12 September 2016

Parent Power with School Reviewer.

My Boys' First Days at Senior and Junior Schools.
One of the most anxiety inducing, sleep losing times ever as a parent is when it comes to choosing our childrens' schools, is it not?!

Catchment areas change, Headteachers come and go and, to add to the confusion, Ofsted wades in with its ratings and rankings, all of which can be out of date by decision time and we're all aware that some schools just play up to it better than others anyhow.

Most of us would agree, therefore, that the word on the street is where it's at.

And so has been born the School Reviewer Website!

It's pure parent power - parents learning from other parents about their child’s experience of a particular school.  Features include stats and knowledge about every UK school, info on catchment areas, a (no commission taken) buy and sell section, school forums, downloadable videos for GCSE math's, SATS and 11+ papers and it also recruits Home Tutors for free - aiming to have the largest and most trusted Tutor base on one site in the UK.

school reviewer,

It's new and its aim is to help us all ensure our childrens' educational journey is as happy, fulfilling and as rewarding as we can all possibly make it, because it's an up to the minute space provided for parents and by parents to talk and listen to each other.

The potential is awesome and this kind of thing must be particularly useful for people moving to a new area, plus, seeing as the second hurdle for most of us once we know where they're going is kitting them out in loads of new gear - uniform, sporting stuff, books etc., it's awfully handy to be able to trade directly with other-  grateful to sell - parents on there too.  Their listings are local and national, so specific uniform can be acquired locally and the other stuff can come from  / go to anywhere wihtout any fees being taken whatsoever!

And once we're all in the swing of things and problems start to surface - such as queries over homework methods or how to handle / prevent bullying, the Parents Forum (also local and national) really must come into is own as it opens up an avenue for advice or discussion on any conceivable topic.

Alongside these, School Reviewer intends to publish monthly Guides for Parents, the first of which has just been released, on the generally very touchy subject of Social Media.  They say 'It's designed to act as a reference for parents who are unfamiliar with the ups and downs, traps and joys of the most popular Social Media sites in the UK today - how they work, what to look out for, what to understand more about and how to talk to your children about them' and it's available for free when you register. 

school reviewer, guide to social media for parents,
The brand new Social Media Guide for Parents by School Reviewer.
All their guides will draw on parental experience and the insights of experts.

Lastly, the support for our childrens' actual education is what they're really all about.  Not only on the site itself with downloadable soundbite videos, filmed in class with amazingly qualified Teachers demonstrating unequivocally how to answer individual questions that relate to the dreaded SATS, famous 11+ or compulsory Maths GCSE, for example, which help us support our children better in line with newer teaching methods than we might have been used to, but also by creating their comprehensive country-wide DBS Certitifed Home Tutor listings, for which their is a burgeoning demand.

School Reviewer is completely unique.  They claim to be the only fully informative and fully interactive education website available on the internet, globally!  There is a wealth of information and huge amount of data available in place for over 42,000 schools, nurseries and colleges within the UK, but they welcome our reviews and input as their most powerful resource for other parents.

It is the 21st Century word on the street - designed to help us worry less, to make us feel more empowered in our decision making and to assist our children in being happier, better educated and more successful in their exams than ever.

We wish School Reviewer every success with this exciting new venture!

Disclosure - this is a collaborative post, but all words and opinions are my own, obvs.

30 July 2016

Starting Senior School with M&S 'Decades at School' Uniform.

When you've been doing something for over a century, the chances are you're getting it right and, this summer, M&S is celebrating exactly that - helping us all get ready for what they call 'the back to school adventure' for that long!

They've launched a campaign called #MySchoolYears asking us about our memories of going back to school vs. how our children do it and it's really worth checking out the old photographs on their campaign page -taking a look at the history of school wear and seeing how it's changed from 1920's - 2010s.

They want to hear our stories and chat about them across all their social media channels (links below).

