Wellness By The Lakes

Wellness and mindfulness are both hot topics at the moment; with much being said about how taking just a few minutes out of your day to ‘be mindful’ can have a huge impact on your productivity and overall wellbeing.  

For those that aren’t so au fait with the term ‘mindful’ or ‘mindfulness’; to be mindful simply means ‘focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging one’s feelings’, a form of short meditation.  

We all spend hours in the gym, at the barbers and some at the Spa, but it is important that we take the time to look within and get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life to let the mind rest.

Last Friday afternoon Josie and I were picked up from our house for a Weekend of ‘Wellness by the Lakes’.  This concept has been devised by the founders of Lakes By yoo, a stunning 650 acre private estate centred around a number of manmade lakes and beautiful woodlands.  The estate is situated just a few hours from London, outside Lechlade in Gloucestershire.

Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by the team and introduced to the itinerary for the days ahead.  Wellness By The Lakes is a balancing and spiritual retreat designed to offer lasting lifestyle benefits, a harmonising diet rich in alkaline plant-based foods, mindfulness and wholesome wellbeing.  First impressions were very welcoming and both Josie and I agreed the decor of the house we were staying in could only be described as ‘blogger porn’.

We were whisked away from the main house to where we would be staying, the interiors were an absolute dream, definite house goals!  Here we were told of the plan for the days at Lakes By yoo - plant based eating - sunrise yoga - massages and reiki - evening meditation and forestry cycling all lie ahead; the ultimate well-being itinerary!

Now I don’t want this post to turn into a ‘dear diary’ (!!) so I have broken down the retreat into a few key areas:

Plant Based Eating: 

We were very lucky to be accompanied to the Lakes by Bettina Campolucci-Bordi from Bettina's Kitchen, a leader in plant based eating and an all-round vegan warrior.  Over the course of the retreat she not only cooked up some unbelievably beautiful and tasty food, but also helped us understand the importance of plants in our diet and how easy it can be for us all to incorporate more in our every day lives.

Disclaimer: At this point I must state that I was still not wholeheartedly convinced, being a huge lover of meat and eggs I was slightly concerned to be told breakfast would contain no animal protein; but over the course of the 3 days I can honestly say I really didn't miss eating these foods and enjoyed discovering many new ways of using everyday plant produce.  

Below is one of the delicious breakfasts we were treated to during our stay.  Buckweat and Oats porridge with coconut cream and turmeric and stewed wild berries.  It was perfection in a bowl!

After the retreat I felt like my energy levels were much higher and my skin had improved, it was almost glowing.  There is no doubt that eating organic and raw vegetables and fruit can have a hugely positive impact on both the way we feel inside and out.  Cutting out refined sugar was key to this empowered feeling and its something we should all be aware of, refined sugar is in almost everything these days and it can easily be replaced with natural sugars like date syrup and honey.

The below is a raw cacao torte; using date syrup and coconut butter it contained no gluten or refined sugar, yet is one of the tastiest things I have eaten to date! (no pun intended)

If you are interested in Bettina's recipes, she has a number of amazing creations outlined on her blog here.

A quote that stuck with me from Bettina was ‘most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel’ and since this break Josie and I have started to give more thought to what we put in our bodies and importantly where it comes from.


It’s common knowledge that exercising is good for our bodies, but how many of us change up our routine? Gordon Bosworth, a leading physiotherapist and chief physio to team GB at London 2012 raised the point that rarely do we mix up and alter our daily gym schedules and that repetitive exercise can actually cause more problems than positives.  

We were fortunate to have one-on-one sessions with Gordon during our stay and it changed my outlook on how I exercise.  I hold my hands up that I often do the same routines week in week out, maybe increasing weight but hardly changing anything. When you think about it, its common sense that we need to add variety and test our bodies in different ways to develop.  

A quote from Gordon that stuck with me was ‘there are all particular exercises that we dislike.  These are the exercises that tend to be the most beneficial and have the biggest impact’.  Food for thought although I’m not sure Ill be jumping on the pull up bar anytime soon…

Meditation & Wellbeing

A key focus of the Wellness By yoo programme was exercise for the mind and meditation played a key part throughout our stay.  

