Know Thy Heritage – A Christmas Investigation

With the season upon us where the weather is colder, the nights are longer, and the tribal call of the Daily Mail reader turns to all things British Christmas, it’s time for a festive blog. There are a number of videos doing the rounds explaining why people voted to pull Britain out of the EU – these are invariably incoherent rants about brown people. Case in point below:

http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/james-obrien/james-obriens-response-to-racist-brexit-voter/

Of course, this time of year the ‘keep Britain British’ rantings turn to all things seasonal. “Keep our nativity plays!”, “It’s Happy Christmas, not Holidays!”, and my favorite “We’re not even allowed to say Christmas’.* So it got me thinking, with ever declining attendance at actual Church services, what are these extra-British people celebrating?

*You are. Stop being ridiculous.

Now for Christians the world over, traditions are different. For instance, Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas in January (the original date before the Romans changed it to be nearer the Winter Solstice), and Advent traditionally is a time of preparation for the four weeks prior to the big festival. Preparations in this case meaning self reflection, fasting, and prayer that the second coming of Christ will heal the violence and evil in world.

Now, this doesn’t sound much like the ‘British Christmas’ being mourned for. So let’s have a look at some of the things that we actually do in the festive season and their roots.

So December 25th… not actually the wine making dude’s birthday. It’s certainly close, but was moved to be closer to the winter Solstice celebrated by Pagans across Europe (including Britain). The Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year, usually around 21st December and is part of the Yule Festival which lasts for 12 days. Now, that sounds familiar! 12 days? On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a Solstice because that’s actually where the meaning of the 12 days comes from – Pagans celebrate family and the return of the sun from the Solstice until the new year.

That decorated Christmas tree has to be British, right? Christmas trees have their roots in many places (ba boom tsss), but the idea of bringing in an evergreen tree hails back to imagesCeltic Pagan traditions. Bringing in an evergreen was thought to bring in the spirits that lived in the tree into the warmth. Each night, the family would hand sweet foods on the tree as an offering to the ‘little people’. The Christmas tree as we know it was a German tradition, instead a variety of evergreens were used in Britain – Evergreen trees represent everlasting life and were a powerful message back then that the winter would not last forever and life would return.

Mistletoe_Berries_UkEver had a quick kiss under the mistletoe? This was an evergreen particularly revered by Driuids who went to great lengths to collect it. The reason for kissing beneath it? The unusual white berries represent the fertile semen of the life giving man which combined with the evergreen was a powerful fertility symbol.

And that wreath you’ve hung on your door: yep, you guessed it, has nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever. Again, the evergreen theme comes back here, but this time its about protection from evil spirits. Holly was thought to deter them with its spiky leaves and because Holy symbolizes the feminine with its red berried representing women’s blood,this also means protection.  When combined in a wreath, holly & mistletoe represent fertile marriage and the rebirth of the sun. With the wreath being circular, this also symbolizes the circle of life.

But what about the lights? There’s nothing more British than decking your house with enough lights to signal to the international space station.The-Brailsford-familys-Christmas-lights-display-in-Okebourne-Road-Brentry

But with the Pagans and Druids celebrating the return of the sun, Yule is a festival of fire & light. It is quite literally celebrating the return of the light. Candles were lit, oranges /apples were sliced, died, and hung in the house to represent the sun and a 5 pointed star was placed in a prominent position. For Jewish celebrations, this would represent the Star of David – in Pagan celebrations, the star represents the five elements. There are only so many symbols!

ah, but you wouldn’t get presents if it wasn’t for a proper British Christmas. This is very true – if you were celebrating the Christian holiday, then gift giving doesn’t feature. However, the tradition of gift giving and acts of kindness throughout the season are cast in the footsteps of our ancestors. This is the season where we celebrate new life and family and the tradition of gift giving was established long before the Romans rocked up.

So should we protect our traditional British Christmas? Of course. Anything which lightens the dark winter nights and lifts us up should be encouraged. To borrow from the Bard, Eat, drink, and be merry. But know where you traditions come from – be proud of your heritage, but know where it hails from. Britain did not start with the Victorian Empire – that is a dark time for our humanity (one of a number), but from a combination of different nations coming together and evolving as a whole. Sound familiar?