Here's me as a young girl with one of my younger sisters at school in the 1970s.

m&s school uniform, decades at school, #myschoolyears,
My younger sister and me in our school uniform in the 1970s. 
We walked to school or we caught the school bus.  My boys get driven by car then terrorise the locals on their scooters.  We played harmless Hopscotch, Cat's Cradle or with French skipping rope (jumping over elastic round two people in parallel lines), Sevens with a tennis ball against a wall and Jack's - a tiny rubber ball with equally tiny metal 'jacks' to pick up with one hand, which, coincidentally I saw and bought my boys for Christmas!

They still run around  a great deal, but the fight to keep them off screens is increasingly fraught and, as my eldest son heads for secondary school, one of the questions his friend is asking is about what they will do at playtime because he's noticed, on their taster days,'Everyone's on their phone.'  They're worried about being considered childish for playing 'Champ' or 'Manhunt' - what we used to call 'It' or 'Tag.'

All the boys had to wear shorts all year long whatever the weather was in our day, but both they and the girls have an array of long trouser styles and fits to wear now.  Gone, too, are the shirts, ties and jumpers we wore - it's mostly polos and sweatshirts these days.

And when we were at Primary our parents were mostly forced to shop at an official Uniform retailer for said ties and tunics and blazers and such. My mother dreaded the trip to our 'Ricards' up the road and would always moan about them having the monopoly.  It wasn't exactly a fun, enjoyable experience and she always had to do a lot of sewing!

The eldest, aged five in his primary school uniform.
But when all the basics became readily available at shops like M&S (or Marks & Spencer / Marks & Sparks if you were particular fond of them as it was then) getting kitted out for going back to school became much more of an exciting event because no-one felt royally ripped off anymore.  They were innovative times.

Nowadays, it's all about getting stocked up and piled high as early as possible.  Those of us parents who are a few years down the school road know to buy our uniform early.  Gone are the days we see how much the children grow over the summer holidays and we scrabble about at the last minute when most of the sizes we want have been sold!

Oh no, we're the wise ones and I'm really impressed that M&S now sell trousers (and skirts and blazers) with adjustable hems (/cuffs), so when they inevitably shoot up at some point, there is more leeway than usual.  I went in to the Brighton store to check these out and it's a simple case of unpicking a hem that's already sewn for you.  Nice.

m&s school uniform, decades at school, #myschoolyears,
An array of styles and fits and their adjustable hems explained. 
As far as I'm aware, they're the only shop to offer this, together with their other Trademarked stuff like Stainaway (non iron) shirts and Front Supercrease and Stormwear Crease Resistant trousers, so the innovations evidently continue.

However, to be able to order it all on line, with the help of this brilliant size guide is surely the best one of all as it's nothing short of fantastic!

My youngest son always inherits the eldest's clothes, so quality counts and I've dabbled with other brands but always come back to M&S.  There's no question that even their school uniform lasts both boys and then still gets handed down to younger children we know.  It's priced fairly and everything washes up well.  I find adding soda crystals to a whites wash keeps everything bright.

And whereas our old fashioned flat black lace up shoes have generally been replaced by trainer type ones through to the Juniors, once you hit high school, they have to become more serious again, so I was really relieved to find these in M&S. They're quite a good compromise - real leather, available in the wide fitting he needs and only £32.00.

m&s school uniform, decades at school, #myschoolyears, senior school shoes,
Perfect for senior school - a good compromise between trainers and proper shoes - £32.00. 
Another of the dreaded biggest purchases is always a new winter coat.  It's especially important for the eldest this year who will now be travelling by bus along the coast in all weathers and, fortunately, we found one of those on line at M&S too - a beautiful black parka at £35.00. He loves the bright and warm lining.

Absolutely everything has to be approved by him before it's popped in the basket and he's very pleased with what's arrived.  That's another thing that's changed - we didn't have the same kind of say!

m&s school uniform, decades at school, #myschoolyears, adjust-a-hem,
All grown up and up and ready for senior school.
We congratulate M&S on their of 'Decades at School' campaign and wish them every success with it. Getting school uniform right for a century is certainly worth celebrating!

Have you got any old photos or stories to share?  Please feel free to link up with M&S using #MySchoolYears.




