Peckforton Castle - The Ultimate Weekend Escape

The reason I love reading fiction so much is because it allows me to escape reality and delve into a world so completely far from my own that I forget any stresses and problems that are usually passing through my mind. So, when visiting Peckforton Castle last weekend, it felt like I was living in a Medieval fiction novel, quite literally a dream come true.

Placed in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, Peckforton Castle is a grade 1 listed building built between 1844-1850, a Victorian country house built in the style of a medieval castle at a time during a great gothic revival in architecture. It was built for John Tollermache, the 1st baron of Tollermache and in WW1 was used as a hospital for handicapped children. The outstanding building has held host to a wealth of history and in 2006, was bought by the Naylor family who transformed the castle into the hotel, wedding venue and spa that we know today. 

The hotel has 48 guest rooms, all eloquently decorated to fit with the medieval architectural features. Have you ever had one of those moments where you feel as though things seem too good to be true? It was that feeling I experienced when finally stepping into the executive room that evening. I'm not made of money, so staying is such a high brow hotel really was a bit of a big deal for me, thick burgundy curtains covering the view of the forest  made me feel like I was a part of the history. And I really felt like I'd made it when I saw the free-standing bath, that was one life goal ticked off the list that evening...

We only got to stay for one night but that's all I needed to relax and unwind. If you're based in the North West then this truly is the perfect city escape. Just an hour away from Manchester, this magnificent hotel oozes elegance and allows you to forget any problems you were panicking about 30 minutes previous. Booking a hotel for an evening may seem like an expense not worth paying, but surely spending that money with a loved one truly enjoying time together and forgetting about work is much worthier than spending that money on a night out. Then feeling awful and totally NOT refreshed the next day. 

If you have a few days to spend there you don't even need to leave the grounds to enjoy yourself. The castle holds host to a variety of different adventure activities such as archery, laser pigeon clay shooting and Segway tours. Or if you are solely there to chill then why not take full advantage of the spa facilities. When you book in for any of the treatments then you have access to the relaxation rooms, hot tubs, sauna and rainforest showers, now if that doesn't sound like the perfect way to relax then I don't know what does. 

Sometimes physically taking yourself away from your troubles can really help to clear the mind and let you breathe. Whether you want to go away with someone or just take yourself away alone and get some headspace, Peckforton Castle is the ideal place for this. The staff are exceptional and you constantly feel at ease, something we all need from time to time. For more information, click here


Quark Face Mask

#SelfCareSunday is a hashtag that has been used over 400,000 times on Instagram, it's a new hype to give yourself the ultimate pamper on a Sunday before the busy week ahead, and I think this is brilliant. People are finally coming to terms (including me) that today's society is killing us because of the constant stress we put on ourselves, and a day to just look after our mind and body is truly what we need to refresh both mentally and physically. Self care comes in different forms, from having a day to do all the things you enjoy doing, to have a full blow out pamper session with face masks and all. So, if you love a good pamper on a Sunday I have the perfect homemade face mask recipe for you. 

I'm very conscious about what goes on my skin, which is why I prefer to buy from natural brands, but there is truly no better way to know what goes in your skincare than if you make it yourself. The best thing is, most of the things you can use as part of your beauty routine often already live in your fridge! 

My favourite face mask for rejuvenating the skin is a quark and cucumber mask with added vitamin E. Quark is one of the latest 'superfoods', similar to cottage cheese and yoghurt, but with a naturally higher protein and lower fat content. It's full of vitamins and minerals such as B2, B6 and B12, as well as calcium which could have potential health benefits for our skin. Topped off with cucumber, it makes for an especially refreshing face mask. And I add the vitamin E for extra hydration for my dry skin. 

How to: 

Simply peel a quarter of a cucumber, cut into chunks and then place in a blender until smooth. Then add this to 6-8 tablespoons of quark and 2 drops of vitamin E oil and mix until well blended. 

Make sure your face is clean and dry, then evenly spread the mixture onto your face and leave to sit for 30 minutes. It may feel tight or itchy on your face, but don't worry, that's just the enzymes in the quark doing their magic. 

To remove, simply wash off with warm water. Do not apply any face creams immediately after removing as the mask is still working its way into your skin. 

If you're looking for more ways of adding natural ingredients such as quark to your beauty routine you can find them all in the Ultimate Quark Guide and Cookbook here on the Queen of Quark website. You'll also get access here to a free eBook when you subscribe to their weekly emails. 


How to be More Productive

As i'm writing this, the rain is coming down hard and fast. It's the kind of weather where you walk outside and you're blown sideways. So not only am I writing this to make you guys more productive, but I'm doing so to remind myself that I still need to do SOMETHING despite the awful conditions, instead of curling up on the sofa and watching LOTR. No one is 100% productive all of the time, that would be insane, it's essential that you get time to relax. But sometimes that relaxation can turn into laziness, so here are a few quick tips of how to be more productive with your time, even when you don't feel like it...

1. Podcasts

It's one of the easiest ways to gain more knowledge and you can do it wherever and whenever. How many of you spend time on public transport just sat scrolling through your phone, or staring out of the window not really doing much. This is definitely time you could be spending doing something productive, and that's where podcasts come in. Apple have the podcast app, or you can get podcasts on Spotify, search your favourite subject and then try different ones out until you find the right podcasts for you. You'll find anything and everything on there. 

2. Clean House Clean Mind 

I don't know about you, but I really struggle to work when in a messy environment. If your surroundings are cluttered then so is your mind, so having a clean, tidy working area can really help you to focus on what you're doing. Take 5 minutes before you start working to organise the area so you can set on the ahead with a clear mind space. 

3. Write Everything Down 

If you struggle remembering things then this point is crucial for you. Make sure you always have a notepad with you so that you can take anything down that you need to remember. Often we don't do things because we forget all about them, being able to see what we need to do and physically tick them off a list can really help you on your way to a more organised life. 

4. Multi-Task Less 

If you know you're a master of multi-tasking then you can probably skip this stage, but for those of us that aren't quite so skilled then listen up. Trying to do two things at once often means that you aren't giving each task all of your attention which can mean the quality of your work is sacrificed. This isn't just doing two work tasks at once, but it also includes trying to do something whilst watching the TV or scrolling on your phone. Hone your attention on one thing. 

5. Take Breaks  

No one can solidly work for hours on end without burning out, unless you really are a superhero. Scheduling in rest breaks in between work can help to keep you focused when necessary. This isn't just 5 minute tea breaks, but it is essential to move around and do things that take your mind off the initial task. That way you come back to your desk with a fresh mind, ready to give it your all.