Travel: London & Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa

It’s Monday, the start of another week and I got back last night from my trip to London. For those of you who caught my travel post on Friday, you’ll know I was going to London for the weekend to celebrate my sisters hen. She’s getting married in September so of course we wanted to send her off into married life in style.

I arrived to London around 5pm on Friday evening (sadly after a two hour flight delay) and made my way to meet my two sisters. We had an evening of girly pampering in store, so the first stop was manicures and pedicures accompanied of course by some bubbles and cupcakes. It was the perfect start to our girly weekend.

Post nail pampering, we went back to my sisters house for take away, wine and movie night, and mainly a lot of chatting. When we don’t see each other every day, there’s always so much to catch up on, and it’s also very rare that we get some sister time just the three of us so it was really lovely.

We finished the night off by watching one of our old favourites, Thelma & Louise, and literally crying with laughter. You know that moment when someone laughs, then someone else, then all of you, and it’s so infectious you just can’t stop until you’re literally about to get sick? Yep, that laughing. The kind of laughing that is great for the soul.

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early to bring her to her actual hen destination which was the lovely Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa in West Sussex. We arrived to the most beautiful Elizabethan manor, with white washed walls and black timber panelling, and exactly the kind of charm you would imagine from a small town in the English countryside.

Our bedrooms were in the spa so were quite modern, but perfect for us as we had four to a room for our ultimate girly sleep over. We spent the day in the spa, drinking bubbles, catching up, eating, swimming and of course getting treatments done. It was a lovely relaxed way for everyone to meet each other, and have some pampering in the process.

I opted for a one hour Body Scrub/Massage as my treatment, and as I suffer from dry skin it was badly needed. The products they used for the scrub was a range called iLA which I had never heard of before, but the girl informed me it was a British organic luxury spa brand. And it smelled amazing!





The scrub itself was a full body scrub which lasted forty-five minutes, then I had a quick shower to wash off the product. This was followed by a fifteen minute massage using a body balm which contained rose and argan oil, to keep the skin hydrated. It was so good, by the end of it I was almost asleep on the bed! All in all, I really enjoyed it and my skin felt so soft afterwards. I then made my way into the relaxation room for some quiet time before going back out to meet the others and sit by the pool.



After we had all showered and changed that evening, and done a few hen things, we made our way to dinner in the hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant. We had booked a private dining room for the evening which was lovely as we could chat away, and tell stories about our lovely bride-to-be without worrying about interrupting other guests.

Our meal was lovely. I opted for a trio of Pork as my starter, and a delicious Oxtail dish as my main which was mouth-wateringly good! And as I so often do, for dessert I decided on the cheese plate. For a Michelin star restaurant, I was a little disappointed with the cheese option so that was a bit of a let down, but we were having so much fun I didn’t care. We ended the night drinking and chatting away into the early hours, and it really was the perfect evening.


Breakfast yesterday morning wasn’t as great, the breakfast waitress seemed a little flustered and messed up our orders, but at that stage we just wanted to re-fuel and get back to the spa for one last swim before heading back to London and going our separate ways.

To finish the weekend off in style, we decided to make one final pitstop and paid a visit to Selfridges fab roof top restaurant Forest on the Roof, for a glass of Champagne and a bite to eat.

For the day that was in it I went all out and opted for their homemade cheeseburger and truffle fries, both of which were accompanied by a glass of rosé Moet. It was deliciously bold, and worth every pound it most likely added to my body weight!



We could have sat there all day and night long but unfortunately myself and our friend Aine had to get ourselves to the airport so we wouldn’t miss our flight home to Dublin. So we finished up, said our farewells to London town and made our way home.

I don’t know about you, but I would always think of going to a spa in Ireland for a spa break, but it really opened my mind up to the amazing country spa hotels the English countryside has to offer. We had such a great few days, full of pampering, eating, laughing, and of course bubbles. It really was the perfect girly weekend. And best of all, my sister loved it.

If you’re thinking of a spa break soon and want something a bit different then I’d really recommend having a look at what’s on offer outside of Ireland. If you book early enough the flights to London are really reasonable so it’s the perfect excuse to get away for a weekend.

For those of you who would rather something a little closer to home however, then keep an eye on the blog as this weekend I’m going to The Shelbourne Spa in The Shelbourne Hotel Dublin for a spa day with my Mum and I’ll be reporting back on our trip and treatments early next week.

For now though, Happy Monday! Hope you all have a great one.

Sorcha x

 

Travel Time

Although I only came back from Rome a few weeks ago, it’s time for me to pack my bags again and head off on my next trip. Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while now will know that this year I’m having a Year of the Holiday. And for those of you who are only happening upon my blogging adventures now, let me explain…

Image: WeHeartIt

I got married last December to my amazing other half Dave and we decided to have basically, one very long, fun, drawn out honeymoon. Even though let’s be honest, we had an amazing honeymoon to the Maldives right after we got married.

