Saturday, 7 September 2013

A Spa Day at the Celtic Manor

Back during that mythical era when my time and disposable income was my own I enjoyed the odd beauty treatment. I was never a weekly customer, but a facial here and a manicure there was not unusual. Fast forward 14 years, two kids, and a self employed income later and I am lucky if I make it to the hairdresser twice a year. As for my New Year's Resolution to have regular manicures, that lasted as long as it took to peel the second lot of Shellac polish off. I was as surprised as anyone, therefore, to find myself digging out my single cozzie (I am not a big swimmer) and tidying up my tootsies in preparation for an afternoon's spa-ing at the Celtic Manor.

I have great friends, one in particular who not only swaps childcare, happily taking both my boys even though she only has one, but who took me to the Forum Spa at the Celtic Manor as thanks for my doing the Cardiff Half Marathon with her last year as she raised money for the MND Association. Yes, that's right. I got to drag her out for runs in all weathers (a particularly torrential Sunday morning stands out in my mind) and call her my bitch, and she rewards me with a luxurious treat. Like I said, I have great friends. If there is one thing that was brought home to me it is that I clearly don't spend enough time doing my own thing. The kids mooned around and acted like I was abandoning them forever, not just 8 hours. "I suppose it will be the best day of your life" said the oldest. "Why do you want to leave us, Mummy?" whined the younger. Closing the door firmly on any semblance of maternal guilt I fairly skipped out of the house. 

Handing the car keys over for valet parking we made our way to the Forum Spa where we were greeted in hushed tones by women with glowing skin who handed us questionnaires and directed us to the tea and coffee facilities (I have been asked to make a note that the cups are only suitable for right handed people. You have been warned!) So far, so good. I had nothing to do with the booking so was happy to find that we had a good five hours to eat lunch and lounge around before having our treatments. Filling in the questionnaire we guffawed over questions such as "what do you hope to achieve from today" providing information about all the bits we weren't happy with so if we didn't feel decrepit and scraggy when we walked in, we sure did now. Exchanging our clipboards for bathrobes satisfyingly luxurious (and large! I nearly tripped over the bottom of mine) we assumed the spa day outfit of swimmers, robe and hotel slippers and headed up to the private club room to dine on food so healthy and delicious it had us swearing our first Lottery win purchase would be a personal chef. If you are having a spa day that involves this lunch I recommend you get there sooner rather than later. While there was plenty of food for us, I noticed it wasn't topped up and later groups had to ask for more of some and settle for the scrag ends of others.

Stylish but not for left handers
The next few hours passed in a blur of eating, swimming, steaming, jacuzzi-ing, reading, snoozing and generally reverting to a fragrantly vegetable like state. I had brought a book and magazine but was pleased to see a wide choice of recent copies of glossies and weeklies for spa guests to use. The treatments were awesome. I am not sure what package my friend booked but I think it was the TFI Friday one as it included a hot stone massage followed by an Elemis facial treatment. I shamefully have forgotten my therapist's name but she was fab, giving me a run-down on what to expect and asking how firm I wanted my massage before taking me to the cocoon like treatment room and working her magic. I floated out of that room on a fragrant cloud of relaxation, rejoining my mate who looked as relaxed as I felt. We were there on the day of the ISPS Handa Wales golf tournament so retired to the very busy bar where we happily passed the time of a glass  of wine people watching before heading home. Waiting for the car to be brought around we noticed a number of golfers returning with evidence they had just eaten at McDonalds which made us snigger somewhat.I am sure there were numerous golfers there who would be recognisable to someone who gave a toss about golf, but the only celeb I saw was Linda Robson (who will be back on screens in a new series of Birds of  Feather in 2014 - hooray!)

It was a fab day and I'd like to say thanks to T who shared her Celtic Manor vouchers with me so generously, by posting another link for the MND Association (South East Wales Branch) which is run by volunteers who do a fabulous job helping those with MND and their families, and who also have a Facebook page.