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Ramblings of a lady with a hot tub

The ramblings of my quest to find fun and luxurious ways to spend precious leisure time. The emphasis is likely to be on hot tubs and related products, but hey, they're pretty fun and luxurious, so why not :)

The King Jason Hotel, Paphos - Our family holiday

Lisa Ruggles - Saturday, November 08, 2014

Finding a relaxing, family holiday destination can be a matter of pot luck.  Researching can reduce the element of unknown, but you never quite know if it is going to suit you until you get there.  For that reason, I thought I would share with you a little about the holiday we have recently returned from.

Entertainment on the plane

It is not the first time we have been to The King Jason hotel in Cyprus.  We went during October half term last year too.  We're far from the only return visitors.  Most of the people you chat to around the pool have been at least once before.  2014 is it's 20th year of being open.  Some people have clocked up over 60 visits over that time.  Quite impressive hey!

Weclome food and drink at King Jason

What makes people return year after year?  The welcome food and drink?  I think in the case of The King Jason, it is the people.  Andreas has been managing the hotel for all of it's 20 years and there isn't one day of the week where he doesn't pop in.  Most of his senior staff have been working in the hotel since it's formation too - and they do not forget a face or room number!

Dining roomeating cake

The King Jason is ideal if you want a relaxing, sunny holiday where you can spend quality time as a family.  There isn't a kids club or entertainment - but it is a welcome change.  The staff love children which makes meal times much easier.  There are so many different dishes to choose from and there is always something to suit fussy eaters.

paddling poolboat in paddling pool

The toddlers pool is brilliant for little ones.  In fact, it's where I spent most of my holiday.  It's a little chilly to get into, but the little ones don't seem to mind.  There are 4 other pools.  The main pool is close to the toddler pool.  There is a hydrotherapy pool with exercise machines, hydrotherapy loungers and a large area to swim.  

by the pool

An inside pool and the new addition this year was the adults only elegance pool - as you can imagine, I didn't get to use it.  There are plenty of sunbeds around all of the pools.
 Below is a picture of the adults lounge area that leads onto the pool - relaxing haven!

adults haven

The temperature in late October is perfect for little ones.  It stayed at around 25c on the sunny days.  We unfortunately had a fair amount of rain this year - but it had been a very hot and dry summer, so the locals were very glad to see it.  The sun sets quite early in Cyprus.  We like to walk into town at around 4pm to watch the sun set over the harbour.  

Kato Paphos (where the harbour is) is very pretty, with lots of places to eat and drink.  You can take boat trips from the harbour too.  A few years back we brought the girls to Paphos in August.  We went on a day boat trip - WOW was that hot!



shark boat

Cyprus is a country with a long history.  We decided to take a day away from the pool and visit some of the historical places.  Our day trip took us to Aphrodite's rock, 

Aphrodite's rock

Kolossi Castle, 

Kolossi CastleKolossi Castle

Erimi Wine Museum, Curium Amphitheatre, 


lunch in a tiny little tavern only accessible by foot, 

Cypriot lunch

a coffee shop located down a tiny lane and a beautiful little village called Omodos.  We were able to taste and see the traditional Cypriot life.  I wasn't sure if taking a 2 & 14 year old on a trip would be such a great idea, but they both loved it.  

On the afternoon the rain wouldn't let up, we decided to take a walk to the new shopping centre, 5 minutes walk from the hotel.  It was very much like any other shopping centre in the world with a KFC, Costa Coffee, Cafe Nero, TGI Friday etc.  The cinema was showing films in Greek and English - although I didn't feel the need to go to the cinema on holiday - but Little J loved McQueen!

Shopping with McQueen

The King Jason is ever changing.  Andreas spoke about a new gym, a spa, the main pool is going to be changed and a pool bar installed over the winter months.  I do worry that it is turning into an adults only destination, but after speaking to Maria, I feel more assured that when we return next October, we will still all be welcome.  Family time is so precious, knowing we will be going to a place where we can maximise the time we have together, is so important to me.

