Hypnotherapy: can it really help you drink in moderation?

Hypnotherapy: can it really help you drink in moderation?


Shots and shiraz may have fuelled her twenties, but now Nicola Moyne is on a quest to banish the booze. Here, she discovers if the power of hypnosis is more potent than the festive pull of pinot

hypnotherapy

As a child of the 80s, my teenage years were a blur of WKD Blues and garage music. A minimum of four nights a week were spent in small-town bars or kaleidoscopic-lit clubs, swigging alcopops and cheap, vinegary wine to the dance-floor beats of Artful Dodger and Bobby Brown. Regular blackouts prevented me (sometimes thankfully) from remembering the night before and no matter how many times I staggered or slurred, I always wanted ‘one more glass’.

Fast-forward to my mid-thirties and drinking had become, not unsurprisingly, a habitual nightly routine. One large glass of red with dinner had slowly morphed into two. Soon enough I was able to quaff an entire bottle, and decanting Tesco’s finest Malbec (my middle-class poison of choice) on a Monday evening had become as natural as brushing my teeth in the morning – as had sleepwalking my way through the following day in a foggy, hungover haze.

Then there were ‘the incidents’: the nights out where I drank myself into oblivion with other hard-drinking friends and had to be helped home by kind strangers on the train. Invariably, I remembered nothing from the evening past my third glass, but I always woke fully clothed, feeling ashamed, anxious and demonstrably sick. Some mornings I realised that I had fallen and cut my knee/chin/elbow; others that I no longer had my purse/phone/coat. I tried drinking gin instead, but it turns out that’s addictive too. Something had to give.

It proved a timely decision: last month, a report published by the World Health Organization found 13.5 per cent of all deaths among people in their twenties are linked to alcohol. Similarly, a recent study by the Global Burden of Diseases has concluded that ‘the safest level of drinking is none.’

But the thought of never drinking again, of forgoing a flute of champagne to celebrate a birthday or having a glass of full-bodied red with friends over Sunday lunch once every so often didn’t feel right either. I wanted the holy grail: I wanted to be able to control how much and where and when I drank; I wanted to achieve moderation.

‘Unlike a lot of other therapies that tend to rake up the past, hypnotherapy provide a tool for positive change’

I turned to Ailsa Frank. A leading UK-based hypnotherapist and motivational coach with a proven track record in addressing the nation’s drinking problem, Ailsa has helped thousands of people to quit or drastically reduce their alcohol intake through the tool of hypnosis. More than 70 per cent of her clients initially seek help for alcohol-related problems and over the past 13 years, she has rolled out an increasing number of hypnotherapy workshops, one-to-one phone sessions and audio downloads to meet the growing demand. There’s also her book, Cut The Crap And Feel Amazing, which, rather incredibly, Ailsa wrote in just 10 weeks.

‘I used the power of self-hypnosis to write that,’ she laughs. ‘I literally told myself that I could do it; that I was doing; that it was done,’ and, day-by-day, I ploughed through the pages. Your mind is incredibly powerful and, unlike a lot of other therapies that just tend to rake up the past, hypnotherapy provides a real tool for positive change.’

So how does it work? ‘Memories, habits and patterns are stored in the subconscious part of your brain, so when you learn a habit – like tying your shoelaces when you’re a child – it becomes automatic. Learning to drink alcohol in a certain way is exactly the same thing, and it will become a deeply ingrained, automatic habit that’s hard to shift.’

In my first phone session with Ailsa, we spend 30 minutes discussing my life generally. Am I stressed at work? (Not particularly.) What hobbies do I have? (Too many to list here.) How often do I drink? (Usually every day.) Why do I want to stop? (To escape increasingly horrific hangovers, focus on my health and generally grow up a bit). Then we get down to business.

I’m asked to lie on my bed or sofa and switch my phone to loudspeaker or plug in headphones. I opt for the latter options and listen intently to Ailsa’s soothing voice, which instructs me to rub my arms from shoulder to elbow and fix my eyes on a comfortable spot on the ceiling. I’m then instructed to close my eyes and start counting backwards silently to myself as Ailsa starts the hypnosis part of the session. I’m vaguely aware of experiencing rapid eye movement as she asks me to visualise myself walking down a set of stairs and out on to a beautiful garden, where there’s a shimmering pond and stepping-stones bathed in different colours that lead to a winding road, presumably symbolising my life.

From here though, the details become a little fuzzy. I’m asked to visualise my worries as pebbles that I let go of by dropping into the pond; to see myself as a child in the garden, confident, playful, cared for; and to imagine doors to new opportunities opening up along the winding road to sobriety.

I’m not asleep – in fact I’m very aware of Ailsa’s voice throughout and what she asking me to visualise – but I am incredibly relaxed. I’m asked to convey what I’m thinking or feeling and we communicate on and off throughout the hour-long session. Afterwards, however, the details of what she has said to me are vague. I remember stepping-stones and roads and seeing a happy five-year-old version of myself, but nothing much in between.

‘If your conscious and subconscious minds don’t match, you won’t truly break the habit’

‘We are in a state of hypnosis at some point most days,’ Ailsa explains. ‘For instance, when you drive somewhere but can’t remember the journey itself or how you got there, or when you have absolutely no idea what junction you’re at – that’s because your brain has entered a hypnotic state.

‘Hypnotherapy is just a relaxation tool that allows you to access a memory bank – the part of your brain that stores habits – so that you can break them and build new ones. It is a way to clear up the deeper parts of your mind so that you can perform at your very best,’ she says.

