North East Spas : The Garage

Late last week I got an email which contained ‘Spa Visit’ in the subject line – I didn’t need much convincing to take up this opportunity and after jumping off the Wearmouth Bridge the other week, I decided I deserved a bit of pampering! So I quickly checked my Mum’s schedule so she could play David Bailey for the day and got us booked in.

The Garage Spa is based at The Morritt Arms hotel, Greta Bridge in between Barnard Castle and Darlington and I’d heard lots of good things about it from the internet and a few friends who had visited. Greta Bridge has been a popular stopover spot for centuries, immortalised by Charles Dickens in the 1800’s in his novel The Life And Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. Travellers heading from London to Scotland would often stop at Greta in local inns while the horses that pulled the coach rested. When the car was invented, a garage was built to service vehicles that passed and hence the name of the spa. It’s only a fifteen minute drive from where I grew up and I remember passing it on long car journeys home when I was young. My Dad would tell stories of the dances he’d been to there and how he offered to take my Mum but she refused to go!

When Mum and I arrived we were provided with fluffy robes, flip flops (I always prefer to use my own though) and given a quick tour of the spa facilities before been left to get on with it and enjoy our time. We were advised to start outside and then head in, so we headed out to the outdoor area to warm up in the tin hot tub. My Mom lives in the countryside but for us city folk been out in the fresh air is a welcome blessing. I headed into the Shepherd’s Hut Log Sauna which is possibly the hottest and best sauna I’ve ever used. After fifteen minutes, I headed back out for a refreshing shower and to relax by the outdoor fire with OK & Hello magazine.

garage spa hot tub

Unlimited iced tea and cucumber water kept us hydrated and we headed back indoors to try out the hydrotherapy tub, hot bath tub and the not so pleasant but apparently good for you health plunge pool. My Mum obviously made me test this one out first. I was rather dubious about the salt room which apparently is good for your respiratory system – after twenty minutes of sitting feeling frustrated because I couldn’t see or feel anything happening when I headed back out, I did notice a massive difference. I felt cleaner and the sniffles I had, had gone. Our treatments had been booked in for 2pm so we headed to the steam room to relax our muscles before getting a shower and heading upstairs.

garage spa plunge pool

I had opted for the Candle Comfort Massage whilst my Mom was taken to her own treatment room for a facial. Admittedly there was a bit of confusion as I had requested a female therapist but ended up with the spa’s male therapist. A special massage candle was drizzled over me which formed a really warm massage oil and I have to say, my skin has never felt so soft after.

garage spa afternoon tea

After our treatments we were really hungry and we decided to treat ourselves to The Garage’s Afternoon Tea. Being naughty we opted for Yorkshire tea rather than herbal and devoured the finger sandwiches and cakes before heading back to my parents home.

I really enjoyed my afternoon at The Garage and would definitely go back. It’s one of the most well designed and creative spa’s I’ve ever been to and to top it off they’ve just launched there special summer offers which make it a bit more of an affordable luxury. For just £99 you can get beach ready with full use of the spa’s facilities, an essential pedicure in their paint shop, a 25 minute Hammam treatment and a 2-course lunch.

For more details on The Garage or to book a visit visit their website.

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Last week I was lucky enough to receive an invite to the exclusive preview for Tim Walker’s new exhibition, Dreamscapes at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle. When the invite arrived, I don’t think I’ve ever rsvp’d to something as quickly in all my life. Tim Walker’s last exhibition, Storyteller was held at Somerset House and I unfortunately never made it down to London because of my Dad having his strokes.

So I decided it would be a lovely treat for an evening out with my Mom. She’s not really an arty person and was a bit anxious about attending but I just wanted to get her out the house. On arrival we grabbed a glass of wine and tucked into some delicious canapes while we waited for the opening speeches.

After a great speech by the curator Greville Worthington and a few more nibbles, we were finally allowed to head downstairs to the Dreamscapes gallery. Instead of sharing images I took on the evening, I decided to share three of my favourite shots from the exhibition itself on here. However these three photos do not do the exhibition any justice, it is an absolute must-see.

My Mom who really had no idea what to expect absolutely loved it! We even walked back around a second time so she could soak it all up.

For the first time ever Tim Walker’s photography is displayed in light boxes – which gives each image a whole new quality and sense of life! Upon wandering around we spotted something in Tim’s self-portrait in the bed photo. Something what looked like a camera was hiding behind his water bottle, at which point the man himself appeared just near us and I had to ask… was it deliberate or a happy accident? He was one of the nicest men I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and he hadn’t even realised that his photographic equipment had been left in the shot! A few of you may have seen on my instagram, he signed my postcards for me too!

The images featured were all inspired and some taken in the North East – for anyone who lives in the region, this is an absolute must-see. The exhibition is open now until September 1st at The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle. Check out their website for up to date opening hours & if you go, do let me know what you think in the comments below!

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