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7 reasons to visit Nature Valley International

Helen Gilbert, Nature Valley International

Tennis and the ocean are two of my biggest passions. Throw in a sunny day and I’m cooking. So it should come as no surprise that I found myself at the  2018 Eastbourne international tennis event on Sunday.

Before I became seriously unwell with my mast cell and histamine issues, I spent more than a decade writing for during the Championships which was fantastic. The only snag was that Wimbledon qualifying clashed with Eastbourne so I could never make it down to the combined ATP men’s and WTA women’s tournament.

But that all changed in 2017 when I visited for the first time and became instantly hooked on the scenic location and the quality of tennis. As the event, which hosted 47,000 visitors last year, makes for a fantastic day out with family, friends or even if you’re flying solo I’ve compiled a list of 7 tips to help you make the most of your time at Nature Valley International.

You don’t necessarily need a show court ticket to spot famous faces. A ground pass – especially early on in the tournament – often does the job. I spotted Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund hitting on an outside court yesterday. “I can’t believe we’ve seen all these guys in the space of three minutes,” I heard one thrilled spectator excitedly whisper to her husband. All the tickets for Nature Valley International, which runs until 30 June, are sold out until Wednesday but do keep an eye on the LTA’s website where you can also book tickets for next year.


Andy Murray, Nature Valley International

The good news is that the weather is set to be scorchio this week. The bad news is us Brits are unaccustomed to the heat [anything over 25 degrees Celsius is considered ‘boiling’]. However, the tournament is just three minutes from the sea so there’s a wonderfully refreshing breeze. Don’t forget to walk with sun cream, a hat, sunglasses and a bottle of water.

Okay. Admittedly you won’t be saving money if you’re buying tickets BUT you can shave off some of the cost of your spending with Visit Eastbourne, a free resort app which will unlock exclusive special offers throughout the week. Some of the deals include 10% off at Pomodoro e Mozzarella and Half Man Half Burger, and 2 for 1 entry to the Royal Hippodrome Theatre.

The Nature Valley International event has a distinct traditional English Garden party vibe and is far from stuffy. There are plenty of food and drink options from clotted cream and strawberries to fish and chips and a vegetarian van serving falafels and salads. There’s also plenty of tennis clothing stalls featuring brands including Wilson, Babolat and Bjorn Borg.

Nature Valley International

I don’t know about you but the call of a seagull propels me to a happy place and takes me back to the UK-based beach breaks I shared as a child with my family. Take a moment to enjoy being at the tournament and notice the simple things that bring you pleasure – whether that be the feeling of the sun on your skin or the sound of the ball being struck. Try and leave any worries at the gate and focus on the present.

Once you’ve had your fill of tennis head to the seafront. Yes, the beach is pebbly but who cares? It’s just a three-minute walk on foot from Devonshire Park and will undoubtedly leave you feeling both relaxed and revitalised – sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen by neutralising damaging free radicals.

Helen Gilbert, Nature Valley International

You’re in Eastbourne. Why not tack on a couple of extra days and see what the area has to offer to? From Beachy Head to the South Downs National Park there’s plenty to see. For more information visit the Visit Eastbourne website here. 

Have you been to Nature Valley International or are you thinking of going? What did you enjoy about it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Or, do you know someone who is attending this week? Please feel free to share this article with them. 

If you this post you might also like to read our interview with former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, here. Or why not drive along the coast to Hove and book a tapping/EFT session here. 

Tennis, Travel

Pat Cash talks Coco, reiki and his pneumonia scare

Pat Cash talks Coco, reiki and his penumonia scare

Pat Cash, the former Wimbledon champion and coach of world No.10 Coco Vandeweghe turns 53 this year but is busier than ever. “I still feel as though I’m in my forties despite a few recurring injuries over the years,” he laughs. Ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, the famous Melburnian talks us through his hectic schedule, how it feels to be a grandpa again for the third time and what he does to nourish his mind, body and soul.

What are you doing work-wise at the moment?
I’m super busy just now. My main focus is on coaching Coco, who’s a fantastic athlete with unbelievable potential. She finished number 10 in the world in 2017 – her highest ranking yet. We have set goals for 2018 and as a team, we continue to refine her game. I’m very excited to be working with her as she has what it takes to get right to the top. I also continue to commentate at various high profile events including Mubadala in Abu Dhabi, and Grand Slams like Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

Do you still play?
I play a few exhibition and Legends events around the world with guys like John McEnroe, Mats Wilander and Henri Leconte. They’re great fun. I’m definitely more of a doubles player now than singles – what a difference 30 years makes! It was quite amusing at the recent Hopman Cup event in Perth when the organisers asked me to step in when Jack Sock, Coco’s mixed doubles partner, was injured. I managed to win a few games against Team Japan. It was fun.

