On a day where the sun was hidden behind a pale grey sky, we got into
the car and left the city behind. Fields and flowers blurred in the background,
raindrops streaking across the windows and marking the rush of our pace.
Regardless of the poor weather, we were determined to make the most of the day.
Well, as much as we could. The rainy conditions tired us somewhat, our minds
screaming for cosy blankets and hot cocoa. We were almost tempted to acquiesce.
In the end, our desire to accomplish something with the day won out.
Following rolling hills and curved roads, it took us little time to
reach Woodhall Spa. When Thomas Hotchkin accidentally discovered a mineral
spring in the area in the late 19th century, he
developed the land. To attract visitors, Hotchkin developed the Spa Baths and
The Victoria Hotel opened in the area. Other hotels followed over the next
century, adding to the village’s quaint Victorian aesthetic.
Peaceful and surrounded by nature, Woodhall Spa is a fair blend of
pristine Victorian architecture and towering trees. The village works with
nature, with many of its roads bending and twisting in cooperation with Mother
Nature. A fine example of this is the Teahouse in the Woods and Kinema in the
Woods. Both aptly named, the two establishments are surrounded by proud trees,
their trunks impressively wide. Leaves rustled against each other in frenzied
excitement, the wind whipping through the branches as the rain started to pick
We found refuge in the Teahouse. Warm and inviting, the Teahouse has
been in operation since 1903 (excepting a brief period between 2011 and 2014
when it was ‘Ristorante Il Parco’). With booth seating for four and tables for
everything else, we took a seat at a square table in the middle of the room.
Well spaced, the restaurant was filled with the gentle hum of quiet
conversation. Our server, a kind and attentive woman, gave us a few minutes to
mull over the menu. I decided on deep fried brie wedges and Elderflower
Belvoir. My friend wasn’t hungry, and so ordered a simple coffee and requested
a few bites of my meal.
After ordering, the drinks arrived promptly, and the food came much
faster than anticipated. Lightly fried, the brie wedges were generous portions
that melted in your mouth. Their sweet, subtle taste fused well with the
crunchy exterior provided by the frying. Sitting on a bed of fresh vegetables
with cranberry sauce, the three elements of the dish came together to create a
refreshing, mouthwatering dish. The Belvoir, crisp and light, finished the meal
perfectly. Given the disagreeable weather, we decided to forgo the usual jaunt
to a bookstore in favour of another form of escapism – the movies.
With half an hour before ‘Finding Your Feet’ was on, we wandered along
King George Avenue. A paved road with many a leaf-layered footpath weaving
through the trees, it amazed us how quiet it was mere meters from the
restaurant. We saw other walkers in the distance, but each kept to our own
space, content in our own little worlds. When the rain began to fall again, we
headed towards Kinema. Originally serving as a sports pavilion for The Victoria
Hotel, Kinema is situated in front of a thicket of trees. On Easter Sunday
1920, The Victoria Hotel burnt down. Two years later, its ruins, the pavilion
included, as purchased by Sir Archibald and Lady Weigall. From then on, the
pavilion was converted into a cinema.
The interior of Kinema retains the same vintage feel that the exterior exudes.
Your feet glide under deep, red carpeting. All the signs are done in various
classical styles – from the art deco ‘box office’ sign to the kitschy
glass-stained box lights stating ‘Kinema 1’ and ‘Kinema 2’ for the two screens.
Inside the screen room, intricate and stunningly realistic paintings grace the
walls. Low lighting in the form of imitation flame torches are on either side.
The seats, the same deep red of the carpet, are wonderfully plush, moviegoers
sinking immediately into their seats with content sighs. Maintaining its
classic feel, the movie stops halfway for intermission, allowing viewers to
grab snacks, take a restroom break, or chat about the movie. We took this time
to eagerly discuss the highlights of the first part of the movie, theorising
how it would end.
A self-discovery film about an upper-class woman eking out an identity
for herself following her husband’s infidelity, ‘Finding Your Feet’ is a heart
wrenching and hilarious film about being true to yourself and appreciating all
that life has to offer while you have the time to. We left the film in high
spirits, even more determined to live our lives to the fullest and not let a
moment pass us by.
The drive back home was spent in comfortable silence as we both mulled
over the lessons learnt in Loncraine’s charming British comedy. However you
define the best life, it’s important that, rather than seeking out perfection,
you reach out for the things that fulfil you, and keep close the people that