Friday, March 23, 2007


In personal news, last night my best mate and I went to the Sanctuary, courtesy of a wonderful gift voucher evening pass present for me, which entitled her to accompany me with 25% off her session.
We met outside Covent Garden tube, kissed and screetched at each other about how stressed we were, and how much we were looking forward to it, and were shown into the changing rooms where we found a stampede of pink-faced women charging about in white towelling robes, hopping from foot to foot, half in and out of their tights, fighting with elbows out for the hair dryers, and blowing through their nostrils like horses at the start of the Grand National.

Far from being a place of unremitting calm, it was more frenetic than the Harrods sale. My friend and I tried to get out of the way, but everywhere we stood or sat or tried to change, there we would find a harrumphing matron rolling her eyes at us.

What could be going on, we wondered? Was there a fire drill? Was George Clooney about to put in an appearance in the reception area? But no, it was a relief to find out that it was changeover time and the day-visitors were leaving as the evening guests came in.

Eventually the melee thinned out and we changed into our swimwear and big towelling gowns and were shown around the Sanctuary by sweet-faced staff in turquise silk pyjamas. It was a wondrous temple of calm, and our spirits rose as we smelled the fragrant oils and watched the happy ladies wandering and splashing. We hurled ourselves into the pool and swam a few lenbgths underwater, then went upstairs for our first spa treatment, the Hammam Rasul.

This involved stripping off and climbing into a minute paper G-string, and entering a tiled steam chamber with four heated chairs, armed with a plate of mud. The ceiling was curved and navy and covered with twinkling stars. We covered ourselves with mud ( dark brown on the body, white on the face) and lolled about in the semi-darkness. After half an hour I got up and did a naked war dance, and then the ceiling started pouring warm water like a rainstorm, washing off the mud. Afterwards we were smooth and tingling and we rubbed ourselves with jasmine oil and went off for a glass of sparking wine and some nuts.

We flumped next to the koi carp pool, watching the beautiful fish which are big as clown's shoes swimming under their bridge and gaping at the surface, and we gaped too at how fortunate we felt and admired each other's perceptibly-firmer thighs.

Then we went an had a back massage: Lucy, who did me, said I was ''a mass of lumps'' but after carefully kneading and and pressing for a while thought she had made ''a good start on nailing some of them''.

We retired, or rather floated to the lounge where we reclined on sofas and ate cheese and serrano ham and olives and drank more fizzy wine.

''It's like being in a really posh hotel bar, in a dressing gown'', said my friend. '' It 's a joy. I want to live here''.

'' We could hide under the bridge with the carp and breathe through straws til everyone has left and then have the run of the place'' I suggested.

''Don't carp bite?''

'' No, you're thinking of piranhas''.

And then after a marathon gossiping session, it was time to leave. Oh, it was such a wonderful night. My massive, massive thanks to my benefactor. I think that was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

I am still serene. Which considering everything that is going on at the moment is testament to the remarkable rejuvenating properties of water, candles, oils, mud, wine and friendship.



Blogger Henry North London said...

Spa treatments are good

I'll attest to that

If you ever get the chance to have a two handed ayurvedic massage and a third eye oil treatment called shirodhara go for it It is utterly rejuvenating.

glad to hear you are feeling better after that

March 23, 2007 5:41 pm  
Blogger Jane Henry said...

The Sanctuary, as my ten year old would say, rocks... I went last year with my twin sister. She bought it for me as a 40th bday present, her hubbie bought a day for her and I paid for the massages. Exchange is no robbery and all that... MY only gripe was that it was so relaxing I rather resented having to drag myself away from the pool to go to have a treatment....

Roll on my fiftieth which will probably be the next time anyone buys me a day out there!

love Janex

March 24, 2007 7:54 pm  

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