What happened first was that I got a text from my daughter: “Don’t forget to bring your swimming costume.” I assumed this was a joke, because it was going to be mid-winter when we visited her in Bath. A while before that she had said that all of the women were going to indulge in a morning at a spa, but.I didn’t put two and two together – first Granny Bean moment.
So we arrived in Bath and she asked if I’d brought my costume. No. The other Gran also hadn’t brought hers. Suggestions: A visit to Marks and Spencer before we headed for the Spa. But I didn’t want to do that because I already had two costumes at home. I was delighted that the spare costume that my daughter had fitted me, although it wasn’t at all flattering. The other Gran bought a beautiful new one at M&S….
We arrived at the ever so swish-looking Therma Bath Spa and were given our electronic bracelets, “SmartBands”, which operate your lockers and register the times that you enter and exit the Spa. They are also used to order your food and drink in the restaurant. You are also given white towelling gowns and flip-flops to change into. Locking myself into my cubicle wasn’t a problem. I undressed and pulled on my daughter’s costume, which rendered me breast-less – no bra-padding. Wrapping my towelling gown around me was comforting. Flip-flops do not hide bunions though and there was nothing I could do about that. I decided to keep my watch in my gown pocket. It took fumbling Granny Bean a while to find out how to open the door of the cubicle. Then my SmartBand wouldn’t open my locker – they are numbered in batches and I was touching the wrong group of numbers.
First we all headed up to the Open-air Rooftop Pool. It really is beautiful up there, with a spectacular view of the rooftops of Bath and the surrounding hills. And the naturally warm, mineral rich waters are a comforting 33.5 degrees C. You just float around – this felt a bit strange for me – I’m used to doing something when I’m in a swimming pool, like aquarobics or lengths. I felt a bit tempted to do a crazy Mr. Bean thing, like pretend I was drowning or something by waving my arms around and shouting. But no-one would have believed me because its shallow – you can stand everywhere. There are spouts of water that you can put yourself under, for a bit of a head and shoulders pummeling I presume. I’ll try that I thought and swam towards one. But it’s hard to get under them because the current is strong and I’m not very. It felt as though I was swimming strongly but actually I was floundering in one spot and got pushed away as soon as I stopped windmilling my arms.
Next, I followed my daughter like a little puppy dog/Granny Bean down to the Wellness Suite. It felt like a labyrinth but it isn’t really. Never having been to a fancy spa before, wandering around in this vast place, with its lifts, stairs, different levels and experiences felt rather overwhelming. We hung our gowns on pegs and I folded my arms across my breast-less front, before trotting behind her into a VERY foggy room. We were in the Roman themed Steam Room, although it was so steamed up, I didn’t pick up on the decor. I stumbled blindly to one of the stone benches and sat down. Bothering about what I looked had dissipated into the steam. I could barely see in front of my face and the sweat was pouring off me. I felt claustrophobic. After only about 2 minutes, I whispered to my daughter that I had to leave – it was just too much for me.
So now Granny Bean was on her own. “Just play it cool Granny Bean” I said to myself – but this thought was closely followed up with, “But is it possible to be ‘cool’ in this steamy Spa, Granny Bean?” The Georgian themed Steam Room is directly opposite the Roman one and I went in there. It had wooden benches and wasn’t quite as hot and steamy. The other Granny was in there and she was talking to a young woman next to her. As I came in she announced my age! Why? Anyhow, it was quite social in there and with more chatting, we learned that not only was the young woman South African, she lives in Irene, a small village near Pretoria, where I used to live in the 1980s. A small world.
What did I do next? My memory of the sequence of experiences is foggy. Did I rinse off under a shower? There again, it was a guessing game figuring out how to work the spray etc. At some point I went into the Celestial Relaxation Room. I had no idea what to expect, but oh my word, that for me was the best experience of all – literally out of this world. I lay back on the heated lounger, tiled with beautiful dark-coloured mosaics. The lighting was subdued, with little lights on walls and ceiling to simulating a starry night sky. On a big screen in front of us, the wonders of space unfolded ; nebulae, gas giants, close up of planets etc. all taken from the Hubble telescope and accompanied by soothing music. There was nothing that I could do that would make me look stupid/Granny Bean-ish. I could just lie back, relax and revel in the experience.
Then it was time for our massages. These had been booked in advance for a particular time. We had booked for the Thermae Treat, which included a 3-hour Spa session and either a Reviver Back Massage and Facial or Reviver Back Massage and head and foot massage. I’d opted for the first one.
My masseur ushered me into the intimate, subtly perfumed little massage parlour. She started with the back massage. I had to put my face into the towel-padded hole in the head-rest. I heard a loud-ish crack as I did this and thought I’d broken something supporting the head-rest, but thank goodness, it seemed I hadn’t. I remember thinking, “Where do I put my arms?” The best thing would’ve been to be able to screw them off and put them on a chair somewhere out of the way. I can’t remember now what I did do with them, but happily this didn’t detract from the experience. It was wonderfully relaxing, with very little talking and, in what felt like no time at all, the hour session was up. I was taken through to another room, where we were all given herbal tea, which we could enjoy while reading magazines on the loungers.
Having split up earlier in the Wellness Suite, all 5 of us were now back in the same area, so we headed to the Minerva Bath in the centre of the building together. Again, as in the Rooftop Pool, the water in this pool is from a natural thermal spring and has 42 different minerals, which are apparently very beneficial to your health. There are noodles for everyone. So we all grabbed one and paddled about with them. At home, we use noodles in our Aquarobic class, so yet again I had the urge to do a Mr. Bean thing and start doing an aqua exercise or pretend I was leading a class. Instead I headed for the Jacuzzi – just in time for the jets to be switched off. They are switched on an off as is the ‘flowing river’. But we were in the pool for quite a long time, I did ‘do’ the jacuzzi and the ‘floating down the river’. I must say it was very relaxing – but no white water rafting in here!
Then we headed to the restaurant for lunch. You just go in your gowns if you’re going back to do more Spa-ing afterwards. You really do forget about how you look at this stage. No-one cares anymore. I had the carrot soup and it was delicious. We still had a bit of time left, so we went back up to the Wellness Suite. I was hoping to go back into the Celestial Relaxation Room, but unfortunately there was a queue. And then it was time to get dressed and ship out. There were bins to deposit your gowns and flip-flops. And guess what Granny Bean did? She threw her towelling gown in the bin and forgot her watch was still in the pocket – only realized after she’d left the Spa. We phoned but it was too late, the gowns had gone off to the laundry. It was never recovered, but luckily it was not a Cartier!