And to you my dear reader, I wish you a [Blessed Yule | Happy Christmas | Enjoyable Holiday | Happy Hanukkah | Excellent time off following Eid ] *delete as appropriate

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Dear Fatty

(Yes, I know I shamelessly stole the title)

New (academic) year, new challenges. But this year marks a big one and a massive personal challenge for me. If you’re reading my blog, then you’re probably already know about the fun & games I have with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – TLDR; it’s shit & cramping my style, but this month marks the 1 year anniversary of fracturing my spine and just over a year since my hearing dropped to unworkable levels. Life went on. But without my beloved racing that was an outlet for lots of rage – but now I’m back! Wonkier, in more pain, and with an extensive arse (the image below is my “thinspiration” – a combo of being stationary & evil painkillers has wrecked my weight).

So, with new work challenges I knew that I needed to build in some head space and get back to racing, but with our club now super popular it would be difficult to have a chair set up for my weird & wonky limbs. I’d saved up a percentage and reached out to The 53 Foundation for support – then after completely forgetting I’d contacted them I got an email telling me that they’d love to help me fund the rest of my chair & to go ahead and order it!

As an able bodied peron, the financial layout for going for a run is as simple as some trainers & leggings – an entry level wheelchair is £625 (professioal chairs start at £3k), so this grant was quite literally a game changer.

With my chair winging it’s way to me, I knew I had to pay this kindness forward and whilst I’ll be racing to raise money for the 53 Fondation soon (I promise!), there is one woman who I can’t ignore for my first race.

That’s me in the lurid pink alongside team mates who made sport fun for the first time ever.

That's me in the lurid pink!

At the end of October, to prove I have properly taken leave of my senses, I’ll be participating in the Great South Run (oh the delicious irony!) in my chair supported by my amazing friend Rachel & Mr Geek. Instead of sponsoring me for a big charity, I would be eternally grateful if you would consider making a donation towards Shona’s powerchair GoFundMe. It breaks my heart that this amazing young woman who dedicates herself to helping others in the bendy community has to resort to crowdfunding to get an appropriate chair, but lots of us have been there.

Training starts in earnest now and I’ll be posting updates on how we’re doing (even if that is elongated whining about how much everything hurts!). I’m not aiming for a PB – because Ive never pushed that far, so it will be a PB! I have no aims for elite sport – I simpy want to finish in as few pieces as possible (and have the following week already set aside for bed rest).

Wish me luck!

Why I Let My Daughter Dye Her Hair Pink (and blue and purple)

I’m riding the “bad parent” wave each time we go out this summer. TinyPants starts high school in September and at age 11 has asked for a number of things that I’ve agreed to despite parental tutting. Here’s why:

She’s always had a strong sense of identity and year 6 has contained some big knocks for her. Instead of the last year of primary school being a fanfare of goodbyes, she counted down the days until she could be rid of bitchy cliques & a head teacher that she openly hated (strong words, but she had big boots to fill & did little to endear herself), and then there were SATS.

Since September, everything was building up to these bloody exams. Art, music, creative writing, science – all the things that made TinyPants love school went by the wayside. Maths drills, spellings, & exam papers were the daily grind – after which there were hours of tearful homework.

“Do your best & we’ll be as proud as always” we kept telling her. In the end, she sat in pain for 4 solid days doing her best (she was allowed to get up frequently, but allowed no extra time. Fearful that she wouldn’t finish, she didn’t take breaks. By day 4, she had a roll of physio tape strapped to her). Previous end of year reports have been a joy to read with comments given across the curriculum; this year one page was given with a table highlighted in red for each of the maths & english exams – “did not achieve”. The pass mark is 100, in most she scored 98 & in one 94. No “how I enjoyed my year” comment, but a “how could I have improved in my exams”. In contrast, her sister has a high school report with gold stars for effort & all subjects treated equally.