Amanda Barlow from Spiezia organics lead the retreat and she opened my eyes to how taking just a few minutes to collect your thoughts and breathe, can have a lasting impact on the rest of your day.  Every evening we spent time as a group meditating before bed and my sleep improved every single day; amazing how just focusing the mind on positive thoughts can impact such a crucial part of our lives - sleep.

Spiezia make some unbelievable skincare products, using 100% organic ingredients.  I will be reviewing some of their products in an upcoming post, but to prove how organic Spiezia products are, Amanda used their mindful moments oil as a dressing one evening for a kale salad!

Amanda was full of useful and inspiring quotes, the most impactful from my perspective was ‘Catch the breath.  When times are challenging take time out and appreciate all that is around you’.

We all lead busy and hectic lives and its easy to forget that our minds need a break as much as our bodies.

Wellness By the Lakes is a new concept devised by Lakes By yoo with lasting wellbeing benefits in mind.  For further information check out their website here.

‘Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it’ - Sharon Salzburg


10 Products I Always 'Steal' From My Girlfriend!

As a modern metrosexual guy I am spending more and more time looking after my skin and grooming has become a bigger part of my life over the past few years. Even though we all hate to admit it, guys often borrow products from their other halves and why should the girls have all the fun when it comes to the latest beauty trends and technology?!

Here are 10 products I often 'steal' from Josie, some much to her frustration, some she is only hearing about now! 

1. Nair Hair Removal

  • ‘Manscaping' has definitely become more popular over the past couple of years with more of us keen to be preened to perfection.  There are lots of fantastic body groomers on the market now, but when in a rush or travelling I often find hair removal cream to be a great quick fix.  The Hagrid look is definitely not attractive and whilst I prefer having a bit of chest hair as opposed to none, Nair does the trick if you are in a tough spot without that bodygroomer.  Note - be sure not to get any on your nipples, it burns like hell!

2. Palmers Cocoa Body Scrub

  • This stuff just smells amazing and makes your skin feel incredible.  It not only exfoliates but is also moisturising; so after a scrub & shower you are left feeling soft and squeaky clean. I love using this on holiday and especially after a day on the beach.

3. L’Oreal Paris Pure Clay Face Masks

  • Josie was sent these recently and I couldn't wait to get my hands on them; if you’ve read my blog before you know I love a good clay face mask.  L’Oreal recently launched this trio and you can use them individually or if you are feeling more adventurous all together, focusing each mask on a particular area of the face - the holy trinity of face masks.  
  • There is a definite taboo around men using face masks so if you are new to this world these are a great starting point, easy to apply and affordable, plus, they actually work!
  • My personal favourite is the green, purity clay mask.  The Eucalyptus works deep into the pores to purify, perfect for oily skin.
  • All 3 have their particular strengths so choose which one solves your skins problems and be sure to get creative!

4. Body Shop Tea Tree 3-in-1 Wash Scrub Mask

  • The Body Shop recently launched a Tea Tree focused range and this scrub/mask is a gem of a product.  As per its name it’s the jack of all trades and can be used as either a face mask, face wash or exfoliator depending on your needs.  
  • I like using this in the morning if I’ve had a minor breakout, the tea tree smell is soothing yet also has awakening powers, not a bad scent to wake up to!
  • Perfect for the gym bag or travel wash bag and effective on all fronts.

5. Clarins Relax Bath & Shower Concentrate

  • After a hard gym session or a game of rugby, this bath gel is an absolute saviour.  Like all Clarins products it smells amazing and I tend to use a small squeeze per bath to relax and sooth my muscles - Josie hates me borrowing this as we tend to get through quite a few bottles! 

6. Clarins Booster - Energy

  • Clarins recently launched their ‘Booster’ range, a simple yet innovative concept for boosting your  moisturisers. You add a couple of drops of this magic potion to your everyday moisturiser to infuse with various minerals and vitamins.
  • I tend to steal the Booster - Energy from Josie after a late night out (often in the doghouse..!) as it’s focused on fighting fatigued skin using Ginseng extract - I’m not going to go all sciencey on you but the fact is it leaves the skin looking much brighter and healthy, even if you might only have had 3 hours sleep…

7. Masque Bar Hydro Gel Eye Patches

  • Along similar lines to item number 6 in this list, this product is perfect post boozy/late night out. 
  • I would hazard a bet that for many guys, using gel eye patches could be seen as a step too far.. but if you’ve already experimented with face masks why not give those eye-bags a much needed seeing to.  
  • There are many decent gel eye patches on the market but I particularly like the Masque Bar ones, they come in a tidy pot with 30 sets and an easy to use spatula to help with application - straightforward and no messing around.
  • The snail extract (cue gasps..) helps address dark spots and puffiness beneath the eye and long term can help diminish signs of ageing - ultimately use these when required, just before bed when ‘Netflixing’ - 10 minutes usually does the trick.

