Luxury For ALL The Family at The Four Seasons Hampshire

Sixteen years ago in a “previous life”, I found myself “living the dream” spending a 3 night business trip at the stunning Four Seasons Hotel on the beautiful island of Nevis in the West Indies.

Nevis

That was my first introduction to the incredible Four Seasons experience and one I’ll never forget.

Fast forward to today and I am now very fortunate to have the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire as one of my top clients! Not quite the same tropical sandy setting but equally as stunning and possibly even more beautiful, set in spectacular English countryside in a quiet village called Dogmersfield just off the M3 near Fleet.

The hotel is a majestic 300 year old Georgian Manor Estate set in 500 acres that boasts visits by both Henry VI and Henry VIII.  Providing the ultimate in luxury it is, as you would expect, a popular destination for those seeking a special few days away from the rat race.

Four Seasons General

The hotel particularly stands out for me as I have rarely found a venue of this stature that welcomes families with small children so warmly. As a parent who likes to treat myself to the finer things in life every so often, I have become very frustrated over the last 10 years trying to find pubs, restaurants and hotels that offer luxury and opulence whilst still welcoming families with open arms. The Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire has quite simply nailed it!

Allow me to introduce you to “Kids for All Seasons”.

The hotel offers this exclusive “club” for their shorter guests!  On arrival, each child receives a personal invitation to participate in the fun packed Kids For All Seasons activity schedule, the hotel’s meticulously organised children’s programme.

“It’s definitely true that happy children make happy parents, so we aim to please the whole family by keeping the children entertained with a full range of activities to suit even the most discerning little guests!” Sam Kirby, Concierge.

The Kids for All Seasons Cottage is a wonderfully vibrant play zone set in it’s own charming building in the grounds, a short stroll from the main hotel. KFAS Inside

It is complimentary and available to all little guests aged 3 to 10 years. Under 3s are also welcomed when accompanied by a parent/guardian. Over 10s have their own games room upstairs with pool table, table tennis and wii station!

It is an Aladdin’s cave for the little ones. Run by the very lovely Nicole and a team of brilliant helpers (who the children all adore) the facility offers a wealth of toys; never-ending arts and crafts as well as films and video games.

Nicole Arts and Crafts

Even the children’s toilet is totally cool!!!

Taps

We have been providing our professional team of top class face painters to the hotel for 3 years now and love every booking.   As well as enjoying working with Nicole in the cottage we have also joined the wider team for family days, Halloween Parties; Christmas and New Year celebrations and of course their annual Terry Fox Fun Run raising funds for Cancer Research.

“Fascinating Faces is always a hit with our Kids for All Seasons and the school holidays wouldn’t be the same without Claire’s team’s colourful creations”

Sam Kirby, Concierge

Last Spring they also opened a brand new equestrian centre on site that offers “own a pony days” and riding lessons for children as well as a petting zoo during peak periods. The hotel also boasts a magical outdoor playground beside the cottage with a climbing wall, a rope bridge, covered slide and swings.

Outdoor Fun

Also recently opened, is the Highwire Adventure experience – check out this awesome video.

In summary, the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is a quintessentially English Utopia for families – there is so much more on offer than what I have managed to cover today – you can read more in this lovely review by a recent guest

http://familyholidays.fourseasons.com/family-holidays-hampshire-uk/

or better still book your family in now!!

http://www.fourseasons.com/hampshire/

(February half term, the Easter break and May Bank Holiday weekends are key dates coming up on the calendar so book soon if you’d like to experience this wonderful hotel and all it has to offer.)

The next dates you can find Fascinating Faces there working our magic with our paint and glitter are Saturday 14th and Saturday 21st February from 1.30pm – 4.30pm.

Fascinating Faces

And it’s not just for little kids either … big kids can have fun too!

Friday Favourites – HOME GROWN TALENT

A couple of weeks ago I did a feature on my favourite artists from around the world.  This week I’m going to bring things closer to home and want to share with you the work of some amazing artists here in the UK.

Our little island is brimming with incredible artistic talent and here’s an insight into just a few of my favourites.

