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Monday, 19 November 2012

Spa Review - The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall



Many of us are no longer seeing spas as nice places to splurge on a facial, but as stress-revealing sanctuaries where we can indulge in mind-calming treatments, lose ourselves in much needed escapism and seek temporary refuge from our chaotic lives.

I have discovered my own stress-busting haven called the Scarlet - a luxurious eco-spa hotel in Cornwall. With its stylish d├ęcor, natural reed-cleansed pool and vibrant red (wood fuelled) hot tubs overlooking the sea, this place calms the mind and ignites euphoric moods.

oooh fiiiish!

Treatments at the Scarlet are called ‘journeys’, use natural products and are four hours long to allow for optimum unwinding.

My bespoke journey was determined after I had completed an Ayurvedic consultation form. My answers made it clear to my lovely therapist Rachel that I needed to seriously de-stress.

Before my treatment, I was shown to an inviting relaxation room for a spot of some much needed meditation to clear my troubled mind and erase the unwanted stress of the city.


oh yeeeeeah

My journey began with a cliff-top seaweed bath, shared with one of my favourite people. We laughed as we frolicked happily, forgetting the five hour car journey we had endured, and smirked when we squeezed the organic seaweed, smearing the resulting antioxidant-rich green liquid on our faces, looking like a pair of contented aliens.


The best location for hot tubs - ever


In the treatment room after ten minutes of guided meditation, I succumbed to a blissful massage. I find it difficult to ‘let go’ during massages, yet at the Scarlet, under expert hands, I found it easy to drift off and rid my body of lingering stress.

An Ayurvedic pummelling technique was also used, where crushed herbs encased in a muslin cloth were heated and used to apply therapeutic oils to my weary limbs.

Ground herbs, including circulation-boosting gotu kola, were then vigorously rubbed over my body. As well as exfoliating the skin, the sensation was highly invigorating and seemed an apt way of rousing me from my relaxation-induced coma as my journey finally came to an end.

Our beautiful room with a massive shower and rather opulent bathtub

After this much needed holistic pamper session I made my way to The Scarlet's stunning restaurant with my lovely buddy Sara for some exciting feasting on locally sourced, organic food.

feed us

We marvelled at the glistening sea view and cursed ourselves for not booking a longer stay in this glorious place. 

The food was ridiculously good - fresh fish from local waters, seasonal, organic root vegetables, a merry combination of fine English cheeses and the best chocolate cake known to man.

mmm organic scallops of a succulent nature


The next day as we swam in the natural pool, overlooking a picturesque Cornish bay, we realised it would be difficult to tear ourselves away from this magical place that banishes 
uneasy thoughts and urban stress.


who needs Centre Parcs?


But begrudgingly we did....and returned to bustling city streets yearning for steamy seaweed baths and salty sea air.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Spa Review - Casa Spa Traditional Hammam – Exotic Rural Spa Experience




The hammam has been a part of Middle Eastern culture for centuries.  My first experience of these steamy havens was in Iran, where scantily-clad women wandered though the misty haze, strategically placed mitts covering their modesty. I emerged flustered, skin gleaming, after a thorough scrubbing by a woman with biceps that could give most men a run for their money.

There is a traditional hammam in London called Casa Spa. I encourage you to visit when the stresses of life bring you down and you fancy something different from your usual spa treatment. Take a good friend, and enough money to tip graciously. This is a place where friends bond over laughter and idle chatter while they permeate in a room full of billowing steam. 

You may be shocked when without warning, cold water is thrown over you, but how your screams will merge into laughter, especially as accompanying the splashing is a merry arabic song sung by the perpetrator. The charming Tunisian spa manager ‘Helen’ told me later that the words “Ya Habibi Ya’Allah” were sung during this circulation-boosting ritual because, “it’s good to say the name of Allah when there is a moment of shock”.

A black olive soap is then slathered over your body before a eucalyptus based ointment preps the skin for the vigorous exfoliation that is to follow. The therapist is armed with a coarse mitt and energetically pummels your body to shed stubborn dead skin.  

My treatment was surprisingly satisfying and reminded me of being scrubbed down as a naughty, messy child. The whole experience in fact, had a somewhat parental/childlike ambiance. You are instructed to sit, stand, raise your arms, lie down and then of course there is the obligatory splashing  with freezing cold water, in spite of your pleas. I couldn't suppress my laughter when one girl’s request to, “please have a bit more time,” resulted in a ruthless dousing and evil laugh of the therapist. Us Middle Eastern women don’t do unnecessary, static politeness. We mean business.

Clay masks are applied after the scrubbing to purify the skin, aided by the effects of the steam. My hair was then smothered in a conditioning honey treatment and my friend languished in a zesty lemongrass foot spa.

I felt a meditative sense of calm as we were led to a decadent harem-style relaxation area. As we lounged on the opulent bed, propped up by gold quilted pillows, we were served fruits and fragrant Moroccan mint tea. Our divine foot massages induced a blissful doze before we finally left this glorious place, with a few more peals of laughter at the distant screams of the newly splashed.

