I had a very relaxing weekend at a family holiday resort in a chalet with my girlfriend, her parents, her brother and partner and their two children aged 5 years and 11 months. I know it sounds like the exact opposite of a relaxing weekend what with potential problems like early starts courtesy of the kids, the judgment of the potential in-laws, being on my best behaviour and wearing my Uncle John hat, plus the sheer pain of being an adrenaline junkie imprisoned in a family resort for a long weekend. However, I had a great time.
We went to Center Parcs near Penrith (Oasis Whinfell Forest to be precise) and in fact I’d been there before with the whole lot of them (minus the 11 month old baby who was just a twinkle in his daddy’s eye at that point) a couple of years before (over the Easter bank holiday if memory serves me). The idea of the place is that families turn up with the kids, everybody hires bikes and rides all over the place and partake in many of the activities on offer such as tennis, badminton, climbing, archery, football, snooker and many other sports while staying in the seclusion of individual apartments situated in a pine forest (the red squirrels are complementary).
I had a fun time including playing some rather competitive badminton and table tennis (with varying degrees of success on my part). But the highlight for me was getting a Swedish massage. I’ve always been from the macho, grin-and-bear it school of thought who’d never do any of that namby-pamby facial, relaxation, aromatherapy stuff. However, I’ve softened that line recently and thanks to all the exercise I do I’m constantly suffering from aches, pains and general muscle fatigue. So before I arrived I’d decided that I was going to get an all-over massage and see what it was like.
I spent a while flicking through the book on arrival to choose a treatment and to say there was a lot of choice would be an understatement. I could have had candles burned in my ears, all kinds of ointments and cleansers used on my body, needles inserted in me, pressure points manipulated on my feet and a whole long list of other things I can’t remember off hand. So I chose a full Swedish massage as it sounded just what I needed (I was aching pretty much all over) and booked it for the Monday morning.
I was expecting it to be a painful experience for some reason (when I think of Swedish things I think of people running out of saunas and into ice-covered lakes – which sounds painful). However, instead it was great. I could feel the fatigue and aching leaving my thighs, calf muscles, shoulders, neck and back so by the time the guy was finished (not that I minded it being a bloke – I was going for the massage, not a thrill) I felt like I was floating on air. I still feel that way today. I’d forgotten what it was like to be totally relaxed without any muscle pains. When I drove home I could barely be bothered to hold the steering wheel!
While I’m not going to get a facial any time soon, I’ll definitely have a massage again – or persuade my girlfriend to go on a course! So if you’ll excuse me I’m just going to go and put my feet up and relax for a short time.