From the vantage point of Monday, the weekend seems such a terribly long way away, wreaking havoc to one’s sense of well-being.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Oh, no. I’ve stumbled on a way to beat the work-day blues – simply start the weekend early, on Monday. It’s so fiendishly obvious I’m surprised no one has thought of it before.
Monday is the new Friday. Well, it is at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham, where the mental and physical toll incurred by nine entire hours of work was blown away in minutes courtesy of the healing hands of Naomi, my therapist at the hotel’s seductive basement spa.
I have visited the hotel in Church Street many times, although on fewer occasions than Simon Cowell. I had never really been aware of the spa. More fool me. It’s a lovely discreet place. A private gym is down there, too, if you fancy killing yourself.
I punched out of work in time to make my 6pm appointment for an indulgent session of “stress reliever total holistic body care.” The treatment is one of four specifically targeted at men, who, for whatever misguided reasons, can be big girls’ blouses when it comes to spas and massages. It’s a mystery to me because there is absolutely nothing to worry about. I’d go every week if I could afford it.
The one-and-a-half hour session (£70) started with gentle skin brushing designed to boost circulation, help rid the body of toxins and refresh. Each limb was methodically brushed then exfoliated with a cream with bits in it. You get a fetching pair of black papery boxer shorts to wear so your designer grundies don’t get showered in dead skin.
There was a quick trip to the showers to wash away the gunk (there’s not really that much) then it was back to the treatment room, along a darkly lit subterranean passageway, to get blissfully pummelled and soothed during a full body massage. I’m a massage junkie so I’ve had several, both at home and abroad, in Scandinavia and France; but, hand on heart, Naomi is right up there, an all-time Top 3 contender. She did things with her elbows that I didn’t think were possible outside a contortionists’ convention. What a wonderful experience.
The treatment, using ESPA energising body oil, ended with a face and scalp massage with ESPA balancing face treatment oil. When I stood up, Naomi blew on me and I fell over.
Due to the restorative effects of the scrubbing and the muscle working, my right shoulder proving particularly troublesome, Naomi advised me to have a light dinner – soup or a salad – drink plenty of water and lay off the alcohol for 24 hours.
This presented a dilemma: I was staying overnight (in an extremely spacious third floor room – with one of the best bathrooms in Brum) and was booked in for dinner. Clearly, I couldn’t stay at a hotel named “du Vin” and not have a glass of wine, or Champagne, or both. General manager Mark Davis, one of the hospitality industry’s nicest and most well-attired servants, would think I’d lost my marbles.
So following a modest snifter in the Bubble Lounge (good olives, nice pistachio nuts), I had a very good, rare ribeye steak with French fries (I can’t eat those Jenga chips, the fat ones that come piled up – abominable) and a glass of Italian red. Heeding Naomi’s warning, I jettisoned the bread.
I felt so energised I took to a public room at the back of the hotel and did something I hadn’t done for 30 years – I played a frame of snooker. Miraculously, I scored 147, straight off. It’s such a shame no one was there to witness it.
* Fact File
For information about spas and overnight packages, call Hotel du Vin on 0121 200 0600, or go to www.hotelduvin.com