BRIERLEY THORPE  Brierley Thorpe Face and Body Art 

I first became aware of Brierley at the FACE Conference in Hertfordshire in 2011 when she won the FACE Award and the Best Kept Kit award.  I’d not had a chance to speak to her during the conference nor see her working but I quickly became much more familiar with her artistic talent.   To say her designs are instantly recognizable is an understatement!  Her strong and dynamic style stands out immediately and the vibrancy takes your breath away.

Her body painting is equally awe inspiring each one set off brilliantly with exquisite hand-made headpieces; hairpieces and jewels adorning the beautiful models.

BRIERLEY

Each design is the result of extensive research and inspiration from a profusion of sources.   Brierley explains here in her blog  how her recent design painted at the 2014 Paradise Jam came about.

You can see more of her resplendent work on her Facebook page here.

Brierley also offers training workshops in her studio in Walthamstow.

KJ (KELLY-JANE ERKIN)  KJ Entertainments

The 2011 FACE Conference also resulted in my first meeting with Kelly-Jane – known fondly to most as KJ.  I’ll never forget setting up my kit beside her for my first attempt at the Face Painter of the Year competition (and my first ever live competition) trembling with nerves.  On striking up a conversation, I was relieved to hear that she was as anxious as me and we both egged each other on to avoid bottling it all together!

KJ and her partner (in love and business) Dan run KJ Entertainments in Cambridgeshire offering everything you could need for a party from KJ’s painting to Dan’s awesome balloon modelling with a little bit of fabulous singing thrown in too!

KJ’s painting designs are quite simply the epitome of prettiness!   Her style is uncomplicated and seemingly effortless.  She has a natural ability for one stroke painting – producing such delicate work with flamboyant brush strokes.

KJ

What I love most about KJ’s work is that she is a fabulous example of an extremely talented “jobbing” face painter – someone who can turn out endless, original, rapid designs with a bit of an edge keeping impatient children and parents happy whilst still turning heads with the results.   I often look to KJ’s photos for inspiration when my creative genes are waning!

WENDY HOLROYD (The Paintertainer)

Another artist with an immediately identifiable style.  Wendy, from St Albans, has been painting since 2007.

Wendy is renowned in our industry for her beautifully delicate, lifelike butterflies.  Many an artist strives to perfect a “Wendy Butterfly” much in the same way that we aspire to emulate  a “Mark Reid tiger”!

WENDY

Her talent is magical to watch – effortless brush strokes and often unexpected colour blend choices come together to produce flawless, ethereal designs.

I’m particularly grateful to Wendy for saving me from my design nemesis – Spidey.  It is a pet hate of mine when I see beginner face painters (myself in the early days included) smother entire faces with layer upon layer of red paint followed by heavy black linework – you can see the parents shudder at the thought of removing it all at bedtime!  Wendy’s delicate interpretation of this popular boys’ request inspired me (and many others) to come up with my own version that wows the children; beats the queues and pleases the nervous parents.

WENDY 1

Thanks Wendy!

NAOMI GAYE “NAMS”  (Nam Nam’s Face Painting and Body Art)  

Bizarrely, I’ve just realized that Nams is yet another artist who I first met at what seems to be becoming a rather significant FACE Conference in 2011!!

She has won many awards during her ten year painting career including three times winner of the FACE Association” Face Painter of the Year – I managed to pinch it off her in 2012 but she stole it right back again in 2013!!!  Well deserved I hasten to add!

NAMS

Based in Brighton, Nams has been face painting for 10 years and is a fabulous all round face and body artist but is particularly known for her intricate eye designs.   She is always a massive hit at festivals and frequently shares her expertise with fellow painters touring the country offering training workshops.

A huge thank you to all of the above artists and many many more that inspire me every day.  We have so many talented people the length and breadth of the UK.

