Zumba time……..let’s shimmy!

So the decision has been made, if I want to eat cake I HAVE to exercise, lots! I’ve never been a huge fan of the gym but am hugely aware of the importance of exercise, especially if this is what’s going to enable me to indulge my passion and go for afternoon tea (fairly) regularly. I recently attended a conference where the guest speaker was the fabulous Paul McGee otherwise known as ‘The Sumo Guy’ http://www.thesumoguy.com/ in the words of the man himself SUMO is all about ‘dealing with change, building better relationships, developing a resilient attitude to life, maintaining morale and motivation, dealing with stress, inspiring confidence, releasing potential, building character, creating possibilities… these and many other positive results are at the heart of SUMO – Mastering Challenges… Skills for Life!’

Shut up and move on!

After a brilliant motivational talk from Paul we were divided into groups and sent into different workshops, a slight twinge of fear passed around the room as we all realised we had purposley been seperated from our colleagues, eek! The workshops were titled 1, 2, and 3 and we didn’t have a clue what to expect from any of them until we opened the door and by then there was no turning back. The first workshop I went into was a ‘Zumba class’ I’d wanted to try Zumba for a while and was so chuffed when I realise we’d be spending the next 40 minutes doing just that. Zumba is a Latin inspired dance-fitness workout, first created by Columbian fitness instructor Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez  during the mid 90’s in what he describes as a ‘happy accident’. After dashing to teach his usual aerobics class he realised he’d forgotten his traditional aerobics music. He improvised using his own mix of music from tapes he had in his backpack (traditional salsa and merengue music he grew up with). Spontaneously he created a new kind of dance-fitness, one that focused on letting the music move you (instead of counting reps over the music). His class apparently loved it so on that day, a revolutionary new fitness concept was born – the Zumba® Fitness-Party, which now it would seem is taking over the world! The first routine we did was Jai Ho by the Pussy Cat Dolls, I loved every minute of it! I knew right away this was something I could easily get into, it was hard work but so much fun, it was time to get my shimmy on! http://www.zumba.com/

 
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I want to be thin but I want to eat cake!

Two of my favourite things in the world are 1. Stepping onto the scale and seeing I’ve lost weight and 2. Going for afternoon tea at lovely places with my friends. Here clearly lies the problem in my unfortunately non shrinking waist band.  Now, I could declare this a problem I simply can not solve and decide I must just accept the fact that I’m destined to be forever ‘curvy’ – as the panel on Loose Women would rather patronisingly call me – or I could pull my finger out and do something about it. I want to be slimmer, yes, I want to eat cake, most definitely, so the hard work must begin!
 
Of course I need a starting point, where better than an afternoon tea with friends to sit, eat cream scones and discuss just how successful we plan on being, once we get started on our fitness regimes. Determined this isn’t our ‘Last Supper’ and we’ll once again enjoying the delights of crustless cucumber sandwiches and delicate macaroons a plan of action is needed. Our meeting place is agreed as ‘Crewe Hall’ we decide  instead of sitting and planning our exercise regime we’ll actually get stuck in and exercise before and – gasp – after our treat.

You rang m'lady

Arriving at Crewe Hall made me feel like I was on the set of a slightly scaled down ‘Downton Abbey’, the drive up drew gasps of, ‘Oooh isn’t it lovely’ and ‘Ahhh can you imagine what it was like to live here’ the Grade I listed Jacobian mansion built in 1615-36 certainly is impressive so it was with slight disappointment we followed the signs to the spa and fitness centre realising they were in a very modern new build behind the original house. After a five minute wait whilst the receptionist attempted to sell a health club membership very loudly over the phone, we were given instructions as to where the changing rooms were and told ‘the robes and slippers are on the way, as soon as they arrive we’ll bring them into you’. Robeless and slipperless we headed to the gym, or as Crewe Hall like to describe it, ‘the fitness suite’ this was a great space for working out, super high-tech equipment and a great key fob style system which logged each individual members progress, weight, goals set and achieved etc. After an hour of working out we headed back to reception in order to obtain our robes and slippers, unfortunately they were ‘still on their way’ but, we could ‘each have a towel’, hmmmmm, unperturbed and ready to relax we headed into the spa, more accurately described as ‘a quite chilly pool with a bath sized jacuzzi’. As the jacuzzi was full (four women was maximum capacity) we swam lengths and eyed the jacuzzi bathing ladies jealously whilst waiting desperately for the first signs of movement. Once we detected they were suitably wrinkled and on the verge of heading for the changing rooms the cry of ‘Go, go, go’ rang out and we made a dash for it. We beat another two spa goers into the jacuzzi by seconds, it’s dog eat dog in the world of bath sized jacuzzi’s don’t you know. After some chatting and relaxing we decided it was only fair to let the other pool goers (who were by now stalking the jacuzzi like lionesses on the hunt) take their turn and headed for the changing rooms to get ready for our much-anticipated afternoon tea.
Can looks be deceiving?

Returning to the main building and entering the reception is most definitely breathtaking, you can’t help but imagine what life must have been like when Crewe Hall was lived in by Sir Randolph Crewe, it truly is spectacular. We entered the Sheridan Lounge, once the dining room of Lord Crewe to realise the was no record of our booking, eek! Luckily this didn’t cause a panic and we were seated immediately. Menus of various teas and coffees were given out and promptly delivered to our table. The service was swift, polite and efficient. The afternoon tea arrived nicely presented on a traditional three-tier stand and looked delicious. We were however a little disappointed with the sandwiches, some were dry and lacking in flavour as though they had possibly been uncovered for some time. There were five triangles per person with fillings such as smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise and roast chicken. The scones were delicious, one fruit, one plain per person with an individual pot of raspberry jam each with a yummy dollop of clotted cream to share. The third and final tier offered a banoffee tart, sweet, light and gorgeous (I am secretly addicted to banoffe pie, so this would always get the thumbs up from me) a super sticky chocolate brownie and a zesty palate cleansing lemon pot. All in all a suitably satisfying treat.

Wow!

One great thing about Crewe Hall is that you are able to stroll around inside quite freely. We stumbled upon an amazing little chapel, probably only large enough for 30 people it would be an amazing place to get married. Strewn around the landings in the hall are photo albums from recent weddings, great if you’re nosy like me. After a browse through the photographs it was time to head home and prepare for the evenings efforts of burning off the banoffee tarts, Zumba time!

Scones and scales scores

Ambiance – 7 out of 10 – a pleasant room, light and airy but could have been made better by playing some background music.

Sandwiches 6 out of 10 – a nice mixture of fillings but some of the bread didn’t taste very fresh and there were the tell-tale signs of bits of crusts as they hadn’t been properly chopped off.

Scones – 8 out of 10 – delicious, light, moist and two per person, one fruit, one plain, a big thumbs up for the raspberry jam and clotted cream accompaniments too.

Cakes – 7.5 out of 10 – quite a quirky selection especially the inclusion of a banoffee tart, something I’ve never had in an afternoon tea but a very welcome addition.

Service – 8 out of 10 – efficient, prompt but didn’t offer advice/information on the different teas on offer or provide any information regarding the cakes.

Value for money 7 out of 10 – The sandwiches could have been fresher and perhaps an additional cake each would have upped the score here.

Final Score – 43.5 out of 60 A lovely place to visit, impressive setting and efficient service. Afternoon tea is priced at £15 a head, I think £12 would have been a more appropriate price. A few tweeks here and there would move Crewe Hall from a ‘nice’ to a ‘Wow!

Links: http://www.qhotels.co.uk/hotels/crewe-hall-crewe-cheshire.aspx

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