3 Ways to Relax: Nature, Shopping & Pampering

I don’t know about you but I often have to force myself to take time out and just relax… life seems to have become so fast paced, with every single moment filled to the brim. I’m sure we’re all guilty of whipping out our phones while waiting for the kettle to boil or queuing in a supermarket? It’s like we’re afraid of wasting a second with empty space, when this literal and head space is good for us. I often miss the head-clearing hours I spent walking on Whiterocks beach or Ramore Head in my student days. Now that I’m officially a grown up and mum of two, I have to be a bit more organised about it all. Here are a few favourite ways to unwind that I’ve enjoyed lately…
NATURE Hillsborough-Lake Hillsborough-Lake_swan Hillsborough
It took some convincing to lure my kids away from friends, screens et al for lunch in The Plough and a bike ride around Hillsborough Lake a few weeks ago, but they had the best fun when we got there. This was one of the first mild days we’d had for a while, perfect for a stroll and enjoying our beautiful natural environment (spot the swan!). I was transfixed by that handsome tree trunk, which almost came up to my shoulders.

Give me a day to myself and 9 times out of 10 I’ll spend half of it shopping... I’ve always loved shopping and secretly harboured dreams of being a personal shopper. I recently went on a press trip to Kildare Village, Dublin with a few blogger friends (School Gate Style, Raising Mighty Girls & Adventures of an Unfit Mother) and we had the best day. This is one of nine Chic Outlet Shopping Villages, which includes Bicester Village. The shops, restaurant and entire village were beyond my expectations and it wasn’t like any previous experience I’d had of outlets. This is a luxury shopping experience with pristine gardens, glam shop displays and great customer service… just like being in the regular stores. Highlights for me were Lulu Guinness, Kate Spade, Hobbs and Anya Hindmarch. I bought the gold Hobbs bracelet in the centre pic, a couple of pieces from Lulu Guinness which I’ll share with you again and a cute Cath Kidston mug. Check out that Anya Hindmarch bag bottom left - stuff of dreams. Discounts varied but on the whole, were great and I’ll be back asap… there’s lots of new shops opening in the Autumn, if I can wait until then!
Herb Cupboard Geborgenheit-Herbal-Stamps  Geborgenheit-Singing-Bowls-Massage

Most pampering around here is DIY, using the lotions and potions I rave about on these pages, so when I’m treated to a professional massage, it’s just the ultimate. It’s only happened twice before, once during my first pregnancy - and this time it was unlike anything I’ve experienced or even heard of. Alison Stevenson runs Geborgenheit Massage and carries out treatments from her base in Holywood, in your own home or even outdoors (one of which can be done fully clothed I hasten to add!). She performs the ancient arts of Singing Bowl and Herbal Stamp massage, of which I had a combination - and left walking on air. The Herbal Stamps are the pretty little parcels above - dried herbs with essential oils, rice and coconut oil, wrapped in unbleached cotton, warmed and applied on pressure points. The golden Singing Bowls are placed on the body and tapped gently, releasing deeply soothing vibrations. NB there is no actual singing involved and both the sound and sensation are incredibly gentle. I literally floated out of there… 

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