Disclosure - This is a collaborative post.  All words and pics are honest and my own.  

25 July 2016

The (Free) Word Game.

Playing The Word Game any time, anywhere!
We were recently introduced to a brilliant and truly simple game that's perfect for car journeys, long waits in restaurants, bedtime, bath time or any point during the day just for fun!

And it's free, requires no equipment, plus is perfect from quite a young age. 

What is this Holy Grail for the holidays I hear you ask?

It's called The Word Game. 

Any number of players can work, from two to twenty.  

In fact, my youngest son starts a game every morning when he comes in for a cuddle at stupid o'clock, just us, quietly and he really impresses me with his understanding, ideas and vocabulary.  The oldest adds his own twist when he ventures in and manages to do the same. 

Isn't it great how our children are always amazing us?  

With any luck, depending on your playmates, if they're anything like mine, it can be really funny. I've found it best to ban the poo / fart/ bum words because they tend to be hysterically overused but it's good to hear so many giggles if you don't mind them. 

One person starts with any word they choose, one that can have another added to it and it make sense. 

You're not supposed to use colours or ones that have already been said during that particular game, but we're not very strict.  The next person adds a word to it and the following turn taken picks up the last word only and adds a new one. And so on. 

But beware, all your secrets will come out. 

Here's how one of ours roughly went recently. 

7yo: Christmas 
11yo: (Christmas) Cake
Me: Cup (Cake)
7yo: Plastic (cup)
11yo: (Plastic) spoon
Me: (Spoon) feed
7yo: Bird (Feed) 
11yo: Flying (Bird)
Me: (Flying) Aeroplane
7yo: Massive (Aeroplane)
11yo: (Massive) tree
Me: (Tree) root
7yo: Re-calculating Route!

And on it goes for as long as you let it.

We love it. And it's good just for adults too.

What games do you play that are easy and while away the hours with a laugh? 

Anya xx

14 July 2016

Exclusive Offer for Stays at Middle Piccadilly, Rural Retreat, Dorset.

middle piccadilly, peaceful lane, dorset, healing retreat,
Peaceful Lane where Middle Piccadilly can be found. Honest!
If you've taken an interest in my last few posts about Middle Piccadilly, the lovely little Healing Retreat in the heart of the Dorset countryside, you may be pleased to see that, exclusively for my readers, they are happy to offer a 10% discount on all stays AND therapies booked before the end of July and taken before the end of this year.**

Seeing as the rooms and full board are only £120 or £135 per person per night anyhow and also seeing as their sole aim is to provide the opportunity to help you re-connect with yourself away from the stresses and strains of every day life and we wouldn't bat an eyelid about spending it to keep our cars going, it must be worth giving some serious thought to?

I really felt quite invigorated on my return and am definitely going to visit again.  It's gladdening they have stayed true to their roots, that their ethics remain pure and that their treatments are still top notch. There's nothing like investing in yourself - some time, energy and attention - for real rewards and most of us mums and dads just don't do enough of it!

Much is made of the food there and it's fundamental to a stay.  Dominic Harvey, son of the founders and resident chef as well as all round Manager, has maintained their tradition of serving vegetarian cuisine. The reasoning behind this is it puts far less strain on the digestive system and body in general and, therefore, much more can be gained from the holistic treatments undergone.

Over the years, he has experimented and explored and created a unique and adventurous repertoire, driven mainly by demand and a passion for puddings and all things healthy, without being boring.  He has amassed a wealth of knowledge - like how most cashew nuts aren't really raw, so genuine ones have to be specially sourced - and recipes galore - juices, salads and full on Cordon Vert cuisine - which he's finally put into a book, to launch soon.

It's called Feed Green and the best way to find out about it is to sign up to Middle Piccadilly's Newsletter -  and / or follow his brand new blog  - The Lifestyle Chef and / or Instagram account.  He showed me some of the pictures and they're fab.

