Anna Pasternak Discovers A Divine UK Getaway

Splendid day out: One of the highlight's of a stay in a holiday cottage in Sussex is a visit to Arundel Castle
UK holidays: No strain, no pain, just pure gain… falling for the rustic charm of a West Sussex getaway

By Anna Pasternak
Last updated at 2:31 PM on 21st March 2010

Confession time: I’m a holiday property porn addict. My guilty obsession started during the recession because I simply couldn’t afford to go on holiday abroad. So I settled on a seaside jaunt in Britain.

But finding a divine Devon, dog-friendly bolthole was as rare as a British barbecue summer, because every seaside pad from Land’s End to the Scottish sea lochs was booked.

Then, stumbling across www.uniquehomestays.com, I felt as if I’d been transported from the dismal rental land of damp cottages with lumpy mattresses to a pampered world with dishwashers and tumble dryers where we might actually relax and have a holiday.

Ladies, I promise you that if you log onto this site you’ll discover how addictive sheer escapism can be.

The gorgeous properties they call ‘hometels’ are straight out of World Of Interiors with stylish understated decor, huge baths, power showers and piles of fluffy white towels.

But do these properties actually deliver rental nirvana or is it all an empty, air-brushed photographic promise?

We tried out the only property they had vacant last summer, Tides Reach in Willowhayne, a private seaside estate in West Sussex that sleeps eight. Twenty yards from a private beach, it said it had sea views from the upstairs bedrooms — and it did.

When we arrived, we mooched about opening cupboards and had a good old nosey around.

Along with the en suite bathrooms proffering lovely soap (which I always forget to take), the crisp white bedlinen and snazzy suede bedspreads, it boasted the best-stocked kitchen I’ve ever seen, with a cooking range that Heston Blumenthal is probably au fait with, but I could hardly fathom.

Grand: Tides Reach in West Sussex is just 20 yards from a private residents-only beach
My daughter was ecstatic with her bunk bed, while I coveted her splash of colourful Cath Kidston cushions.

And for all those rainy afternoons there was Sky and Sky+ on the plasma screen. There was also a large American fridge, piles of glossy magazines, enough DVDs to rival Blockbuster, comfy throws to snuggle under and a large garden with a table and chairs for eight.

The house came with the recommendation of a local cook — they all do — who charged £50 for a meal for four.

We had discussed menus before our stay (fuelling my lady-of-the-manor fantasies) and she arrived with a beautiful basket of local, organic vegetables from her garden, all tied up bundles.

Every day we walked off our excess calories along the coast, starting out on the Greensward, a sweeping avenue of grass separated from the sea by a wind break of tamarisk trees.

Willowhayne is a weird place, with a Desperate Housewives stillness and WAG-ish pretension.

Massive houses in mock-Tudor style sit slap-bang next to gargantuan bungalows backing onto the beach.

Founded in 1930, it’s like a lesser Beverly Hills-on-Sea. But it is doggie headven — pampered pooches promenade up and down (we met two Alsatians sporting Harrods diamond collars.)

Quirky: The East Beach Cafe at Littlehampton is a lesson in innovative design
There are pockets of sophistication nearby, such as the East Beach Cafe in Littlehampton. This award-winning temple of cool — which serves superb fresh moules and crab linguine — looks like a huge hunk of driftwood that has washed up on the beach.

Inside, with sensational views across the expanse of sand to the grey-green Channel, it’s sleek and understated with polished concrete floors.

There’s masses to do in the area — visiting Arundel Castle, Brighton Pier, Climping and West Wittering beaches — and, for parents of young children, the Flying Fortress near Ford Open Prison.

This soft play area in a disused air hanger is run with prison-like security. I was told off for taking a photo of my daughter on a go-cart and chastised for not watching her vigilantly.

Despite dismal weather, we all enjoyed our stay at Tide’s Reach because we entertained there and it was fun to be together as a family in a swanky, well-stocked, big home.

Of course, the worst thing was the crashing low after the holiday, when we returned home to everyday reality: to our fridge without an ice machine, our non-high definition TV and my dreary cooking.

Has finding this fantastic website beaten my holiday property porn addiction? I’m afraid not. I’m already fantasising about Christmas in Cornwall.

Travel facts
A week’s stay at Tides Reach starts from £1,750 (01637 881 942, www.uniquehomestays.com).

Read more in the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1259571/UK-holidays-No-strain-pain-just-pure-gain–West-Sussex.html#ixzz0ipLaQCtN

Anna Pasternak – On The Couch!

Anna and Wilfred at home with a Russian relative

Anna Pasternak and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about a new Facebook fan page that has been created as a place to post the links to Anna’s brand new column in the London Daily Mail. We hope that you will join Anna every Monday morning – with your coffee in hand – for “On The Couch”, a column about her sessions with a therapist (Mr. T) and what she learns about herself in the process. You may just find that you will learn a few things about yourself too!

We will post the link each Monday morning to the latest column on the Facebook fan page wall and would ask that you leave your comments on the Daily Mail’s site underneath where the column is published. Of course your comments are welcome on Facebook (as well as on MySpace) and we hope that you will take part in each week’s discussion topic (on the Discussion Board). For the first week, we simply ask the question, “Have you ever had psychotherapy or would you ever considering engaging in psychotherapy?”