8. Origins ‘High-Potency Night-a-Mins’ night renewal cream

  • Origins is a brand that I’ve always nicked from Josie as all the products smell epic and are seriously natural.  Only this year I’ve started looking after my skin more every evening, applying a moisturiser pre-bedtime and this night renewal cream is a great product.  A small amount goes a long way and leaves skin refreshed and bright come morning time - definitely a ‘hero’ product of mine ever since I sneaked the pot from Josie’s ever expanding beauty cupboard (s!).

9. This Works ‘Deep Sleep’ Pillow Spray

  • If you are anything like me when you go to bed, and your mind wanders, sometimes it can take what seems like an age to drift off.  This pillow spray is a magical product, using lavender, vetivert, and wild chamomile it aids sleep and helps you get those 8 hours that everyone tells us we need.

10. Rimmel ‘Hide The Blemish’ Concealer

  • The word concealer would definitely scare a lot of gents out there and to be fair I can understand how guys might roll their eyes reading this.  BUT, we all pride ourselves on our appearance and spend a fair amount of time and money on outfits, in the gym etc.. our skin is equally as important and if the dreaded red blemish appears on the day of your Tinder date or Date night, fear not as this little pen of pinkness can help - hide the blemish and it’s one less thing to worry about.

What are the products you guys like ‘borrowing’ from your other halves? 


Soho House Does It Again! Restaurant Review - Cafe Monico

Last Thursday Josie and I visited the newly launched Cafe Monico on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of the West End.  The upmarket brasserie is the latest addition to the ever successful Soho House empire and takes its inspiration from the original Cafe Monico established in 1877 nearby.

Stepping inside Cafe Monico is like travelling back in time, lots of clean cut stained glass, brass and a stunning chandelier hanging above the bar.  Jazz plays through the well hidden speakers creating the sort of buzz you come to expect with a Soho House establishment.

The menu is extensive without being overbearing, featuring fresh shellfish, homemade pastas, grilled meats and small plates that are perfect for sharing pre-theatre show.

Having walked from Oxford Street we had worked up a quite a thirst, I went for a fresh Sicilian lemonade and Josie went decided on a strawberry mojito, which I am told was quite punch but that can only be a good thing right?!  

To start we decided to share the burrata with cherry tomatoes and rocket and the salmon carpaccio, with fresh chilli.  The burrata was simple but creamy and melt in the mouth, perfectly complimented by the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes.  The salmon carpaccio was light and tasty, with slight yet pleasant heat from the chilli.

For the main course it was a serious challenge deciding on what to go for with so many delicious dishes on offer from moules frites to scallops risotto, but after much deliberation Josie decided on the lamb rump with salsa verde and I went for the crab ravioli with samphire - which would prove to be a great decision on both fronts.  

The lamb rump was cooked perfectly and must have been to Josie’s liking as she quickly cleared her plate, a rarity thats for sure!  The crab ravioli was also stunning, the crab was juicy and pasta some of the freshest I have eaten in London in a long time.

When it came to the dessert menu, the best was definitely saved until last.  Once again after much discussion (!!) we settled on the lemon pannacotta with raspberries and the pistachio dacquoise, which is similar to a cheesecake, served with a strawberry sorbet.  

Both desserts were an absolute triumph, the pistachio dacquoise was my favourite dish of the day and its safe to say there was hardly time to take the mandatory Instagram and Snapchat shots before both dishes were gone!

If you are looking for a relaxed and buzzing atmosphere for a lunch or evening meal then Cafe Monico ticks all the boxes and with its location its perfectly placed to satisfy any pre or post theatre hunger.  

Book your table here!

Have you visited a Soho House restaurant before? Will you be giving Cafe Monico a go?


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