One thing is for sure, you never go hungry or without home comforts here!

middle piccadilly, feed green,
Food is fundamental to a stay at Middle Piccadilly. 
You can also follow Middle Piccadilly too on Facebook and / or Twitter (@midpiccadilly) / Instagram (@middle_piccadilly).  They're a bit new to Social Media and most information is available on their website, but I urge you to think of yourself - perhaps for a change - and consider re-connecting with who you used to be or who you really are, not only in the way that they provide opportunity for, but in general.

I spoke about my rage and about how hard things can be for many mums (and dads).  Sometimes, just taking a short spell away from everything can be an amazing tonic and help us seize the moment more as our childrens' milestones speed swiftly past.

Here's what some of the other guests wrote and there were copious pages and cards in a similar vein -

 middle piccadilly, guest book,
Taken from the guest book at Middle Piccadilly. 
It seems there's a great deal to be said, therefore, for just being still and this rather rustic place in the middle of nowhere gives you you through that or a great kick-start and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for it all.

Disclosure - I was a guest of Middle Piccadilly and provided with two treatments for the purposes of this review.  The requirement was only for one honest post, but considering my history with them, my passion for natural medicine and the real healing that occurred, I wanted to do more. All words and pics are my own.

**This very generous 10% discount cannot to be taken in conjunction with any other offer.

Turning Back Time to Middle Piccadilly Healing Retreat in Dorset.

Day One: Eat, Treatment, Sleep, Repeat.

Day Two: Shamanic Healing and Shamanka School.

Anya XX

13 July 2016

Shamanic Healing and Shamanka School, Middle Piccadilly, Day Two.

The Star Room at Middle Piccadilly. Image credit - theirs. 
Well it was weird, no doubt about it!

Shamanic Healers always seem the most 'out there' people I've ever met once in a treatment session, yet outside of it, the most grounded, pleasant, happy-in-themselves ones.

You may have heard of Shamans - Native American Healers.  They are the most profound and wise teachers and Eliana Harvey, whose hands I was now in, has spent many years being guided by them and passing on what she has learned through her own school -  Shamanka, Traditional School of Women's Shamanism.

It involves four modules per year for two years and is certainly worth exploring, if as she says, you feel that life has lost its magic.  It takes place in Dorset at Middle Piccadilly, focuses on finding your true feminine empowered self and the 'Path of the Heart.'  It's not about being a Practitioner, it's about embracing unseen worlds, drawing on ancient woman's heritage and being the best intuitive you.

At 86 years old and having recently returned from working with Mayan and Inca Masters in Peru, she surprised me in many ways, initially by the lithe way she crouched down, lit a tea light candle positioned on the floor and got up without a groan or a grunt or a flicker of anything untoward of a woman less than half her age.  This, in itself, was astounding and she put it down to a yoga rourtine she has devised when I commented upon her unquestionable suppleness.

Her sharp intellect and fairly cut glass accent kind of cut through any insecurity one might be feeling as she calls upon her Power Animals and our ancestors and instructs you to walk around the room and choose which direction feels right to lie in on the floor.

I was lucky to be in the Star Room and, as I paced about, was torn between two ways to position myself.  These transpired to be the something or other parent, which I can't remember and, the one I (unwittingly) plumped for in the end bang opposite was, she told me matter of factly, 'The Wounded Child.'

It's traditional to use drumming and rattles to help to heal any trauma that might be creating a negative pattern with regard to our our emotional, physical or spiritual well-being, and although this can be alarming it's best not to knock it until you've tried it!

I was really quite reticent to deal with my rage still, but let myself be guided by expert Eliana as she told me to give other people back 'their shit!'  It wasn't so difficult once I got going.  In fact, it was actually quite cathartic.

We talked about me not knowing who my real father is and how hard it was growing up with different colour skin than almost everyone else around me.  She felt that I had inherited some of my 'Second sight' from his side and there must be a purpose behind it and seeing as how healing is also on my mother's side (I own an old fashioned remedy book of my great-grandfather, with his hand-written notes in the margins), how I've been dealt a double dose of sensitivy which makes life hard.