But for our first year of marriage, we wanted to spread our wings, see the world and go to all the places on our bucket lists that we’ve never been to, and revisit some places that we just haven’t been to together. So as with all resolutions, when the New Year arrived, we sat down and wrote a list. For those of you who want to see that list you can read my original post here, or just keep reading…

Initially when we wrote our list, we had over thirty countries and cities but given work and money and all those serious real-life things, we had to narrow it down to just twelve. The year is now half way through and so far we’ve managed to tick Paris, Rome, London, Kerry and Ibiza off the list, and have travelled to a few little other places around Ireland too.  And while I’m not so sure we’ll make all twelve by the end of the year, we’ll have definitely given it a good whack anyway!

Anyway, enough of my rambling and back to today. Today I go back to London for the second time this year, but this time it’s for a very special occasion – my sister’s hen weekend. Yay! My gorgeous sister is getting married in September and although I can’t reveal our destination for fear of ruining the surprise, I can say that we’ve got a gorgeous, girly weekend planned.

A little pampering, a little chatting, a little gossiping, a lot of bubbles… It’s going to be a great weekend and I can’t wait for some proper girly catch up time with both my sisters.

As always I’ll fill you in on all the adventures next week, but in the meantime if you want to see what we’re up to then don’t forget to come follow me on social media:

  • instagram – @simplysorcha
  • twitter – @simplysorcha
  • facebook – @simplysorchablog
  • snapchat – @imsimplysorcha

Have a great weekend!

Sorcha x

 

Saturday Vibes

This weekend we’re having a quiet weekend relaxing, catching up with friends, going for walks, having early nights… All the things you long for in a weekend when you’ve had a busy few weeks.

But weekends like this are also for me, a chance to reflect. When I’m relaxed my mind wanders to all the possibilities, adventures, travels, experiences yet to come and how much of life we’ve still to live.


Does anyone else have moments like this? Moments when you realise how incredible life actually is?! 

Maybe it’s because personally I’m going through a transition period with my job which is making me reevaluate what I want to do with my life, or maybe it’s that I’m just a dreamer imagining all the possibilities ahead. Who knows.
What I do know however is that life is to be lived, the good, bad, happy and sad… It is to be enjoyed, to be relished, to be grabbed with both arms and cherished.

Today I’m relishing life and enjoying all the incredible people, things and places around me. Today I am grateful.

Sorcha x

Weddings, Bank Holidays & Summer Oufits

Today is a good day, it’s my Friday, it’s a bank holiday weekend and to make it even better, we’re off to the lovely Castle Durrow for my beautiful friend Lucy’s wedding. And to make it even doubly, doubly better, I’m a bridesmaid, yay!

You may remember a few weeks back, we had a Club Tropicana themed hen for Lucy in the stunning Clonabreany House and now the celebrations will continue for the big day itself.

Obviously as I’m bridesmaid, I can’t reveal anything about our outfits just yet, but over the past month or so in Paris and here, I picked up a few bits for summer and I’ve decided to pull some of them out to wear over the weekend. Here’s a look at some of the things I bought:

FashCollage1

  1. ZARA Printed Blazer €69.95
  2. H&M Long Denim Shirt €24.99
  3. H&M Round Sunglasses €9.99
  4. COS Coral Petal Drape Top €59.00
  5. COS Blue & White Stripe Belted Sleeveless Top €69.00
  6. ZARA Nude Embossed Flats €19.95
  7. ZARA Skinny Jeans €39.95
  8. ZARA Printed Dress €59.95

We have pre-wedding drinks tonight, the wedding tomorrow, a second day party on Saturday and another friend’s birthday on Sunday, so it’s definitely going to be a weekend full of celebrations with lots of different outfits needed. The only obstacle I now have is that it’s been more like winter in Ireland for the past few weeks, with hailstones and snow are both forecast for this weekend. So all my outfit planning may go out the window, eeek.

But fingers crossed the snow stays away and I get to wear some of my new clothes.

For now, I’m going to love you and leave you so I can finish getting packed and get on the road.

Sorcha x

Sunny Saturdays

 
Finally it’s starting to feel like summer is on its way to Dublin. While it’s still pretty cold outside, the sun has been shining for the past few days and that is just glorious.

I don’t know about you but the sun just puts me in such a good mood. I’m a summer baby, I was born in summer and I read once that the season you are born in is the season when you are at your best. And for me that’s so true.

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve had a pretty tough week, there’s been a lot going on recently and I’ve been pretty stressed out over the past few days but I’m hoping that now summer is finally on its way, I will go back to being my best.