How would you describe your personality?
I don’t take life too seriously. It’s important to find the fun and enjoy it. I’m very privileged in that I get to travel the world with a group of talented people and stay involved in a sport I love.

What’s your favourite motto?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. The ego says ‘once everything falls into place I will have peace’ but the spirit says ‘find your peace and everything will fall in to place’. I tend to think forgiveness is the answer to many – if not all – problems in life. Both forgiveness of others and, importantly, forgiveness of yourself.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’m a Reiki Master.

Pat cash talks Coco, reiki and his skin cancer scare

You’re in amazing shape for a grandpa – what’s your secret?
Yes, I’m now a grandad for the third time. It’s amazing to welcome another mini Cash into the family and she’s a little stunner, although I could be slightly biased! I work hard to stay in shape and ensure I eat properly. It’s a dangerous delusion to think you can eat whatever you want and remain fit and healthy. I’ve been following a ketogenic diet for over 18 months now and feel great. It’s a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet. It suits me perfectly as I love butter, cream, bacon, eggs and other fatty meats. When you consume these types of food your body produces ketones which is an alternative energy source to glucose and fuels the body more efficiently.

Is this diet difficult to maintain when you’re on the road?
Yes. I’m travelling 30 weeks a year. Pruvit makes a range of drinks full of ketones so I drink these to ensure my body remains in a ketogenic state even when I’ve had a few carbs. The product’s not yet available in the UK but I’ve been trialling it for a while and will shortly be posting the results over on my website.

How do you stay balanced?
I make time to exercise. This is either a casual hit or a session in the gym where I do a lot of flexibility work on the old beaten up body. I regularly do yoga, feldenkriase and gyrotonic training (a combination of yoga, dance, tai chi and swimming).

What’s your favourite way to calm the mind?
I’m a big believer in the benefits of daily meditation. It’s the first thing I do every morning for 30 minutes. It’s an amazing habit to get into and really sets me up for the day ahead. Spiritual practice has been my greatest help and I’ve attended some great workshops. 11-11 The Divine Mindset is a truly amazing course. Every day I read Dr Helen Schucman’s ‘A Course in Miracles’. There’s one lesson per page so it’s easy to read and reflect upon. Both of these have helped me enormously in terms of ‘tuning in’ and becoming more peaceful within. I don’t really like to use the word mindful but you get the idea. I use these practices a lot in my daily life and even in my tennis coaching.

You won Wimbledon in 1987. What was the most stressful thing about being on tour?
It takes its toll on your body and the mind gets tired. An individual sport like tennis is especially tough. In my day there was no team or group of managers to get you on the bus, sort your boarding pass out, book taxis at the other end or support you when you screwed up in life or on the field. Saying that I was pretty cutting edge back then. In fact, I had a part-time trainer Dr Ann Quinn with me. She was the first of her kind on tour. People were wondering who the hell this person was let alone a woman hanging around the men’s locker room door especially back in the mid-eighties. But she was the best in the world and I credit her with my success. Understandably the training facilities on tour now are outstanding so it’s a doddle at keeping fit in comparison to back then.

What are your favourite ways to relax and why? 
Hitting the beach and swimming in the water. I’d do it regularly if I could. This allows time for me to think – and sometimes not to think – whatever the case may be. I think we underestimate how valuable that is.

What’s the worst illness/health problem you’ve ever had to deal with?
I’ve been very lucky as far as illnesses are concerned although I did have some skin cancer cut out when I was in my late thirties that was thankfully found early. In recent years I caught two bad chest infections both from long-haul plane flights. One was pneumonia which was nasty but I recovered after a while. And I’ve had numerous surgeries on various body parts – no surprise for a pro athlete – only Germany’s Tommy Haas has had more. Our bodies are always communicating with us, we just need to train the brain to listen and recognise the signs. It’s important to know when to put the pedal to the metal and when to back off, then actually do it. Now I don’t need to push too hard – I’m better at listening.

What’s your idea of a perfect holiday?
It would be somewhere I can relax, get some exercise and not feel as though I have to constantly throw myself into a social scenario. I tend to seek out sunny climates and nature so most likely a beach…I guess that’s what living in London does to you!

