Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Teaching steam room meditation to Americans

There are times when I truly love my job. I’m typing this, swathed in a fluffy white robe, at the antique desk in my suite at the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath.
I pitched up yesterday, rather hot and more than a little wet and windswept, pulling my M&S case behind me like a reluctant terrier.
‘Do you have a car, madam?’
‘Nope, just me.’ Smiling brightly and wiping a line of perspiration off my forehead.
‘Just the one case?’
‘I'm detoxing.’
Not sure he got that one.

If you’re going to detox you may as well do it somewhere nice and the Royal Crescent is nice, very nice. Location? Couldn’t be more gorgeous if it tried. Style? Trades on its neo-Classical good looks to the extreme with that rather grand yet extremely comfy English country house look: big squashy sofas, swathed four posters, antiques hanging around louchely as if they were just any old IKEA job-lot. I was expecting a nice room but I wasn’t expecting an entire suite, complete with a chandelier, fireplace (working) and a massive Joshua Reynolds (yes, the real mccoy) on the wall. Seriously you could fit the average modern house into this and have room to spare.

It’s a bit weird though, staying in a hotel prized for its food and wine and not being able to eat or drink it. I reckon it would have been kind to have removed the wine list and the menu from the welcome pack and though my view out the front looks over a nicely healthy green to the hills beyond, from the bedroom I can watch the diners trip-trap in and out of The Dower House restaurant. Still. I have my tree syrup and lemon juice flask and, weirdly, wonderfully, I haven’t been hungry since I got here (and we’re talking well over 24 hours now).

The spa is a good ‘un. It’s small and down-to-earth and the therapists know what they’re doing and clearly enjoy their work. The actual workhouse part of the spa is earthy and organic, with rough slate floors and dim lights – very kind to the less than svelte. Actually, it was a huge relief to find that the clientele at the Bath House are not size zero supermodels but nicely solid, chunky forty-pluses on the whole, serenely swimming up and down the very warm pool.

It’s pretty evenly mixed between men and women too. I plunged into the steam room to find someone, a male someone, already sitting there. Now it’s OK if there are several people, and it’s OK if you’re the only one – but just two of you is always a bit uneasy. I tend to keep schtum other than a polite nod and sat down opposite, tucking one leg up underneath. After a few minutes I realised this was a very uncomfortable position and swung my leg up and into a half-lotus (nothing smart about it, just always been able to do it and find it comfortable).
‘Aha,’ said my steam-mate who, judging by his accent was American.
‘So you’re meditating? Good idea.’
And he promptly swung up his legs and placed his hands on his knees and started breathing deeply.
Dear God. So, we sat like that for what seemed like forever. Him meditating; me pretending I was meditating and wondering how long a decent steam session meditation might take.
Finally he got up.
‘Thank you so much,’ he said. ‘I never realised that was what you’re supposed to do.’
He’ll probably go back to LA and set up sauna meditation (though they probably already do it).

I went off for my reflexology session with a lovely woman called Pam who told me that my liver was ‘stressed’ and that I had problems with my ears, bladder and immune system. ‘Good job you’re having a detox,’ she said sympathetically.

I slept for a straight twelve hours and then spent a couple of hours being scrubbed and hosed and then massaged by the fab Fran, who has the wonderful nack of knowing when to chatter inanely (when your boobs are being swept hither and thither by a strong shower jet) and when to be silent (when you’re being soothed into slumber).

I love nothing more than a massage but I do wish someone would invent a massage table that not only has a hole for your face but also a couple for your boobs and hey, maybe one for the stomach too.
I shared this thought with Fran and she burst out laughing.
‘Actually that’s a really horrible idea, isn’t it?’ I said, imagining my tits hanging down under the table like udders.

So now I’m back in my room(s) and, though I suppose I should be catching up on emails and so on, the bed is calling and, hey, it would be plain rude not to make the most of it, wouldn’t it?

41 comments:

Calico Kate said...

Oh so jealous - sounds fabulous. Sleep well!
CKx

Mud in the City said...

That sounds utterly bliss. Maybe you can patent your Sauna Meditation before that craze takes off in LA!

Exmoorjane said...

Kate: I know, I know - I am one very lucky being..... Just had a little nap and it was heaven.

Mud: It is, total bliss. Hmm, you might have a point there!

ladythinker said...

It all sounds absolute bliss. Love the location too - am very envious.

The wife of bold said...

Sigh sounds wonderful, me jelous? never. I think you should patent that table with boob holes - your on to something :)

Exmoorjane said...

Ladythinker: I love Bath, just such a gorgeous city. Just the right size. Sadly though I don;'t dare venture out to the shops as wouldn't be able to resist the cafes!

WOB: just don't! With tits my size, it truly is a revolting concept!!

Frances said...

Hello Jane,

I am looking forward to hearing more about your stay at the spa.

The only treatment that you mention that I have ever had myself is the reflexology bit ... feet and hands. Oh, and I do quite enjoy the luxury of a nap.

I do know folks who swear by de-toxing, steam, massage, etc. Cannot quite say why I stay unexperienced in any of them. Might be my particular American upbringing.

Anyhow, let's see if your Bath stay will convince me that some of what you'll be doing might be worth a try.

The room does sound fabulous. Will you be allowed to roam around Bath at all, or are your confined to your luxe quarters?

xo

Exmoorjane said...