Gosh, there was a lot there and it would take more than an hour to deal with a lifetime's worth.  Once again, though, just because the treatment itself was over, it didn't mean the work stopped.  I've found this quite a handy tool when I'm out walking, feeling what's going on in my body and giving it right back where it belongs, saying stuff I didn't even know I wanted to say.  It's very empowering, interesting and really recommended!

Eliana advises us to call upon our own Power Animals - at any time - and I could see a huge eagle behind me, protecting me with its wings.  I was worried my children were with their father and she told me to call upon theirs.  Immediately, there came a deer for my oldest son, whom she said we could transform into a stag, which made sound sense because of his gentle nature and his strength and for my youngest son, a lion came instantly.

Anyone who knows him will know this suits him down to the ground.  He has a lion heart and is enormously protective and loud!

There isn't time to think these things up.  You just ask and they appear.

I felt I wanted to go on and on with what we were doing.  It was like we had tapped into a source of real power and I was really loathe to let go.

But the great thing is, you don't have to.  I still feel connected and these unseen worlds are there for us all.

Not all the treatments on offer are so off the wall, but rarely will you have the opportunity to undergo anything like this elsewhere.  It's why all the other guests decided to try one out too and each of them (all with different Practitioners trained by Eliana) said they had been bowled over - the general consensus being 'weird but wonderful.'

middle piccadilly, rural retreat, dorset,
The  rural setting is sublime. 
Middle Piccadilly is probably ahead of its time.  Increasingly, scientists are endorsing energetic work and agreeing with everything old fashioned medicine has been about for thousands of years, but because nobody can make millions out of something we can all find for free, it's still largely derided and undermined.  It can even help to heal the most heinous violations.

There was a time people laughed at Aromatherapy and Reflexology and before that, those who thought the world was round, but, nowadays, we all know better and, before long, the balance of mind, body and spirit - Holistic Health - will get its deserved due.

When it was time for me to leave this wonderful little rural retreat, after yet another lovely lunch, I felt inspired and free-er, softer and encouraged.  Most importantly though, deep down inside, I can feel Midde Piccadilly hasn't left me.  

Tomorrow, the final instalment in this set of posts, I'll talk about the generous discount that has been offered exclusively for my readers and a can't-wait-for-cookery book that Dominic Harvey, Eliana's son and resident chef, is about to launch.

Post 1 - Turning Back Time to Middle Piccadilly Rural Retreat, Dorset.
Post 2 - Day One - Eat, Treatment, Sleep, Repeat.
Post 4 - Exclusive Offer for a Stay at Middle Piccadilly.

Disclosure - I was a guest of Middle Piccadilly for the purposes of this review, but, as always, all words and opinions are honest and my own.

12 July 2016

Middle Piccadilly Retreat, Day One: Eat, Treatment, Sleep, Repeat.

They warn you about it on their website nowadays:-

The Middle Piccadilly Story

So we can meet your expectations and goals, please be aware that, however much we love traditional health spas, Middle Piccadilly is not a 5 star pampering spa, with fluffy robes, giant thelasatherapy jacuzzis and swimming pools... but you will get outstanding 5* therapies, comfortable guest accommodation, freshly created vegetarian cuisine, a charming rural setting and the peaceful ambiance that makes Middle Piccadilly truly unique!

You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when I was met by a fluffy robe, slippers in the wardrobe, and some gorgeous toileteries!

Whereas we used to be able to stay in the house - the actual absolutely idyllic little thatched cottage that is the heart of the retreat (pictured on my post yesterday), European Law has decreed it to be a fire risk and seeing as it's listed, the necessary alterations to make it legally habitable by guests aren't actually allowed.

Therefore, we can't sleep there anymore. The founding family either had to shut up shop or swap residences, so they moved out of their home which was on site anyhow, and we've moved into theirs!