Family time

We booked all-inclusive through First Choice.  A lot of people book directly with the hotel.  We are going to look at both ways for next year - although I do like the hassle free package holiday.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Trust - so hard to earn, so easy to break

Lisa Ruggles - Friday, November 07, 2014

My word for this week is TRUST!  It is a short word for the strength of it's meaning.  Trust is very hard to earn, yet so easy to break beyond repair.  Every moment of every day we have to use trust.  Right now I'm sat on a chair which I'm trusting to hold my weight and not collapse in a heap and leave me hurt and embarrassed.  


I've had quite a difficult week where the personal trust I've place has been broken.  I've been left emotionally hurt and embarrassed.  As a positive person, I've tried to use my disappointment to re-evaluate how, as a company, we can seem more trustworthy to our customers - I believe there is a valuable lesson in every situation.

For a while, I've been looking at how our company must appear to the outside world.  We have a small showroom on an industrial estate in Gloucester.  We only open the showroom 3 days a week, our website doesn't have many testimonials from customers on it.  All things which may put people off stepping inside and seeing what we have to offer.  A large percentage of our customers come to us from word of mouth.  It always warms my heart when a potential customers tells us we have been highly recommended.  It makes all the long hours worth it.  These words are rarely put in writing for us to present to you.

If you haven't read this history of Ruggles Leisure, it might answer some of your potential questions if you do.  One thing is for sure, we are extremely passionate about our little hot tub company.  It is like our 6th child.  We hope when you talk to us, ask questions and hear our tips and suggestions, you will feel you can put your trust in us.  We will not lie or mislead.

We're lucky to be able to address any problems quickly and are very approachable. Sometimes mistakes are made - we're human - we will do everything in our power to put them right.  We're lucky, we have not ever had a situation where a customer has felt we have abused their trust and I hope no-one every does.

We are going to be working on improving our outward appearance to potential customers.  We are on the search for a more prominent showroom.  We hope to be able to open more days next year and we are trying to capture more of the wonderful words our customers say about us, so we can share them with you.  We are also looking at ways to improve and increase our packages and services.  We want to do things right, so please bare with us as we make the changes.

We'd love to hear your suggestions.  Whether that be on services, products or what makes you trust a company.  We're always learning and would love to hear your tips.

The Reading Residence

Could a red wine hot tub be good for your health?

Lisa Ruggles - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

As someone who has been known to enjoy a glass of wine in the hot tub, discovering any way in which it might be beneficial for my health and therefore reduce my guilt, is something I am keen to read.  There are many articles of research out there to make me think a glass of wine isn't going to kill me.  I had also recently discovered a picture of people bathing in what looked like a pool of red wine.  

I passed it off as a funny picture and didn't think any more of it....

.....until I saw this

Amar’e Stoudemire in red wine hot tub

OK you can be forgiven if you don't know who he is.  It is Amar'e Stoudemire, NBA Knicks player.  He has been playing basketball professionally for 13 years and for the last few years, has been suffering from injuries.  For the last 6-8 months he has been soaking in a hot tub full of red wine for 30-40 minutes a day to aid his recovery.  

The Vinotherapy (yes I thought it was a made up word too) isn't a new therapy.  It is believed Queen Cleopatra enjoyed bathing in red wine.  It is said to aid recovery and boost circulation by using grape seeds, skin and stems to heal and rejuvenate the body.  

Amar'e is very pleased with the results. “It’s a rejuvenation and it’s not 100% red wine. It’s water and wine combined, but majority red wine,” 

“The red wine bath is very important to me because it allows me to, it creates more circulation in my red blood cells. Plus, it’s very hot, so it’s like a hot tub. “But it’s also the red wine just kind of soothes the body, which follows up with a 90-minute massage and then also you have the ancient tub, so you have like a salt tub and a hot tub and a cold plunge and a pool and you just kind of mix it all up.”

