In my Christmas stocking was a pampering package to a Day Spa. I vaguely recalled hearing very positive things about this Spa. Yesterday I set out for what I expected would be a relaxing and rejuvenating and indulgent day out.
When I walked through the door I immediately just loved how serene and clean and fresh the place was and the entry was wonderfully fragranced with essential oils. But behind the counter there were three young girls who stared at me totally mute. And I don’t mean to show my age but I did notice they were all studded with hardware. Am I the only one who finds it a little off-putting when people have studs through lips, eyebrows, noses, chins, cheeks etc? And I do wonder if they went near anything magnetic would they be thrown off-course. So the girls just stood there, silent, until another beautician emerged to show me through to a treatment room.
I loved how the room was presented and there was even a flower on the bed with a little sign saying, ‘This room has been especially prepared for Charlie’ and I thought that was very welcoming.
The pampering began with my feet and legs having an exfoliating scrub. It was like heaven. But then the beautician started asking me questions. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you would know that I loathe this line of questioning.
‘So how’s your day been so far?’ And it was early in the morning so obviously I had done nothing except get ready for this appointment. But I went along and said, ‘Quite good thanks.’
‘So what have you got planned for the afternoon?’
‘Oh, not much’.
‘So what have you got planned for your weekend?’
‘We haven’t made any plans yet.’
‘So how was your Christmas?’ And I have no wish to be rude but as I was there to relax I really didn’t want to tell a stranger how I had spent my morning and what my plans were for the afternoon and the weekend and divulge the tribal wars that go on within the family when we get together for Christmas.
Next it was baring all for a half hour hot stone massage. I’d never had one before. I hated it. I thought it would be tension relieving and relaxing but her hands seemed to be going over parts of my back and neck that were making me hold my breath, screw up my face and scrunch my shoulders. And the hot stones barely featured in the massage and I’m sure her fingernails were scratching my back. I counted the minutes until it would be over.
Then I had a facial. The lights went out, there was soft music playing and after the questionaire I had been put through and the tension of the massage I was ready to relax. The facial was going quite well and my breathing was beginning to return to normal levels when the door opened, the lights came on and in walked someone else. This person started doing a mini pedicure on my feet during the facial. I couldn’t see what she was doing and I did want to have some sort of input as to how the toenails would be shaped but she just went right ahead. The sawing of my toenails had me flinching and grimacing but the beautician giving the facial carried on, apparently oblivious.
Then the girl started doing a mini-manicure and the sawing of my nails started again. The file was hitting the nerve and after three hit nerves I sat up (mid facial) and asked, ‘What kind of a file are you using? Is that a metal file? I hate metal files.’ And she said, ‘It’s not metal, it’s glass.’ And I said, ‘Do you have anything softer?’ And she just stared at me looking stunned and the other beautician said, ‘Are you right for me to continue the facial?’ So I lay back down and they both just carried on.
I had a hydrating rose masque put on my face. The other beautician continued sawing away at my nails and did a very terrible job with my nails ending up different lengths and shapes. She didn’t complete the filing so instead of being rounded and smooth they were sharp and scratchy. She then buffed the nails but buffed my skin as well and that didn’t need that kind of aggressive exfoliation. With my nails dusty and full of debris, she then started applying the polish (poorly) so of course the polish was not going to adhere to the nails.
When it was all over I was given a glass of water. But not a Valium.
My finger nails were chipped and smudged before I even left the premises.
One must be grateful for small mercies and I’m only too glad I didn’t go there for a Brazilian.
Have you had a horror pampering experience?
A comforting meal is what one needs after a day of pampering turns into a nightmare and a tender, marinated organic chicken is what worked for me.
Barbecued Chicken with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: I had most of these ingredients in my pantry so only needed to buy the chicken and one or two other items so quite an inexpensive family meal.
- 1 size 16 chicken or 4 chicken maryland
- 1/2 tspn white peppercorns
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 coriander (cilantro) roots, washed and scraped
- 2 stalks lemongrass, bottom half only, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1-2 small chillies, chopped
- 2 tspns peeled fresh turmeric or pinch of powdered turmeric
- 4 tbsps fish sauce
- 2 tbspns soy sauce
- 1 tbspn palm sugar
Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup rice or coconut vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tspn salt
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1/4 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaf and stem
- 2-6 small red chillies, finely chopped
Cut the chicken into pieces or, if using maryland, cut at the joint and place in a large bowl.
Grind the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, then add the garlic, coriander root, lemongrass, chillies and turmeric and pound to a paste. Mix with the fish sauce, soy sauce and palm sugar and add marinade to chicken pieces, rubbing to coat well. Marinate overnight or for a minimum of two hours. Cook slowly on a preheated moderate barbecue (grill), turning often. The chicken can also be roasted in a moderate (180C/350F) oven. I used the roasting method because I like how the chicken cooks in the marinade. Transfer to a plate and serve with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce.
To make dipping sauce: Combine sugar, vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil, cooking over a high heat until the sauce has reduced by half. Stir in the garlic, coriander and chillies and remove from heat.
This recipe is from Spirit House, Essentially Thai