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Our little black book of enchanting places

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My favourite places to be

Posted in NEWS By The Travelwarp Company

Caroline Sylger Jones is the author of two beautifully written books on wellbeing holidays: Body & Soul Escapes and Body & Soul Escapes: Britain & Ireland. She is also the founder Queen of Retreats, an independent online resource for wellbeing breaks. Here she tells us about her favourite places to be. 

The South Hams in Devon is where I live and is definitely one of my favourite places to be. Now that we’re parents, my husband Tom and I like to drive to Batson Creek in Salcombe and walk with our baby daughter Annoushka all the way to South Sands, taking in the gorgeous estuary and harbour views I’ve been enjoying since I was eight years old and first came on holiday here. The walk is great for parents with prams, as it’s little roads all the way. Our destination is usually the South Sands Hotel, which just opened this year and serves gourmet comfort food overlooking the sea. We’ll sit out on the balcony when it’s sunny, or try to bag a leather chair inside, where Annoushka will hopefully fall asleep on my lap and I’ll get to enjoy a latte and look at the pictures in the Saturday papers. My breastfeeding brain never seems to want to bother with any of the words.
When Annoushka gets a little bigger and we feel like travelling again, I’d like to treat us to a spa break in the UK. I love Babington House in Somerset for its walled garden spa and The Scarlet in Cornwall for its windy, romantic beach setting, though my current favourite, to my surprise, is the far more traditional Lucknam Park. It’s only 20 minutes from Bath but feels like another world – an enchanting fairy tale house in spacious grounds, with pretty, fragrant flowers everywhere and a civilised spa and tasty restaurant tucked away in the grounds.
In our hardest moments over the last few months, when we’ve been sleep deprived and anxious about our newborn, we have dreamt of returning to Kamalaya, a wellness retreat on Koh Samui in Thailand, if only for a thai massage in one of the open-air treatment rooms, which are set in a hillside with serene views out across the horizon. The detoxing food is appetising, the villas uncluttered and the staff calm. I’ve heard the Thais love children and make great babysitters, so we’ll be hoping to revisit when our baby is a little older and can cope with a long haul flight.
Meanwhile, once our baby is weaned Tom has promised me a weekend on my own back at Gaia House near Newton Abbot. A former convent in truly peaceful countryside, it runs an impressive range of meditation retreats in the Vipassana tradition. I love the silent time I get here, the giant oak in the front garden, eating toast and honey in the sunny library looking out across red geraniums. It’s the place I go back to in my mind when I’m at my most stressed, and unlike too many places nowadays, it’s entirely affordable.
I can’t close without mentioning one last favourite place, where we’ll take Annoushka when she’s grown and there’s a tad more cash in the bank. Lord Howe Island, in the middle of the Pacific off the coast of Australia, is an innocent, unspoilt tiny oasis where you can skinny dip on the beaches and go for long, lovely walks without a car in sight. Just the thought of it makes me smile.

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