Now I'm not saying you should empty your hot tub of water and fill it with red wine.  I wonder how much the red wine aids the recovery.  Relaxing in hot water with massaging jets alone can aid muscle recovery dramatically.  Believe me, I'm testament to it!

"There's a lot of strategy involved in using baths of varying temperatures in the sporting arena, and generally, the temperature of the bath is more important than what's (meaning red wine or water) in it," said exercise physiologist Associate Professor Corinne Caillaud.  

Anyway, back to my first picture....

It is a picture of an actual health spa in Japan.  At the Yunessan Spa, you can bathe in green tea, coffee, wine or sake.  The big bottle in the picture above, tops up the hot tub with more wine and if you're wondering if you drink from the pool as well - there is no need.  A waiter will happily pour you a fresh glass of the same Beaujolais Nouveau you are bathing in.

red wine hot tub

I must go.

If you have ever bathed in a hot tub of red wine or know someone who has, I'd love to hear what you thought.

Safari MK Soft Play Centre in Milton Keynes

Lisa Ruggles - Saturday, October 18, 2014

Unfortunately my weekly rambling on places to go with a toddler is not outside this week, so will not link up with #CountryKids.  However, I thought the new soft play centre, Safari MK was so good, I had to share to with you.

Safari MK opened it's doors on Monday 13th October.  With a bright new website and clear instructions on how to get there, I set off (rather sleep deprived) yesterday morning to see what it was like.

The car park out of the front was completely full, many helpful mummies had abandoned their cars - probably because they were not aware of the larger car park to the rear of the centre.  I was guilty of not knowing where the larger car park was, but I found another disused car park across the road to safely park my car.  

The queue to pay was stretched out of the door.  This was only due to the need to register your children before entering for the first time.  There is now the ability to register your children on Safari MK website before getting there - it will make the process much quicker. I have to say, I was impressed to see one of the owners, with his laptop, helping to ease the queue by registering people too.  We did arrive at the busiest time (10:30am). By 11:30 the only queue was to the cafe.

safari MK

I couldn't help but be impressed by the layout and careful consideration which has obviously gone in to planning the soft play centre out.  There are plenty of tables and chairs.  Clearly defined and labeled play areas.  Clean, easily accessible toilets.  Gates on the entrance and exit to keep little wanderers enclosed.  The cafe is laid out in a u-shape to stop the queues from blocking the pathways.  Everything felt safe and secure.

Bikes and football

I can honestly say our 3.5 hour long visit could have quite easily been extended to an all day visit.  There was so much to see and do.  An area for buggy type things.  Above that a netted football area.  Several taller slides.  Lots of soft areas to climb up, through and on.  A toddler area with a smaller slide.  The ball pit has two suction tubes that carry the balls into a bucket that releases the balls back into the ball pit periodically, causing giggles from everyone who happens to be underneath at the time.


Then there are the imagination rooms.  A set of 5 rooms, each with a different theme.  The first one was blocked off.  I poke my head around and noticed 2 large TV's with games consoles.  I think it might be a hit with the older children.  The next was a craft room.  My OCD kicked in.  The pens were all left on the floor without their lids.  I cannot understand how a parent can allow their child to not clear up.  I felt quite upset by it.  It could quite easily spoil it for the more careful children, as I can't see Safari MK replacing the pens every week!  Little J enjoyed using the stencils and non-destroyed pens.

drawing room

The next room down is construction site.  Foam bricks and boulders can be stacked to make walls, towers and anything else the child imagines.  A tool bench, tools, hi-vis jackets and safety helmets, all help the children to pretend they're on a building site.

construction area

The vet's practice was a big hit with Dr J.  He loved giving the giraffe medicine and taking the tigers blood pressure.


I do think the shop was where little J and his friends spent most of their time.  Taking it in turns to be the shop-keeper.  It was lovely to watch them loading the trolleys up and exchanging play money.