I started back running this morning for the first time in a long time and though it was super tough, I felt so good afterwards. Your frame of mind has so much to do with how you feel every day and I need to just snap out of this rut I’ve been in and start getting back to myself. 

  
So for today I’m going to enjoy the sunshine and focus on all the good in my life. I hope the sun is shining where you are today, and I hope you’re having a lovely weekend.

Sorcha x

Paris, J’Taime


If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll know that over the Easter weekend Dave and I headed to Paris for a city break. I hadn’t been to Paris in a very long time, we had never been together and for as long as we have been together, we’ve been planning on going. So needless to say, I was super excited about our trip.

There’s just something about the air in Paris, isn’t there? If you’ve been before you’ll know exactly what I mean. It just screams chic. The style, the architecture, the fashion, the attitude, the personality, the atmosphere. The effortlessness of it all is intoxicating and you find yourself wondering what your life would be like if you were born a Parisian.

We arrived late on Thursday evening so it was straight to bed for a good nights sleep, I had a lot planned so wanted to make sure we were both up to getting everything done. Our hotel was a small boutique hotel, and while it was fine, the location wasn’t really what we’d hoped for. We were staying in what we thought was Le Marais, but actually it was further out. So thank god for the Metro!

We did so much so I’m not going to go into everything, but rather share what the highlights of the trip were for me. And hopefully, if you’re off to Paris anytime soon, it will give you some tips on where to go and what to do!

SITES

Moulin Rouge

 
Our first stop was the Moulin Rouge and Montmartre. I have always wanted to see the Moulin Rouge, as cheesy as it might be, I’m kind of fascinated with that period of Paris in the early 1900s; the champagne parties of the rich and famous, the artists, painters and writers who hung out there for inspiration, and the artistic movement in general around that time.

It seems like it was a great time to live. So it was great to see it in person and for a moment imagine what life would have been like back then.

Musée du Louvre

An obvious Tourist attraction, the Louvre is as much a monument as a museum.  The infamous glass pyramid is the first thing that greets you as you arrive at the Louvre Palace, and alone is worth a visit. It’s quite a spectacular site to see and the setting of the Palace grounds that it sits in, are just stunning. Unfortunately unless you arrive very early however, it’s hard to take it all in with the thousands of tourists that gather there each day, but you can still appreciate the grandeur of the buildings and architecture.

You could easily spend an entire day wandering the halls and exhibits of the Louvre, but as we were pressed for time, we made our way straight to the Italian and Greek artists. As with most people who visit the Louvre, the Mona Lisa was the top of my list and it was amazing to see it in real life. Smaller than I imagined it to be, but amazing. Next on my list was the Venus Di Milo statue, which again was incredible. So much of art history is housed in the Louvre, and while I’m certainly no art connoisseur, we really enjoyed the few hours that we spent here.

Pont Neuf

Initially Pont Neuf was not on my plan for the trip, but for as long as I can remember, I wanted to go to the Love Lock Bridge in Paris. Traditionally this was the Pont des Arts, but in 2015, the French authorities had to remove all the love locks from the Ponts des Arts due to the weight of the locks damaging the infrastructure of the bridge.

Although I had read about this last year, I didn’t realise all the locks were gone so when we arrived to nothing but empty railings, I was so disappointed. That was until, I discovered that a new place had been designated to the Love Locks, the Pont Neuf.

Once I discovered this, we made our way to the Pont Neuf, lock in hand (because I am that cheesy), and added our lock to the thousands of others that reside there. Then we sat in the sun overlooking the water taking it all in. Even if you’re not a hopeless romantic, this is still worth a visit, even just to see the thousands of locks and messages that people have left there. Not to mention the stunning views it has of the city.

You can’t help but be overcome with warm fuzzy feelings there, I even asked Dave to propose to me again, just because it was so romantic. As you can imagine, he was having none of it! Although there was no second proposal, I loved it all the same.

Le Marais

Friends who travel to Paris a lot told me that Le Marais was the place to be, hence why we booked our hotel there (well what we thought was there). It is a historic district full of gorgeous boutiques, gourmet cafes, fashion houses and hip galleries and therefore a must for any trip to Paris.

I could have spent hours (and a lot of money) wandering through the small streets shopping, eating and drinking – the fact that the weather was glorious for our visit was an added bonus too. We went for lunch, strolled around the shops then found ourselves a lovely cafe where we sat drinking wine watching the world go by. The perfect way to while away an afternoon in the city of love.

Eiffel Tower

There’s really not much to say about the Eiffel Tower as it speaks for itself. As you would imagine, it is a haven for tourists so this place is busy all the time. I read somewhere that it’s the most visited, paid monument in the world with over 20,000 visitors a day. So that might give you an idea of just how busy it is.

