On Monday, I took mum for a hot stone massage at the spa in Browns hotel for her 60th birthday. If there can be a gift big enough for someone who is a) my mother b) turning 60 c) about to travel around the world for four months and d) virtually saved my life with the suggestion I take up running after my mental health slumped at the end of last year, a day at Browns is it.
Going to the bar there on my own for a drink has become a bittersweet Spring tradition of the last few years, and ever-more bittersweet of late. I knew I wanted mum’s present to be a beauty treatment, and coincidentally, a spa comparison website (yes, there are such things…) showed the spa to be one of the better deals around. The history of me and Browns would not make most mums flush with maternal pride but my mum is more liberal than most (as a wise friend pointed out, in true trendy-teacher style, is there any such thing as a ‘normal’ parent anyway??).
Believe the hype – hot stone massages are AMAZING. With spas, it’s better to book a specific treatment for an hour than one of those day packages which are actually three treatments of about five minutes each and you spend most of the day sitting around in a dressing gown. It took me a while to relax into it completely but once I had, I got so dopey I almost couldn’t turn over for the second half. When they left us in the treatment room to get changed afterwards we lay there stupified not wanting to leave.
A Traditional Afternoon Tea was included in the package I’d booked. I was a bit skeptical, expecting a stuffy room full of people resembling my English great-grandma. It was a bit Poirot, but in the nicest possible way (a man at a piano playing festive favourites). Mum went for the healthy option (the same as the other options except the chocolates had healthy-sounding names…), I went for the fuck-it, give-me-everything option, featuring endless tea, sandwiches and sweet things. I even ate salmon, one of the few times in my twenty years of vegetarianism I’ve voluntarily eaten fish (not sure what it is about Browns that makes me abandon my moral principles in some way every time I go in but there we are…).
As with most rare treats, I want to do it again just once more so I can savour it that bit better knowing exactly how wonderful it will be. I am saving to go back in April, hopefully having run the Marathon. For this and other reasons, I am actually going to take the last week of April off (yes, taking planned leave! Like a normal person!)
I have since also made another Big Life Decision, which I’ll announce in the New Year (alas, it is not “Become Browns’s live-in head of social media”…). The context is that today is Christmas Eve and I have spent most of it having anxiety attacks and weeping. I had this entry in drafts and decided to finish it to remind me of a happy day but I am really at the end of my tether with this anxiety nonsense and need to do something definitive about it…
For now, Merry Christmas and best wishes to you all for 2016…