The food and drink from the cafe is not only reasonably priced, but you have delicious healthy options to chose from too.  Little J had humous, carrots and cucumber for £2.75 and the chunky chips (cooked well too) were £1.75.

healthy food

One thing I noticed was the friendly staff.  Many of the children's centres or supposedly child friendly cafe's manage to employ staff that are unable to smile.  This is not the case with Safari MK, everyone was pleasant and helpful - a breath of fresh air to me.

With the promise of activity classes starting after half term, I know we will be back soon.  I hope Safari MK doesn't loose heart from some of the abuse the toys and items get from unsupervised children - it is a lovely place to go and very good value.  

Well done Safari MK.

Please feel free to let me know what you think to it too.

Oh and I was not paid by Safari MK to write this.  They don't even know I have :)

Conker Caterpillars for #CountryKids

Lisa Ruggles - Saturday, October 04, 2014

I'm sure if you have a little one, you already been on an outing to collect conkers.  Conker collecting is so much fun.  Little ones love to pop conkers out of their shells and see how many different sizes and shapes of conkers they can find.

Conker collecting

I am always at a loss as to what to do with the bag full of conkers.  That was until I saw a pin on Pinterest from Coombe Mill.  Little J and I had to give conker caterpillars a go.

Things you will need:

~ A bag full of different sized conkers
~ Pipe cleaner
~ Googly eyes
~ A marker pen
~ A drill

Begin by sorting your conkers out into sizes.

Choose different size conkers

Then with your drill, drill a hole through the conker - now if I can manage this without drilling through my hand, anyone can.  But please take care.  You could always rest the conker on a board to drill the hole.

Now it's time to test your little one's fine motor skills - thread the conkers.  You will need to tie a knot or make a ball at the end of the pipe cleaner to stop the conker from falling straight off the other end.

Thread the conkers

Leave a length of pipe cleaner at the end to make some antennae (and to stop the conkers falling off).  I doubled one antennae over and bent the other one up to make the V shape.

Conker caterpillar

Then it's time to add the googly eyes and mouth with a marker pen.

Conker family

Our conker family

Our conker caterpillar family

Please let us know how you get on :)

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

A day out at Bekonscot with #CountryKids

Lisa Ruggles - Saturday, September 27, 2014

If you have been considering a day out to Bekonscot Model Village in Beaconsfield, I would urge you to go.  We had a fabulous day.  I had been a little worried the village would be a little too precious for Little J, but I couldn't have been more wrong - believe me, this theory was tested the moment he saw the gates on the zoo!

The zoo at Bekonscot

We could have stayed for hours in the same spot and still missed the attention to detail on the buildings, modes of transport and people.  

Bekonscot Station

And the model trains.... well they were brilliant.  Little J and his friends loved following them to the stations, only to be distracted by another train going in the other direction.  

Watching the trains watching the trains  watching the trains

I can honestly say Little J and his two friends loved the trains.  They were completely mesmerised! Another thing that caught Little J's attention was the Firemen!

Fire Fire

And when the house started smoking, he erupted in the loudest "Neh Nah" I have ever heard!

RAF BaseI can't quite remember the name of the RAF base, Henton I think.  The terminal building reminded me of some of the art deco buildings on the airfield at Goodwood.  It is so lovely that history is being remembered - even if it is in miniature format.


Little J stood and watched the acts at the circus for quite some time.  This is one of the newest models, only added in 2012 after being donated by the Duke of Gloucester. 

Bekonscot is very practical for children.  We were allowed to buy a family ticket, which saved us a few pounds.  There are shelters and picnic areas suitable for all weathers.  The cafe serves fresh, reasonably priced food.  I was surprised at the checkout to only part with £4.55 for a sandwich, cup of tea and bag of pom bears!  There are many little touches, such as dustpans and brushes to encourage you to clear up after yourself.

The play area was a big hit with Little J - especially the pirate ship!

