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Walking Over Haddon in The Peak District

I confess I'm a fair weather walker, which means I often want to walk on our holidays, but whether we go is always dependent on the weather. I have a Goretex jacket but it's like a talisman. I own it, but I don't want to wear it and I hope vainly that just by having spent so much on it an schlepping it with me that it's going to ward off the rain! As you can see my travel planning involves a good deal of "magical thinking!" In California our cultural exuberance (paired with low standards) means we shamelessly call anything a "hike"  - as if we've scaled Everest in an afternoon. Here in England I'm not sure I even qualify as a "walker" because that denotes a level of seriousness I've failed at previously. Minimally it means you're wearing boots  and have an Ordnance Survey map (and possibly a compass) in your back pocket. I guess I'm more of stroller to be honest and I've blogged about my strolls all over the world; m…

Carmel Valley Ranch

To celebrate D's birthday and to escape the renovations we headed down to Carmel Valley Ranch for a couple of days. It was a lovely break and the weather was warm enough to lie by the pool on our final day. Normally we drive down via Monterey but as we were staying in the valley we took the road over from Salinas, the agricultural scenery was lovely and the views as you come down the hill were lovely.

The Carmel Valley Lodge is recently renovated by the Joie de Vivre group who are now managing Ventana, among a host of other California hotels they own. They have brought a stylish, service orientated, contemporary vibe to the property. Overall we enjoyed our stay. They generously put out chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of sparkly for the birthday, so kudos for that! There is an additional pool and a host of activities, facilities and classes at the members club at the bottom of the hill. With 500 acres the place is spread out and we liked the short walk to and from the main building which houses the lobby, spa, pool and restaurant.

I loved the infinity edged hot soaking pool with lovely valley views

The rooms are very large (they're all suites) the decor is recently redone. I thought it was a rather generic contemporary look but it was pleasant enough. I like the large porch with comfortable seating and the bathroom had a separate shower and bath which is always nice.

There is lots going on here and we loved the complimentary "Bee Experience" which they offer twice a week, a post and picture to follow. Walking around the property you will see deer grazing on the adjacent fairways and a flock of wild turkeys strutting around.

The restaurant was fine though not particularly memorable. A couple we chatted to briefly sent us a bottle of wine, something that has never happened to us but was quite charming! There are smores every night,  a combination of chocolate, biscuits and marshmallows which you roast at the fire pit next to the pool . They are extremely dog friendly and there's a very relaxed atmosphere throughout. I highly recommend the property if you're traveling with your dog. They even brought us bacon for the dogster at breakfast!

Worth knowing...
It's worth booking through Perfect Escapes which will secure you breakfast, an upgrade and early checkin, late check out. We combined these additional amenities with a three nights for the price of two deal, without this it would have been too expensive.
The dog fee is $50 but this is for the entire stay.
Though the Spa, with  comfortable changing rooms, is right next to the pool you have to change in a single restroom unless you are having a treatment or want to pay an additional fee.
The hotel is about fifteen minutes from Carmel and though you have to drive to the beach there's more sunshine in the valley.