I was furious. My baby has fought past being born so tiny that she lived in an incubator; she fought apnea; she worked so hard to read (something that didn’t come naturally); she has emotional intelligence to rival most adults; she is a young carer; she has mentally prepared herself to be in daily physical pain & smiles through it; she worked like stink to pass those exams and yet she was deemed insufficient by a margin of 2 marks. She didn’t see how close she was – she saw “failure”. The piece of my mind that I’d like to give Gove, Morgan, & Greening may leave me without a mind. This narrowing of the curriculum and constant testing is stamping out the creative sparks that we’ll need in years to come.

So she asked to rebel, much like getting a statement haircut after a big break up. Step 1 was pink hair and I agreed to dye it for the final day. Step 2 was leaving primary behind – I genuinely feared her going out in a blaze of verbal glory, but she took the high ground and walked out with her head high (mentally flipping the bird as she left). And that was that.

She’s using the summer to find herself & that includes strange hair colours. We’re watching a pre-highschool reinvention of herself & it’s fascinating. She’s ditched the little kid clothes for older, but sensible shirts & jeans. I’m watching me grow up from a distance, but with a lot more self-esteem! Yes, we’ll have to get busy with the Head & Shoulders to remove the colour before school starts (eye roll), but for these 6 weeks the girls are allowed to be their genuine selves, whoever that may be.

We’ve just got back from a week at Disneyland where she asked to ride ALL of the rollercoasters on hoiday. I feel sick letting her put her body through that kind of strain – she’s already in pain most days & her back is a big culprit. Ibuprofen, TENS, & physio tape already feature quite regularly. Now, I could insist that she protect her joints at all costs, but shit, what right do I have to sap the joy from her life? She knows that adult life is going to hurt, but the pair of us are adrenalin junkies. At her age & into my teens I rode the coasters, I rode horses, I cornered so hard on my motorbike I could pick daisies with my teeth. So each time she wanted to go on a gut wrenching ride off Mr Geek went & rode with her.

Did it kill her? No. Ok, near the end of the holiday Mr Geek had to carry her out of bed & she gained wheels just like mum for part of the day as she couldn’t stand. Most days we paced quite well, the day before we’d thrown caution to the wind, but had the “best day evaar”.

Hell, even I rode a coaster – Mr Geek scoped it out and made sure it had head & back supports, I spent the previous day resting, he lifted me in – I screamed for the entire ride (on which my kneecap moved completely out & I pulled out both shoulders) – he lifted me back out & helped me pop things back, soothed the muscle spasms, then I rested for two days. All that pain for just 5 minutes? Yes. Totally worth it for feeling alive for just a while.

TinyPants looks at me and knows what’s coming – right now she wants to live as much life as possible instead of snatching 5 minutes of flying.

So, yes I’m letting her dye her hair far earlier than I ever thought I would, but it’s a small price to pay for the catharsis that its brought her. And as for Beanpole, well there’s no hair dye there – her genuie self blossomed at high school and my meganerd is blossoming into the intellectual fangirl that I expected, but she deserves a post all of her own.

Note: I’ve spoken a lot about pain here – for more info on Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, please read this post.

No Poo for This Curly Girl

My no poo journey has been rather haphazard at times, but I’ve finally fallen into a routine that works for me and with some surprising results. I’ve gone from I’d like healthy hair to it’s all about the curl pattern!

For those of you not used to the terminology, “no poo” means no shampoo – let’s get this straight, this does not mean I don’t wash my hair. If anything, I spend more time cleansing & preening than when I was full soapsuds. It’s just that I’ve changed what I stick in my hair to match what it needs to stay healthy.

Just like eating well, my hair requires a balanced diet & sone gentle encouragement to bounce into it’s natural curl pattern. That diet means not stripping out the natural oils with shampoo leaving it dry & frizzy. Instead I cleanse my hair with conditioner, called “co-washing”. Just like ditching the washing machine, this requires extra effort on my part to scrub & massage my scalp until the conditioner grabs anything that needs to be washed away (having Mr Geek on hand helps avoid dislocated digits). And now for some chemistry! Another big no-no for curlies are non-water soluble silicones as they don’t wash away without sulfate shampoos (did I mention that I don’t do the poo thing?). This means following a strict set of ingredients & squealing with delight when they’re sold in a local supermarket – there’s lists of “curly girl approved” products that range from 79p to +£20 and just because they’re expensive doesn’t mean your hair will love them more. Lots of it is trial & error and as my hair recovers from the torture I put it through my needs change.

