Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

A long-awaited treat!

on July 13, 2012

As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently got the chance to spend a few hours in le petit spa at Malmaison hotel, thanks to Living Social. The deal came up a year ago – a special package of four treatments, plus use of the facilities, for just over one third of the usual cost. I was immediately taken with the idea, but didn’t want to go alone, so I contacted my sister about the idea of our buying the vouchers for each other as birthday and Christmas presents. She agreed with me that it was a good idea and, although at the time she had a very small baby and would find it difficult to find three hours in the day to spend at a spa (not to mention packing up and coming over here for at least a night), we thought that we ought to be able to manage it before the expiry date, which at that point was a year away.

Time went by and life got in the way. Peacock’s baby was clingy, as some are, and not really happy even to be left with her Daddy on some occasions. Family events claimed our free weekends and the only time we found ourselves in Newcastle at the same time was right before Christmas, when an afternoon in a spa would have been most welcome, but impossible to accommodate in our schedule. Finally, we realised we had two months left and I phoned the spa to check availability. The date we ended up with was 30th June, the last possible day before the voucher expired! I fretted about the possibility of our having to cancel and worried over the litany of things that could go wrong: stomach bugs, chicken pox, car breakdowns, accidents are all distinct possibilities for a young family, not to mention the potential death of a relative or work-related disaster. I never imagined the biggest threat would come from the weather! On 28th June (as part of the UK’s wettest June on record) Newcastle and Gateshead were beset with flash floods on a scale I’ve never experienced before. If you google “Walkergate Metro flooding” you’ll see what it looked like about 200 yards from where I live.

The collapsed wall – the water had pushed it across the road from the right of the picture and we couldn’t pass.

Thankfully our house is much higher and wasn’t affected at all. I know that many countries, including those where some of you live, have experienced much worse and I wouldn’t want to compare our experience to anything like that, but all the same this was frightening to us and totally unexpected (’twas ever thus in the UK, we never get what we expect – the following week, in an apparent fit of cautiousness, the Met Office issued an Amber alert for the whole of the North East but it didn’t even rain in Newcastle).   I was thankful to be in the car with my husband and children when it happened – we were all together and the girls had had their tea!

Anyway, I posted a photo to Facebook of a collapsed wall we had discovered on our way home, to which Peacock responded “The main roads seem fine – still planning to come!”

 

The only sign the following morning that anything had been amiss was the remains of the Police cordon at the Metro station.

 

I worried and prayed all night about the situation worsening, but to our astonishment the next morning it was almost as of nothing had happened! So, finally, we were to have our treat.

 

 

Throughout the appointment I kept thinking “I need to try and remember this, it would be good to blog about it”, but unfortunately a lot of the detail escapes me now as I was so relaxed I almost fell asleep at times!

It was very quiet at the spa and we only saw one other client the whole tie we were there. It seems quite a small place, however, so they probably don’t book many guests in at a time. We arrived an hour before our appointment, as suggested, and we’re invited to change into our swimsuits and put on robes, before using the sauna and relaxation room. We did so (once we had fathomed the complicated pre- and post-sauna procedure!) and had an enjoyable 10 minute sauna and shower before choosing from the selection of herbal teas in the relaxation room and settling down in the automated massage chairs (the source of some amusement as we experimented with the various functions!). From there our therapists collected us and took us through for the treatments.

As I said at the start, one of my reasons for inviting Peacock was so that I didn’t fancy going alone, but since then it had occurred to me that the majority of the time I’d be alone with the therapist anyway. However, we were surprised to have been booked into a double treatment room and were side by side throughout, which was a lovely touch. The therapists were amazingly well coordinated and everything happened seamlessly, even when we needed to take turns in the shower at one point.

The treatments began with a facial. We were given a choice of cleansing products, based on when fragrance we preferred, as their principle is that we are drawn toward the ingredients which will benefit us most. We were the shown our faces under UV light (a frightening experience, let me tell you!) to highlight specific skin needs, before continuing with the facial and moving on to the salt scrub. This is an all-over treatment, but you are given the option to exclude the chest and stomach areas if you prefer not to expose those. Having had two children I naturally have very little dignity remaining and chose to treat the maximum possible area!

Following the scrub, which was invigorating and not at all uncomfortable, we showered off the salt and returned to the bed for the back massage with hot stones. I had one of these a few years ago and had been looking forward to another! For the uninitiated, let me say that the pictures you see of women with a series of stones arranged along the length of their spines are wholly inaccurate. The experience is similar to a normal massage, but with the sensation that the therapist can magically heat up her hands from time to time as she adds in the stones, which are kept around you in the towels. The stones are also useful for removing tension as it allows the massage strokes to be much firmer than with a hand. I had asked for particular attention to be paid to my right shoulder blade, as I tend to carry the Baby on my right side and, whilst small for her age, she is nearly 1 and therefore a weight you notice when you only do it two days a week! The therapist said afterwards that she’d noticed the difference in my shoulder blades so it was well worth having the massage.

Finally came the Oriental scalp massage. You can choose to have this with or without oil through your hair, I suppose depending on whether or not you mind looking a sight afterwards. Peacock and I did comment on the fact that after such treatments, it is a shock to look in the mirror and discover that the way you feel on the inside isn’t necessarily reflected in your appearance! Thankfully we were planning family time for the rest of the day so we were fine with that, and happy to follow the recommendation to leave the products on as long as possible (although if I’d known then that we’d end up having dinner in a restaurant, however casual, I might have felt differently!)

After the treatments we were left alone to drink water and peruse the product catalogue before we left. We were also given a 20% discount card on another treatment in the next two months but, sadly, even with the discount it’s out of my budget without a special occasion. The nice thing was that having paid for the voucher so long ago, it did feel like free day out!  I’d definitely recommend this to anyone, it was a lovely relaxing afternoon and slightly disappointing to return to the chilly day outside and the chaos created by four children in the house!

I’ll have a close eye on Living Social for more of the same!

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2 responses to “A long-awaited treat!

  1. Fiona says:

    Gorgeous 😀 We went to a spa for my sister’s hen weekend recently and it was SO WONDERFUL. Have you ever been to Seaham Spa? Dreamy xxx

    • northmum says:

      I went to Seaham with a friend in 2003, it was a gift for our very first Mothering Sunday! It’s changed hands twice since then but I’m sure it’s still lovely. Actually I entered a Facebook competition recently to win a 12 month membership – the draw is in September but in the meantime I’ve won a runners-up prize of a meal for 2 in the restaurant! The only drawback is that it’s a promotional deal so to collect the voucher we have to have a tour of the facilities, but I think it will be worth it.
      On the subject of hen weekends, I have decided that I missed out by not having one (I had never heard of one when I got married, I had a meal at Bella Pasta and then we went to the pub!) so I’m planning an extensive weekend of treats for my 40th birthday by way of compensation!

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