read, gaze at the lake and the trees, journal, walk, and go to the classes that suit my mood. I don’t force myself to do anything. Never come with a must do attitude. It is a 40 minute drive so perfect to feel away without the hassle of a long journey. Food is wonderful. It is corporate but I find staff much improved in being helpful. Always quiet corners and time to use facilities when they are underused.
    I return really chilled with a new persective on things. Might get a bike out later….or not!

    • 2nd October 2018 at 9:43 am

      I’ve just spent about 15 minutes looking at the Champneys website and actually in comparison to Cedar Falls it would take just half the time to drive there (hour and a half). I’ve signed up for the newsletter and will treat myself, at some point just to try it out. But you’re so right about not having expensive treatments as one can get them done cheaper, with therapists one trusts, at home. The thing about Cedar Falls is it’s lovely atmosphere. And my familiarity with it. I would miss that. But to get away and chill – yes, and come back with a fresh perspective – yes again, I love that! Thanks for the info on Champneys – much appreciated.

      • 2nd October 2018 at 11:37 am

        Lots of women here on their own. My husband would hate it! Had the pool, sauna to myself for periods of time this am and a great yoga session. Seems very quiet.

  • 1st October 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Your headline immediately got me thinking: I remembered the last long weekend I had with the hubster (nearly two years go!), in Belfast, and it wasn’t really relaxing because of the amount of activities I had crammed in, although for once the travel aspect was quite pleasant because we flew from London City and that is a very special airport where passengers are still treated with dignity. But I recall some genuinely relaxing short breaks pre the hubster, when I used to go to places like Cedar Falls (in fact Cedars Falls itself has long been on my radar). All the stresses of the M25 used to melt away when I arrived and enjoyed that peaceful cocoon for a couple of days. Highly recommended.

    • 2nd October 2018 at 9:51 am

      I too highly recommend Cedar Falls for its lovely atmosphere. Also I noticed women coming on their own and had some good conversations with a couple of them. It’s very definitely a place you would feel great (as in safe and comfortable) to be on your own.

      I’m re-thinking how we do city breaks as I always think they’ll be a good thing, and I really want to do more (!) but they can be soooo tiring if you cram in those activities. With regard to Cedar Falls it’s my familiarity with it that I love as well. So, it’s swings and roundabout and the long journey versus the enjoyable relaxing stay.

      Never tried that airport and interesting what you say about it as air travel is just the pits – and it’s not the flight, that’s fine – it’s the bit before that that’s so ghastly.

  • 1st October 2018 at 1:11 pm

    I have tried short breaks in UK travelling with a coach company but, the single rooms are usually a broom cupboard tucked away with no view which I find disappointing when I have usually had to pay a single supplement as well. So now I save up and fly to different places abroad for a well earned break, I am off to Salou in Spain in 3 weeks time which I am really looking forward to as I like to use local buses to explore and Tarragona is only just up the road from the hotel and will be very interesting. I am not single but have an understanding husband who will hold the fort at home a couple of times a year. Having a son with Autism and mental health problems is an ongoing cause of major stress and I really value a proper break even though I am in contact with home every day when I’m away.

    • 2nd October 2018 at 10:13 am

      That trip to Spain sounds so good and yes you do need a break and I’m glad you can do this. I worked with carers at one point in my career and I know that respite is so important but almost impossible to get from the state. But your own health as a carer is key to the continuation of care, so it’s great that you can do this. And as aside I do find these ‘single supplements’ both outrageous and extortionate – they are an extra that single people have to pay – so unfair.

      All the best to you and your family. Enjoy your stay in Spain 🙂

  • 1st October 2018 at 1:54 pm

    I don t like to drive very long too anymore. I used to love it but I hardly ever drive. Only when we are going to the UK! I love Somerset. Oh and forgot to say that Gerben thought you look like Debbie Harry!

    • 2nd October 2018 at 10:15 am

      Honestly we used to drive all over and never worried too much about it – but now driving has lost its appeal!

      And wow! I definitely want to be compared to Debbie Harry – ooooh! xxxx to Gerber!

  • 1st October 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Just packing for a short break in Scotland. We are driving but as we live near the border and share the driving it isn’t very difficult. Hoping to get to the V&A Dundee on the way home. I often find I get more from a short break than a full holiday. No airport queues and take our time and go where we want. Looking forward to some fabulous scenery, great food and some cracking walks.

