So I was mildly skeptical when I saw that Amy Neale (Aqua Sana spa manager - they're the ones at Center Parcs, incidentally) claimed that you could turn your home into a peaceful and relaxing sanctuary for the day. Seriously? My house? Oh well. Worth a try. Time to don my husband's Boba Fett dressing gown (the nearest thing we own to a spa robe) and give it a whirl:
Step 1: Jacuzzi
Throwing myself in whole heartedly, I had bold plans to recreate that weird thing that Eastern European men do when they sit in steam rooms eating salty snacks, then run out and roll naked in the snow whilst being hit with sticks by their womenfolk. It's been snowing in Cheshire. I have access to a range of big sticks in the woodland at the back of our house. I have a packet of crisps. I have a husband. I don't have a steam room, but what I do have is a paddling pool, access to lots of hot water and a toddler willing to blow bubbles through a straw to recreate a hot tub in our back garden.
Sadly, Richard was none too enamoured with the thought of sitting in our paddling pool eating Monster Munch in sub zero temperatures and being beaten afterwards. I think it was the state of our paddling pool that really put him off. This is where it's been wedged for the past 18 months, collecting filth and dead leaves and, you know, toads and things because I couldn't be bothered to put it away in the shed. Time for a re-think.
TOP TIP 1: IF ATTEMPTING TO RECREATE A HOT TUB, ENSURE PADDLING POOL IS CLEAN AND NOT HOUSING ANY REPTILES.
So, a bit less creative, but you can't go wrong with a hot bubbly bath by candlelight. Easily done, and the tea lights can be strategically placed to hide the bits where the grout needs re-doing. This was the glorious scene that awaited me:
Sadly, the combination of water and naked flame set off Rory's Toddler Hazard Alert alarm. DOUBLE HAZARD, I REPEAT, DOUBLE HAZARD, GET IN HERE IMMEDIATELY, WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP. Within seconds, he'd pelted into the bathroom entirely naked and thrown himself into the bath, where he proceeded to play experimental jazz on his bath flutes. FFS. Right, not quite what I had in mind, but I could share my spa bath with my child, couldn't I?
"Are beards going to start coming out of your legs soon, mummy?" Cheeky little shit. It's only been 2 days since I shaved them.
"Do you remember that time I did a poo in the bath when I was a bit little, mummy?" That I do. "You know, and it got stuck under the bath mat and I trod on it?" Yep, that's wedged firmly in my mind as only a distressing bath turd incident can be. "Wouldn't it be hilarious if I did that again?" "No it most certainly would n....RICHARD, RICHAAAAAAAARD, I'M GOING TO NEED A SIEVE AND A BIG BUCKET OF DETTOL UP HERE. AGAIN."
TOP TIP 2: BEFORE COMMENCING YOUR SPA DAY, ENSURE THAT YOUR CHILD IS ASLEEP/AT NURSERY/TIED TO A TABLE LEG/OTHERWISE INCAPACITATED.
I dream of a handsome young man massaging my poor, wrecked back with relaxing oils while I drift happily off to sleep. I'm sure Richard dreams of this too (except maybe a woman rather than a man). What neither of us dreamed of was back massage Rory-style, which involved various toy cars being vigorously driven up and down our backs. On the up side, it definitely un-knotted some muscles, and I'm sure the bruises will fade within a week or so.
TOP TIP 3: CARS AND DIGGERS ARE NOT MASSAGE TOOLS.
Step 3: Exfoliating treatment:
Or, as some may call it, 'getting attacked in the sand pit by a child who's hell bent on grinding damp grit into your skin with the aid of a stolen spatula. It definitely removed any dead skin cells I had floating around - in that it removed most of my skin.
TOP TIP 4: GROW TO LOVE YOUR DEAD SKIN CELLS. LEAVE THEM BE.
Step 4: Face mask:
Amy Neale says you can make a face mask out of natural yoghurt and honey. However, I wouldn't know as while I was peering into the fridge wondering whether it would work with a strawberry Petits Filous, Rory made off with the last one and ate it. In other news, there is sand everywhere.
NO TOP TIP. OPERATION ABORTED. COMMENCE STEP 5 ASAP.
Step 5: Hydrate:
Excellent. Wine anybody?