Transition to healthy hair takes a long time (like 8 months +), but even after a few short months my curls are happier than I’ve ever seen them. And yes, curls! Not just frizz & waves, but big 2C/3A curls 😌

Er… 2whatnow? Well, curl patterns come in all shapes & sizes from 1a (straight as a ruler), to 4c (kinky ziggly). Prior to using the Curly Girl Method, I had 1c – 2b on a good day.

I’m really lucky to have such an easy transition – lots of people find their hair rebels for a good few weeks, but mine has only objected when I tried a gelatin treatment (that’s another post!). So, for now I’m co-washing with silicone free conditioner once or twice per week, deep conditioning once per week with this lot:

(For reference, the skin active is for my face!!)

A combo of olive oil massaged in with the (un)done and left in a showercap for an hour whilst I bathe – rinse – then 2Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar in warm water tipped over & left for a few minutes to remove any build up – rinse – cowash – rinse – squish in a 10p splodge of conditioner (don’t rinse) – squish in Cantu Curl Activator Creme – squish in gel (preferably flaxseed, but usually V05 hard set because my homemade flaxseed invariably goes off) – plop for 30 minutes – diffuse until crunchy – finally Scrunch Out The Crunch! Et Voila! And….. Sleep. In a buff.

Seems like hard work eh? It’s only once a week & a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do (or a guy if you’re Luke Arnold, because we all know he’s secretly plopping those curls).

Whilst he may have my #hairgoals I’m still pleased with my progress. So much so that I even gave myself a DIY deva cut before our holiday! (Again, for those of you not following CG, a deva cut is a haircut where you cut the hair dry by cutting one curl at a time to form a shape that encourages your curls to form well – usually by adding lots of layers).

For the lowdown on the nopoo / Curly Girl terminology, I wrote this post post a while back.

Are you no poo, low poo, or a curly girl? What are your tips for making your hair happy?

The Cult of Curls

A million years ago when I first started trying no poo it was all about being a bit of a hippy and frankly it all failed. But I never really let go of the idea that shampoo was turning me into a fraggle.

I’ve always had incredibly thick & wavy hair and equally not wholly known what to do with it. Even my good hair days were an example of why curling tongs are probably best left for professionals  (also, I’ve been honing the unhinged academic look for some time)

Curling iron & frizz. But, I was celebrating my brain not my hair that day

Most days, my style was best described as “shut up, I can either keep the kids alive & expand my brain OR look like a princess. Not both”.

I love how this photo hides the fact I had just set light to the microwave!

Even so, my long & generally colourful hair was my trade mark. I spent my 20s with it flying free and frizzy or woven into coloured dreadlocks (welcome to early 2000’s punk / nu metal culture).

At their tamest, my dreads were brown & red. My favourites were the black & blue set.

Then I met with dysautonomia and my hair & I parted ways. Literally. No amount of bleach, or braiding, or spiking ever made it thinner, but 6 months of being unable to digest solid food and it came out in clumps. I was never brave enough to rock the skinhead look so I turned to the orthodox Jewish community groups who taught me how to wrap my head in a Tichel and I acquired a whole host of beautiful scarves to adorn my now tufty head.

Two years down the line and solid food is back, albeit not all the time, alongside a constant massive dose of vitamin D and what once was thick & wavy has grown back thicker & curly!

What am I meant to do with this?! (2 months into CG, but unaware silicone had snuck into my conditioner – chemistry lessons kids : pay attention)

So, at a loss of what to do with hair that seemed to be growing out instead of down I rediscovered the no poo thing, this time through the Curly Girl Method. I’ve gone full circle & now jumped down the rabbit hole of curly hair…

This time, instead of baking soda & ACV (apple cider vinegar), I’m opting for “low poo” which means no products containing silicone, washing once per week max, leave in conditioners, and alcohol free gel “casts”. With this method I don’t smell like a chip & my hair is in amazing condition. I’ve also learnt a whole new vocabulary:

Squish to Condish 

The act of conditioning once, then scrunching the ends of your curls with a second conditioner application that you may or may not rinse out. I do, but those with really porous hair may not.

