Pampering, long walks and cups of tea: the importance of showing yourself some romance at the weekends

After a self-love stay at Farnham Estate, I want to be able to show myself the same affection every weekend


A weekend away in January is one of those gifts to yourself that you always mean to organise, but never remember to. Who could blame you — December is mad, both financially and socially, but when January rolls around (and lasts for a subsequent four million years), and we see all those smug f*ckers who remembered to book something, we really wish we could have had the same brainwave.

But this year, I finally did it. When the opportunity arose for an overnight stay to Cavan's Farnham Estate (an hour and a half outside Dublin i.e., far enough to feel like a proper holiday, but not so far that it's not a drag to get to), I was thrilled to become one of those smug f*ckers and indulge in a night in a fancy hotel all in the name of 'self-care'.

Treat yourself

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The age-old tradition of 'treating yourself' is now very much intertwined with our 'self-care' obsessed culture. We constantly wax lyrical about the importance of tending to your stressed-out soul, by way of taking long baths and wearing your fluffiest pyjamas when watching TV. It isn't terrible advice — relaxation and downtime are essential to destressing. The problem arises when we try to marry our need for 'self-care' with our distinctly Irish aversion to notions — and you just wind up feeling like your self-pampering is a bit frivolous.

Could I be spending this time cleaning the kitchen? Doing the food shop? Fixing that wobbly drawer that's been annoying me for months? These are the questions that run through our mind, that block the timid excitement at the prospect of an evening spent in a face mask, and end up in us guiltily watching the TV with one eye on the hoover, torn between the two, and not really enjoying either.

This weekend, though, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and absolutely throw myself whole-heartedly into the frivolity of 'self-care'. From the moment we landed at Farnham, I was set on a weekend of mé féining.

The day's events

Arriving for afternoon tea in the music room, I was off to a brilliant start already. Prosecco, freshly-baked scones and those little strainers for real tea-leaves tea had me settling into this weekend of self-care quite nicely.

Before long, it was time to head down to the Health Spa, where I read two of the most beautiful words in the English language — Adults Only. A maze of saunas, steam rooms, and ice foot baths lead to a twinned indoor and outdoor pool, with a chorus of contented guests lounging with books and iPads, and absolutely no kids. While a weekend with the little ones may be many people's ideas of relaxation, for little old childless me, Farnham's Spa was a godsend.

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It was here that I dove headfirst into the deep end of pampering, with an 80-minute Hero treatment (that's a back exfoliation, a hot stone back massage, a personalised facial and a scalp massage) that had me nodding off by the end of it. I came out to bump into a fellow guest at the hotel, who asked me how I got on, and all I could muster was, "I feel like a newborn baby". Relaxed indeed.

Throughout the day, I felt my shoulders relax inch by inch — my jaw unclenched with every passing hour, and I started to reap the benefits of this self-care craic. By the time I rolled into bed that night, I thought there might be something in this mé féin mindset, but didn't have time to mull, as my eyes were too relaxed to keep up.

The next morning, after checking out, I decided to squeeze the last bit of relaxation out of the escape by heading on one of Farnham's walking trails. A disclaimer; I am not the type of person who finds exercise of any form relaxing. But in my new-found self-care state, I decided to extend it to my health too (told you I turned smug).

Frivolity

I realised that, frivolous as it may be, doing these silly little acts of romance with myself wasn't a bad thing. Sure, I still had that food shop to do when I got home from Farnham — but if I could squeeze an hour of this feeling in before that chore, wouldn't it make it all the easier? And wouldn't I thank myself in the long run? Turns out that relaxation isn't an obstacle to getting things done — it's an aid.

With each step further into the dense woods, and not another soul around, the quiet of the Cavan countryside gave me the best part of my 24 hours. Who would have thought that sitting on a bench on a cold January morning would be the most relaxing thing I'd done all week?

Overnight and breakfast midweek from €139 per room including full access to the indoor/outdoor infinity pool, Water Mint thermal suite, relaxation room and gym. Visit farnhamestate.com for further information on special offers

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