Because of this, we didn’t spend too much time here, but we did stroll around the Champ de Mars for a while taking it all in.  You cannot come to Paris and not visit the Eiffel Tower, that infamous picture so many of us have in our minds of this city is the Eiffel Tower. But if you plan on going up the tower then be prepared for a long wait and lots of queuing.

RESTAURANTS

L’Avenue

L’Avenue is a restaurant located near the upscale area of Avenue George V, off the Champs Elysees and so many people recommended us going here. Over the years I’ve read loads about it, so it’s been on my wish list for a long time and finally I got here!

The restaurant is a combination of luxury interiors, tasty food and lots of hip and trendy Parisians, and is one of the places to be seen in Paris.

We booked in advance for lunch as it’s always super busy and spent the morning strolling along the streets taking in all the fabulous stores such as Chanel, Dior and Diane von Furstenberg. After a little shopping we arrived for lunch and we were not disappointed.

Champagne flowing, I ordered a Prawn Risotto and Dave went for a Mushroom Rigatoni, and they were delicious. I ate so slowly, savouring every bite it was that good. This was then followed by dessert which for me was a Lemon Sorbet with a Pecan Tuile, and a Tarte Tatin for Dave. Again delicious.

The restaurant isn’t cheap so be prepared to pay if you decide to go here. But for the food and the experience, it’s definitely worth it in my view. We had a lovely long lunch, and it made for the perfect afternoon. I’ll definitely be going back, especially as I discovered they do the skinniest fries I’ve ever seen, and skinny fries are my fav. I will need to have these in my life at some point!

Ferdi

Again after several recommendations and lots of hype, we paid a visit to Ferdi one night for dinner. It’s not what you might expect from a Paris restaurant given that it’s actually a burger joint but my god is it the best burger I’ve ever had. This restaurant is hidden away on a small quiet street in the Opera district, and unless you know about it, you’d probably never venture in.

The décor is red, like a lot of Parisian eating spots, but the interior is super fun and quirky with teddy’s, dolls and miniature cars dotted around the place. It’s small but cosy, with a great, relaxed atmosphere and the cocktails are delicious.


Given that it’s famous for its Cheeseburger and Churros, that’s what we ordered and we literally could have eaten it all over again afterwards. Not because we weren’t full, but because it was literally the best burger we ever had. So boldly delicious!

Le Petit Marché

 
Le Petit Marché is a little French bistro situated in Le Marais and I had heard loads about it so we added this to our list of restaurants and asked our hotel to book us a table. It’s small, it’s rustic and absolutely buzzing and we were excited when we arrived.

We both decided on Steak with pepper sauce, it was a little difficult to figure out the entire menu as neither of us speak French very well. As with a lot of Parisian restaurants, the staff did not speak English and there were no English menus. So if you decide to go here make sure you bring your dictionary si vous ne pouvez pas parler Français.

Our meal was so perfectly French, and I washed my steak down with a beautiful glass of Cotes du Rhone, as I did with so many of my meals in Paris and it was a lovely last dinner to have before bidding farewell to this fabulous city.

So there you go – a snapshot of our trip away. There was so much more that we did, and so much more that we wanted to do and didn’t get done. What better excuse to have to go back another time though.

We had such an incredible weekend and I can completely understand why people fall in love with Paris when they visit, it’s an intoxicating city in the best possible way and I’m already looking forward to planning another trip.

All that’s left for me to say now is Paris, J’Taime…

Sorcha x

Paris, Oui

So this Thursday myself and the hubby are off to lovely Paris, and I’m so frickin’ excited! While up to now the Year of the Holiday has only brought us to places in Ireland, finally we are managing to get further afield.

We’ve both been to Paris before but not together, and there’s so much I want to see and do. The only thing scuppering the trip at the moment is the fact that I’m smothering with a cold, and I am unable to wear shoes as I split my ankle open. Long story but I’ve basically been living in my flip flops for the past week (resulting in said cold!).

But in keeping with my focus on being positive this year, I’m not going to let any of those obstacles stop me. It’s been many years since I was last in Paris, and I didn’t really see much at all, so I’ve got a lot on my list this time around.

We have three days and four nights so I’m calling on all my lovely readers to send me some tips on what to do, where to go, where to eat, drink etc. I have all the obvious places on my list, but I’m looking for recommendations for non-touristy, quirky, out of the ordinary type of places.

So if you’ve been to Paris over the last few years and found any little hidden gems then please let me know so I can add them to my list.

I’ll be taking you all with me via snapchat and Instagram so make sure you come follow me over there to see what we’re up to. I’ll share a full post on our trip when I’m back next week also.

For now, au revoir!

Sorcha x