Please please please non-painty people, if you are looking for a face painter for your event please don’t compromise and pick the cheapest you can find.  There are SO many wonderful, professional artists to choose from who may not be “cheap” but you really do get what you pay for in terms of experience, quality of products; customer service and professionalism.   Fascinating Faces covers Surrey and the surrounding counties but we can always recommend people to you all over the country so please get in touch wherever you may be!  We’re always happy to help you find the best.

Notes 

FACE” The Face Painting Association was formed 20 years ago so that like-minded people could get together to share ideas and professional problems in order to improve standards and raise the profile of face painting.  You can find out more about joining or find a professional face painter local to you by visiting http://www.facepaintingassociation.com/

Credits to all the artists mentioned can be found by clicking on the pink text within the article.

Friday Favourites – BITS and BLOGS!

A little detour from all things painty and glittery this week!

I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite websites and blogs.  There are some real gems out there and I love discovering new and inspiring sites.  I’m just going to focus on four this week …. saving some others for a future Friday Favourite Special!

It goes without saying that I’m very proud of my own site www.fascinatingfaces.co.uk cleverly created by the geniuses at Bright Five in York and winner of a Bronze Award in both the 2012 and 2013 Mumpreneur UK Awards.

Fasc Face Website

I gave them a very limited budget but a free reign on the design and they nailed it (and a logo) in one go.  Their own website is having a fabulous revamp right now but you can meet the team and read their musings on their blog.  http://brightfive.com/blog

Moving on to less biased favourites …

FABULOUS FAMILIES

Last August, through the wonders of Facebook, and having been totally enraptured by a photo of the cutest bunny missing its owner,  I discovered a heart warming blog called Family Days, Tried and Tested.  Deborah and her family had found this sad lost soul on Baggy Point beach in North Devon and were doing their best to reunite him with his owner.

Bunny

Click here for more photos of Bunny’s adventures in Wales.

29,871 shares and a little over 24 hours later and his heart-broken owner was traced to Aylesbury and bunny was very quickly and safely posted home!  It captured my heart (and several thousand others) and I’ve been an avid follower of their posts ever since!

It follows the magical adventures of a Welsh family of 6 children ranging in age from 1 to 20!  They embrace the outdoor life come rain or shine and are always up to something new and exciting.

1779729_750418134971036_173315460_n

Each adventure is punctuated with exquisite photographs that capture the magical innocence of childhood.  Like me; they love to document their life with these images and I find them a constant source of inspiration for ideas to do with my own daughter.   I highly recommend liking their Facebook page as I find it the easiest way to keep up with their news!

Take a peek at some of Deborah’s endearing photos – I’m sure you’ll be hooked in no time too!

Family 2

FANTASTIC PHOTOS!

Whilst on the subject of photography, I had to include the fabulous Sarah Aires in this article.

Sarah1

I am extremely lucky to work with several incredible photographers, all of whom have been or will be featured in my blogs at some point!  It would be a crime to keep their talents to myself and a chosen few!

Sarah is a hugely talented photographer; an inspiring teacher and, actually, just a rather lovely, beautiful person who I’m blessed to now call a friend.  Her personality, love and warmth are evident in her work and you can see the results in her website and blog.  I was totally smitten with her site when it launched.  So memorable and unique; it encapsulates the concept of photography being seen as beautiful, timeless artwork on the walls of your home.  (I love clicking on the tassel and changing the wallpaper! Go on … have a go … you know you want to!! www.sarahairesphotography.co.uk)

Sarah Aires Weddings

Sarah is an amazing all-round photographer but I particularly adore the way she captures so much love and joyousness in her work with families, at engagement shoots and at weddings.

Sarah Aires Children

COURAGEOUS KIDS

As I said, I’m just looking at a few favourites today and my final fave is the rather marvellous “Smiley Coach” – LISA PARKES!

I first met Lisa at a Fabulous Women Networking evening at the Radisson Edwardian Blu hotel in Guildford.  A perfect example of paths crossing at the right moment – we didn’t actually get an opportunity to connect until saying goodbye at the ticket machine in the car park late that night!  A fleeting chat that led to some welcomed support, opportunities and friendship.