Over the course of six weeks, I have two more one-to-one phone sessions with Ailsa, lasting 45-60 minutes each and listen to a 10-minute relaxation recording before bedtime each night. I even cajole my partner, Richard, into having two sessions with Ailsa to get us both on the same sobering page and break habitual evening drinking together (basically, I figure there’s safety in numbers).

drink in moderation

Initially, I’m skeptical about the feasibility of drinking in moderation. Going teetotal, I get: you’re eradicating temptation by taking yourself out of the game. But being able – let alone wanting – to drink just one glass of wine seems completely alien to me.

‘My clients tell me it’s the same feeling as having too many cups of tea – when you’re offered another one, you simply say you don’t fancy it because you genuinely don’t,’ Ailsa says, reassuringly.

Sure enough, after session one the mid-week drinking stops immediately. We’d both been trying to cut down on drinking alcohol after work prior to the sessions, but after having hypnotherapy, neither of us has to battle with ourselves as we pass the alcohol aisle in the supermarket.

‘Where hypnotherapy differs to will power is that it alters not only your conscious mind, but your subconscious too,’ Ailsa explains. ‘That’s why people who complete Dry January often struggle to keep up good habits once February rolls round – they may have altered their conscious mind, but they haven’t reframed their relationship with alcohol in the subconscious part of the brain – and if your conscious and subconscious minds don’t match, you won’t truly break the habit.’

I start to notice other small shifts. For instance, I start buying sparkling water and filling my usual wine glass with it of an evening to relax. It feels just the same as drinking wine, minus the fuzzy head and rambling conversations over dinner. I also start running more regularly and practicing yoga twice a week – a goal I’d worked towards for at least a year but never quite managed. I start eating healthier lunches and dinners, and getting up earlier, feeling refreshed and energised rather than shattered and slightly depressed. The change is noticeable and quite remarkable.

‘People forget just how good they feel when they don’t drink on a regular basis. If you have a daily drinking habit, you’re essentially always playing catch-up with yourself, which becomes exhausting and can have a huge detrimental effect on your career and relationships,’ Ailsa says.

However, the true test comes just after my third and final session: I’m going on a girl’s weekend. With my hard-drinking friends. To an undisclosed location. I start to panic that my new, wholesome habit of drinking very little and only in social situations when and if I fancy it, is going to come crashing down around my smug sober self faster than you can pour a glass of pinot.

Incredibly, though, it doesn’t happen. Not at the airport when everyone is joyously quaffing prosecco; not on the plane when everyone orders a cheeky bottle of Merlot; not even on the ‘big night out’ when the girls are merrily clinking their goblets of aperol spritz. And not because I’m forcing myself to stay off the booze or morosely sipping my one glass of shiraz while the rest of the revelers party up a storm, but because I’m genuinely having a great time without it. I feel happy, confident and completely content to just have the one, or even – shock, horror – none.

‘My once-toxic relationship with alcohol has gone through an unequivocal break-up’

I enjoy sipping a lovely glass of locally produced valpolicella with dinner each evening, and order a deliciously sharp gin cocktail at a swanky underground bar. But it’s clear that my once-toxic relationship with alcohol has gone through an unequivocal break-up.

Where once I would have ordered three large glasses of anything, now I savour a few sips of a good-quality red and want nothing more. I feel full and in control; like I’m sat at a table heaving with amazing food, but I’m completely content after a few delicious mouthfuls, favouring the sparkling water I now instinctively order instead. What’s more, I go for a morning run. Twice. On holiday.

Feeling refreshed and thrilled that I’ve finally mastered the art of drinking in moderation, I return to the UK half expecting my partner Richard to have cracked open a few beers while I’ve been away. ‘Beer?’ he says, slightly confused when I ask how he got on without me. ‘I was out sailing all weekend – I didn’t even have time to think about drinking,’ he admits.

Which pretty much sums up what Ailsa is trying to achieve with each and every one of her clients. ‘Life will always be a roller coaster – we all experience loss and stress, which is why so many people lose themselves in drinking at some point – but if we actively reframe our thoughts to look for the amazing, for the positives, we can create a happy, fulfilled, more balanced life; one where we always live in the best moment and enjoy passing through.’ That’s something I think we can all cheers to. Just make mine a sparkling water…

 

‘Take Control Of Alcohol’ and ‘Stop Binge Drinking For Women’ hypnosis downloads by Ailsa Frank are available at Ailsafrank.com at £14.99; Cut The Crap And Feel Amazing by Ailsa Frank (£10.99, Hay House) is a dip-in, no-nonsense guide to shedding habits that are holding you back. Utilising the power of positive thinking and self-hypnosis, the book delivers actionable tips on how to reframe your thoughts on everything from alcohol reduction and clearing debts to dealing with heartache and health. For one-to-one hypnotherapy phone sessions (£150 each; 2-4 required) contact Ailsa Frank via her website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spot on Brexit tweets that will make you laugh through the tears

Spot on Brexit tweets that will make you laugh through the tears


‘The Brexit secretary job is the real life Defence Against the Dark Arts teaching post’

brexit tweets

It’s been a pretty rough 24 hours for those of us who happen to have a news app on their phone, with an onslaught of breaking news alerts as Brexit comes to a head. From the unveiling of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal, an onslaught of resignations and Jacob Rees-Mogg calling for a vote of no-confidence in May, it’s been a harrowing time for anybody who’s been following British politics. Although there’s a lot to be nervous and furious about, there’s a number of Brits on Twitter who have turned to that great national past time: dealing with internal despair with comedy.

As the drama unfolded yesterday night, there were a number of tweets that captured just how hilariously awful the entire situation is. Quite honestly, they were the only things keeping us from breaking down into tears and weeping about the whole thing. Many users hit on the seemingly endless string of resignations by Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, cabinet minister Esther McVey and several junior ministers.