Plopping

I know it’s no poo, but ew! Actually, this is the theory that drying curly hair with a normal towel damages the curl & encourages frizz. Instead, plop your head onto tshirt material or similar to allow the curls to dry whilst coiled close of the head. Some people plop for 20 minutes, whilst others (including me) plop all night.

This is where having worn tichels for months has come in handy as I’m a dab hand at a secure turban! 

Just remember that post-plop the curls won’t be bone dry so you need to give them time to reach full crunch before scrunching.

Curl Activator 

I use Cantu Cream activator, or ahem… ummm… personal lubricant. (That’s a whole other blog post, but trust me it works wonders). It’s basically an extra moisturiser for your curls that encourages them to coil into their natural pattern and stops frizz. Stick it on your newly washed hair before any gel.

Praying Hands

A technique for applying curl cream or gel with flat hands instead of scrunching or raking it through. You also rub hands together first to spread out the goop & put it on more evenly.

Scrunch Out The Crunch #SOTC

So, after you’ve low poo washed your hair, added curl activator, added gel with praying hands, then plopped and diffused / air dried, it’s time to scrunch out the crunch.

Remember in the 80s & 90s when we all had spiral perms and wet look gel? Well as much as we thought we looked the dogs dangley bits, we didn’t. To get rid of that late 80s Minogue look, you need to SOTC.

Kylie wasn’t scrunching out the crunch …

Once your curls have dried to crispy perfection (not a trace of damp left), the gel will have created a “cast”. Now is the time to use your hands, or preferably a tshirt to scrunch each section and break down the gel cast to reveal soft & defined curls.

So, 7 months into low poo and 4 months into using the Curly Girl Method what does my natural hair look like?

When I say natural, the colour isn't included! Although I'm a redhead in my soul.

It looks like I have curls! And “bad” hair days aren’t really a thing anymore.

This works so well with my general health because I have no more fighting with hairbrushes, only need the energy to wash it once each week, and I don’t have to be physically that functional I’m. The morning. Getting ready consists of: take off my scarf, spray a bit of water/conditioner mix into my hair, scrunch it, bobby clip the front & off I go.

You can read more about the official Curly Girl Method here. (Not an advert, but as it’s not my method, you should hear from the originator!).

Working 9 to 5… and 6, and 7

Teaching is less of a job than a calling. It’s in our bones. We just can’t help ourselves.

This year I made the momentous decision to join the other 50’000 UK teachers who left in 2015 in stepping down as a full time secondary school teacher. Over the past two years, I’ve done that job on wheels and through a lot of painkillers, but in the end it wasn’t my crappy health that sealed the deal. 

I’m not actually leaving teaching. Instead, I’m moving to pastures new where the only grazers are sixth form students, retaining a very part time role in my current place, and offering online private tuition. It may seem bizarre to leave one full time sensible job to combine part time roles, but hear me out:

  • My sixth form teaching is the highlight of my day. But my subject is niche & in its infancy at my new college so whilst I build my little empire of nerds, hours are reduced. A Level Computer Science students challenge me mentally and I love seeing them fan the first flickers of a flame that grows to so many of them ending up in the industry, or at Uni studying the subject I love.
  • Leaving my current school is bittersweet. Here, I have friends, comrades, family. There are many things that try my patience to the bitter end, but parting was such sweet sorrow that I couldn’t leave completely. 
  • Private tuition brings a whole new dynamic to my teaching skills. In some respects it’s much easier than classroom teaching as there’s no rushing around dividing your time, or dealing with behaviour issues, and you get to develop a strong working relationship with tutees that is difficult in large classes. On the other hand, it’s much harder as you are giving constant input – there’s no quiet purposeful practice when “on the clock”, and many students who come to you as a tutor are there because they’re not keeping up for one reason or another. The stakes are high, but the rewards are enormous.