LISA1

Lisa is a “life coach”.  A phrase I use hesitantly as I know it sadly turns a lot of people off but please hold back your preconceptions, open your minds and hear me out!  Lisa is the SMILEY COACH!  Her forte is supporting and guiding children of all ages through the quagmire of early life.  I have first hand experience of Lisa’s skills and can honestly say she has a magical bond with children.   Having attended several of her workshops and some 1:1 sesssions, my rather anxious 9 year old daughter refers to Lisa as “the lady who takes my worries away”.  Says it all really, doesn’t it?!

Lisa runs wonderful half day confidence workshops  covering topics that are particularly pertinent to young children – “get your worries out”; “get your angries out”; “friendship know-how” and “back to school preparation”.  Often craft based; restricted to small numbers and fabulous value – they are a wonderful tool to help children cope with the stresses of modern day life.

LISA

For more focused support, Lisa offers 1:1 coaching at her welcoming consulting rooms in Weybridge.   Also, coming very shortly, Lisa is teaming up with Judi Craddock of Peppermint Style to offer a programme of coaching focusing on helping young teens with their body image.

Life can be tough for us adults in this modern world; imagine how tricky it can be for our children to find the right stepping stones to guide them through.  Lisa and her colleagues are there to help parents and children navigate their way!

That’s all for this week!  I hope you love these as much as I do and I’d love to hear your feedback.  Have a great weekend!

 

Friday Favourites ….. VENUES and VIEWS!

I’ve worked in a plethora of venues over the years – from tired, damp church halls and remote corners of wet, muddy, windy fields in the middle of nowhere 542386_4174060235955_1769070261_nto plush function rooms of five-star deluxe hotels and conference suites in top executive corporate offices in the City – they all have their own individual charm!

IMG_2109My trusted kit has been dragged on trains, across car parks and fields; squeezed in and out of lifts and heaved up a myriad of staircases – and my poor back and shoulders have taken the brunt of it!

As the years go by, my back gets weaker and I get wiser; my kit gets gradually smaller and smaller but I know I can still do better!  One day I hope to start a trend in “monochrome facepainting parties” … just think “painty friends” ….  a Grimas cake white, a Wolfe black and white and a bag full of sponges, three brushes, some glitter, a mirror and I’d be all set!!!

Over the last few months I’ve started keeping a photographic diary of my painting locations!  For all the jobs I moan about, I get twice as many that are just idyllic and I find myself in settings that make me very grateful for the business I’m in.

Each photo, as always, tells a story!  So here’s a glimpse of my favourites to date.  As always, in no particular order!

The first was a set up on the edge of the River Thames in the grounds of a beautiful mansion.  The party itself was being held on a riverboat moored up beside the house and the interior of the boat itself even resembled something out of Surrey Life Magazine!    I was set up in the boathouse on the river bank overlooking this wonderful view! 

River Thames

It was just me, the booze table and an amazing buffet spread!   The PA who had organised the party had so much planned and the guests were in for a fantastic event.   Unfortunately, half way through the afternoon, the Heavens opened and the pelting rain set in for the rest of the day.  The band rushed all their equipment into the boathouse in a panic and I dragged my set up further and further into a corner!  Before I knew it, the band and I were squashed up together at one end and all the sodden party guests filled the rest of the space!  It turned out to be a rather intimate afternoon!

One of my favourite bookings was a weekly Sunday carvery at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Guildford, sadly now ended but hoping they’ll have me back one day soon.   Every Sunday I’d rock up at their glamorous foyer and wheel my kit through to their beautiful restaurant.  The staff were so welcoming and I always felt like part of their team.  My view at this job was very decadent –

Radisson Hotel

– a stunning restaurant, with a very grown up feel but one that welcomes children!  Not bad eh?

A great place to work, however, if I turned 90 degrees to my right the view that presented itself was positively torturous ….

IMG_3095

My mouth watered and my stomach positively growled through every minute of the 2 hour booking each week!  They spoiled me on a couple of occasions and plated up a delicious roast for me to enjoy after I finished!  Yum!   Their restaurant, the Scoff and Banter, still offers a great choice for breakfasts or brunches to three course business lunches, weekend roasts and indulgent afternoon teas.   Definitely worth a visit, even without the face painting!

