WITH my arrow held firm, I pulled back the string and steadied my gaze. A sharp inhale of breath and – ping!
There should have been a thud as the missile hit the target, but instead there was silence as it soared towards the trees and landed in the grass ahead.
This was my first attempt at archery, and despite the row of arrow-filled targets in front of me, I was not surrounded by regular adventure types.
Instead, I was at Nidd Hall Hotel in Harrogate, North Yorks, where older adults retreat for a relaxing weekend of food, spa treatments and live entertainment.
Part of the Warner Leisure group, the 18th century, Grade II-listed country house offers line dancing, quiz nights, yoga classes and even curling, along with the special events such as gin tasting.
I was visiting for the Ice Ball, featuring performances from Motown band The FlyRights and comedian Josh Daniels.
Strolling around the grounds, everything felt tranquil.
There is a splendid swimming pool, heated to a comfy 29C, cosy lounges for reading or playing games and 45 acres of gardens to explore.
And when the weather is not great, you can easily while away the hours at the hotel’s Temple Spa.
I am not normally a massage enthusiast, following a painful experience a few years ago, but I decided to give it another go with the “back and face sensation” — and I was pleased I did.
Staff take the time to find out what I want, giving me a form of questions.
What pressure? Gentle. What’s my stress level? Zero.
It is hard to feel stressed when you are in a serene spa surrounded by nothing but lush countryside.
Then I lay down for what turned out to be 40 minutes of bliss, with warm, scented oils, a gentle massage and Temple Spa products for my face.
I did not want it to end, ever.
On top of great spa treatments, the list of daily activities includes aqua aerobics classes, rifle shooting, movie nights and cabaret shows.
If you find time to tear yourself away from the fun, the market town of Knaresborough is just a ten-minute drive away.
Here, in the market square, we found the oldest chemist shop in England, from 1720, which is now a tearoom, serving scones and cakes — just what we needed before a stroll along the River Nidd.
But you don’t have to leave the hotel for historic sites.
OLDEST CHEMIST SHOP IN ENGLAND
Guests can take a guided walk around the building and grounds. On ours, we learn that Edward VIII met Wallace Simpson here at a party.
Wine tasting is another must. And I was pleased when Philip, our experienced and knowledgeable guide, agreed we did not need to use the spittoon.
With a dozen glasses lined up for each of us, we were all experts by the time they were gone.
To soak up the wine, guests can pick from two restaurants.
Brasserie32 is in the main building and is split over three traditional rooms, while The Rawson is much larger and divided into zones.
Both serve a fairly small choice of dishes, which may explain why everything we tried was cooked beautifully and tasted delicious.
After dinner is when the fun really begins and we raised more than a few glasses in the theatre with spectacular live music by the FlyRights.
People danced around us as we sang along to well-known classics, from Abba to the Carpenters.
And despite a shortage of staff, waiters multi-tasked with smiles on their faces.
Some cold porridge was all we could find to complain about, but even that was soon put right.
And as the band bellowed their music to the crowd, we could not help but sway along. Their joy was infectious.
GO: NIDD HALL
STAYING THERE: Nidd Hall’s adults-only breaks start at £269pp for three nights, arriving on May 30 and including breakfast, three-course dinners, live music, pools and activities.
Ice Ball breaks at Warner’s Gunton Hall Coastal Village in Suffolk start at £219pp for three nights, arriving on February 4.
The price includes breakfast, three-course dinners, live music, pools and activities.