For more of Pat’s tennis, health and wellbeing tips check out his website:

Enjoyed this post? Check out our other interviews with Jonny Wilkinson, Katie Piper, Gail Porter and James Duigan.

*Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice from your doctor before starting any type of diet, introducing supplements or trying new forms of exercise. The content on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Celebrity interviews, Tennis

And the winner of our summer skincare hamper is…

Wimbledon-themed competition prize winner announced

The Wimbledon Championships may be over for another year but Relax ya Self To Health is thrilled to announce the winner of our tournament-themed giveaway. 

Mandy Johnstone’s name was pulled out of the hat in our first ever competition, which saw people enter via the blog and across our social media channels.

The mother-of-three, who has won a box of skincare summer essentials worth more than £100, described the news as ‘fabulous’.

“It has really put a smile on my face,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to using all the goodies and might save them up for my trip to Greece in October for my 50th birthday and really pamper myself.”

Her hamper contained:

  • Ladvial Sun Protection (in three different SPFs)
  • Solero Cooling After Sun Lotion x 2
  • Dr Organic Aloe Vera Lip Balm
  • Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner
  • Dr Organic Aloe Vera Wet Wipes
  • Soft & Gentle Cool Boost Antiperspirant
  • Miaroma Citronella Pure Essential Oil

Mandy enjoyed watching the tennis over the Wimbledon fortnight and even managed to head to the grounds one day, where she saw top names including Venus Williams and Johanna Konta.

And the Londoner, who works as a revenue controller, is also trying her hand at the sport again.

“I’ve not really played much tennis since my school days but now the kids have grown up I’ve recently taken it up again as I have more time for myself. I am enjoying it all over again. It’s different now. I love the social aspect of it too. You get to meet new people all the time and really anybody can play. Tennis is for everyone.”

Mandy, who subscribes to our blog, also had some very lovely things to say about Relax Ya Self To Health.

“I look forward to receiving the blog posts in my inbox,” she continued. “I guess I’m rediscovering myself and find the articles really useful. The blog has great health and wellbeing tips and generally make me feel good in myself.”

Thanks Mandy!

The good news is we have a number of other exciting competitions in the pipeline, so watch this space.

If you’d like to subscribe to the blog to ensure that you don’t miss a post, simply pop your email address in the ‘subscribe here’ box to the right above the Instagram pictures block. It’s free. Or you can follow us on the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by clicking on the icons below.







Is this the most stressful job at Wimbledon?

Wimbledon: Stringer Glynn Roberts talks us through his hectic schedule

Glynn Roberts knows a thing or two about tennis rackets. The 40-year-old Briton spent a decade working as an on-site stringer at Wimbledon before joining Priority One – a stringing business that counts Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic among its clients – in 2008.

Here Glynn talks Relax Self to Health through his hectic Wimbledon schedule and  how he manages to stay calm under pressure.

Glynn, you always seem as cool as a cucumber yet your job is quite demanding. Can you talk us through a typical day? 
If one of our players (Priority One also takes care of Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, John Isner and Marcos Baghdatis) has a match, we’ll wake up at either two, three or four o’clock in the morning to start stringing rackets. We tend to look after two players each at Grand Slams. Here, I’m stringing for Andy and Novak. On match days I can end up stringing between 20 and 25 rackets, on training days it can be anything between ten and 12.

Crikey, how long does it take?
I allow around 30 minutes per racket. That includes everything – replacing grips, stencilling strings, and popping them in the plastic bags. Our days our shaped by how many rackets we’ve got. And at smaller tournaments we may have one stringer for three or more players. If I have to start work at two or three in the morning, I’ll try to get to bed by 10pm the night before but that’s not always possible.

That’s not much sleep. How do you maintain your wellbeing?
With lots of naps during the day. It’s not uncommon for me to have a three or four hour kip. Dinner time is usually work time for us too. Sometimes we’ll start stringing at around four or five in the afternoon to work through our allocation. There’s a saying that stringers are very fast eaters. If we do go out for dinner we’ll finish very quickly because we’re always thinking that we need to get back and finish work so that we can get some sleep before getting up early the next morning! It’s a tough habit to get out of. Even when you’re not working you always end up finishing your meal before everyone else.

