Friday, 18 March 2011

Touching the void........

I had my Christmas facial this week. I had been given vouchers for Fresh, as a Christmas present, an excellent gift because:
a) I like Aveda stuff
b) I can stagger there from home, make-up free, within minutes
I'd been saving this up for a February I have previously mentioned, February is my worst month.......but I forgot. Probably due to brain freeze from this excessive winter. Fortunately, March is proving to be equally horrid so it was equally rewarding. Being somewhat credit crunched last year it's been ages since I dipped my pedicure-free toes into the glorious, cocooned world-of-pamper. And I'd forgotten just how glorious it is. I was smoothed, exfoliated, massaged, steamed, wrapped and anointed with deliciously scented unguents. Utter bliss. Honestly, I really didn't want to come out and feel the harsh bite of bitter reality back on the soggy, gray high street.

The last time I went for a bit of pampering it was quite a different story. I was on holiday in Essaouira, Morocco, with a girlfriend who'd stepped in at the last minute because the boyfriend........well that's a whole other story.......anyway, both of us had been to Morocco before but neither of us had been to a had to be done. Now, we had seen all sorts of gorgeous hamams advertised around the city in various hotels but for some reason lost in the menopause of time, we chose to go to a local hamam............Why? We were sort of man-handled into a cold room and told, with the aid of pictures and hand gestures, to strip to our bikini bottoms by mean women who spoke no English, or French, and very little Moroccan. Then we went through into a wet, cold room with an overflowing trough of running water where we huddled on bench seats while some Italian women, who seemed to know the ropes, were chatting happily. The mean women seemed to know the Italian women and smilled at them. We felt a little better and waited our turn. Eventually, two women waring swimming costumes gestured to my friend and I. They pored buckets of water over us, grabbing at our bikini bottoms to ensure nothing within remained dry, then slathered us in something called 'gommage' and then told to lay on our backs on a narrow, marble slab. We did and they left the room. My skin began to burn and itch. Fearing I was having some horrid reaction to the 'gommage', I asked my friend how she felt.
'Burning and itchy,' she replied, 'it smells like Jiff.'
It did. Just when it truly felt unbearable the women returned to our hot, sweaty chamber ........their costumes now pulled down to their waists........and began throwing buckets of cold water over us while we clung on, like freshly landed halibut, to the slippery slabs......I swear I nearly hit the deck..... but oh such relief. Then we were given rough towels to dry ourselves and taken into another room where we were told to lay down again on our fronts. Then they gave us a massage with the famed Moroccan Argan oil......oil extracted from the shit of the olive-eating-tree-climbing goats, produced by women's collectives......who else is going to go out collecting goat shit? And to be honest, the gnarled, saggy-breasted women of the hamam were not much of an advert for the stuff. For all I knew they could be in their 30s.......But, the massage was start with. Then it began to get quite........ intimate. Perhaps this was local custom, I wondered? Common place in the hamam, I thought?

As we wandered through the dusty souk, dazed, dehydrated and desperate for some mint tea, I asked my friend how her massage had been, just exactly how much had she got massaged?
'Not that much,' she said, 'I think you've been assaulted.'

Top tip.......for slatterns: want the joy of clean sheets but just can't get it together to make a whole bed? Just change the pillow cases.


  1. Oh I love being pampered .. luckily I have a friend and we swop once a month I do her hair and she does my feet .. but there is nothing like a facial and a massage.. love it xx

  2. Oh, dear - I can relate to your Moroccan hammam experience - a friend and I had a similar one in Budapest - though fortunately the massage wasn't so intimate. But the women (I think they were female, but there weren't many clues!) masseuses were pretty no-nonsense - they didn't exactly make small talk! Glad you had a good 'Fresh' experience. Abby x

  3. There are, allegedly, some great Korean spas round here. I say allegedly as I haven't been on account of them only being for women. Mrs legend swears by them. I remember going to london as a very innocent 15 year old and paying for a massage at one of the less salubrious establishments. I paid for an "assisted shower", and was shown ushered into a cubicle the size of a phone box. After a few minutes of excited anticipation, the door opened and someone handed me a bar of soap. Sigh

  4. Thanks for the warning, off to Morocco with girlfriends soon, I feel much better informed. Shame yours was a bad experience, makes your recent treat all the nice - maybe it's treatment karma!! x

  5. I've just booked in for my first facial this year, its finding the time and its just not the same doing the beauty treatments on yourself!

  6. I had a very similar experience at Springs Hydro in Leicestershire! xxx

  7. OMG! that sounds awful in Morroco! I like having my hair done, it cheers me up no end :)

    Bee happy x
    Have a delicious day!

  8. Hello! Just tried to call you as I see you're up. I'm off to read your post now but the phone's just rung xx

  9. Writing as a bloke, I really cannot understand why you put yourself through such a demeaning procedure; all in the name of beauty, or feeling better. Did you?

    My beloved has been to a Maori Health spa in Rotorua (NZ), where she is covered in "spiritualy cleansed spring water" and "wholesome muds and clays"

    I didn't see any difference, apart form the Visa account which took a huge hit.

    Whisky works much better, and writing as a Scot, much cheaper.

  10. Hilarious! I'm not sure that's my type of beauty treatment.

    I have a fabulous guy who comes round and gives me a massage. He'll come to you as you're local. I'll give you his number. He's amazing xx

  11. I think I'll settle for fresh pillow cases:) The last time I had a facial is must be somewhere in the year 2000. That's because a girlfriend of mine told me that she got skin problems for having facials regularly. The best massage I ever had was in India. We had a Nepalese girl who did housekeeping, babysitting, dog-sitting, and she'd give me a massage with coconut oil and a hair massage with olive oil (which cost a fortune in India at the time, it was around 1992). Downstairs of our builing here we have a gym and they have a hamman...I always wondered what it is. Now I know, thanks to you!

  12. So that's what I am - a slattern!