While your thoughts and opinions are most welcome, let’s try to keep this a positive place where people can discuss important issues safely and without judgment. Please refrain from using any profanity or from bashing Anna or those who choose to share their experiences. Don’t forget to invite your friends as it’s going to be very, very interesting!

And now without further adieu, welcome to “On The Couch”!

Anna Pasternak Has A New Column in The Daily Mail!

Anna Pasternak photographed by Joel Anderson - Feb. 2010

Hello everyone!

My friend and client, Anna Pasternak, has been working hard on her writing over the past year and now has a brand new project to share with you. She is an Internet technology novice which is why I am here to help spread the news on her behalf.

This is the introductory article for Anna’s brand new column in the Daily Mail that will begin next week! We hope that you will join her on her journey through therapy, self-discovery and self-love. Your comments on the Daily Mail site will be most appreciated as the more that people express their feelings about the column, the longer Anna will stay employed!

Can therapy find me love? Divorced, single mother Anna Pasternak tries one last throw of the dice

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1249238/Can-therapy-love-Divorced-single-mother-Anna-Pasternak-tries-throw-dice.html

There will be a new fan page created on Facebook (where there is now one for her novel, Daisy Dooley Does Divorce) on which we will post the weekly links to the column and any other articles that Anna writes for the Daily Mail and I will be inviting you all to join it. That will happen next week.

In the meantime, Anna sends her love and best wishes to everyone and if you would like to leave her a comment, you can leave it here or at this article’s link on the Daily Mail website (where she will definitely read it).

We appreciate you!

Love & Light,
Christine for Team Anna & Daisy xx

Morocco Detox: Living the High Life in the Atlas Mountains

Mountain escape: The retreat is situated at the foot of the Atlas Mountains

By Anna Pasternak

Last updated at 1:19 PM on 20th January 2010 – The Daily Mail

There’s nothing like the lurching panic of opening your suitcase only to discover that it’s not yours. I was more than an hour’s drive from Marrakech up a steep pot-holed track in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.

The stranger’s suitcase and I were staying at the Kasbah Bab Ourika, a new 15-bedroom hotel in the verdant Ourika valley. I had signed up for a week-long in:spa fitness retreat, which required athletic wear.

The name in:spa is misleading. This was not some pampering jolly, but an active holiday without a relaxing glass of Merlot in sight, a detox retreat aimed at stressed-out singles.

In the six years since ex-banker Kathryn Brown founded in:spa to cater for the overworked and overwrought, there have been four in:spa weddings, so it is a potentially fertile meeting ground. But our particular retreat was atypical with one couple, no single men and nine single women.

I had forgotten what fun spending a week with a like-minded group of strangers can be – including a top fashion buyer and a Christie’s art expert, all aged between 35 and 45. Many of the guests were in:spa veterans, having been on other retreats in similarly gorgeous properties in Tuscany and Ibiza. Each boasts a host, nutritionist, chef, yoga teacher and private trainer.

The Kasbah Bab Ourika has 360-degree panoramic views of the snow-covered Atlas peaks. On one side are unusually lush valleys and on the other, a drop to a vast redrocked canyon. There was a beautiful planted garden off a spacious terrace: an oasis of orange blossom and scented geranium.

The rooms were perfectly pared-down in neutral tones. Many had fireplaces, all had comfy day beds, thick oatmeal rugs, clumps of fresh field-flowers in pots and a smattering of Berber antique chairs and chests. In the evening, inner courtyards were candle-lit and there were roaring fires in the – dry – bar. We met there for pre-dinner chat over sugarless mint tea.

The Welsh chef, Michael Arthur, wowed us with food so flavourful and herby that we never felt the lack of sugar or salt. Breakfast was fresh fruit soya smoothies, his special muesli, or frittata. Lunch and dinners included sesame singed tofu and green chicken curry.

Snow-capped: A morning hike through the snowy peaks along with yoga, healthy food and private training sessions were the order of the week

Every day there were yoga classes, circuit training, private training sessions and every other day a morning hike.

Guided by Berbers keen to share local knowledge – did you know that there are four types of wild lavender in the Atlas mountains – the hikes were between two and four hours long.

By the second day, the detox was taking its toll. We crawled back to our rooms from exercise sessions to sleep for hours on end. I have never experienced such tiredness nor enjoyed so much time to myself.

By the end of the week my computer-bound shoulders were freer and more flexible than they had been in years. We didn’t realise how sensitised the detox had made us, along with all that fresh, unfettered mountain air, until some of us ventured into Marrakech.

The cacophony of noise and pollution in the Medina, not to mention wafting food aromas, was an unwelcome sensory assault. I was glad to get back to the stillness of Kasbah Bab Ourika. As well as the physical detox, the mental detox of no television, computer or newspapers had the most profoundly relaxing effect.

Travel Facts

In:spa has week-long retreats in 2010 at destinations including: Marrakech, the Italian Dolomites and the South of France. From £1,895 per person including accommodation, transfers, all meals and drinks, activities and consultations. Excluding flights and based on two sharing (0845 458 0723, www.inspa.co.uk). Royal Air Maroc flies from London to Marrakech from £111 return (020 7307 5800, www.royalairmaroc.com).