Others also hit on the fact that now that Dominic Raab has stepped down, there’s a not so cushy role as Brexit Secretary going.

Given that Theresa May held a surprise press conference last night, many speculated that she would actually be stepping down from her position as Prime Minister. However, she instead doubled down and said, ‘I am going to see this through.’

That didn’t stop one Twitter user from pulling one of the greatest pranks of all time, fooling people into thinking she had actually stepped down. Matt Chorley fooled people into thinking the PM had resigned, when in fact a CEO with a very similar last name stepped down from Patisserie Valerie. NGL, he had us going for a second.

With a lot of things hanging in the balance including the question of the Irish border, freedom of travel in the EU and whether or not we can still back out of Brexit, there’s understandably a lot of confusion about it all. That said though, there’s nothing most of us can do but watch the slow moving car crash.

That said, some people still had hope that we might be able to deus ex machina our way out of this mess:

While others worried about our international reputation:

And others basically nailed the situation with an appeal to our innate Britishness:

In any case, it’s all shaping up to be a very interesting week.

And we use the word interesting in the most English way possible, meaning we honestly, politely, just don’t know what else to say.

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Is this the chicest road trip in the UK?

Is this the chicest road trip in the UK?


If in doubt, head south-west

south west uk road trip
A south west uk road trip

South west UK road trip is not something I imagined I’d type into Google when it came to planning a holiday. Think of the freedom and thrills of the open road and what springs to mind is Route 66 in the U.S, or Bolivia’s Death Road, or Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. It isn’t the M4, via M25, but still, here we are.

Thanks to an unprecedented heatwave, the UK in 2018 was dubbed a ‘staycation nation’, with more than half of us choosing to holiday on home turf. With childhood memories of draughty caravans and taking shelter from the rain beneath the nearest pier or wind-breaker, I’m keen to see if I can combine good old-fashioned nostalgia with my now slightly more refined adult tastes (my camping days are officially over). And so we’re off on a south west UK road trip.

Typically, the Lake District or the Cotswolds are my go-to for a rural mini-break – walking, pubs, cottages, bliss – but I’m determined to get the best of all worlds and take in as much of this beautiful corner of the country as one can in five nights. So my husband and I pack up the car, strap in our three-year-old, and hit the road with only one ill-advised stop at Chieveley services (limp ham sandwich, anyone?), before arriving on the outskirts of Bath.

The first rule of the south west UK road trip is much the same as for any road trip – roughly pre-plan your route in advance and book ahead if you have your eye on a particular hotel, but it also pays to follow your nose and see what cute B&Bs or quirky accommodation you might stumble across en route. Specifically, we’re going in search of boutique lodgings, gourmet food and Great British beaches. All whilst simultaneously avoiding traffic jams and keeping the kid entertained. Wish us luck.

Where to stay in Bath

First stop: Wiltshire’s Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, in Colerne, Chippenham (rooms start from £295 per night), just 20 minutes drive from the historic city of Bath. Sitting majestically at the end of a mile-long, driveway, lined with four hundred lime and beech trees planted in 1927, is the eighteenth century main house. The three-year-old called it when he said ‘Wow, look at that castle!’ Set in 500 acres of listed parkland and boasting an equestrian centre, luxury spa (all polished wood, marble and glass) and the most beautiful English country rose gardens to get lost in, it does feel as though we fell down a rabbit hole and ended up in some kind of wonderland.

For dinner, if you’re after an unforgettable foodie experience, executive chef Hywel Jones has held a Michelin star at the on-site restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park. Frankly, it looked far too elegant for us to tie a crisp white napkin around my son’s neck while he asked for ‘tomato pasta’ but I almost feel I could recommend it on smell alone. Instead, we dined in the more informal Brasserie where the simple, seasonal dishes are all locally-sourced and ridiculously tasty. The fillet of Stokes Marsh Farm Beef (£32) was insanely tender and tasty, while the Cornish day boat fish (on our visit, cod) was fresh and firm, served with crushed peas and tartare sauce (priced daily). I hear the tomato pasta was good too.

south west uk road trip

Lucknam Park’s grand entrance

The suites are in keeping with a country manor hotel – heavy baroque curtains, four-poster beds and free-standing bath tubs. The place has an air of old English formality about it that makes it feel like a treat just to wander the corridors and gardens. For the grown-ups, the spa is well worth a visit – after the long drive I treat myself to a 90-minute ESPA Mindful Massage (£157), which was a surprising combination of guided visualisation, breathing techniques and full-body massage, concentrating on the shoulders and feet. I have no idea how it works – there was some mention of warm rose quartz crystals – but it definitely works.

For kids, there’s an outdoor playground and a hideout stacked with train sets, dressing-up boxes, a mini library, shop and Post Office that could keep them occupied for hours. This place doesn’t flaunt itself as a ‘family spa’ because on the surface it feels much more elegant and refined than that, but they do cleverly and quietly make sure the whims of all family members are catered to. It’s a real hidden gem for those of us who don’t want to compromise on a little slice of luxury even with small people in tow.

‘We sit on the rocks eating vinegar-soaked chips straight from the paper’

But all good things must come to an end and before we know it we’re loaded back into the car and heading south towards Devon. Next stop: the seaside. Do not head to this part of the world without stopping off to walk the South West Coastal Path from Beer to Branscombe for unspoilt views of the Jurassic Coast, and just half an hour along the coast from West Bay, where Broadchurch was filmed. We don’t have time (or sturdy enough boots) to take in this gorgeous spot this time around, so we go old-school with a trip to the pebble beach of Sidmouth. The salty air and slightly faded round the edges seafront cafes and B&Bs bring that happy dose of nostalgia, while the russet clay-edged cliffs are as dramatic as they are beautiful. We hit the sunshine jackpot and sit on the rocks eating chips sodden with vinegar straight from the paper. Bliss.

