Tuesday, 6 June 2017

My first spa #win

Just before Christmas, I won a £300 voucher for Virgin Experiences. A sensible person might have spent some time browsing the catalogue, as it were. Not me. In about the time it took to write that last sentence, I’d blown it on a spa break. In my day-to-day life, I waste hours deliberating over the merits of Decision A versus Decision B; not this time, however - I just went arrow-straight to the nearest place with chips and a dressing-gown dress code.

That place was Clarice House, in Bury St Edmunds, and I booked the break to coincide with my 15th wedding anniversary. Given that we hadn’t so much as grabbed a pint to celebrate any anniversary since the delivery of our first-born in 2010, I figured that back rubs and jacuzzis would make a pleasant change. (Here I should add that the package also included unlimited use of the hotel gym, though why anyone would entertain an exercise bike when they could spend the day in a fizzy bath escapes me.)
Clarice House, in Bury St Edmunds
Clarice House, a fancy old pile in Bury St Edmunds
So, after half a year of waiting, the day finally came. We bundled the children off to my mum’s house, fired up the Astra, and broke down 20 minutes away from our house.

The RAC promised to arrive within three hours (three!). Such faint reassurance invariably puts my stress into fifth gear, and indeed, for the next 90 minutes there was a bona fide risk that my anxiety would boil into a violent but ultimately pointless assault on my vehicle; that or vomiting on the grass verge. I try not to be a control freak, but I had seen the day going differently. Thankfully, the hotel was sympathetic, and rescheduled the treatments for later that day.

In the end, we lost only two hours of R&R. Small mercies, I suppose, but my state of mind was plain to see, even by the time we arrived at the hotel another hour later. Indeed, two hours of pool, jacuzzi and steam room made barely a dent on the residual tension, as evidenced by the therapist’s unrestrained awe vis-à-vis the incredible gnarl of my shoulders (largely accumulated since I last relaxed, some time in October 2016).

Credit to Michelle, however, for delivering one of the most effective back rubs of my life - I dread to think how much lactic acid she released from my knotted muscles. Judging from the way I stumbled out of the treatment room like a zombie on mogadon, it seemed pretty clear that those toxins were the only thing holding my body together. I collapsed in the relaxation room until reality came back into focus.

Regrettably, that was a little quicker than I would have liked, if only because of the piped music. I’m clearly the minority, but I’d rather listen to extra-mild cheddar than the emotionally vacant tedium of “relaxing music” - there’s more soul in a tape full of ZX Spectrum games. So I schlepped back up to our room and sat in the vast bathtub until it was time to eat.

At the risk of dwelling on things not going to plan, dinner didn’t start by going to plan. That was because we were given a complimentary bottle of prosecco, however, so I can let that stand - everything goes better with bubbles, after all.

As it was only a few pounds more, we upgraded to the perfectly cooked and deceptively large steak meal. I say deceptive because, as a doltish bumpkin, I am unaccustomed to eating from rectangular platters, and before I knew it, had over-eaten. I then compounded the matter by shoving down a humungous crème brulée.
Fancy truffles
The lovely kitchen crew gave us some bonus truffles, which I couldn't eat until breakfast time
Good times did not ensue. My belly thre its rattle from the pram, and I spent the rest of the night feeling horribly ill until, by the grace of God, I fell unconscious. Indeed, it wasn’t for another two days that I could eat anything without feeling like I’d ingested cast iron. Again, this wasn’t high on my list of objectives for the break.

Nevertheless, when dawn came with rosy fingers, I felt many times better than the night before. Perhaps not man enough for the full English, but sufficiently strong for eggs royale and a sneaky pain au chocolat before the digestive predicament came to light.

Still, we had full use of the facilities again, so a lie-down in the relaxation room (this time with suitable distractions) was just what the doctor ordered. That and another hour and a half in the jacuzzi and steam room.

Sadly, of course, all good things must com to an end, and so we loaded up the car and promptly ducked back inside to order lunch, which we ate on the terrace, and followed up with a leisurely walk around the grounds. Well, there was no need to rush, was there?!

This was one of my biggest ever wins, and while it might not have gone exactly to plan, it was still the best time I’d had in months and a brilliant reminder of why I love this hobby!

Spa breaks are a permanent fixture on my wish list - is there anything you couldn’t win enough of?

1 comment:

  1. sometimes I think when things go a bit off-plan it actually makes things more memorable. Not related to comping but last friday I booked tickets for the shard to follow on from Miss T's Great ormond street appointment - her appointment overran, she needed blood tests and an unexpected xray done and we ended up running late - it poured with rain and we should see the shard but couldn't figure out how to get there - we ended up arriving just in time of our time slot and totally drenched and stressed - but we'll always remember it because of that. What a lovely truffle plate. And glad you managed to get there after the car breakdown!