So that leaves me in a bit of a pickle for now. I’m winding down my full time role, whilst also not winding down at all as there’s still 7 weeks left to go, I’m preparing for my new role in September, and I’m already knee deep in online tutees in the evenings and weekends so I can hit the ground running (or wheeling) in September.

I’m exhausted. But therun up to the big jump to a new Lilly pad is an awful lot of fun.

So, for now you can find me here: www.TeachAllAboutIT.uk doing my thing & quite literally teaching Computer Science to the world!

Our Spa Day on Wheels : Amida Spa Review

What could be more romantic & simple for Valentine’s than booking a spa day & massage with your wife? Now add into the mix that your wife is a wheelchair user, she’s in chronic pain, wants to feel “normal”, and just for good measure once she takes her hearing aids out she can’t hear you (she might suggest that’s a bonus). Put bluntly, I’m a royal pain in the arse to whisk away on a romantic break.

(Note: these are not my photos- they are from the spa website. It’s against the rules, and just a bit creepy to take photos!)

The Amida Spa in Farnham came pretty close to ticking all of my boxes though. The whole place aside from the extra seating area is on one floor with level access, there is a nice & well equipped accessible changing room, it’s quiet, all the pools have steps in so I could bum shuffle in & out.

So without further ado, 10 steps to chill out the stressed wife:

1. Book a couples massage.

A treatments room showing dual massage beds

We both had a back & shoulder massage tailored to our stress levels / probability of limbs falling off. I pre-warned the already nervy masseuse that I needed to lipread & to tap me if needed. The Brits aren’t good at this – despite having oiled me up & untwisted my knots for 30 minutes, she was very uncomfortable about tapping my shoulder. For reference: It’s really hard to lipread when you speak slowly & nod. I’m deaf, not a dog.
2. Eat a nice lunch.

We were starving, so we went to the champagne bar for lunch. Unfortunately the “fresh made sandwiches” were premixed so I couldn’t eat any (the irony was not lost). Cue scones for lunch. Meh. Good excuse for cake.
3. The Tepidarium 

Three stone beds showing the tepidarium room in the spa

We’ve established over the years that my tolerance of cold is like my tolerance of people, in that it’s gone down at the same rate that my pain levels have gone up. I’ve essentially become a lizard, spending the colder months laying prone on warm things and only becoming animated once I’m suitably heated. And only really seen by others in the Summer.

With my lizard-like persona, the tepidarium with its heated stone beds was perfect. Like a recliner shaped night storage heater.Joint pain Nirvana.

4. Just keep swimming.

An inside infinity pool with handrail & steps into the water and lounger chairs surrounding the pool

There were actually more than two pools, but we stuck to the two warm ones. The hydrotherapy pool was outside, but once in the water it was toasty & boasted bubble beds, jet/ bubble chairs, massage jets, and 25m of warm water to swim in. It was very similar to the hydro pools that we visited in Germany and in another similarity was also a salt water pool. I was less keen on getting out as the cool 7° air had chilled the leather & metal on my wheelchair so the short trip from poolside to door was FREEZING.
Once inside, we warmed up with a dip in the infinity salt pool. At under 3ft deep, it’s not a swimming pool – more a floating pool. Both pools are in a special quiet area were you are encouraged to keep voices low & not disturb others. In the pool, Mr Geek & I signed to each other as I was without my hearing aids and he couldn’t be loud. It’s probably a good job we were signing as Mr Geek looked at me & said: “looks like a stingers place”. Cue infantile giggling.

We’ve clearly been watching too much channel 4.

5. Get Hot

We headed towards the saunas next. They have a number of different saunas with varying degrees of warmth. Despite my joint-achingly disagreement with being cold, I equally can’t deal with extremes of heat which set my heart rate through the roof. As such, we opted for the herbal sauna which ranged from 45°-65° (as opposed to 65°-85° for the others). I laid down flat as as precaution aside breathed in the lovely woody smell…5 minutes later & the world was spinning at which point Mr Geek rolled me into my chair & carted me out. Ah well, we tried.

