Champneys has always been the mother of all health spas, and I can say that with conviction as my own mum has been going there since the seventies.

But what I like about it is, Champneys has also moved with the times, and is constantly reinventing itself with new products and therapies.

It is now evident that stress often equals weight gain, and one of the main ingredients of a Champneys break is the focus upon destressing and of course losing weight with the various therapies that are on offer.

I opted to go back to Henlow Grange, one of my favourite beauty spa haunts, which is situated in 150 acres of parkland, and offers over 80 treatments by highly experienced therapists.

It has an indoor heated swimming pool, spa pools and steam rooms. I opted to indulge in the Champneys wax bath, which was glorious.

I also spotted a number of pregnant women who had treated themselves to a spa day or weekend. There are also a number of therapies available for them, and with trained staff for extra confidence.

Whatever your age or life stage, Champneys comes highly recommended, and you will want to go back.


Bedrooms have luxury bathrooms with signature Champneys toiletries. All rooms have a flat-screen TV/DVD, and some have scenic views of the River Hiz, which runs through the tranquil grounds.

The restaurant serves a modern British menu and fine wines. Beverages and healthy snacks can be enjoyed on the garden terrace or in the elegant lounges, where free Wi-Fi access is available.

Champneys is set in a historical country house between Bedford and Luton, and Cambridge is a 40-minute drive. There is free on-site parking, and central London is just an hours’ drive away. 



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If you are stuck in the rut of the ‘hamster wheel’ in a job that is seriously not for you, then take stock and consider your options – and wake up to the fact that there is a big wide world out there, and life is for living.

Starting your own business and working from home is not for the faint hearted. But it is a serious option, and if you are one of the under-valued and under paid women, then take it on board and think hard, because this may be the chance to change your life.

It will mean lots of hard work, long hours and a roller coaster of emotions, which may lead you begging back for the nine to five. But on the positive note, the rewards for a leap of faith and starting your own enterprise are enormous.

The old saying states that ‘fortune favours the brave’ and it is true. You are not going to advance in the World if you don’t take that first step into the unknown and prepare to fall flat on your feet several times before knowing how to walk and then run your own enterprise.

It is helpful if you have a little collateral to begin your new venture, but not essential. The main ingredient for success is Passion, and that will get you through the rockiest of times, and help you to succeed – NEVER LAUNCH A BUSINESS FOR MONEY ALONE – you have to love your product. The second is forward planning, and as well as a business plan, you need your own five-year plan, which is your vision of the goals and growth of your company. All of these are essential in starting a new business, and then take a deep breath and brace yourself for the turbulence of the water as you embark on your endeavour, because every success story comes with a series of ups and downs and you have to be prepared to ride the storm and survive the challenges ahead. But rather than seeing it as a concern, look upon it as an adventure, and embrace each obstacle with open arms.

Richard Branson admitted to a recent gathering of the top performing Companies in the Midlands, that he still has sleepless nights, and if you don’t you are not a serious member of the new enterprise brigade.

We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of a company but many international entrepreneurs have gone bankrupt several times before making their millions. One even managed to become President of the United States!! Hmmm. I am not advising you to take this route, but urging you to avoid it at all cost, but just pointing out that anything is possible whatever the pit falls.

Recently a friend of mine who lived in a small village started selling her cupcakes and brownies to nearby bakeries, and is now making a tidy penny from her fabulous cooking abilities.

Another female friend started her dog walking business and has managed to take in doggie day borders and work them around the school run and school holidays. She is now making enough to pay her mortgage and bring up her two boys, having recently become a single Mum.

Thank goodness for modern technology which eliminates the problem and expense of acquiring an office and keeps the costs to a minimum whilst starting up.

There are many tutorials and templates online for building a business plan if you are going for a loan. But do not overstretch yourself, and gentle explore the competition and look at what they are doing.

Have your own USP and stick to it, after all it is your baby and will have your own DNA, how wonderful is that.

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Is Breast Really Best ?

Is Breast Really Best ?

