With the world seemingly taking time off, I think the festive two week break really is the only time of the year when falling off the radar feels completely deserving, satisfying and totally guilt free.
And we really did make the most of the 'us' time - travelling and exploring new places (me anyway, thanks hubby), indulging in some pampering and fine food consumption, celebrating with family and losing ourselves in quiet contemplation of all we've experienced this year.
First up and a special pre-Christmas treat courtesy of Mr. L, a mini break at Old St Andrews, the award winning country retreat spa hotel that overlooks the ferocious North Sea and the birthplace of Golf - the famous Old Course at St Andrews. It's about an hours drive north of Edinburgh and the landscape en-route, the course and the town of St Andrews are beautiful and dramatic, even in the heavy permeating rain that's synonymous with Scotland.
We changed up the obligatory car journey game of 'I Spy' for 'Pronounce the Scottish Village', which Scots-bred Mr. L found hilarious if a bit frustrating. Go on, you have a go - Auchtermuchty - Freuchie - Kirkcaldy.
The sun made one appearance, so out came the camera. This is the view of the 18th hole from our room.
On day two, the stormy weather ripped up the wind to a point when you could hardly stand upright. The tough freezing conditions didn't seem to put the hardened golfers off. The sea was just as fierce and the waves were breaking far out from the shore. Amazingly, there were guys crazy enough to go surfing in it... brrrrrr. Byron Bay it aint!
It's fun and very satisfying to brace yourself for a wild, wintry walk along the coast and to come back into the warmth and comfort of the hotel, with it's twinkling festive lights and roaring log fires.
We relaxed from the moment we entered the place. It's one of those hard to find hotels that's slick and professionally managed for a large resort hotel and actually still feels like a home from home. There was nothing uptight about it at all, a very comfortable relaxed vibe, traditional touches of decor, cosy luxury rooms and friendly welcoming staff that could not do enough for us, we were totally spoilt.
We were welcomed by a pretty Christmas tree and a wee man in a kilt (not this man!).
Decorative features included Stag antler lighting, antique glass chandeliers, leather seating and wood panelled walls.
Mr. L got to do a bit of childhood reminiscing and indulged daily in a traditional hearty Scottish breakfast of the regular bacon and eggs, but including stomach churning haggis, black pudding and potato scones.
The Kohler Spa was perfect for recovering from a busy year. With a few lengths (30 for me) of the swimming pool done, the hydrotherapy pool and Japanese steam room tested, we snuggled up in fluffy robes and read a book. I've had my eye on this one since it published a couple of months back and the stumbleupon and purchase at the local Waterstones was made sweeter when we discovered it was a signed copy (and their one and only). How cool is that? thanks Darcey. If you love dance, and ballet especially, you'll fall in love with this beautiful book of images shot by a few famous photographer friends.
We both indulged in a Kohler signature facial and massage and I had their signature manicure, just in time for the Christmas festivities that were about to happen back in Edinburgh.
I can count on both hands the number of spas I've visited in my time and this one has just topped my list of favourites for its great vibe, wonderful staff, top class amenities and amazing treatments. It was pure bliss.
All it leaves now is for me to say Happy 2013 lovely people. It's only day 3 but I'm hoping it's all going to plan for you. It feels good to be back.