The frugal spa

To tell the truth, I’ve been feeling a bit clapped out. A month of ‘flu and lung infection has taken its toll, and the daughter’s wedding is now only two weeks away.

A friend of mine told me about the magical effects of a week in a spa, over the bay in Torquay. She went there every time she felt flaky, and swore by it. I pored over the website, and it did look very attractive. Apart from the price, of course. £200 for a couple of days!

I’m sure I can do the same for less than a fiver…

Firstly, I’ve got the same seaside venue, just there, outside the door. Free!

I started to look at some of the treatments:

Elemis Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow £37…

I can do that. I’ve got sea salt, lime and ginger in my pantry.

Then I considered what I would need a spa to do for me. Fresh air, exercise, great ‘cleansing’ grub and a few fancy treatments.

I can do all of those.

I planned my ‘spa day’:

  1. ‘Energising’ breakfast of grapes, banana and bio yoghourt.
  2. Walk by the sea (to the allotment). Commune with tomato plants.
  3. Return via Breakwater Beach. Wriggle toes in sand and waves, and try to persuade passing mackerel shoal to administer ‘fish pedicure’.
  4. ‘Cleansing’ carrot and herb soup for lunch.
  5. Retreat to spa (bathroom) and apply rosemary and olive oil hair treatment, honey and oatmeal face masque, and ‘Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow’ my body.
  6. Meditate in spa bath while all treatments do their magic.
  7. Spicy beanburgers and salad for supper, washed down with loads of green tea.


I took my inspiration from a couple of web sites – ‘Spa index’ and ‘Lifescript’ – and assembled the ingredients.

Spa ingredients

All I need, from the local store

I hadn’t got ‘essential oil of rosemary’ for the hair treatment, so I hacked some clumps of rosemary from the back yard and steeped them in microwave-warmed olive oil and honey. It seemed to work OK.

Rosemary infusing in olive oil

Rosemary infusing in olive oil

I whizzed up some oatmeal with some dried orange peel, added honey and yoghourt. It was delicious. I stopped myself eating it.

I wanted something for my eyes, but there was no way I was buying cucumbers, due to their current notoriety. ‘Deadly cucumbers claim more lives’. I decided on slices of lime. I’m not letting deadly cucumbers anywhere near my eyes.

Homemade spa treatments

Left: Rosemary infused oil and honey, for hair. Top: lime and ginger body glow (rosemary sprig added for glamour, to disguise used takeaway carton receptacle). Front: yummy oat face masque.

Looking back, the day went fairly well.

The walk was good. Unfortunately, due to it being a Bank holiday weekend, when I got to my ‘fish pedicure’ venue there were just too many people around. Brixham’s Breakwater Beach is made up of the most gorgeous, flat, skimmable stones. The end result is that visitors spend most of their time throwing the beach into the sea. Nature seems to be on our side, because the winter storms usually deposit all the stones back on the beach, ready for the next spring.

If I’d tried to sit in a contemplative position at the water’s edge I would have been pulverised by thrown stones.

The carrot soup was great. I made a bit of a pig of myself (can you eat too many carrots? Go orange, or something? I will be finding out shortly.)

I took to the bathroom and applied all my stuff:

The masque applied

Hair oil on, kept in check by free shower cap from Portmeirion Hotel. The masque is lumpier than I expected, especially the orange peel bits. (Why have I got one eye bigger than the other? Why haven't I been told about this eye discrepancy?)

The bath wasn’t the relaxing, meditational experience I’d hoped. The oaty face masque was constantly marching down my face and dripping into the bath. The lime slices on my eyes – well, eyes don’t like acid lime juice running into them.. My stomach didn’t find the bath’s massage jets as relaxing as usual, due to trying to simultaneously deal with digesting several pints of carrot soup.

I only managed about ten minutes before I stumbled out of the bath, eyes streaming and shedding little oaty, salty bits all over the room.

I’d rate it a partial success. Right now, I feel myself glowing. My hair feels smooth, heavy, kind of different, like someone else’s hair, but not unpleasant. My skin’s smooth and kind of gooey, due to the almond oil in my ‘salt scrub’.

Ultimately, I conclude that the whole spa ‘thing’ actually needs you to spend a lot of money. That’s part of it.

I probably haven’t even saved that much when I have to pay DynoRod £200 to clear my drains of all that oatmeal and oil.


3 responses to “The frugal spa

  1. Excellent! I giggled all the way through – especially at the fish pedicure on breakwater beach. I’m worried about actually going to one of those in case the fish have to be taken out of commission :-S

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