If it’s chocolate box west-country that you’re after, take a road trip stop-off in Laycock – the picturesque village where they filmed scenes from Harry Potter (Laycock Abbey doubled up as some of the Hogwarts interiors) and 1995’s Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. We stop for tea and scones (naturally) at the National Trust Stables Cafe before wandering around and marvelling at the Sylvanian Families-like proportions of the local bakery, school and churchyard.

A foodie find in Devon

Now, if you’re familiar with The Pig hotel chain, you’ll know exactly why I wanted to make sure we stopped off in at least one Pig hotel while we’re in this neck of the woods, so we book in to The Pig at Combe, Devon. Plot all the Pig hotels on a map and you’ll see they were designed with townies like me in mind, as all are within a motorway hop from London. There are Pigs in the New Forest, near Bath, in Dorset, Somerset and Southampton, as well as this one in Devon, and two more scheduled for opening in Sussex and Kent in 2019 (watch this space) and they have all bottled that magical formula of informal rustic décor, garden-to-plate dining (unfussy but exceptional) and ridiculously Instagrammable interiors. In short, The Pig is my happy place.

The welcome, as always, is warm from the minute you push open the heavy wooden double doors. Rows of (admittedly spotless) Hunter wellies line the hallway, a roaring fire has been lit in the cocktail bar even though it’s only September (tip: The Pig is for life, not just for Christmas, but autumn and winter are when this place really comes into its own for maximum hygge).

south west uk road trip

A warm welcome guaranteed at The Pig at Combe

The hotel itself is in an Elizabethan manor atop the lush, rolling Devonshire hills and framed by enormous cedar trees. The floors are reclaimed wood and framed taxidermy lines the walls alongside heavy, beautiful antique furniture. The Pig chain was founded by hospitality supremo and one of the UK’s most celebrated hoteliers, Robin Hutson (who also founded the Hotel du Vin chain and was a board member for Soho House Group) who, along with his interior designer wife Judy – who clearly has an exceptional eye and has beautifully combined the new with the old. They source their antiques in rural France and nearby Honiton.

Where to eat in Devon

Nothing is off-kilter style-wise. It’s no wonder that The Pig has played host to Kate Moss, Alexa Chung, Guy Ritchie et al. Now though, they’re hosting my husband and I with our tiny tearaway – who they charmingly serve a sorbet dessert complete with a biscuit emblazoned with his name. Day made. For us, it’s the signature ham hock eggs to start (it is imperative that you try them at any Pig) followed by Devonshire Partridge ravioli in a red wine sauce for me (£9) and Buckhouse Farm Lamb with salt baked celeriac (£18.50), that the sommelier pairs with one of the most delicious (and lightest) Malbecs I’ve tasted. The food is exceptionally good value.

The best is still to come though because tonight we’re bedding down in The Horsebox (£290 per night), a converted stable complete with his n hers sinks, a freestanding bath and miniature SMEG fridge. It’s a real treat and a wonderful alternative to your average hotel room. As always, the Pig is not an easy place to wave goodbye to.

south west uk road trip

Stable life: The Horsebox

From one pig to another, we head east towards Romsey in Hampshire and to Paulton’s Family Theme Park – home of Peppa Pig World (tickets start from £29.25 when booked in advance online). Disclaimer: theme parks are not my idea of relaxation but alas, they are part of the parenting deal and I am as delighted as I am surprised to discover that this place is an utter joy. It’s clean, and calm (note: we went outside of school holidays which I cannot recommend enough), and genuinely more fun than you can shake a bright pink piglet at. If Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig are a much underrated comedy double-act (which, for what it’s worth, I think they are) then this technicolour adventure land on the edge of the New Forest is similarly worth more than a wry smile. It has over 70 rides and attractions (including Lost Kingdom dinosaur park and the mini zoo in Little Africa, as well as Peppa Pig World), but because it is vastly spread out and broken up with pretty gardens, picnic areas and a zoo, it feels less frenetic and so much more charming than your average theme park. We eat hot dogs, ride in Grandpa Pig’s boat, stop by Grampy Rabbit’s Sailing Club, and generally live our best life until the park closes. Who knew?

The New Forest’s best bath? Probably

Our next bed for the night is something of a unique discovery deep in the heart of the New Forest. Lime Wood Hotel and Spa, set in a Regency Era country estate in Hampshire, surrounded by fields has been one of the most elegant country house hotels in the UK since it opened in 2009 (and London folk, it’s only an hour and half away). But the idea of this trip is to try something new and, last spring, Lime Wood opened their very first Lake Cabin (prices start at£1,150 per night), set away from the main hotel, sitting in stilts over the water with it’s own private veranda overlooking the lake, it is a hideaway like no other. A wood and glass cube, it almost disappears between the trees but, once inside, it has the feel of an eighteenth century hunting lodge. Bottle green velvet sofas, wood paneled cupboards, graphic floor tiles, gold bathroom fixtures and bamboo chandeliers, it is a remarkably peaceful (and stylish) place to wake up in. And the best bit? A 6ft free-standing tin bath out on the deck, overlooking the lake for an uninterrupted al fresco dip. There are gimmicks, and then there are classy touches that take a place from unique to ridiculously special. That’s how it feels to spend the night in the Lake Cabin.

south west uk road trip

Outdoor bathing never looked so good: Lake Cabin at Lime Wood

We couldn’t leave Lime Wood without checking out the restaurant, Hartnett, Holder and Co (Angela Hartnett and Lime Wood’s Luke Holder – there’s also a cookery school for aspiring Masterchefs). Our beach picnic of soggy chips a distant memory and perhaps getting carried away with our new ludicrously luxe surroundings, my husband and I order the tasting menu with paired wines because we’re feeling fancy. Unlike some tasting menus that can feel like an assault on the senses and leave you wide awake with indigestion until the early hours, this was a remarkable gourmet feat. The five courses (£95 per person, with paired wines – special mention to head sommelier Chris whose passion for wine could surly be surpassed by none) ranged from marinated burrata with fennel, to salt baked bream with truffle clams, and venison with celeriac and pickled walnuts. It was an exquisite meal. What a special place.

