All royal and whatnot

Day 2. We’ve still got a ways to go, kiddos. You’re gonna get tired of this. Or you’re gonna love it. And if that’s the case, I will gladly take that love and support and maybe even money? and use it to move to London and get a job as a tour guide on a double decker bus, or professional PIMM’S taster. You know, wherever I’m needed.

I digress.

Day 2 was probably my favorite day of the trip. I had slept for 13 hours – a new record, I’m pretty sure, followed only by the first night after my appendix came out. But those weren’t consecutive hours of sleep, really. I just slept. A lot. Not much else you can do after you’ve been shanked in three places and they removed an organ.

In unrelated news, I might have ADD.

OH! What did we do the second day? I’m glad you asked.

We started the day with various modes of transportation that finally let us off at Hyde Park/Kensington Palace. If you don’t know Kensington Palace, it’s where Princess Diana lived. And it’s where Prince William and Kate are going to live.

The park is beautiful. It’s huge and filled with people just there to RELAX. What is that? People bring books or kites or picnics or wine (no public intox laws there, y’all) and spend the day just chillin’ at the park.

Or, in the case of this dude, getting some hardcore sleeping in.

We took a walk up to the gates of the palace, where we saw all kinds of cards, balloons, flowers and photos for Diana, since her birthday had just passed.

And then we marveled at the fact that instead of letting Saturday be your catch-up-on-life or nurse-a-hangover day, these people were just enjoying the park. Maybe they were doing one of those two things, but I saw a lot of reading, napping and playing going on. Loved it.

Naturally, because we were at a park and there was a hill, we had Alistair roll down it. And took pictures of it. Here he is after some exhausting hill-rolling.

Then I offered to pay him two pounds if he could tell me my name. This is funny because from the second we got there, he knew Ashley’s name and called me Mommy’s Cousin, which I thought was hilarious. I knew they’d be best friends immediately and I was right. I love being right.

So Ashley photographed the ordeal as he thought and thought and thought before he said “Sally?”

We had a re-test a few minutes later so he earned the two pounds. And knew my name from then on.

So then, we made our way around the palace, past the gardens.

They’re all about free events for the family in London, so while we waited for a table at The Orangery, where we’d be having proper English tea, we watched the old people dance and the kids do crafts and listen to stories until we saw some royal robes they were letting people try on.

Oh yes. You know we jumped at the chance for that photo op.

Here Ash and I are, complete with legit royal faces. Tip: You look more regal if you don’t look directly at the camera. Or crazy. I don’t remember which one.

Alistair and Allyson posed for a few too, with their best royal faces competing the ensemble.

I’ve told you about the tea already but let me reiterate that it was scrumptious and delectable and all that.

After some more enjoyment of the city’s public transportation system, we were home. In time to relax and sit and talk on the patio and have some adult beverages.

I think we had champagne? And then tried this liqueur called Chartreuse, which is green, and which I sent a picture of to my dad, claiming it was absinthe and it was about to get crazy. Because I like to scare my parents.

The best comparison I can make of the stuff is to Goldschlager, which I once threw up into a bowl. Who puts pieces of something that can cut your mouth and throat in a drink? Chartreuse was free of floaties, but it still had a kick.

And by kick, I mean you’re supposed to sip it and even the smallest sip is intense.

Fun fact: It’s made by monks, which begs all sorts of questions.

The aftertaste, however? Delicious.

We had cheese and crackers and grapes and dips and stuff for our dinner while Matthew asked us why we had a Facebook account and what the point is of posting anything to it. To this, Ashley and I replied with, “Um. We don’t know.”

All in all? A pretty perfect day, especially since for this one we were fully conscious the entire time.


Well, that was weird

Remember how I told you that I got a spa package for Christmas? I told you about the new experience of getting a facial and besides the pedicure I got in February and Friday’s experience, I have two times to return to that place before the gifts it includes expire.

Would we call them gifts? I’m not sure. I mean, the facial was nice and the pedicure was awesome. But I had my first-ever massage on Friday, and it was just…strange.

Now, I know the basics of what goes into this whole massage thing. You take all your clothes off but your underwear (which you do during a facial too, SURPRISE!) and get under a sheet. They play soft music and there’s usually some sort of waterfall/running water sound nearby – all well and good if they hadn’t asked me if I wanted something to drink right beforehand. Sure! That makes it so much easier to NOT THINK ABOUT HAVING TO PEE THE WHOLE TIME.