Frances, I suspect you would love Bath, the city... and this hotel too. It is so elegant. Totally Jane Austen.
I can't believe you have not dabbled further in the vast range of therapies, given where you live. I just love being pampered and pummelled and, were I rich, I think I'd definitely allow myself a spa day once a week...sheer heaven.

ebeing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mopsa said...

Seething, just seeeething with envy.

Billie Jane said...

It sounds enormously enjoyable... but have to be down to earth here... your body detoxifies every day, by itself, of it's own accord... that's its function... to rid you of anything nasty or dodgy... toxins etc are expelled when you breathe, sweat, pee etc... so although you may feel better after this treatment... you won't be any more detoxified than before you went in. It's pure pleasure seeking, nothing else... so ENJOY!! And if you want to eat... sneak out and go to a restaurant... wont do you any harm at all!

ArtSparker said...

Your use of the term "workhouse" in the context is quite piquant. I have good memories of Bath, which I visited with a nephew. Congratulations on the assignment (I assume).

Chris said...

Sorry, not envious at all, wouldn't want to stay there. All that detoxing, steam meditation, and luxury suites :-) Ha! Seems too much like hard to me :-)

Pippa said...

I'm sorry I couldn't read after the American started meditating... will readthis again whe I have finnished wetting myself with laughter!

Preseli Mags said...

I loved the steam room meditation, but the thing that really jumped out was that you slept for 12 hours! How utterly wonderful. Enjoy the rest of your stay you lucky, lucky thing!

Erica Douglas said...

Sounds amazing, just what I could do with right now.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Mmmmm. Sounds total bliss.
Oh, and have that very same thought about the boobs holes in a table thing for massages... and a tiny incline for the knees too.
x

elizabethm said...

YOu lucky thing. I don't care whether detox does you good or not, I just want to be there being massaged and having your suite! Enjoy it.

susan said...

I do feel sorry for all those people out there who don't enjoy their profession or jobs congrats on being someone thats cracked it, you and me both
Susanx

LittleBrownDog said...

So glad you popped in that udder-table image just when I was about to explode with sheer envy. All sounds absolutely delicious - how long are you booked in for? Perhaps we could commandeer the steam room for our next PC meet?

Annette Piper said...

That sounds heavenly! Even I could detox in a place like that. Don't think I'll be able to wipe the images of the possible massage table from my mind any time soon though...

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi, liked the sound of this. Also liked the sound of your recent article in the Telegraph Weekend Section. You have inspired me to write about the countryside too. Just gotta write it now. Prefer your version to you know who's!!

Maddie Grigg said...

What a darned life you lead. You could have dressed like a Jane Austen character though.

Ruby's Mum said...

Actually, there are such "cushions" you can get to either go on top of the massage table, or on the floor. They started out for pregnancy massage, but women with larger breasts also find them comfortable. There are cut-outs for the breast and tummy. Available from massage stores in the U.S., but I don't know about the U.K.

Jude said...

Oh, I do wish i was there!! Stress factor..very high here!

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

and while all this was going on, did you at least pause and wonder how the poor people were doing?
sounds like a great getaway.

Blossomcottage said...

No sure I liked the last comment but each to their own, my mother always said I had to eat everything on my plate as the poor people were starving, I could not quite make out how leaving something on my plate was going to help the poor people! Still back to the Spa!
Great thing to do Jane, I once went for a R and R Spa for three days, sad soul that I am kept getting the giggles went I tried to relax with a herbal drink and watch all these people floating about in white fluffy dressing gowns to tranquil music.
It reminded my of Aldous Huxley's
A Brave New World!"
Hope you feel detoxed Jane.
Love Blossom

Fennie said...

All I can say is that your Bath is rather better than my Bath even if my Bath scores rather mor highly on the comestibles.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

So know what you mean about the massage table. Hope I never see it on Dragon's Den though.

claire p said...

unds like you are having a wonderful time, enjoy xx

60GoingOn16 said...

Does it all seem like a dream now? Just think, you changed the life of that man in the steam room - for ever.

By the way, there's yet another blogging prize waiting for you over here:
http://60goingon16.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/08/-the-prize-is-thine-.html

CAMILLA said...

Dear Jane,

You have been to Bath, and staying at that Gorgeous Hotel too, oh lucky you.!

Hope you enjoyed every minute of it darling Jane, somehow know you will, it is lovely there, Bath is one of my favourites parts of the county, love the architecture too.

xxx

pretty far west said...

I'm new to here (led in by memories of the lovely Royal Crescent Hotel) and I just want to say that reading you is like being caught up in an ongoing conversation and also that you must be able to type really fast. I'll be back to observe more of the whirlwind.

Julie said...

Funny, came upon your blog via a similar Irish one and thought, "Bet that's Jane." And it was...

mumplustwo said...

Hilarious. Aren't Americans the sweetest, funniest people(and so often inadvertently so?! Lucky you, I wish I had your job ....

Angel Bluestocking said...

I SOOO need a detox. My liver, kidneys, heart...everything are stressed at mo.

Hope it did you lots of good.
xx

tim relf said...

Have just been trying to find the Women's Hour recording, but failed! Can I listen again anywhere on Radio 4's website Jane?

MrsDesperate said...

Ah, sounds just what I need! (And loving the sauna meditation!)
I found your blog via the lovely Nicky Pellegrino! x

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Bed and breakfast Exmoor said...

Oh how I wish I had your job instead of mine, it'd be amazing being able to visit different places than the same old place every morning. It sounds like a wonderful place for a getaway, I'll have to get onto my husband about it as my birthday's coming up soon!