As the mother of two kids and a thriving twenty year old, I feel I am qualified to comment on the recent activity around the much publicised concept that Breast Feeding is the most healthy option for baby.

Well of course it is, but with this sort of pressure on new Mums who are already expected to give birth naturally, perhaps in a birthing pool, without any form of pain relief (as it is purportedly bad for baby bonding), and then blissfully breast feed whilst singing early songs of learning and running a business from home. Well, completely ludicrous and virtually impossible.


I know that in many third world countries and primitive societies, women are surrounding by many other females who massage the Mum who has just given birth, nurture her, support her with breast feeding and bathing the baby, and allow her to have ample sleep to be able to cope with the anxieties of new motherhood.

So in our supposedly civilised Western World, where does the support come from? I clearly remember twenty years ago when pregnant with my first child attending a local National Childbirth Trust pre-natal class. I was completely intimidated by the woman who was running the classes, as she had given birth to five kids, had breast fed them all and was still a size 8 or less! She had the body of a child herself, which made me feel like an elephant as I had gained over four stone throughout the pregnancy.


anti natal classShe was also married to a very wealthy man which gave her access to nannies and home help, which was not available to me in those days with my meagre salary and that of my husband’s which just about got us by each month. We were both teachers.

I remember the discussions then about gas and air being acceptable but any other pain relief being quite taboo. A life size baby doll was passed around and instructions of how to latch the baby onto the nipple was also provided. What they don’t tell you is that it is like having a major metal vice clamped onto your breasts when the baby starts to suck, and I have never been into that sort of pain.

When I eventually gave birth I had gas and air followed by an epidural, and was fortunate enough to still give birth naturally, although it was touch and go at the end, with the ward full of doctors and nurses standing by to do a C-section if needed. Fortunately, I was young and strong and managed to push the baby out myself after the epidural had worn off.

It certainly did not affect my bonding with my daughter who I fell in love with immediately. But I do know that every case is different.

baby delivery

As my default position is ‘guilt’ probably stemming from my Convent upbringing, I was determined to give her the best start in life, and had decided to breast feed no matter what.

The first few days as the milk was coming in was the most difficult, because not only was I not prepared for the complete exhaustion and lack of sleep, but when the hormones kicked in I felt weepy and completely unable to cope.

My daughter was not a good sleeper by nature and still isn’t, and so I had the added disadvantage of a constantly crying baby and one that didn’t seem satisfied with the amount of milk I was providing.

After several days of struggling I finally managed to breast feed fully, but had already topped her up with a little cow’s milk which I was told by a self-righteous breast feeding friend that this had defeated the object. But I had to otherwise I don’t think I could have breast fed at all.


I also developed a very painful breast abscess after a couple of weeks, and had to be put onto anti-biotics, but was told the baby could continue to feed on the other breast. Ouch!

I was fortunate that as I continued I was blessed with oodles of milk which continued for a good year, even when she started eating solids (and no I didn’t cook all her meals from scratch or feed her just raw vegetables), and in spite of the ‘nagging’ from the holier than thou ‘Breast is Best’ brigade, feel that I did my best, even though it was not perfect.

In defence of other Mums who have found breast feeding impossible for a multitude of reasons, I have observed that they have managed to bring up fit and healthy kids, and formula fed babies often sleep a lot better than breast fed ones, giving both Mum and Baby a chance of real bonding without one or the other suffering from exhaustion.

They can also put on weight much quicker than breast fed ones, which is another stigma as you attend the humiliating weigh-ins with other Mums at the clinic. My daughter always came in a couple of pounds short of the ‘average’, which was another unnecessary pressure and completely unjustified.


So what I am trying to say is that as long as it works for you, we all know breast milk is loaded with antibodies and nutritious benefit, but if you are finding it impossible, don’t beat yourself up, because zillions of human beings who have been ‘deprived’ of this initial benefit are leading perfectly normal healthy lives and if we take the pressure off the Mums, perhaps more will find it a perfectly natural way of feeding baby without the judgement that exists in our Society today.

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