‘We make sandcastles and look across to the Isle of Wight’

But it’s time to come to get back in the car, and back down to earth – fine dining and fancy formality is great, but the British seaside is calling and so for our last night, we make a beeline for the traditional, sleepy coastal village of Milford-On-Sea. The sun is out, as is the tide, so we head for the beach which has views all the way across to the Isle of Wight. We make sandcastles and eat ice cream and then the heavens open – because its the UK in September – so we sprint to the nearest café to baton down the hatches with ham, egg, chips and a mug of builder’s tea. Proving that joy doesn’t always come in the shape of a Michelin star.

Come nightfall, we check in to Grade II listed The Beach House (part of the Hall and Woodhouse family). Built in 1897 for Alexander Siemens, the man who created the world’s first public electricity supply, and was formerly known as Westover Hall, it is now a charming B&B that has hearteningly retained much of its original wood-pannelled walls, parquet flooring and art deco windows with an epic sea-view. There’s something to be said for taking the quiet path and during a stroll along the sea wall we see hardly any other people. It’s like having the coastline to yourself. We’re staying in the nautical-themed Lancelot room (£160-£175 per night B&B depending on the season), its all seashells and beach hut-pastel walls and it has a wonderfully homely vibe. ‘I could quite happily retire here,’ I tell my husband between mouthfuls of Badger Beer Battered Fish and Chips (£13.25). And I mean it.

south west uk road trip

Room with a view: The Beach House at Milford-on-Sea

Next stop: home. And as road trips go, this has been a memorable one. It turns out you can in fact combine rustic charm with epic fabulousness if you do your research. I had no idea that the foodie scene cornered originally by Rick Stein in Cornwall had spread to the surrounding areas, quietly serving up a feast on their own terms, turning Devon, Dorset and Hampshire into gourmet destinations in their own rights. During our road trip, I discovered a route where ‘family-friendly’ doesn’t have to mean cutting corners and sacrificing that little taste of luxury. It meant not having to choose between a spa break, a romantic getaway, a beach trip or a country ramble because you can have the lot. And still throw in a family of cartoon pigs to keep everyone happy. It may not be Route 66 but, for me, the south west has it all, practically on your doorstep.

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Drift Queen – meet Becky Evans, the vlogger shaking up the car world

Drift Queen – meet Becky Evans, the vlogger shaking up the car world


Becky Evans, aka Queen B, is shaking up the automotive industry through social media – and now she’s taking on her biggest challenge yet…

Becky Evans

Over 40,000 YouTube subscribers. Over 70,000 followers on Instagram. It’s safe to say that Becky Evans, aka Queen B, is a phenomenon.

Even at the age of 26, Evans has almost two decades of experience in the automotive industry, and is translating her knowledge and enthusiasm for motoring into hundreds of thousands of viewers, all the while creating a brand that occupies what was once uncharted territory.

When asked what kind of content does the best on her YouTube channel, Evans immediately mentions her early Girls Guide To series, where she explains the pros and cons of various cars in her signature chatty and informative style. She explains that this openness was totally intentional, ‘I want to create content that speaks to a new generation of car lovers, that are a bit into their fashion, that do like music, that do like culture. I was talking to them, and I felt like I was the first to do that like a mate.’

Now, Evans is taking on a new challenge: the adrenaline-fuelled world of drift racing, as documented in the online show, Drift Queen. In Evans’ inimitable style, when presented with this opportunity, she was all in. Her immediate reaction? ‘I thought, “Oh my god, this is great. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come round that often: we need to grab it with both hands.”’

We spoke to Becky Evans about her family’s influence, the future of the automotive industry, and a certain BMW that is close to her heart…

Tell me about your family background – I understand that they were motor sport enthusiasts?

‘Yep! My mum had an old Mustang, and my dad has been very heavily involved in drag racing – I grew up around the racetrack, he was always there. I started go-karting when I was eight and was about fourteen when I got my dragster. It’s always been a constant in my life, I guess’

‘It was like the Internet had never seen a young girl with a vintage car before!’

What are your first memories of racing?

‘My first memory of going to a racetrack is from when I was about two. I was with my dad, standing in a structure over the starting line of a racetrack in Scotland. I remember crying because I couldn’t understand why the car was so loud. I remember being like, ‘What the hell is that?’ – and that was the thing I grew to love so much!’

becky evans

Where did the inspiration for starting your Instagram come from?

‘Let’s start with the name – I picked it when I was a teenager and thought it was cool, and then it stuck! I have to keep telling people, “No, I don’t think I’m a queen bee” – it’s like having an email address that you made when you’re 13!

But my account itself grew organically. Once I got out of racing, I wanted to stay around cars, so I posted photos of the modification I did on my car at the time, and when I built my BMW E-21 [Red] and brought that out, things went nuts. It was like the Internet had not seen a young girl with vintage car before. It sounds ridiculous, but I owe a lot to that car – we’ve been on this crazy journey together!’

‘If I’ve experienced sexism, it’s gone straight over my head’

Are you surprised by the number of followers you have?