Play area

Play area Somehow I didn't get a picture of him on the pirate ship, but I hope you can see just how clean and well maintained everything was.

To tempt the children away from the play area, we went on the train ride.

Train ride

The train ride cost £1 per person (under 2's are free).  Well worth it.

The children adored the tunnels and scenery.  There were some rather loud train noises too!

All in all I felt Bekonscot was a good value day out.  The children loved it, they were safe and everything was clean and tidy.  Little J is desperate to go back.  I'm sure we will when it re-opens during the week again in the Spring.  It's only open weekends from the beginning of November.  For somewhere that has been open since 1929, it is amazing.  


Thank you Bekonscot for a fabulous day out!  

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Venus Awards Influential Woman of the Year Finalist

Lisa Ruggles - Friday, September 26, 2014

Venus Influential Woman FinalistYes you read it right.  I, Lisa Ruggles have been chosen to be a finalist in the Venus Awards Influential Business Woman of the Year category.  It's utterly unbelievable to me.  Lisa Ruggles, who was told by several teachers at school, she would live in a council house on benefits for the rest of her life, has been selected by the fabulous panel at Venus Awards, to be a finalist in the Influential Business Woman of the Year!  It makes me well up writing it.

There is a saying. "Behind every good man there is a good woman".  The opposite is true in my case.

Before the finalists were announced, at the sleek Henmans Freeth headquarters in Oxford yesterday, Tara and the Venus team had organised a selection of development workshops.  They were all brilliant; however, one of the talks struck a chord with me.  Alec Hodson, (I later discovered he owns Complete Childcare Limited) came to tell his story of how he battled against the odds to break free from corporate life to fulfil his dreams.  OK I've got several t-shirts with "I've survived against the odds" in my wardrobe, but that wasn't what got me thinking the most.  

Alec gave everyone a strip of paper.  On one side we drew a series of red stripes, representing our personal life.  On the other side, we drew a series of green stripes, representing our work life.  Then, in Kyrpton Factor style, we had to put a twist in the paper and join the two ends together with glue - harder than you think.  

The result - Moebius Band.

Moebius Band

The Moebius band has only one surface and one edge.  If an ant was to crawl along the edge, it would never stop.  If you don't believe me, give it a go.  So what is so ground breaking about this mathematical shape?  If we go back to colouring the sides to represent home and work life - now they are twisted into the Moebius - they are now one.  When you work for yourself, there is no distinction between home and work life - it is one.  Every thing I do, whether it be selling a hot tub or cooking the children's dinner, I'm always thinking about the other.  Ruggles Leisure is like another child.  I can't stop thinking or worrying about it!  It's 9pm on Friday night and I'm writing this - there is no distinction between work and home life.  

This is very different when you are an employee and something I often forget.  An employee has a distinct "red" and "green" side.  The Moebius band will always serve me a reminder.  

The shape also reminded me of my relationship with Keith.  We compliment each other, understand each other and together could make a mountain move.  We are very lucky to be able to work together.  We are a Moebius band - an infinity shape!

Life is a continual journey of discovery and learning.  I met some wonderful women yesterday.  The four other finalist ladies in the Influential Woman category are all amazingly strong, talented business women, who all deserve recognition for their dedication and service.  But let's be honest, we are women.  We don't ever do anything with the expectation of a thank you - this has shocked us all.

I want to say thank you to Tara Howard and her team at Venus Awards for standing up and saying "Women, you deserve recognition!"

I cannot wait to get dressed up for the final on 14th November 2014.  I know it will be an amazing and inspirational evening.  

I will keep you posted.....

Hot Tub Britain be careful

Lisa Ruggles - Saturday, September 20, 2014

I took a call earlier in the week from a gentleman who had taken delivery of his brand new hot tub, yet didn't know how to use it or keep the water clean.  I find it completely shocking and worrying.  Hot tubs are wonderful.  Used safely and correctly, it will provide the owner with multitudes of benefits.  Used incorrectly, it could cause death!

hot tub caught fireI'm not trying to scare you.  This is a fact.  If someone is left to install the hot tub to the electrics following a manual, it could cause fire or electrocution.  If someone isn't shown how to keep their water clean, it could lead to bacteria growing in the water.  A common bacteria in untreated hot tub water is legionella - which can and has killed people.