We cooled down in the main area with our feet in cold foot spas next to the plunge pool.

The main area of the spa showing a floor to ceiling red fountain, a bank of stone seats with stone footbaths in front, and the wall hiding a plunge pool to the right

The plunge pool provided entertainment for the next 30 minutes as we watched a stream of men swagger up & I’m mere themselves in 1.5m deep icy cold water and instantly regret their decision as their testicles tried to jump to safety up through their body. 

6. The Salt Grotto

An entrance hall with a green chandelier and doors leading to the steam rooms

I was ready for a rest by now (Ikr – it sounds such hard work so far), so we headed to the steam rooms. The salt grotto is a steam room with a difference… in that it’s not steamy. It’s 30-35° mainly because the stone stealing is warmed – There are 2 walls with stone seats, and the third is a deeper seat set into the wall, almost like a double bed (not helping with the only going stingers giggling) – every so often salty mist infused with mint & lemon hisses into the room.
I actually found it thoroughly relaxing in there with the perfect combo of humidity & warm but not too warm. Mr Geek kept himself amused having found that the combo of we skin & humid romantic meant that by moving in a particular way he could make farty noises with his back. Who said romance was dead? 

7. More Steam Vicar?

I’d clearly not learnt my lesson with the sauna, because I suggested nipping into the Oriental Steam room. Lured in by the lovely smells radiating from the door, in under a minute Mr Geek was wheeling me back out. The word I was grasping for was syncope, but mumbled something about world going oozey… FOMO strikes again.

8. To Inifinity

After cooling back down, we went back to the infinity pool where I floated on my back ignoring the world until Mr Geek reminded me that we had to go & pick the kids up. By this point we had been hardcore relaxing for 4 hours. I could’ve done more. I hadn’t had a nap on the loungers yet…

9. The Change

The only downside of changing was the lockers being in the male or female changing rooms, and the accessible changing being in a room just off of reception. This meant poor Mr Geek had to collect our things and hobble pack horse style through reception in his rather too small robe. Because the shower & changing is in the same room, we decided to wait and shower at home rather than soak all of our things. Of course by the time we’d driven home, I was exhausted & just wanted to go to bed, then promptly spent the evening scratching my salty covered scalp.

In this case, accessibility was a bolt on thought of after the aesthetics of the spa. People don’t want to be reminded of physical limitations when surrounded by white leather sofas & proseco. 
10. Us Time

Ultimately, today was about spending time together which we did in our own unique way. We talked about all sorts, got lost on the way there (this is a ritual which must be followed), & found ways to make a perfectly grown up situation childish. My favourite bit was definately laying in the salt grotto jabbing Mr Geek for communicating to other trapped husbands through echoey fart noises.

So, pros & cons from our perspective?

Pros:

  • Warm pools with steps
  • Level access really was level everywhere
  • Massages adjusted to how you like them (light touch -> digging with elbows)
  • Staff really tried to help without being intrusive 
  • Everything in the whole place just forces you to RELAX
  • Mid heat salt grotto
  • Infinity pool is raised so easy to transfer in & out
  • Comfy seating everywhere, but arranged so that walkways aren’t cluttered
  • Water fountains located throughout & a free lemon water dispenser is in the bar, so easy to stay hydrated.
  • Can eat in Robe – not having to constantly dress & undress helps conserve energy 

Cons

  • No pool hoists, so Mr Geek was lifting me a lot
  • Unexpected entry fee not mentioned on gym website!
  • Only real accessible toilet is in reception – spa toilet is big enough for a wheelchair, but no bars.
  • Robes made for tiny people who eat only air – Mr Geek looked hilarious.
  • Internal doors are very heavy. Too heavy for me to open.
  • No T Loop at reception  (& main reception loop wasn’t working)

So overall, a lovely day. It’s not built with accessibility in mind, so of course there will be niggles. But with this in mind, they’ve done a great job of building a really nice spa and I thoroughly intend to go back at some point! 

For now though, I need a nap.