The Exotic Rural Spa experience for two at Casa Spa costs £149 and may be booked here 

From my column in yogamagazine.com

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Revital's 21st Birthday Party




I have always been a big fan of Revital's health shops and exciting online store with its plethora of holistic goodies, and so I was brimming with excitement after being invited to a press event to celebrate their 21st birthday and introduce their new line of products.

So with my lovely nutritionist buddy Mel in tow, along we went to the glorious Blue Fin building in London Bridge, ready to be educated on all things healthy and nutritious.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the inviting scent of a vegan 'anti-inflammatory' curry, smouldering away on a nearby stove. 
mmm spicy healing noms

Beckoned over by such a delightfully aromatic waft, we discovered that it was the creation of celebrity 'Medicinal Chef' Dale Pinnock, who's speciality is devising dishes that heal various ailments and prevent diseases.

Dale explained to us how a powerhouse of healing spices such as ginger, cumin and turmeric are added to his curry to create an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and boost circulation. 

Mel and I are great believers in using food as medicine and saying no to heavily prescribed, unnecessary drugs so we were rather enthralled by Dale's holistic foodie teachings.

The curry tasted darn good too. Have kept that recipe filed away for my next dinner party. Oh yeeeah.

You can find many of Dale's recipes on his website, here, which also lists his next TV appearances and details of his latest medicinal cookbooks.

After tearing ourselves away from such culinary excitement, we moved around the room to discover all of Revital's new health supplements, diet aids and organic skincare.

I was particularly jubilant at the healthy pots of nutritious goodness by The Food Doctor - one of my favourite brands of health noms.

ooooh elo der!

Deceptively styled as dodgy pot noodles, these hearty pots o' snack time happiness contain body-loving ingredients such as quinoa and bulgar wheat......rather than artificial onion flavouring and MSG.

Other products that I thought were rather splendid included the range of Pukka organic skincare (especially the firming facial oil containing skin-plumping rosehip seed) and the new Dr Berry Blueberry Punch, which is rather like an innocent Ribena - free from evil refined sugar and colourings and full of health-promoting goodness.

I was impressed to discover from the helpful Revital advisor that this refreshing, all-natural berry beverage was actually a potent cocktail of antioxidants and phytonutrients which improve cardiovascular health and fight free radical damage, thus revitalising your skin.

We left with a goody bag brimming with health-promoting, natural goodies, oodles of Dale's recipes .....and the sudden urge to detox and do smugly wholesome things like sprinkle chia or flaxseeds over everything we consumed.

All the above products and more can be found at www.revital.co.uk








Monday, 5 November 2012

Review - REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask

After periods of debauched partying or glutinous feasting on naughty processed foods, our skin looks rather pitiful and yearns for a boost.

Well, my skin can yearn no more as I have discovered a radiance-evoking face mask known as the Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask from the natural beauty gurus at REN.

I have always been rather sceptical about face masks. They would either break me out in traumatising acne spots or just make no ruddy difference to my skin whatsoever.

So I gave up. Focused on giving my face a good scrub with a hearty organic facial scrub containing rosehip seeds or some other kind of earthy, grainy ingredient.

Then I came across this skin-plumping bad boy.

REN's renowned face mask has the texture of apricot jam. It is delightfully orange and sticky and smells like plump, juicy apricots that have been grown on an idyllic farm somewhere like Shropshire or Somerset (organic of course...)

The product is described by REN as;

'A potent bio active peel mask designed to renew the complexion, reduce the appearance of fine lines and dramatically improve skin tone'







As is the case with the whole of the REN range, this product is free from toxic chemicals such as parabens, petrochemicals, DEA and silicones.

I was excited to discover that the mask contains natural fruit acids and Papain, which is derived from Papaya and stimulates cell turnover, encouraging a fresh new layer of happy, gleaming skin.

Who needs microdermabraision or scary skin peels ay?

Some may be put off by the sticky texture, but I rather liked the childlike messiness of it all as I smeared it over my thoroughly cleansed face.

There is a slight tingling feeling which may also alarm certain paranoid, sensitive faced-folk, but I also rather liked this as I felt as though something exciting and technical was actually happening in my epidermis.

The Result: After 10 minutes, I washed off the gloopy, fruity goodness and smirked with merriment at my much brighter, plumped-up complexion.

Oh the joy!




Review - Nude's Cellular Renewal Serum and Moisturiser

After reading the insane number of positive reviews online, I decided to try Nude's Cellular Renewal Serum for myself. 


It felt a bit wrong not to follow the serum with a merry slathering of the (identically packaged!) Cellular Renewal Moisturiser, and so I did. Everyday....for about a month now. 


I was surprised to find the serum had a silky, non-greasy texture (quite rare with natural/organic serums which are usually oil based).  


It absorbs into the skin quickly and has a gloriously fresh and non-synthetic scent which makes me happy.....and feel rather wholesome.  


The cream is quite rich and deeply hydrating, yet without being too heavy, so as well as before bed, I can use it in the morning without arriving as a shiny-faced odd-bod at work.  





The result? After a month my skin does look a lot smoother and brighter. I also enjoy the smug feeling of using a glam skincare system that is completely void of chemicals and synthetic toxic nasties.