    • 2nd October 2018 at 10:19 am

      Yes, a short drive is Ok but these long drives (over 2 hours) no, not any more if I can help it.

      And enjoy Dundee. I’ve read some reviews of that V&A building and want to see it, as apparently it looks amazing from the outside but the interior isn’t conducive to good use of space, which sounds very much like an architect taking an idea and running with it but not thinking through the usefulness of space. And they never live in the blocks of flats that they design do they – hmmm.

      But enjoy Scotland – beautiful country.

  • 1st October 2018 at 2:30 pm

    I enjoyed your post very much. It’s a good reminder – I’ll keep looking for a place to go for short breaks. Since we don’t have trains to speak of (US), a drive will be okay. Not too long, but long enough to get to a natural setting, woodsy preferred, away from the noise and busyness of modern life. Just returned from trip to UK, enjoyed the peace and beauty every day. It felt like a mental retreat. We were staying in places with wonderful meals and walks with a group or alone through the woods, across fields, by rivers, up hills and mountains. If you’re thinking, “What’s so special about that?”, you must live in the UK! It does feel and look so different and just about perfect to me.

    • 2nd October 2018 at 11:04 am

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed your trip to the UK. We do have some beautiful countryside and lovely places to visit. And I do appreciate this and know despite the small size of our country there are many places still to see and explore.

      Now funnily enough I have travelled through the States by train! We took a train from Palm Springs to Charleston (so beautiful), stayed there 2 nights, then on to Washington (so interesting), stayed another 2 nights and ended up in Philadelphia and stayed with friends. It’s perhaps the best thing we’ve ever done as you get the scale of the country – like, 8 hours from Palm Springs we were still in orange groves – and also why Americans cut down trees, never seen so many in my life! So unlike many who would want to drive across the States, when I go back (because we do want one more trip there) this time I want to go across the States by train. Travelling this way we also were able to talk to a lot of people. They were students, older people, people who didn’t like flying, all sorts of lovely people. And also, as well as the people on the train, you also get to see small towns; in one we stopped in what seemed to me to be the High Street and this was an enormous train, but there wasn’t a platform, it was just like the street. Like you it was the difference I relished and as I write I can feel that excitement we felt. So train travel in the States is what I want to do!!!

  • 1st October 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Oh Penny, I so agree, sometimes, I’d rather just stay home with the doors locked and the phone and electronics turned off, rather than drive anywhere for less than a week. My daughter has a cottage on an island here in Ontario, and going for a weekend exhausts me. Driving for 2 hours to get to the marina, piling all our stuff into a boat, then having to unload it after a boat ride to the island, and unpacking it all, I usually take a couple of meals so there are groceries in a large cooler as well. All I want to do is flop with a large gin and tonic. I think it is something to do with ageing. Ten years ago, I would be eager to pack a bag and go, but now I’d rather be having my G and T in my own lovely garden, not facing a multitude of rude drivers on a motorway!

    • 2nd October 2018 at 12:44 pm

      And I agree with you! No more long drives for a weekend away, even 4 days, but a week away would be fine, I could drive further for that.

  • 1st October 2018 at 4:28 pm

    We live 18 miles from downtown Los Angeles. I know this fact because that is where my husband’s cardiologist and hospital is. My Waze GPS navigates me through various routes to get there as, of course, the traffic is notorious.
    I am 69 yrs old and driving, especially at night, is more challenging. We were planning a break (last week) to the High Sierras (5 hour drive) when my husband was hospitalized by his cardiologist. He is now out and doing well so we have something planned for October with son and his family.
    We are contemplating a fifty mile move (from our home of 33 years) to be closer to our church family and son and his family. Of course, we read “don’t move for your kids” and feel confident that we will have a good social network even without attending all the grandchildren activities. And..the traffic is so much less.
    Changes ahead for us! We are trying to be smart about it and take our time in decluttering/downsizing/right sizing while monitoring husband’s health. Yes, getting around Los Angeles is key. I will add that my 91 year old mother still drives to her local exercise classes and to her computer classes. She is amazing, sharp as a tack (!) and an inspiration.

