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Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

PPROACHING your 40th birth­day can be a trepi­dous busi­ness.

Do you cel­e­brate in style, or try and hide your im­pend­ing old age for as long as pos­si­ble?

Well, for me and all of my school friends turn­ing 40 this year, it has been a rather ex­trav­a­gant, drawn out, and fancy dress kind of af­fair.

We’ve dressed as cheer­lead­ers to watch the darts at Lake­side, turned into 80s icons while belt­ing out karaoke, and we’ve even jet­ted out to the ac­tual Dirty Danc­ing ho­tel in Vir­ginia to be­come Frances “Baby” House­man for the week­end.

But when it came to the ac­tual dawn of my 40th, I de­cided to take my­self off, sun­glasses firmly on face, and drown my sor­rows in a hot tub.

And what a hot tub it is over at Mod­der­shall Oaks set in sprawl­ing Stafford­shire coun­try­side.

We were lucky to have wall-towall sun­shine on our visit, so I re­ally was strip­ping straight into my swim­ming cossie and dash­ing out to the hot tub on ar­rival.

The hot tub is shared be­tween guests stay­ing in the spa’s seven be­d­rooms, but we had it to our­selves dur­ing our stay. Or per­haps other guests were put off by the sight of me bob­bing around in it in my bright red swim­suit (Pamela An­der­son, I am not).

We dried off in the sun­shine on our ter­race out­side our bed­room – all of which have ben­e­fit­ted this year from a re­vamp to be­come “bou­tique spa suites” com­plete with plush new fur­nish­ings.

The spa com­plex is a pretty pleas­ing propo­si­tion all round – set on a hill­side sur­rounded by wood­lands, where you can head off for a lit­tle walk in be­tween more re­lax­ing loung­ing in the hot tub or the out­door pool. There’s also a large in­door pool, al­though I ad­mit we only prop­erly dis­cov­ered this on our sec­ond day at the spa, so much fun we’d had in the out­door fa­cil­i­ties. You can or­der drinks from the well-stocked bar when you’re in the out­side pool too. There’s also the re­cent ad­di­tion of The Snug, a very lux­u­ri­ous beauty par­lour where you can get your nails done, party make-up and lashes. I opted for a mini man­i­cure (£30) and en­joyed a nice glass of fizz as I re­laxed to gos­sip with my ther­a­pist. Walk fur­ther down the com­plex and you’ll find the spa’s main treat­ment rooms where you can book in for mas­sages, fa­cials, ex­fo­li­a­tions and other body treat­ments. Most peo­ple head­ing here will pre-book treat­ments as part of their pack­age and this is highly rec­om­mended as they seemed to be fully booked for all treat­ments dur­ing our stay. For din­ner we headed down to the Lake­side Restau­rant, as the ti­tle sug­gests, next to a pretty lake at the base of the coun­try re­treat. This is also the area which can be set up for rather idyl­lic out­door wed­dings too.

The restau­rant it­self is wor­thy of a visit and you don’t have to be a guest at the spa to dine here).

It matches fine din­ing as­pi­ra­tions with pleas­antly hearty por­tions, a high­light be­ing the de­light­ful shin beef with red wine jus teamed with a large pot of creamy potato and Jer­sualem ar­ti­choke gratin.

Break­fast was sim­i­larly fill­ing, and I was un­able to re­sist the eggs bene­dict, while the other half went for the tra­di­tional Stafford­shire cooked break­fast.

We com­pleted my birth­day break with a stop-off in the neigh­bour­ing town of Stone on our way home.

Be­cause no visit to Stafford­shire is com­plete with­out a fill up on the county’s fa­mous oat­cakes and cheese – and a rather ex­trav­a­gant, cake­topped milk­shake to boot – at the town’s Oat­cakes and Milk­shakes cafe where peo­ple queue out the door for the treats.

Well, you’re only 40 once...

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