Jubilee weekend in 2012 brought one of my wettest, windiest but memorable jobs to date!!  I found myself set up in a vast expanse of field, surrounded by acres of more fields, under a flimsy gazebo with no sides and then the rain came down!

I found two little helpers to cart my kit across the soggy grass …

Jubilee

… but as you can see the field was rather lacking in guests as they were still quaffing champagne and canapés at their street party 500 yards away!

So I twiddled my thumbs for half an hour and admired the view ….

DSC06842

… eventually everyone started to ramble up the hill to the party area and I got ready with my red, white and blue!    Once again, as is the British weather’s want, the Heavens opened and the rain was lashing into the gazebo horizontally.  Fortunately, I had my wonderful assistant with me (my Mum!) and also some family members who were camping nearby who surrounded me with golf umbrellas and the show went on!!!  As you can imagine the paint didn’t last long once exposed to the elements and there were a few bedraggled Union Jack faces wandering around all afternoon!

My fourth favourite has to be one of my old haunts in my twenties, The Black Swan  in Ockham.  A fabulous pub in a stunning setting – I highly recommend it any time of the year, but especially on a warm summer’s afternoon.

Black Swan

Take your family for a walk in the beautiful Surrey Hills followed by a lazy, leisurely Sunday lunch in their cosy, welcoming restaurant or partaking in their mouth-watering barbecue in the idyllic beer garden.  I’ve already featured this pub in another blog so you can read more about it here.

And last but by no means least … the totally fabulous Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire!

FPO_HAM_185

We are proud to be the preferred suppliers for this luxurious, glamorous hotel and have been working with them for the last couple of years.   Unlike many other elegant top class hotels in the UK, the Four Seasons welcomes families with young children with open arms.

Bank holiday weekends and special holidays are especially magical as they put on the Kids for All Seasons programme with an activity itinerary that fills a small brochure!  Parties, craft activities, pony riding, bike rides, treasure hunts, movies and of course face painting plus much more!   Rose Cottage, in the grounds of the Hotel, is a haven for small children; staffed by a wonderfully caring team, there are toys and games galore to keep the kids occupied whilst Mum and Dad enjoy a few hours peace indulging in treatments in the hotel’s opulent spa!   As I write, they have just been awarded the Real Critics Guide Award for ‘Real Outstanding Country Retreat’ 2013 and check out this fabulous review on Conde Nast Traveller!  Watch this space for an up-coming article specifically dedicated to this wonderful hotel.  And maybe one day I’ll find a weekend spare to actually book in and indulge with my own daughter!!!

So there you have it …. sure beats commuting to a stuffy office every day!

Where’s the best place you’ve ever worked?

Every Little Helps! I’m doing “Something Funny For Money”

Every 2 years I like to do something to support Red Nose Day and this year I’d really love to prove the point that every “little” helps.

Image

I’ve had amazing support with previous charity fundraisers I’ve arranged; some of the success has been down to some very very generous donators.

This year I’d like to just ask each of you to consider donating £2 ONLY to my Just Giving page http://www.justgiving.com/FascinatingFacesRND to see what we can do by pulling together as a local community; a facepainting community; my wonderful Rock Choir community and …. anyone else who knows me!!!!  (It was £1 originally but have now found out that the minimum donation is £2!!!)

Image

Some of you will know that I’m rather “known” for my face painted clowns and, if it all goes to plan, I have a rather special new design in mind for Red Nose Day 2013.

SO in return for your generosity I will paint my specially commissioned new clown face design today which, if we hit my target of £100 I will publish on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/fascinatingfaces at 10pm tonight!

Please please please share this link on Facebook; Twitter; by email; word of mouth …. EVERY LITTLE HELPS!!

(If you already “like” my page I think the new photo will come up on your Facebook page as soon as I publish it but please do check in just in case!  If you’re new to my page please click on the “like” button to be added automatically.  The image will also go live on Twitter!)

Image