‘It’s crazy, isn’t it!  I post stuff that I want to see, and I guess people dug it. My home crowd are people who are into cars, but my passion is to transcend that and translate what I enjoy so much into something for a person who wouldn’t necessarily be into cars.’

What hurdles have you faced entering into the automotive industry? Do you think that being a woman has made things more difficult?

‘I don’t think my gender has had an effect. If anything, it’s not sexism that I’ve encountered, but elitism: if I have experienced sexism it’s gone straight over my head. Honestly, I’m a girl from Coventry who grew up modifying cars and going to car meets at Tesco car park, and a lot the of industry is kind of dominated by the upper echelons. I haven’t come up against any real negativity because I’m a girl.’

Your new show, Drift Queen, is incredible. What made you want to take up the challenge?

‘I started working with Red Bull on some videos about a year ago, so when Drift Queen came my way, I was like, “This is sick!” [Drifting] speaks to me in a way that drag racing always did – it’s a grassroots sport and you don’t need a lot of money to get into it. It was also a new challenge: I’ve done modifying cars, I’ve done car reviews, I’ve done drag racing… it gave me an opportunity to stretch myself and a look at a different part of the industry.

Also, once you get it, you’re so elated and it is such a buzz. I want to get as many people involved as possible – it’s just great fun.’

‘The automotive industry is becoming more accessible’

What is most exciting to you about the future of the industry?

‘For me, it’s the fact that automotive is changing. It’s becoming more accessible, there are new ideas and there are new people coming into it.

The traditional manufacturing giants are opening their eyes to this new wave of car lovers, and are offering me opportunities that they wouldn’t have previously. There’s a lot of hype a bout electric cars too and energy changes. I’m excited about the future, for sure.’

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Disney just dropped the cutest cacti pots for the plant-obsessed

Disney just dropped the cutest cacti pots for the plant-obsessed


Plus, they come with artificial plants if you can’t be trusted to keep a cactus alive…

disney plant pots

Everybody’s heard the phrase ‘cat lady’ before, but it seems like in recent years there’s been a new millennial take on the stereotype: a.k.a. the plant girl. We all know somebody (or perhaps you are that somebody) who loves their plants a little too much – draining their bank accounts for a fancy new cactus or having full blown conversations with their lucky bamboo. Luckily, Disney’s catered to all the succulent lovers out there with the cutest line of mini pots themed after all your favourite films. Safe to say, we’re pretty obsessed and honestly these would make a perfect Christmas present if you’re piling up gift ideas.

The tiny pots come with an artificial plant, so if you’re (also) pretty crap at keeping even a goldfish alive it’s a great shout. If you love a Disney classic, there’s a couple that’ll definitely grab your attention. Disney’s taken teacup planters to the next level with a Beauty and the Beast planter designed after everybody’s favourite chatty piece of crockery: Chip.

If there’s any Disney goths out there, their Poison Apple plant pot from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be right up your alley with a creepy skull dripping across it.

Disney Chip Artificial Plant Pot, Beauty and the Beast

disney plant pot

Priced at £6, available at shopDisney

Buy now

Disney Poison Apple Artificial Plant Pot, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

disney plant pot

Priced at £6, available at shopDisney

Buy now

For those feeling super nostalgic after Domhnall Gleeson’s recent film Goodbye Christopher Robin, there’s also a Winnie the Pooh themed Hunny Pot planter which the yellow bear would definitely approve of.

On the more subtle end, there’s also an Aladdin pot shaped after the iconic magic lamp. Sadly, it doesn’t come with a chatty Genie or three magic wishes but at least your desk will look cute AF.

Disney Hunny Pot Artificial Plant Pot, Winnie the Pooh

disney plant pot

Priced at £6, available to shopDisney

Buy now

Disney Magic Lamp Artificial Plant Pot, Aladdin

disney plant pot

Priced at £6, available at shopDisney

Buy now

We’re not going to lie, we genuinely gasped out loud when we saw the Guardians of the Galaxy planter. Baby Groot is hands down one of the best Avengers characters of all time and you’ll be able to have your own little version, plus give him a little cactus afro of his own.

And naturally, there’s also a gorgeous minimal Mickey pot which is ideal for the major Disney stan given that the famous mouse will be celebrating his 90th birthday this year.

Disney Groot Artificial Plant Pot, Guardians of the Galaxy

disney plant pot

Priced at £6, available at shopDisney

Buy now

Disney Mickey Mouse Artificial Plant Pot

disney plant pot

Priced at £6, available at shopDisney

Buy now

Whether you’ve amassed a small army of foliage or you want to get your first sensible adult succulent, these pots will definitely brighten up any space.

Priced at £6 each, they’re all available on the Disney website and come with artificial plants inside.

The post Disney just dropped the cutest cacti pots for the plant-obsessed appeared first on Marie Claire.

Wait – should we actually be recycling our receipts?

Wait – should we actually be recycling our receipts?


Yes or no?

recycling receipts
Credit: Photo by imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Many people are trying to eliminate single-use plastic from their day-to-day lives by investing in reusable cups and buying fresh fruit and veg. Nowadays, many high-street coffee chains offer money off if customers bring in their own cup, and supermarkets are slowly catching on by reducing the amount of packaging they use for their products.

So it’s fair to say that in 2018, everyone is much more conscious about waste.

But what should we do when it comes to receipts? Have you ever thought about what you should do with the many scraps of shiny paper crammed into the depths of your handbag?

While some people keep hold of every receipt they ever get, others are quick to chuck theirs in the bin or leave them at the tills.