    • 2nd October 2018 at 12:56 pm

      It’s so good to hear about an inspirational 91-year-old! But down-sizing is such a good idea, yes, it is a challenge if you are forced to do it, but if you plan and actually want this new chapter in your life then down-sizing can also be fun. It does sound sensible for your life and situation as well – good luck with it all!

  • 1st October 2018 at 5:48 pm

    I really agree that driving everywhere is a chore – but it’s so convenient! We’ve given up driving to London unless we’re going to visit family; otherwise we take the train instead.

    I loved your hotel, it definitely had that old world charm and those sofas looked so comfortable.

    You looked very chic in your outfits and how lucky to have decent weather for a mini break!

    • 2nd October 2018 at 1:00 pm

      Trains to London used to be very good but they’ve been a bit difficult most of this year because of ‘that’ timetable change. There are no direct trains to Victoria from Preston Park, our nearest station, which is one stop from Brighton, however, the London Bridge line is best and does stop at Preston Park.

      Cedar Falls is just lovely and I highly recommend it for a restful stay. Thank you so much for the compliment, Vronni – from you who always looks so together! Have a great week x

  • 1st October 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Penny, what a lovely place, it looks very comfortable. I have to confess that our refuge for a short break is our caravan. I know that most people hate them but it just works for us. We do four nights or so in our lovely North Yorkshire, I buy everything from M&S – no proper cooking – so a real rest for me. We usually have a drive to a local farm shop or cafe for a light lunch and then back to the caravan for a relaxing afternoon of reading, outside or in, depending on the weather. We are comfortable and warm whatever the weather and not too far from home so no long journeys in horrible traffic.
    This probably wouldn’t have suited us a few years ago but after an horrendous journey to the USA in May this year I’m not keen to fly anytime soon – the flight was fine, the security and related stress was awful – it seems that a lady from North Yorkshire in a wheelchair presents a huge security risk! I want to be somewhere that I can get home from with no difficulty.
    Maybe it is an age thing but it’s also a change in society thing. My brother who is now 75 says that when drivers see a grey haired person behind the wheel they presume that they’re looking at an idiot and act accordingly, drivers seems to be much more aggressive than in the past. We are lucky to live in a rural area and hardly ever visit a city, I know that we exist in our own little bubble but that suits me fine.
    I really enjoy reading posts from women in different countries, we really are very similar no matter where we live.
    Best wishes

    • 4th October 2018 at 7:04 am

      Airports are stressful enough for the able-bodied let alone someone in a wheelchair – and why???? This I don’t understand at all. Why is this so difficult? I’ve read a lot about it but it must be just ghastly to be the person involved. Actually a caravan sounds so good and there are so many places to visit here in the UK. I know I have barely scratched the surface of our beautiful little country. Here’s to many more trips in the UK – for both of us 🙂

  • 1st October 2018 at 7:07 pm

    What a cute little trip, and you certainly look the part for the occasion. Great weather, same as we’ve had today on the east coast (Whitstable). Thanks for sharing, and nice to find another Peacocks liker. x Please do join the #chicandstylish #linkup every Thursday. Jacqui Mummabstylish

    • 4th October 2018 at 7:08 am

      Ooh Whitstable – sounds nice! Yup I do buy in Peacocks and just like Primark, every now and then there are some great bargains to be had!

  • 1st October 2018 at 8:37 pm

    Hmmm, all very interesting viewpoints. I guess I’m exceptionally lucky as my husband still loves driving so it’s still car or motorhome for us. And steam trains. Abroad, we still drive the width and breadth of the USA – love the backroads and little towns especially. (Best wishes here to Charlene H and her husband in Los Angeles.) so perhaps it’s not always an age thing as we’re both nearer the far end of the trail than the beginning!

    As for flying, only if strictly necessary as airports are such hellish places these days, as witness Chrissie W’s experience. Nearer home, Channel ferries are much better. We recently went from Harwich to the Hook of Holland en route to Poland, and had a excellent crossing. I am so sorry some of your readers aren’t happy drivers, Penny, and I do applaud your and others’ decision to let the train take more of the strain. Maybe in time we’ll make the change but in the meanwhile we’ll carry on treating every outing as an adventure.

    So glad you had a nice break; the hotel venue looked very cosy and welcoming. It’s a shame about Bournemouth though, is it not the place it used to be?

    Mustn’t end on a down note so here’s a suggestion for an adventure for you: Manchester! It’s certainly on my bucket list. Think of all the charity shops it must have! Hey, last one there’s a sissy!

