I am taking a few days at the spa Forest Mere for some R &R. My connection with Forest Mere goes back many years. In the sixties when my father was cash-strapped after purchasing his first home aged 41 he agreed that my mother should have a break in Forest Mere then called a health farm. My mother met the late George Weidenfeld there and a group of them sneaked off for champagne and sea food at the pub. My father and brother visited and the latter with his customary wit when playing a round of putting with our father said “a carrot for the first nine, a carrot for the second, a carrot for the game”. In those times it was very much about dieting.
I went for the first time with a contributor of National Rust in 1981. I was on holiday in Marbella and joined him a day late. His immediate impressions to me were that he was “absolutely starving” and described the miniscule portions of food. I returned every year, normally the first week in September then, as so often happens in life, once you miss one year you stop going. Then a couple of years back I returned for a Joanne Hall active walking course. The place, now owned by Champneys, had changed beyond recognition. It was now far more a well-being spa with much improved facilities. There was no longer strict dieting, you could even have a glass or two of wine. The old esprit de corps of a group of diverse visitors, one once included the ultra-thin Lorraine Chase, thrown together in boot camp conditions had gone and I missed that.
After a drive through West Sussex when I could only marvel at the lush beauty of the countryside I arrived in the late morning. My room was comfortable and my massages and treatments scheduled for the next four days. I had the buffet lunch which was deliciously cooked. I was frustrated that the wifi connectivity was random but that could have been the weather. Besides we should all be able to manage a couple of days without internet. Rightly mobile phone calling is prohibited in the public places. I am staying in the old part of the house, once owned by Ken Wood of mixer fame, which has a lovely view over the lake, one of the features of the place, but the grounds were covered by snow.
Dinner of mushroom soup, rump of lamb and artesian cheese board was again fit for Daffers who is joining me for a day. I eschewed even a glass of wine. The cuisine was eclectic with choices of fish, meat and veggie option and as with lunch I felt I was both eating well and healthily. Gradually the random connectivity of Internet did not matter and I believe I will enjoy the treatments, facilities, food and above all feeling of well being over the next few days.