This meant a smaller room for me.  A bit too small for my liking, to be honest. And a shared bathroom.  Again, not ideal, but that's certainly not the case for them all.  There are only six bedrooms in total (all charged at the same rate and allocated on a first come first served basis), two doubles, a twin and three singles, one of which has doors which opens on to the garden - I took a sneak peek while it was still empty - and the others are bigger.

middle piccadilly, rural healing retreat, dorset,

Seeing as I was a guest of Middle Piccadilly and it was all a bit last minute on my side, there really wasn't anything to complain about.  It was clean, with its own basin and tea and coffee making facilities and just across the way was a compact but comfortable 'Media Room' - the only place in the house with WiFi.  The rest of it - including the quite-large-with-sunset-views communal sitting room - is a Digital De-tox zone.

Talking of de-toxing, I was delighted that Dominic is, indeed, still doing the cooking and, yes, there really is such a thing as Cordon Vert cuisine!

Nowadays they offer three choices of it - Cleanse, Vegetarian and Raw Food.  They have also added a 'Living Smart Living Clean' programme - four to fourteen days of a combination of all three, together with tailor made holistic treatments.

Best of all, I was delighted to see Eliana Harvey is still hands on at the Retreat.  At age 86, she continues to teach workshops and is presently training up 17 Shamanic Therapists!  Her husband, Jerry, isn't so well, but he's still there, aged 90.  The whole family are incredibly inspiring examples of this kind of healthy living.

Eliana took my initial consultation and gave me a different kind of food - the type for thought - asking what I wanted to get out of my short stay with them.

The very short version is that I wanted to be less cross, more me.  Oh and there was the matter of the head injury I sustained a few years ago, from which I've never fully recovered.  And the usual feelings of (not necessarily just single) motherhood - overwhelm, anxiety, fatigue, frustration and never-ending guilt.

It transpired these consultations can be a bit hit and miss and aren't necessarily included in certain packages but I think they're an integral introduction to getting the most out of a stay there.  They kind of open up your mind to what matters to you and help to tailor the holistic treatments on offer.

These vary from £35-£85 and inlcude facials, therapeutic massage and a body scrub as well as the more Alternative or 'Energetic' ones that you can't always get elsewhere.  In my twenty odd years of exploring Natural Medicine, the therapists at Middle Piccadilly have always been of the most outstanding calibre and I'm pleased to say that there is never a 'push' or 'sell' of any description at any point, still.

After a delicious dinner - a hot nut roast, new potatoes and ratatouille plus a chocolate pudding (or the raw versions for those who chose so) - I took a wonderful walk, watched the sunset and retired early ahead of my Spiezia Hand on Heart session the following morning.  Everything was still and peaceful and felt home from home (well, apart from the still and peaceful bit, obvs!).

The Blurb:-

Spiezia Hand on Heart
This treatment centres the mind with the body, sharpening awareness of the feelings and sensations stimulated during the slow rhythmic massaging of both hands and feet, enlivening the energy flow on the body. These massages are orientated towards a number of sensitive and powerful pressure points, which stimulate energy interactions throughout the body, releasing mental and emotional blockages. The treatment culminates in gently rebalancing the chakras.

The small spa room at Middle Piccadilly.

It takes place in a small spa room.  The lights are dim, the candles are lit and the music is gentle Native American stuff  - flutes and drums - which I fell in love with on my times here before.

The Practitioner, Claire, was very intuitive, working on the hands up to the elbows and the feet up to the knees, on all the points and energy pathways that affect whole of the body.  She could feels in hers what was going on in mine and you know you're with a good one when that happens.

And there it was.  In my abdomen .  A great big fat ball of rage.

I tried to transmute it and make light of it.  I've known it's there, but have been too stubborn to want to shake it off.  Things have been very hard as a single parent and sometimes I think perhaps it's the only thing that's kept me going!

It's probably not very healthy, however neither was it going to disappear in an instant.

It is said that there's nothing wrong with anger per se, it's how we use it that matters.  It can move mountains and be used very beneficially, but I felt it was time to shift it now and I gave it a go.

Afterwards, in my room alone as the work continued to take effect, I had a feeling I owed myself some compassion and that's not something that comes naturally to us Brits, but, again, I tried and think it helped somewhat.

As is encouraged here, I slept afterwards.  Eat, Treatment, Sleep, Repeat, is how it seems to go, with a wonderful walk around the village if you fancy if it's not raining, which it was when I was there, so I just went for more of the same.