During the facial, the girl was all calm and whispery and for the most part quiet. The lady giving my massage? OPPOSITE. P.S. She happens to be the owner, too.

She comes in and asks if I’ve ever had a massage before, to which I say no, and then she asks if I want her to just work on my back and neck or my entire body. I said entire body, thinking that was the whole point of a full body massage..I shouldn’t have.

So I’m trying to relax, and while she’s starting work on my back, she is almost
shouting while telling me basically I’m lucky that I’m getting this massage in the first place because when they sent out their spa package info out to the printer for them to sell, the printer got the information wrong and they were gonna just give everyone who had it their money back instead. Oh, and in using the package, they were pretty much losing money, that’s how wrong the information was.

Guess who’s thinking about how this is not my fault and could she please not take out her anger about the situation on every muscle in my neck? Yeah.

I say I should’ve had her stick to my neck and back because everything else hurt. Or was weird. She poked the sides of my butt a couple times (really didn’t need that massaged, thanks) and massaged my legs and feet, which would have been fine except I almost slipped out of my flip flops on the way out, thanks to the lotion.

Then, she worked on my scalp – which could very easily have put me to sleep – and did this thing that I can only describe as “trying to push my brain out through the base of my skull.” Seriously. My back was arched up off the table and I’m gritting my teeth, trying not to say “IS THIS SUPPOSED TO RELAX ME?” Because I was gritting my teeth in an effort to keep pieces of my brain from escaping out my mouth. It was that painful.

At the end is the part I don’t understand. Tack on 15 extra minutes after the whole thing’s over for the person to relax. When she was done, she told me to lay there until I was ready to get up and leave, which is bull because with the exception of the almost brain surgery, I was so relaxed I could’ve taken a nap. But they don’t want you to take a nap, they want you to tip them. And get out, because they’re losing money, remember?

Oh, and final nail in the coffin of awkward? Right before she walked out the door, she said, “How did you like your massage?” And I said “Fine.” And she said, “Good, you’re not a virgin anymore!”

Now I know she was referring to me not being a virgin to massages anymore, but it’s an interesting choice of words when the other person is lying 98 percent naked under a sheet in front of you.

Like I said before, this whole pampering thing is new to me. So new, in fact, that I am still processing the weirdness of the whole massage experience and reminding myself just to have them do the back and neck next time.

Next up, a body wrap, which I have also never had before and imagine to feel like you’re in either a cocoon or a giant burrito. And you’re most likely naked. Fantastic.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Not used to being pampered

Did you know that when you get a facial you have to take all of your clothes off? Yeah, neither did I.

For Christmas this past year, I got a spa package gift certificate from my parents. I didn’t ask for much else, there wasn’t anything I needed. At that point, I wasn’t sleeping all that well, I was kind of stressed and I just wanted to relax. The package included a pedicure, facial, massage and a couple other services at a spa nearby.

So far I’ve used two of the five services on the gift certificate, one of which was Friday. That was when I went in and got the facial.

They call you back into a room and tell you to disrobe and put on this toga/towel-looking thing you velcro around yourself. Yes, they leave the room while you do that, and yes, the place is legit. I asked if I needed to keep my jeans on and she said I could but I’d be lying on a heated table under two blankets so it didn’t really make sense.

So. I put on the toga thing, get under the blankets and stare at the ceiling. When the girl finally comes back in, she asks me if I’ve ever gotten a facial before. I, of course, say no, couldn’t she tell by me not understanding the whole dis-robing thing?

This all sounds kinda bad. OK. Well. It wasn’t.

The facial part is pretty relaxing. They put different lotions on and exfoliate your face. Then for a little while they put a steamer about 10 inches from your face, aiming it directly at your nose. That was a little weird. Then they lay a hot washcloth on your face. They also – and this is why you wear the toga thing – massage your fingers, hands, arms and shoulders, which I was unaware of beforehand but SOOO glad was part of the deal. And it was at that point, I could have fallen asleep and then just rolled right off the table. It was THAT relaxing.

But it was only 30 minutes. So about the time I get fully relaxed and almost fall asleep, it’s over.

I go back for a massage the week of my birthday. And I believe there’s a good chance I will need to make this facial/massage thing an at least semi-regular habit. It’s expensive, but WHOA is it worth it.