I was expecting the usual hygienic-looking surroundings of the average spa... how wrong I was! The waiting room was decorated just like a little English countryside cottage, complete with flowers, antique children's books on the shelves, and a little blue wooden table and chairs. I knew that the theme of the spa treatment was 'Through The Looking Glass,' but even that didn't prepare me for the surfaces littered with dozens of little glass vials, stoppered and filled with a rainbow of different jewel-coloured liquids, each with a beautifully hand-written label around its neck - JUST like Alice's 'Drink Me' bottle!
Each incredibly scented concotion of essential oils corresponded to one of the emotions written on the blackboard on the wall - there was 'Bravery' and 'Enlightenment' and 'Laughter' and 'Succesful' and 'Hug' and 'Just Relaxed' - and each fortunate soul frequenting the spa selects exactly how they want to feel after their massage. Then, into one of the equally deliciously decorated treatment rooms one would go, for two solid hours of pampering with hot and cold stones, a rainbow of softly hued lights, and a medley of English birdsong and dreamy music. Afterwards, a big shower packed with lovely Lush shower gel, a specially blended tea made with herbs that match your massage oils, bath bombs to take home infused with your particular fragrance, and - best of all! - a powder room fully equipped with B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful perfume bottles and make-up awaits!
I was overcome with delight! Yet at £99 a go [and that's with the discount on the 'Exclusive Invitation' I got in the post], it shall probably have to wait until Christmas, I fear...
Yet what I loved most about the Lush haven was the way it reinvented what 'spa' means - instead of trying to recreate a Turkish hamam or an exotic island paradise, it immersed you in the good old English countryside in the summertime. One writer in an old issue of Style described that distinctive magic as "pastoral dreaminess... strawberries and cream, warm ale and languid afternoons spent watching dragonflies dance on the riverbank."
I fell asleep beneath the flowers
For a couple of hours
On a beautiful day
I dream of you amid the flowers
For a couple of hours
Sucha beautiful day...
This is not your domain.
In the sky a bird was heard to cry,
Misty morning whisperings and gentle stirring sounds
Belied a deathly silence that lay all around.
Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dog fox gone to ground,
See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water,
And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees,
Laughing as it passes through the endless summer making for the sea.
In the lazy water meadow
I lay me down.
All around me,
Golden sunflakes settle on the ground,
Basking in the sunshine of a bygone afternoon,
Bringing sounds of yesterday into this city room...
-Pink Floyd, 'Grantchester Meadows'
This summer, I've been reading Rupert Brooke's poem over and over:
Day long and watch the Cambridge sky,
And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass,
Hear the cool lapse of hours pass,
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester...
Ah, God! To see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester!
To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
River-smell, and hear the breeze
Sobbing in the little trees.
Say, do the elm clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shade, in reverent dream,
The yet unacademic stream?
...Oh, is the water sweet and cool
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill, under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty still to find?
And Certainty? And Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain? ...Oh! Yet
Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?
...impeccably dressed, of course...
...with honey still for tea...
...and an afternoon at the races with toffee apples, too...
After all, there is something special about certain dresses, isn't there? Somehow, magic was sewed in along with the stitches, and they make a fairytale feel closer...
Speaking of which, I felt it was high time to show you my latest confections! In chronological order, too. First, the Prima Ballerina dress straight out of Swan Lake...
Isn't it a dream dress? And it makes me feel a bit more Marilyn:
Second - this perfect little pixie dress, like a midnight Tinkerbell, and miraculously flattering and comfortable! Mi piace, particularly since it was only £22 from a little outlet shop in town. Worn with equally shiny-new Primark flats, in bright purple velvet with gold-trimmed bow...
Terzo - I am still in a state of disbelief after investing a sizeable portion of my aupair proceeds in my first designer purchase. Vivienne Westwood! £300 off! Bright fuschia! The MONROE dress!! I admit, I called the camerado in paroxysms of joy...
[Worn with a navy Primark belt - I do find the juxtaposition quite amusing!]
Isn't it divine? Doesn't it ring a Chuck Charles bell...?
...And, fittingly enough, a certain Hepburn-as-Holly-ring, too...?
"That night she stopped wearing mourning once and for all… and her life was filled with love songs and provocative dresses decorated with macaws and spotted butterflies..."
-Gabriel Garcia Marquez