Spa Day and Spring Cleaning

River Avon and Pulteney Bridge

I feel pretty lucky these days. Freelancing is treating me well, thanks largely to a client in London who gives me enough work to keep me afloat. Better still, I like the job and I like the company. Its a small firm with a start-up vibe and the people who work there are totally jazzed about what they do. They’re also the kind of people who would rather have a company “away day” at a spa rather than at some bullsh!t team-building boot camp.

So that’s how I came to find myself at the Thermae Bath Spa yesterday. I’ve never been to a spa before, and I was sort of expecting to spend the day in a robe getting massages and cucumber facials while handsome men in white served me carrot juice and warm towels. In retrospect, it seems obvious now that the Thermae Bath Spa, located in a city famous for its mineral springs and Roman baths, is very focused on the, well, spa aspect of the whole thing: pools, baths and steam rooms are the main event. And I’m very glad someone told me to bring my bathing suit.

It was kind of strange spending two hours in steam rooms, waterfall showers and mineral pools with the people I work with, all of us wearing next to nothing. I wonder how comfortable everyone was with the whole thing? I mean, I swim all the time but I can’t say my mind didn’t arch a proverbial eyebrow at my pale skin and five-year-old bathing suit.

Whatever insecurities we had, we managed to get over them sufficiently enough to enjoy ourselves. I can’t say I totally relaxed into it, but I do think the hot steam rooms had a therapeutic effect on my various knee- and ankle-related aches and pains. And it’s hard not to feel “cleansed” after spending two hours drenched in mineral water.

Unfortunately, I think I managed to undo whatever “cleansing” effects the spa had on me at lunch. We went to the Firehouse Rotisserie at around 2pm, and by that point I’d already had a pretty long day. I was up at 5am and went to the gym for a pretty full-on weight workout which, by the way, felt great because I was really well-rested and energised.

But by 2pm, I felt hungry and dehydrated from all that steam. Instead of water, I drank champaign, which gave me an instant headache. My first bite of food – a Vietnamese Spring Roll – sent my hunger into high gear. I then proceeded to eat more fried food than I normally eat in an entire month.

Vietnamese Vegetarian Spring Rolls with spicy ponzu dip

Spiced Chickpea and Harrisa Fritters with Almond Apricot Cous Cous

Spicy Fries

Here is why being vegetarian isn’t necessarily healthy: the only veggie options at many restaurants are often fried carb bombs. And girl cannot live on salad alone.

For the record, I didn’t eat all of that food. I had 3 spring rolls, two falafel balls, some couscous and a couple fries. And I must admit, their spicy fries were excellent. But I just felt so out of it by the end of the meal that I didn’t have the mental capacity to refrain from eating all of my dessert:

Orange Jelly

That’s a mandarin orange and champaign “jelly”, by the way. More champaign. Just what I needed. My body was angry. It wanted copious amounts of water and wheatgrass shots. I fed it booze, grease and sugar.

So when I woke up this morning, I really felt like I needed a do over. If only my spa outing was today, I could have had a therapeutic steam bath to sweat out all the crap my body wanted to purge. Instead, I reached for my bike helmet. I hadn’t been for a ride in months and finally, the threat of ice on the road was over and the sun was out early enough to head out at 6:30am before the traffic kicked up.

I almost took my iPod but then I thought better of it. The iPod has been my constant companion at the gym, but therein lies one of my major grievances with the gym: it’s way too easy to fool myself into thinking that exercise has to be a grind, the kind of thing I have to mask with loud music or a good podcast.

Today’s ride was all about clearing my body and my mind, so I left the headphones and home and, for an hour and a half, got lost in my own head, thinking about what I wanted to do with my day and the days to come, and how I want to feel at the end of it all.

It sounds cheesy, but I feel like a bit of spring cleaning of the soul is in order. Nothing but clean food and focus. I’m pretty sure I’m going to go alcohol free for the month of April, and possibly through May until I go on my trip to Chicago for a friend’s wedding (hopefully by then I’ll want to drink champaign again). I’m also thinking about going caffeine free again, though I find that hard to imagine – I’ve been really enjoying coffee lately and have learned to like it BLACK. We’ll see about that one.

To conclude, I feel better. The bike ride lifted my spirits. At least I think it was the ride. Or it may have been these ridiculously cute cow babies who greeted me when I got home:

Cow babies galore

4 thoughts on “Spa Day and Spring Cleaning

  1. Jes

    The bike ride sounds like the perfect spring cleaning–all too often I also find that working out becomes a chore, it’s so good to remember how good it is!

  2. Monica Shaw

    Thank you both. The photo is a pseudo-HDR pic I took last year in Bath. I’ve been lazy with my pictures lately. Time to get out the tripod and start honing my craft again. 😉

  3. Mihl

    Those falafel balls look amazing! I used to tolerate fried food very well back in my vegetarian days. My cookbooks were all full of frying this and frying that. My body has changed since then and fried foods are often hard on my stomach. But still, I would have tried all those options as I love fried spring rolls, falafels, and fries!

    P.S. great new blog layout!


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