    Have a good week.

    • 1st October 2018 at 9:13 pm

      Thank you, Zepherine. I love that you enjoy the driving around the USA. 🙂

    • 2nd October 2018 at 1:11 pm

      I’m just in awe of you and your husband driving around the States with it seems not a care in the world – actually I have to be totally honest that we’re both not very good travellers. But see above I really do want to go back and do another train trip in the States as they really are about ‘travelling’ and seeing the country, far more than flying somewhere. In fact I’d say that doing the States by train is as good as driving – it’s different, anyway!!!

      Bournemouth – well, I used to go there in the 50s and early 60s when it was kind of genteel and old-fashioned with a genteel and old-fashioned population who lived in huge gothic houses – there were virtually no blocks of flats. The beaches are still very good, but it’s turned into a hen and stag night place – never go to Bournemouth on a Friday or a Saturday night! And during the day walking around the town centre everyone had white hair – says someone with white hair!!!!

      OK, you’re on, Manchester it is!!!

  • 2nd October 2018 at 7:47 am

    Penny , this does take me back, worked out it was probably in 1983 that I had my few days at Cedar Falls, it really does look much the same.
    Living on an island with a small population (500,000) and very little public transport, driving is the only way. Fortunately, my husband enjoys driving and doesn’t stress a bit. Hope this continues as we are coming to France soon and driving there and in Spain and Portugal.
    Look forward to you hair post .

    • 4th October 2018 at 7:14 am

      I tell you the furniture in Cedar Falls hasn’t changed one bit, but do you remember that in that vast drawing room was an album telling the story of the person who took on Cedar Falls and restored it all those years ago? I remember seeing him over the years getting older and older. Apparently he died two years ago and his son has redecorated all the treatment areas and is now working through all the bedrooms. I just hope he doesn’t do too much modernisation or have any fancy ideas about upgrades and improvements. The place still has such charm.

      Enjoy your trip in France (magnificent) and Spain (so redolent in its interior with history). Both countries are so beautiful as is Portugal – but don’t know that country at all. That’s another place to visit!!!

  • 5th October 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Train sounds great. Petrol in New Zealand has risen, as of yesterday, to $2.35 per litre. So, that’s NZ dollars. And that’s just the cheaper petrol!! I have never been to a Health Farm, in NZ it would be called a Retreat. Which I’ve definitely been to, I’ve taught yoga at hundreds of retreats. So, going back to a Health farm, what does one do there? I am really interested.

    • 6th October 2018 at 8:19 am

      Trains used to be great in the UK but are struggling with lack of investment and poor management, but when they work they work well. If you book in advance they are also reasonable.

      How wonderful to have taught yoga in NZ Retreats. Our ‘health farms’ are usually for women to go and chill, have facials and other similar stuff (expensive) and other more health related treatments (also very expensive) while relaxing in lovely surroundings with free facilities such as a pool, jacuzzi, gym and at Cedar Falls free exercise &/or other classes including yoga. Food at Cedar Falls was healthy but plentiful and its attraction is that it’s non-corporate being owned by one family. I totally adore the fact that the furniture in the drawing room and reception area seems to be unchanged (over decades) and ever so slightly shabby in a very chic way – love that. We went on a deal but I met a woman who was there for 5 nights – just wow! But such a safe environment for a single woman to have a holiday on her own. Lovely place. Despite the journey – we could go by train – I will go again 🙂

  • 21st October 2018 at 10:57 am

    Ceder Falls reminds of a hotel we had here in Winchester although it really did need a bit of TLC. Sadly it was taken over by a chain and has completely lost its character and charm although retaining a lovely garden. My daughter and I went there for afternoon tea a couple of years ago and they had absolutely nothing to offer that was GF – how hopeless is that!
    I gave up driving when we bought a big shiny automatic car when I was 64. I decided it would not be cost effective to run a small car of my own as I don’t like driving and can do pretty much what I need to by public transport or him indoors giving me a lift.
    He’s not keen on long distance driving either. I think it’s more about other awful drivers and traffic congestion more than age itself, although night driving is more demanding on older eyes.
    Never fancied a spa, can get bored easily and not that keen on body treatments. I did have hot stones once which was good while it lasted but not addictive!

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