About Time: You Took a Break from The Stresses of LifeBy Angelica Malin
When was the last time you spent a whole weekend doing whatever you wanted? Perhaps you can’t remember. That’s because we’re pulled from pillar to post, fitting in with plans and doing our best to carve out a spare moment for the friends and family members who mean the most to us.
But all this rushing around can leave us feeling exhausted. The Christmas season is packed to the rafters with gift buying, working overtime and attending party after party, so it’s perfectly understandable that you might be feeling a little bit frazzled at the end of it all!
So, why not start 2017 with your batteries recharged? It’s about time you took a break from the stresses of life, especially if you want to feel energised and raring to go with a brand new year on the horizon. Book some time out of the office, set your phone to silent and ponder over these holiday options. After all, you really do deserve to look after yourself.
A cosy cottage in the countryside
As much we love London for its energy and entertainment, there’s a lot to be said for escaping from the hustle and bustle of the capital. So, why not skip the commute on the tube and instead hop on a train to spend a long weekend in Cornwall? The south west of England is beautiful, even at this time of year: think crashing waves, Cornish pubs and the cobblestone streets of sleepy fishing villages.
Head to villages like Polperro on the South coast for a steaming hot pasty in the harbour, or drive down to the south west to Lizard Point for stunning scenery (and not a skyscraper in sight). Wherever you choose to go, the fresh sea air and trays of fish and chips are bound to leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated. But how can you score the best deals? Well, we asked Adam Ludnow of Classic Cottages to share his best tips on booking a cosy cottage…
“Holiday cottages in Cornwall are very reasonably priced at this time of year. That’s because the festive season is drawing to a close and the Cornish tourist season is a little quieter. Book some time off in early January for February for cheap rates on beautiful holiday cottages, and make sure you choose accommodation with a crackling fire to really make the most of a winter break”.
Head out for a crisp walk along the coast, or pop into the little shops that pepper Cornwall’s town and villages. You’ll find there’s substantially fewer people to jostle at the bar with compared to central London, and you might even bag a window seat in the pub if you fancy watching the rolling waves with a glass of wine in your hand…
Winter sun in Europe
But what if you’ve had enough of the frigid temperatures here in the UK? Well, no-one could blame you for jetting off for a long weekend to Southern Europe. Malta (a beautiful Mediterranean island) enjoys the highest average winter temperatures in all of Europe, clocking up at least 15 degrees Celsius during the day in January and February.
Valletta (Malta’s capital) is breathtakingly beautiful and is packed with over 7,000 years of history and fringed with blue seas. Best of all, a flight to the island will only take three hours, and prices are super cheap at this time of year too (you can fly from Gatwick to Malta for around £70, round trip).
Check out our guide on how to spend 48 hours in Valletta (including where to stay and what to eat), and consider booking your visit for early February; the week before Ash Wednesday sees the entire island come alive with colour and music for the Malta carnival – the perfect change to your usual routine, and a darn sight prettier than the tired terraces of outer London in the midwinter. Just don’t go adding bolt-ons to your phone contract… the work emails can wait until you’re back in the office.
Want to do something closer to home? Well, how about a spot of glamping? Hill Farm and Orchard’s luxury wigwams are located in rural Buckinghamshire, which is only a 35-minute train journey from London’s Leighton Buzzard station. This makes Hill Farm the perfect place if you fancy minimising travel time and making the most of the precious hours you have outside of your usual routine. The lack of Wi-Fi means you’ll be forced to put your phone down for a couple of days, so listen to the birds and enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures: soft slippers, a mug of tea and a good book, all set to the background of a working farm.
Despite the lack of Wi-Fi, there is electricity: you’ll find all the usual kitchen essentials (including a coffee maker), water heaters and panel heaters, as well as an en-suite bathroom. You’ll have your own hot tub too, and the local pub is a short stroll away along the canal towpath if you fancy a Sunday lunch.
Just try not to turn your trip into a series of photos to upload to Instagram later. As much as social media can be fun, when you’ve been working on a screen all day only to find yourself scrolling through social media before bed and then flicking through Facebook as soon as you open your eyes, you might need to go cold turkey for a little while.
Instead, rise with the sun and explore the farm without feeling the need to photograph it for the world. Your time is precious, and savouring the moment without your iPhone is one of the most effective ways to unwind.
Finally, many of us have long suspected that working at a desk isn’t doing us any good. Our posture is less than perfect, we have aches and pains in our backs, and we never seem to have as much energy as we feel we ought to… which is why it’s important to take a break away from the office once in a while, learning some tips and tricks for a healthy body and mind.
So, why not book yourself a yoga retreat? EcoYoga in the Scottish Highlands offer a variety of retreats and holidays, and in mid April there’s one retreat in particular that’s suitable for beginners and and more advanced yogis alike.
You’ll spend the weekend learning the primary series of Ashtanga Yoga, delicious organic food is included in the price, and you can look forward to king size beds, saunas, hot tubs and outdoor heated baths too. Yes – you can languish in a hot bubble bath in the great outdoors while the river runs beside you! Slow your breathing, stretch out those sore muscles and get to know your body better: you’ll be amazed at how much it does for your limbs and your state of mind.
So, are any of these holiday locations inspiring you for your next getaway? If so, take a break from the stresses of day to day life and see if 2017 starts on a less chaotic note than the year your left behind.