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

Nursery skiing: Learning to ski, Swiss style at the Arosa Ski School by Anna Pasternak

Nursery skiing: Learning to ski, Swiss style at the Arosa Ski School
By Anna Pasternak

Last updated at 9:47 AM on 07th December 2009
Daily Mail

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1233306/Nursery-skiing-Learning-Ski-Swiss-style-Arosa-Ski-School.html

Frankly, skiing leaves me cold. All that huffing and puffing, hauling and falling does nothing for me. Despite efforts to learn, I’ve never managed to progress beyond a shaky blue run.

However, determined not to visit the sins of the mother upon her daughter, I decided to see if, by introducing my five-year-old Daisy to skiing early enough, she would prove not to be a chip off the old block as I am – my mother is also a dreadful skier.

So we three set off to Arosa, Switzerland, where Daisy took daily ski lessons and the closest we came to an injury on the slopes was when my mother slipped rushing to beat the Germans to a lunch table on the sun terrace.

First day at school: Daisy on her way to the Ski School in Arosa

The train journey to Arosa from Zurich via Chur was memorable, not just because the first hour from Zurich to Chur was on a doubledecker train, which thrilled Daisy, or the blindingly accurate precision of the timetable, which excited us. But because Daisy lost her first tooth on an unforgiving ham baguette.

On the second lovely little red train, from Chur (the oldest town in Switzerland) to Arosa, we sat for another hour as we wound our way up the track built in 1912, soaking up the picture-postcard alpine views, debating whether the tooth fairy would leave Swiss francs or pounds.

Arosa, a medium-sized family resort, is unashamedly unstylish. Apparently, the Begum Inaara Aga Khan goes to St Moritz to see and be seen, but for real relaxation she prefers to go makeup-less to Arosa.

There are 60km of slopes and 60km of winter hiking trails, so it’s perfect for families of all ages with non-ski members, as all restaurants on the slopes can be reached by foot and by ski.

There aren’t swish shops, preening celebrities or pulsing nightclubs, but lots of low-key Swiss cosy restaurants such as Chamanna on Arosa Main Street. It’s attractive without being alpine twee.

It was Britain’s own Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who put Arosa on the map in 1894 when he visited the nearby resort of Davos in search of a tuberculosis cure for his ailing wife, Touie.
Guided by two local shopkeepers from Davos, he crossed the 2,440-metre Maienfelder Furka Pass and skied down into Arosa for lunch.

Today, Arosa offers all the winter sports; there is skating on Lake Obersee, around which the village is built, and an extensive toboggan-run network known as Home Pistes.

Riding high: Daisy with her ski guide Tobias

The slopes cater best for beginners to ‘unadventurous intermediates’, as the slopes are mainly wide, safe and varied.

Experienced skiers can hire a guide and go over the mountain into other resorts, including Davos, while for snowboarders there is a good halfpipe; one of those jazzy curved slopes on which to do tricks.

So, what is the best age for a child to learn to ski? Tobias, an archetypal dishy 25-year-old private Swiss ski instructor who tutored Daisy for two hours a day, said that the Swiss start their children skiing aged around two, but we Britons leave it a few years later.

Arosa has a tradition of having private ski instructors – there are 200 in total. With his mind-boggling patience and good humour, Tobias managed in three days to get her up on the magic carpet – the moving carpet in the nursery slopes, doing shaky snow ploughs down – and, most importantly, having fun.

‘If children have fun, they want to come the next day. If they hate it, they won’t want to come again,’ he said.

According to Tobias, Daisy’s main difficulty was not failing strength, but lapses in concentration.

While she also learned to walk uphill in her ski boots, which seemed challenging enough, my mother and I enjoyed a pricey rosti and a plate of vegetables (18.50 Swiss francs) on the sunny terrace of the Hotel Hold, which overlooks the nursery slopes.

At the end of every lesson, Tobias took Daisy on his shoulders for a speedy ski, including jump, while we watched, slack-jawed in awe.
We stayed at the Tschuggen Grand Hotel. A bland Seventies-style block – a former 19th-century sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers – it is deceptive; inside, the decor is funky neo-baroque; all tactile surfaces with velvet chairs and chenille throws.

However, this hotel is punch-the-air-with-happiness child friendly without morphing into a giant shrieking creche.

Hotel managers worldwide should take note. First, the kids’ club has proper user-friendly hours: from 9.30am to 1pm, then from 4.30 till 9.30pm.

Children can join you for dinner (even at the gourmet La Vetta, where they also offer the kids’ menu) or they can eat en masse at 6pm in the Buendnerstube restaurant complete with bowling alley, which afterwards transforms into a typical Swiss fondue and live Tyrolean music joint.

Blissfully, once Daisy had located us at one of the four restaurants in the hotel each evening, she’d then nip off to the kids’ club for fun and craft-based activities.

It worked perfectly, as she’d have hated the amazing dinner that the guest chef, the Michelin-starred Kenichi Arimura, created. He visits regularly from his restaurant Ryokan Hasenberg in Widen, conjuring up melting sushi.

As Switzerland is so stomach-clenchingly expensive, I actually thought that four outstanding sushi courses for 135 Swiss francs a head (approx £90) wasn’t unreasonable.

The Tschuggen hotel has two architectural aces. The spa, designed by Mario Botta, a four-level extravaganza built into the mountainside; all duck-white granite, pale maple and glass.

Then there’s the Tschuggen Express, a 12-leather-seater, futuristic pod-like cable car that takes hotel guests via rollercoaster- style track straight up into the slopes.

Unbelievably cool, this prototype means there is no waiting for buses or hotel shuttles, as skiers and nonskiers can zoom straight up the mountain in style.

We zoomed down the mountain on our last night on sledges from the outstanding little restaurant, Pratschli Stall, a ten-minute drive from the hotel. This Swiss chalet six-table restaurant is a gem, with an equally tiny menu of the frothiest fondue, chewy raclette and endive salad.

Coming down afterwards on a sledge was the highlight for Daisy, while my mother and I we were shrieking, helpless, with terrified laughter.

I could really get into this no-skiing skiing holiday lark.

We took a horse- drawn sleigh ride which appealed to my inner Zhivago. Listening to the tinkle of horse bells, clipclopping along the woodland tracks as we lay under fur throws, was timeless and romantic.

I hope that Daisy becomes a keen skier, so I can accompany her annually to unfashionable Arosa and perfect the art of apres non-ski.

Oh, and the tooth fairy left two Swiss Francs . . .

Travel facts

A deluxe double at Tschuggen Grand Hotel starts at £355 for two on a bed & breakfast basis, including free use of the spa and Tschuggen Express (+41 (0)81 378 99 99, tschuggen.ch).

The ski lessons were with SSSA Swiss Ski and Snowboard School Arosa. Two-hour private lessons can be booked through the concierge, starting at £100.

Airline Swiss flies to Zurich from £140 per person (0845 601 0956, swiss.com). Train from Zurich Airport to Arosa costs from £60 return per person (sbb.ch). For information, contact myswitzerland.com