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Ah the spa.  The restorative taking of the waters.  Recapturing the balance of mind and body.  Yet somehow, to those of us with particular issues, still stressful.

When it comes to getting time off from our usual occupations, a vast network of communications must be navigated, made all the more difficult by the fact that in my place of work at least, these things are still done on paper.  Fortunately, and rather unusually, I had many weekends off in the month of January.  Such availability for socialising with the 9-5ers didn’t come off quite as well as I hoped (due in most part to my not knowing many of them anymore) but did obviously negate the complex tasks of requesting a rota/annual leave, and waiting around until decisions have been published.

For anyone as averse to choice and commitment as I am, the very act of deciding where to go is precursed by months of deliberation, reading online reviews, finding out dimensions, facilities, menus.  Relentless comparisons of trip advisor scores, inclusive packages and customer satisfaction ratings is enough to wear out even the staunchest of commitmentphobes.  Eventually however, the constant subconscious murmur of “but what if there is something better” is overcome by the full frontal assault of that circled weekend on the calendar, fast approaching.  Fortunately, such urgency often lends an acuity of vision and judgement, allowing the selection of somewhere most satisfactory.

Once the destination has been agreed upon, the dilemma of what to take with you presents itself.  If you’re going somewhere classy, you need to find clothes which appear to be both comfortable and beyond the financial means of the ordinary person, just to feel like you might fit in.  In addition, swim wear, cosmetics, toiletries, outifts suitable for dinner and breakfast, a limited yet versatile shoe selection and – as one always remembers after having already gotten 10 minutes down the road – the gym kit.  Once all these items are gathered in one place, it is then necessary to secrete them into baggage commodious enough to avoid the trouble of cramming and yet compact enough to avoid the ridicule of those who might say “but we’re only going away for one night, you can’t possibly need…*rummages*…that many shoes!!!”  Thus have I noticed the absence of the overnight bag in my luggage collection.  Time for some internet shopping mehopes.

Having accomplished all these stressful activities, one looks about one to discover that one has not even left their humble abode yet.  And one can’t leave just yet because one has to wash some dishes, empty the washing machine, clean the kitty litter, leave out enough food for the fatso and maybe take out all the recycling and rubbish.  Fortunately, many hands make light work in such situations.  But all the while, the overriding thought is “must get there early and start using all the free stuff.”

Upon finally arriving, the sigh of relief is short lived. You find that all the time spent selecting appropriately unique and expensive looking clothing is wasted because almost everyone else there is a commoner with a voucher, just like you. The obligatory initial scout of the hotel room may well reveal some well known brand toiletry miniatures, biscuits, chocolate drinks, expensive linen, fluffy pillows and towels, and two count them, two, irons and ironing boards, but once all that is discovered there is barely time to rest because you simply must get to the spa and begin relaxing.

Once again this is a struggle with the so called luxury of choice.  Which of the four hot rooms do you frequent and for how long and in what order? Which of the pools/jacuzzis do you soak in and how can you integrate that with the “themed experience showers”, foot baths and heated loungers. More importantly, will you get to try everything to your satisfaction before you have to go for your massage or dress for dinner?  Then of course there is the gym, in which you have to justify to yourself that yes, exercise is a form of relaxation after all. Although quite what is so relaxing about watching toned, sleek, superhero bodied people twice your age make it all look so easy is unclear at this point.

Serendipitously for the vegetarian, dinner in a hotel or restaurant rarely offers such a thing as choice. At least not until the wine or dessert menu is presented. However, other worries of course intrude. Will the lady with the bread tray secretly think I am a glutton? Is her delight at returning time and time again with tongs full of steaming freshly baked sun dried tomato bread genuine? Will all this bread mean that there will be no room in the pudding belly for dessert…?

Breakfast is often no different. Battling food envy and wishing more that just the vegans knew of decent veggie sausages often makes for sad faces around the breakfast table. But not so here with a surfeit of waffles, pancakes, maple syrup, fresh bread, cheeses, spreads and all the other naughty, unhealthy breakfast delights that make that 45 minutes of exercise the day before so pointless. But what of the distress caused by wondering whether to go in for a second helping – which in truth I usually do – weighed up against how much more spa time can be squeezed in before check out?

All the world, as it turns out, is balanced in the scales. All such stresses are countered by the two following facts:

  1. I am no longer involved in planning or engaging in spa related activities.
  2. I no longer have to worry I may have missed out on something by being unfamiliar with the market town of Stratford upon Avon.

Much like nicotine only improves the mood by relieving nicotine withdrawal, spas just remove the stress of getting to one and staying there. Not that I’m complaining…

GRPs for nearly setting fire to the kitchen this morning – making tea is a risky business it seems: -1

FRPs for participating in a vaccine trial: +100

TPs for the place still being, despite several attempts at cleaning and tidying, what I call a spithole: -1

FitnePs for actually swimming, cycling, gyming etc will be calculated from today and reset to 0 to start over for the year…

CRPs for applying for, interviewing for and being offered Band 6: +5

  • Karma: +16
  • FRP: +33.6
  • Relationships: +6
  • Family: +9
  • Friends: +16 [Supplementary PPs: +2]
  • Career: +15
  • Fitness: 0
  • General: -4
  • Hospitality: +3
  • Tidyness: 0
  • CVF: +3000
Lyric of the Week: It was a cold September before the Indian summer