Do you find time to exercise during Wimbledon?
With our schedules, it’s tough to work fitness in but here there’s lots of hill walking! We stay in a house just off Wimbledon Common. It’s about a 20 minute walk to the All England Club and at any one time I could be carrying up to 30 rackets on my back. Each one weighs 300 grams or more. That’s a lot of weight. So I guess that counts. [Laughs]. I’ll do a drop off in the morning, wait around for the players to finish practising, collect the rackets again, walk back up the hill and then it starts all over again. If a player doesn’t finish play, say because it’s been rain-delayed or they didn’t get on because of long match, I’ll still need to restring the rackets because they lose tension. So I can be up and down the hill three or four times during the same day!

Are Grand Slams the hardest tournaments workload-wise?
Grand slams are probably the easiest because they’re held over two weeks and the players get a day off in between unless, of course, it rains. When that happens everything goes out the window. With the one week Masters events the matches are back to back so they tend to be a little bit harder.

How long are you on the road for? 
We each do at least 100,000 air miles a year. We work the four Grand Slams, nine Masters tournaments, plus I’ll do at least two Davis cups a year as well as additional tournaments like Dubai, Doha, Queen’s, and Basel.

So, how do you handle long journeys?
On a flight I put on Bose noise cancelling headphones and am asleep before take off. Once there was a fire in the cockpit on one of our flights and it had to be diverted to Hawaii. I didn’t know a thing about it until we landed. 36 hours in Hawaii made up for the inconvenience.

What stresses you out about your work?
In our job surprises are bad so we try and keep it as boring as possible and eliminate potential issues. We make sure we get up early enough so that if anything goes wrong for whatever reason, we’ve factored in enough time to correct it. Missing machines cause stress. It’s happened before – where a machine has taken two days to arrive at the hotel. We always show up a week before the Slams so if the machine doesn’t turn up for a couple of days in the practice week it’s not so bad. Back to back tournaments are obviously tougher to work out logistically.

Can you recall a very stressful moment?
There was one time when a camera crew wanted to film us stringing and the machine decided to misbehave. On that day I was trying not to freak out in front of the cameras. I was calm on the surface but not inside.

What do you do to relax?
Close my eyes. As soon as my head touches the pillow I’m asleep. I also watch NFL and support Everton, although I’m not sure how relaxing that is. This season coming should be fun. If my schedule allows, I’ll go to a concert here and there – I highly recommend Welshly Arms. I also take pictures of the city or place I’m in. I enjoy editing and trying to make something good out of the pig’s ear of an image that I’ve just taken.

If rugby’s more your sport, be sure to read our interview with Jonny Wilkinson here, or if you’re a fan of A-list fitness trainers check out our chat with James Duigan here. 

celebrities, In the news, Tennis

Win a skincare hamper worth £100

Wimbledon, The Championships

Who’s excited for Wimbledon 2017? I certainly am.

So, I’ve decided to mark the occasion with our very first competition. And it’s a good ‘un.

We’re serving up an ace box of summer essentials designed to protect your skin and keep you feeling fresh should the temperature start to soar.

Our Champion’s Chest, (RRP: £103) contains:

  • Ladvial Sun Protection (in three different SPFs)
  • Solero Cooling After Sun Lotion x 2
  • Dr Organic Aloe Vera Lip Balm
  • Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner
  • Dr Organic Aloe Vera Wet Wipes
  • Soft & Gentle Cool Boost Antiperspirant
  • Miaroma Citronella Pure Essential Oil

Only one lucky winner will walk away with this fantastic prize but as this is our first giveaway  – and we’re mad about tennis – we are giving you SIX opportunities to enter this fantastic draw.

All you have to do is name the players you think will triumph in the  Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles.

It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong  – as our draw takes place on Saturday 8 July – during the first week of the tournament.

This is just a little fun to get you into the Wimbledon spirit.

And if festivals are more your thing, that’s OK too – as you can see, the hamper is ideal for gig-goers too, as well as seaside day trippers.

Remember, you can enter the draw up to six times to be in with a chance of winning this fantastic hamper of summer essentials (RRP:£103.00)



Each of the below counts as one entry.

  • Comment at the bottom of this blog post
  • Visit our Facebook page here and share the competition post
  • Comment underneath our Facebook competition post
  • Visit our Instagram page and comment underneath the competition picture
  • Tweet us your answer
  • Subscribe for free to Relax Ya Self To Health by popping your email in the box underneath my bio which is to the right.