If you’re trying to do your bit to save the planet, and you’ve made various lifestyle tweaks to ensure you’re doing your bit, should you be recycling your receipts?

recycling receipts

Credit: Nigel R Barklie/REX/Shutterstock

According to Wired, around half of the receipts we are given are printed on shiny, thermal paper which is actually non-recyclable because it’s made from multiple materials. They also contain BPA and BPS chemicals, which are potentially harmful, hence why they’ve been banned from things like single-use plastic water bottles.

If these were recycled, it would release more BPA into the air.

Around 7,300 tonnes of the receipts that are printed cannot be recycled, and a new study suggests that British retailers hand out a staggering 11.2 billion receipts every year.

So what should you do with any thermal receipt you’re given? The simple answer is: you just need to bin them.

Sadly there’s not much you can do about thermal receipts, but many stores are now offering digital receipts which can be emailed to you instead so you can go completely paperless if the option is there.

The post Wait – should we actually be recycling our receipts? appeared first on Marie Claire.

Aldi’s huge festive hampers are back and they’re all we want for Christmas

Aldi’s huge festive hampers are back and they’re all we want for Christmas


Bargains.

aldi christmas hampers
Credit: Aldi

Christmas is coming! We’ve stocked up on Prosecco Christmas crackers, we’ve bought ourselves a Friends Christmas t-shirt, and we’ve invested in some Harry Potter baubles to make the tree that bit more magical.

So what are we missing? A good old Christmas hamper.

Just like advent calendars – from beauty advent calendars to wine advent calendars – hampers are big business at Christmas. Some will set you back thousands of pounds. Gulp. But we’ve got good news for those who want to save some cash and get their hands on a quality hamper.

Enter: Aldi.

The supermarket is selling a range of Christmas goods this year – they’ve got gin Christmas crackers, a six-litre bottle of Prosecco and some very unique chocolate wine – but when it comes to their hampers, they’re bigger and better than ever.

There are five to choose from, and they range in price, from the Delights Hamper at £24.99, to the Exquisite Hamper at £99.99, so there’s something for every budget.

For those who want a jam-packed and very affordable hamper, the Specially Selected Luxury Hamper comes with a range of wines, truffles, coffee and pastry twists.

aldi christmas hamper

Credit: Aldi

It’s HUGE and includes the following from the Specially Selected range: Prosecco, Malbec, Sauvignon blanc, fruit cake, stollen bites, florentines, cranberry & clementine fudge, crackers, ground coffee, tinned almonds, savoury pastry twists, Prosecco honeycomb and truffles.

See? There’s something for everyone, and all of this comes in at a very reasonable £59.99. You can pre-order yours here.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi, says: ‘Aldi’s Christmas hamper collection offers
our customers the chance to treat loved ones to something really luxurious this Christmas.

‘With so many expensive hampers on the market at this time of year, our dedicated buying teams have worked hard to create a selection of hampers that excite and delight at every price point.’

Shoppers should order by 19th December for free Christmas delivery.

We’ll take one of each, thanks.

The post Aldi’s huge festive hampers are back and they’re all we want for Christmas appeared first on Marie Claire.

Ryanair’s massive Christmas sale means flights for less than a fiver

Ryanair’s massive Christmas sale means flights for less than a fiver


Really.

ryanair
Credit: Andrew McCaren/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

We don’t know about you, but the grey days have us dreaming of our next holiday. Who else has been frantically Googling ‘best winter getaways’ to find a nice little trip to break up the cold season?

Yes, we have Christmas coming up, and we’re already counting down – but it’s always nice to have a few days away to look forward to, especially when the weather is less than pleasant.

Whether you’re after the best Christmas markets or a warmer winter, pack your best luggage because we’ve got some REALLY good news.

If you’re itching to book a nice little getaway this winter, look no further than Ryanair. The budget airline is currently having a HUGE Christmas sale – and there are flights going for less than a fiver.

Yes, really.

If you fancy a trip to the Ukraine or Norway, you can get a one-way flight for a measly £4.88. That’s only slightly more than your local supermarket meal deal.

Air hostess

And if you want to splash out an extra £3, you can get a one-way flight to the following countries for just £7.82:

Denmark

Spain

France

Germany

Czech Republic

Netherlands

Sweden

Lithuania

Ireland

Poland

Luxembourg

Italy

Montenegro

Flights leave from London Stansted, Luton, Gatwick, Edinburgh, Manchester, East Midlands, Bristol, Belfast, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Aberdeen, Newquay, Derry and Cardiff – although prices and destinations vary from airport to airport.

There are also a few conditions – you must travel between 20th November 2018 and 31st March 2019, and the sale ends at midnight tonight.

Fares are also subject to availability, so if we were you we’d get booking ASAP.

The post Ryanair’s massive Christmas sale means flights for less than a fiver appeared first on Marie Claire.

Brimstone: the Lake District bolthole that might just be Heaven

Brimstone: the Lake District bolthole that might just be Heaven


Go for the baths alone…

If you can book a trip to Brimstone in the next couple of weeks, then I really insist that you do. Brimstone Hotel and Spa is quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever visited. And part of the reason is because of the colours. It will be winter before we know it, and the Autumnal hues really do create the most spectacular vista. (One of my Instagram followers asked if I was holidaying in Heaven.)

If you struggle to book in before the last leaf falls to the floor, no matter for the hotel itself is just as amazing…

THE LOCATION

It took us just over four hours on the train from London, with one change. Don’t worry about booking a taxi, you’ll be collected by hotel staff in their branded Land Rover Defender. It’s slap bang in the middle of the Lake District, just north of Lake Windermere, on the Langdale Estate. On the Estate, there’s also the Langdale hotel, vast timeshare holiday homes, their own pub – Wainwrights Inn – a restaurant, serving delicious food and a leisure centre, complete with 20m pool. But Brimstone’s Hotel and Spa is the jewel in the crown.