Our insurance will not allow us to install other makes of hot tub.  Our technicians are trained to install Jacuzzi hot tubs, Olympic Spas and Sapphire Spas.  They know these hot tubs inside out and know how to spot a problem.  Manufacturers use different parts, systems and electronics.  Even though our technicians are highly trained, they would be guessing if they were to install any other hot tub make.

I would urge anyone who is thinking of buying a hot tub from a company with "curb side delivery only" to think again.  Your hot tub should be installed by the company you have brought it from.  You should be shown how to use the controls.  You should be shown how to keep your hot tub water clean and safe.  If the company you are thinking of buying your hot tub from doesn't offer these services, go somewhere else - please!

Sometimes business decisions need to be made

Lisa Ruggles - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

However much I have tried over the last year to support and promote other small businesses, I have had to make some tough business decisions.  If, for whatever reason, the products we have handpicked are not being brought by our customers, we have no option than to discontinue them.

I am a little sad.  I spent a long time researching and trying out the products to see if they would live up to my high expectations.  Maybe a Jacuzzi hot tub showroom isn't the first place you would think of to buy a towel bundle or gorgeous smelly candle, but I thought it might inspire our lovely customers.

Even though we will not be stocking the products from these businesses anymore, it doesn't mean you cannot support them.  They are all small UK businesses, most of which hand make their products in England, from English materials.  Sorry for letting you down guys :(

Beautiful Towels and WoodWick Candles from milkandhoney

Handmade homeware by Sophie Made This

Beautiful & unique wall art creations by Welsh Stitch & Print Company

Gruffalo Trail with #CountryKids

Lisa Ruggles - Saturday, September 13, 2014

All summer I have been wanting to take little J to one of the Forestry Commission sites to complete the Gruffalo trail.  Little J has been able to recite both the Gruffalo and Gruffalo's child since before his 2nd birthday, he just adores the stories.  Trying to find a few hours where both Keith and I were free was proving the stumbling block to get us there - finally we made it.

We live equal distance from Selcey Forest & Wendover Woods, yet had not visited Selcey Forest before, so off we went.

Gruffalo trail at Selcey Forest 

Little J could not believe his eyes when he spotted the little brown mouse.  "The big brown mouse, so he does exist" 

 Selcey little brown mouse

Jonathan loved spotting all the activity boards and trying to complete the tasks as we went along.


And remembering which animal would be next.


The biggest owl we have ever seen!

And little J loved checking the map to see if we were on the right track.

He was extremely disappointed when he did find the Gruffalo.  He took ages tracing his outline, but wouldn't accept that this was the Gruffalo.


To distract little J, we decided to go on a treetop adventure. 

Elephant pond

Over the elephant pond. 


Along the rickety walk ways.

view above the trees

To a magnificent view from above the tree tops.

tree top selfie

Time for a quick selfie :)

Although the Gruffalo was mightily disappointing for Little J, we had a lovely morning at Selcey Forest.  There are many different paths that definitely look worthy of exploring.  The cafe by the car park serves sandwiches, cakes etc, although there are many suitable picnic spots available.

I couldn't leave Little J disappointed though....

the gruffalo

So we went to Wendover Woods with his friends.  At last a happy Gruffalo fan.

I was thrilled last night when an email came through from the Forestry Commission saying they will be hosting the Gruffalo Child's trail from 3rd October to February 2015.  I am hoping for snow this winter.  I would love to see little J's face following the steps of the Gruffalo's child in the snow.  "Aha Ahoo tracks in the snow"  Magical!

I think we will be going to Wendover Woods for this one though.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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