It's easy to see who the new guests are -they're comparatively loud!  But it only takes a morning to get them into the Zen zone.

Seeing as I was there, it wasn't walking weather and I liked and trusted the Therapist, I booked in for an Indian Head Massage, to see if it could help heal the concussion issues that still flare up.  It appeared a bit steep at £65 but it was for the best part of an hour and, in retrospect, really was worth it.  Cranio-sacral therapy and Acupuncture have made an enormous difference over the last couple of years, but I hadn't had the courage to try one of these until today.  It felt like right thing to do and I was glad to have gone with my gut instinct.    

Tomorrow I would be in the good hands of the main lady and founder of Middle Piccadilly, herself, Eliana Harvey, for Shamanic Healing.

In the meanwhile, another super supper was waiting without me having to lift a finger for it myself - always a plus!

Middle Piccadilly, food at Middle Piccadilly, Dorset, Retreat,
Not having to lift a finger for the excellent Cordon Vert cuisine at Middle Piccadilly.

Turning Back Time to Middle Piccadilly Healing Retreat in Dorset.

Day Two: Shamanic Healing and Shamanka School.

11 July 2016

Turning Back Time to Middle Piccadilly Rural Retreat in Dorset.

As I drove through deepest Dorset, I wondered if Dominic was doing dinner.  He used to say he was a Cordon Vert cook, but I never knew if he was joking - whether there was actually such a thing as Vegetarian Cordon Bleu.  The food was always fantastic though, so I'd figured it didn't really matter either way!

It's been eleven years since I was last here, a small Healing Retreat just outside of Dorchester, in the South West of England and there were butterflies in my belly as I passed through tiny little villages, clocking castles and quaint cottages with thatched roofs, enjoying the greenery as far as the eye could see.

There were massive trees making magnificent tunnels over lots of lush lanes and an abundance of flowers and fauna and fields.  My third eye was throbbing as it soaked up the scenery.  It felt like  a real treat to be away and as though something special was already occurring!

My children were at their father's for a few nights - for the first time for that length of time.  I was going to need a powerful distraction and, by some weird yet wonderful quirk of fate, this perfect opportunity had presented itself when I'd been asked if I was interested in reviewing one of my all time favourite places in the world - Middle Piccadilly.

But would it be the same?

I checked the web-site first.  Yes, it was still owned by the founding family:

The Middle Piccadilly Story
Middle Piccadilly was established in 1986 by founders Eliana and Gerry Harvey and started life as an innovative healing centre with emphasis on the holistic approach. Currently run by eldest son – Dominic and his wife Lisa - the centre offers over a quarter of a century of Natural Health Expertise and is the foremost Rural Retreat in the country.

*Claps wildly.  Can't believe luck*

I've stayed here before, if my memory serves me correctly, three times.  On the first occasion, I would have been alone, the second was with my ex-husband and the last time, was with one of my best girlfriends when I was pregnant with my eldest son.

I wondered what would have happened to Eliana by now...  She used to perform the most incredible Shamanic Healing treatments and was a wonderful teacher.  She was getting on a bit before...

I wondered if the treatments could be anywhere near as authentic as they used to be...

Had they gone all mod cons and lost the rustic charm of their own quaint cottage with the thatched roof .... ?  I couldn't imagine today's clientele putting up with pleasant but basic amenities, no matter how awesome the other stuff might be...

And eventually I arrived to this place of tranquility and tenderness.  The garden looked exquisite.

middle piccadilly, dorset, rural retreat,
Middle Piccadilly Rural Retreat, Dorset.
You are allowed to arrive any time after 4pm, for a minimum stay of two nights.  You leave after lunch on the last day around 2pm.

This meant nigh on three whole days of nothingness, just birdsong and a couple of their signature holistic healing treatments.

I wondered how it would it all work out...

Middle Piccadilly Retreat, Day One: Eat, Treatment, Sleep, Repeat.

Day Two: Shamanic Healing and Shamanka School.

Exclusive Offer for Stays at Middle Piccadilly.