Despite the location, you aren’t actually situated on a lake. It’s in a slight valley, surround by the Langdale Pikes, which make for picturesque hike. You’re a very short walk from Elterwater – be sure to have a pint at The Britannia (surely the tiniest bar in the UK?!) – and a stunning half an hour riverside amble to Skelwith Bridge. Pop into Chesters By The River – this is where you can get your shopping fix for the weekend – for cute gifts, pretty interiors, as well a great veggie café and on-site bakery.

THE ROOM

There are 16 rooms in total at Brimstone, which has been built to look like a Swiss ski chalet, and each one is bloody massive. But when you book ask for Room 2. It’s directly opposite the Reading Room (more on that later) and has two bathtubs. Not one in the bathroom and one in the bedroom – twin rolltop tubs directly next to one another at the end of the bed. Excessive? Non! Essential. It means that you and your guest can bathe at the same time (without the awkward: ‘could you possibly move your foot? It’s poking me in the -‘) whilst you both watch TV. After a long day’s walking I promise you’ll see the appeal. There’s also a double walk-in shower room, a slightly excessive lounge seating area and your own fireplace, which really is the cherry on the cake. The decor is definitely modern, not farmhousey like you might expect from a countryside getaway, but still very comfortable. It’s light and airy thanks to the floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the expansive balconies. Look out for the rather hilarious mood lighting panels – the night light is called ‘tinkle’.

A couple of days before you arrive at the hotel, you’ll get a call from your ‘host’ who asks questions like: ‘what type of pillow do you prefer? Goose feather? Memory foam?’ and ‘which newspaper would you like delivered straight to your door in the mornings?’. If you tell them that it’s a special occasion, they’ll make sure there’s something fizzy waiting for you in your room. If you mention that you plan on walking, you’ll find detailed maps waiting for you.

THE VIBE

At Brimstone they really, really want you to relax. There isn’t the formality of a reception desk with a concierge – there’s The Reading Room and your ‘hosts’. The Library is everything in one – the welcome area, the meeting point, the bar, the café. This is where you’ll find complimentary scones, cakes, sandwiches, as well as beer, wine and soft drinks throughout the day. They encourage you to take things back to your room. Your hosts welcome you at the beginning of your stay and wave you off at the end, and in between are at your beckon call, contactable with one push on your phone. There’s a fully-stocked Arc’teryx boot room, meaning that if you don’t have all of the wet weather (this is the Lake District) gear you won’t miss out on any activities. You see other guests now and then, but you really don’t need to leave your room and you most likely won’t want to, unless to head off on a walk or hit the spa.

DON’T MISS

The spa. It has ten thermal ‘experiences’, as well as an indoor/outdoor pool. The thermal ‘experiences’ include well-known treatment areas, like saunas and steam rooms, alongside less familiar ones, like a laconium room, which boosts circulation, and an ice fountain. You’re meant to make your way around in a certain order, but it’s totally not essential. Outside, there’s even a couple of cosy sofas sat nestled around a roaring fire – we honestly felt like we were somewhere in Scandinavia, not Cumbria. We both had brilliant Pure Alchemy body treatments, which is a brand exclusive to the spa that utilises local produce. You can easily while away a whole afternoon at the spa, because once it hits 12pm – they start serving champagne in plastic glasses. Perhaps not the most well-advised move, but it was bouji and we liked it.

But if you can, get in there first thing at 8am, because at 9am they open it up to the public and it gets busy. Too busy. My only complaint is that they should monitor how many people they allow into the spa at a time, because it isn’t an expansive space and at one point the pool looked like a human soup bowl, with people waiting their turn for a swim.

Stays at Brimstone Hotel & Spa start at £350 per room – this include access to the spa, breakfast, complimentary Arc’teryx gear hire and access to all the goodies in the Reading Room.

The post Brimstone: the Lake District bolthole that might just be Heaven appeared first on Marie Claire.

You can now buy a six-litre bottle of Prosecco from Aldi and we’re in

You can now buy a six-litre bottle of Prosecco from Aldi and we’re in


Merry Christmas indeed

aldi six litre prosecco
Credit: Aldi

The countdown to Christmas is on. Yes, we’re starting early this year – but why not? When there are so many festive treats on the market already, why wouldn’t we start celebrating the most wonderful time of the year six weeks before the big day?

We’ve already got a list as long as our arm of things we want for Christmas. There are Prosecco Christmas crackers for a boozy adult take on the tradition, you can get your hands on these (necessary) Friends Christmas t-shirts just because, and you can package all your gifts with this personalised wrapping paper that has your own face on (the ultimate present, no question).

And if there’s one supermarket getting in the spirit of things, it’s Aldi. They’re selling gin Christmas crackers, a wine advent calendar and something rather unusual – chocolate wine.

But they’ve also got your back if you’re throwing a party and are worried that the bubbles will run out. They’re now selling a six-litre bottle of Prosecco, and we are so in.

aldi six litre prosecco

Credit: Aldi

Aldi’s supersized Methuselah of Prosecco holds the equivalent of eight 75cl bottles, meaning no need for a frantic trip to Tesco mid-soiree.

The tipple is pale straw in colour with ‘aromas of fresh citrus fruits and wisteria flower’ with a ‘refreshing acidity and soft sherbert taste.’

Sounds good to us.

The enormous bottle goes on sale online on Wednesday 14th November and will cost £79.99. Considering that Aldi’s wine range has been awarded over 150 medals by international awarding bodies, we’re certain that this six-litre Prosecco bottle is going to sell out pretty quickly.

So put the date in your diary, and prepare yourself for a very merry Christmas.

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