Competition closes: Midnight 8th July 2017
This Prize Draw is open to residents of the UK aged 18 or over.
Click here for full terms and conditions

Competitions, Health, In the news, Tennis


Helen at Wimbledon

Don’t you just love a bank holiday weekend? Especially when the weather is fabulously warm and sunny. There was no lie-in for me on Saturday morning.  I sprung out of bed like a jack-in-the-box, stupidly excited, not wanting to waste a minute of the glorious sunshine.

Aside from the excitement I felt at the prospect of taking my first weekend off in almost two months, I’d woken up brimming with energy for the first time in yonks. This could only mean one thing. Tennis. A sport, I so dearly loved and missed.

Before my health took a turn for the worse, most of my Saturdays were spent at the tennis club so it felt incredibly reassuring and ‘normal’ to pull on my Serena-style dress.

Butterflies filled my stomach as I bent down to lace up my tennis shoes, and by the time I walked out of the door, racquet-bag over my shoulder, I was grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. I WAS OFF TO PLAY TENNIS.

Before I left the house I’d called my friend to let her know I was on my way. “The court’s booked for an hour,” she said excitedly. “See you soon.”

Arriving at the club, I spotted a league match in progress. It was a fixture I would, ordinarily, play but given the circumstances ‘Sick Note Gilbert’ was, of course, required to sit it out.

“Stepping out on court felt ridiculously good”

“Good to see you back,” the team captain said with a smile on her face. “Hopefully you’ll get on OK and can join us again soon.”  “I hope so,” I replied, glowing on the inside. “I’m feeling much better.”

Stepping out on court felt ridiculously good. My friend opened a new tin of balls to celebrate. Usually, we hit with used ones but this was a special occasion, after all.

We set about warming up the ground strokes before moving on to volleys and serves. My body felt fine. There were no aches and pains. And although my game was a little rusty , I was thrilled to be hitting once again. The endorphins were working their magic. I felt so HAPPY.

Moreover, the sun was still shining brightly so I was getting my Vitamin D hit at the same time.

Life. Was. Good.

And we were enjoying some hard hitting rallies.

“I became aware of an uncomfortable yet annoyingly familiar sensation”

Nonetheless, 25 minutes after the first ball had been struck, I became aware of an uncomfortable yet annoyingly familiar sensation at the back of my throat.

I’d barely had anything to drink and optimistically assumed I was dehydrated. So I quickly swigged some water before resuming my position at the back of the court.

A little thirst was not going to stop me playing after all this time. But my mouth was growing increasingly dry.

“I’m sorry,” I said to Karen three minutes later, “I need to drink again.” “Go for it,” she said. So I knocked back the water and returned to the baseline. Only it didn’t quench my thirst and swallowing was becoming troublesome.

Thoughts began spinning inside my head. “Surely, I’m not having a reaction?”  I hadn’t eaten any high-histamine food – which usually sets off a reaction – and the spontaneous tongue swelling (idiopathic angioedema) had been behaving itself for a good few weeks.

I ran to the net and stuck my tongue out. “Does it look normal?” I desperately asked my friend. “Um, I don’t know what it usually looks like but it’s rather wide and fat,” she said.

“I quickly took a selfie of my outstretched tongue”

I rummaged around for my mobile and quickly took a selfie of my outstretched tongue.

There were people on the court next to me. I didn’t care.

Over the past 18 months, the pictures on my phone have proven to be a handy a log for my immunologist, especially as each one carries the date and time. Yet again, there was another hugely unflattering image to add to the collection.

“Let’s stop,”  Karen said. “I feel bad about letting you down and cutting short the session,” I replied. “Your health is more important, come on,” she insisted. So we trundled off the clubhouse for some iced water and I dug out my medication.

“It’s bizarre,” I sighed. “I’ve not eaten anything I shouldn’t have.”

I tried to piece things together. The reaction took hold half an hour after I started playing.  I was extremely hot – sweating profusely in fact – which is most unusual for me.

“Could it be that the exercise had triggered the tongue swelling?”

I then remembered that the same thing had happened on a couple of scorching summer mornings last year. On both occasions, I hadn’t eaten. On both occasions, I was in a very hot car.

Could it be that the lack of food or exercise had triggered the tongue swelling? The heat? Or all three?

An hour later I left the club and as soon as I got home I made a note of what had happened.

I guess one way to test out the theory would be to hit the courts again in hot weather, although I obviously won’t be doing that until I’ve sought medical advice.

I’m due to see my immunologist in July so I’ll report back then.

The only concrete thing I know is that I’ll have to count myself out of a return to tennis matches for the time being.

Helen's Health, Tennis