Friday, 28 March 2014

The Hot Tub

As a spa recommendation service, when it first came to starting up a blog for Spabreaks, there were two routes that we could have gone down. We could have written about spas all day, every day, or we could talk about wellbeing in the way it actually affects us every day.

As a brand, Spabreaks is very down to earth. We work with a luxury product, yes, but the variety is sweeping and offers something for everyone. Our wider belief is in the idea that wellbeing should be enjoyable, accessible, and definitely shouldn’t be intimidating, which, when faced with an ultra bendy yoga instructor who can touch her little toe with her nose, can very much be the case.  At the core of our belief is the idea that your wellbeing isn’t something that you can put to one side, only dedicating an hour or so to it at the end of the day, like the washing up or something; it’s what you’re living all the time!

So with all of this in mind, The Hot Tub was born of a desire to start a positive conversation and has since become a lifestyle platform with everything from spa reviews and treatment explanations (because most people don’t know what Shirodhara is until they’ve had it, and why should they?), to recipes, exercise tips, book reviews, tried and tested products, and celebrity interviews.  It has become a place to explore and discuss and share all the little things that individuals and brands and we ourselves are doing, that contribute to or help with our everyday lives.

Happily, it seems to be a conversation that other people want to join as well, and so it is that guest writers and interviewees have included Sally Gunnell, Natasha Devon, Rosi Prescott, Martel Maxwell, Emily Hartridge, Jessica Ennis-Hill, and Gaby Roslin, to name a few.  Everyone who is a part of it has given a unique and interesting contribution to the wider wellbeing chat, and many also joined in with our #bekindtoyou Women’s Wellness Week in September 2013, which encouraged women in particular to do one thing to be kind to themselves every now and again.

A number of our contributors also come from our social networking platforms.  We love hearing from Spabreakers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest in particular, about the recipes they have made up, triumphs and tribulations, their favourite books, favourite products, and lots of other areas of their lives besides.  We have even had a few pieces called ‘A Day in a Life’, which is always about an ongoing condition that people are living with such as MS, Diabetes and Depression.  These are all people who have come to us through the wider community and are happy to share their experiences, which is a wonderfully supportive thing to do.

Body confidence and general feel-good factor are, of course, an essential ingredient in The Hot Tub’s message, but we try to keep it down to earth, or at least acknowledge when something is faintly ridiculous. Perhaps the most important thing about The Hot Tub is that, while we endeavour to be objective at all times, we operate on a general principal of ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’.  It’s all too easy to tear down people and their ideas; we’re not interested in being like that and try to make everything either positive, informative, or helpful in some way, even if it’s just because it’s something that’s quite interesting to know – for example, I love knowing that Jessica Ennis-Hill wears a full face of make-up to train, just because she loves make-up!

For more information about Hot Tub, visit Follow on Twitter @spabreaks and Facebook.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

You Know You’re A Blogger When… by Ellen Arnison

The other morning I found myself standing at the kitchen sink. Three inches of cold scummy water glinted in the sunlight. Congealed grease had set like the skin of a lizard stretched between waterlogged crust islands.

So, what was my instinctive response?

Tip the nasty mess out and reclaim shiny stainless steel with hot blasts and soap? Or leave it to answer the siren call of inbox?

No. Neither.

Instead I was compelled to find my camera to capture the interesting colours on the slime. Yes, blogging about how pretty my slutty housekeeping was turning out was more tempting than restoring some hygiene or doing some paid work.

I realise that it's probably only one of things you notice happening to you after you start a blog.

Here are some others

You know you're a blogger when you tell the entire internet things your husband doesn't even know.

You know you're a blogger when your husband communicates in search terms he knows you'll find on analytics.

You know you're a blogger when you start telling friends what you've been doing and they say: "Yes, I already know, we read it on your blog."

You know you're a blogger when you regularly get invited to events hundreds of miles away that you probably wouldn't fancy going to if they were next door.

You know you're a blogger when the postie thinks you have a serious retail therapy habit during review season.

You know you're a blogger when the up-side of something going wrong is juicy blog fodder.

You know you’re a blogger when you’re hungry but you have to take a photo of your lunch before you can eat it.

You know you’re a blogger when your wardrobe – and your children’s – contain an increasing number of items you’ve reviewed.

You know you’re a blogger when something hasn't officially happened until you blog about it.

You know you’re a blogger when a sense of calm descends when you press ‘publish’.

You know you’re a blogger when you ask your husband to take a photo of your tattoo and he doesn’t even ask why.

Ellen Arnison is a freelance journalist, blogger and writer. To find out more, visit and Follow Ellen on Twitter @Ellen27.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Why You Should Employ A Mum by Donna White, Mummy Central

I've just returned to full-time work after eight years at home, caring for my two boys. That’s a long spell in the wilderness, wiping snot and being forced to watch The Wiggles!

Before motherhood beckoned, I was a career high-flier, earning the same as my husband, managing a team, and getting opportunities to travel the world. I say “was” because that might as well have happened in another life. You see, in the eyes of your typical employer, as soon as you make the decision to spend some time as a stay-at-home mum, you might as well wipe out your skills and experience like wiping chalk off a blackboard.

There are so many highly-talented women out there, taking low-skilled jobs or not returning to work at all, because employers fail to recognise their worth, and won’t be flexible to allow them to fit work around their family commitments.

Me? I suppose I got lucky. Lucky enough to get a job on half my former pay. But with training in new skills that interest me, and which I believe I can build on. I have to prove myself all over again. Starting afresh at 40 is an interesting experience. But listen, I’m not bitter. Nor am I saying mums deserve special treatment. But if she’s qualified for a job – and you’re able to give her a little wiggle room – this is why taking on a mum might just be the best investment you ever made:

She’s never ill - There’s nothing better for building up an immunity to germs than being knee-deep in mucky toddlers. And besides, after so long in a job where there’s no option to take time off sick, a mum doesn’t take to bed with the sniffles. If this woman coughed up a lung, she’d shove it back in and continue with the job at hand.

She has no ego - She’s all about getting results – not accolades. Her life is now about putting the needs of others first. There’s no posturing or looking to be top dog from this lady.

She makes lemonade - Not literally. But you know the old saying: “When life gives you lemons…”
Provide limited resources and impossible schedules and she laughs in your face. Welcome to her world. She still gets things done – and wonders what the hell everyone else is complaining about!

She chooses her battles - Petty squabbles are not her thing. She’s spent enough time dealing with them, and knows not to get involved in office dramas. She’s aware of when to go in all guns blazing – and when not to sweat the small stuff.

She’s eternally grateful - As her workmates are dreaming of a life of domestic bliss, she’s been there and knows it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. You’ve saved her from a Groundhog Day of soft plays and soiled nappies. And she won’t forget it. She’s so enthusiastic to be back in the world of grown-up conversation and cappuccinos, if you asked her for a kidney she’d give it to you.

She wears many hats - Ever heard an employee whine "but that’s not in my job description." You won’t hear it from her. At home she’s a personal assistant, nutritionist, peace envoy, budget manager, stylist, chauffeur, party planner and so much more. This woman rolls with the punches. If she can do it for you, she will.

To find out more about Donna White, visit her blog Mummy Central. Follow her on Twitter @mummy_central, Facebook and Google+.