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Turn your garden into a Balinese spa (sort of): How to replicate pampering treatments at home

Turn your garden into a Balinese spa (sort of): How to replicate pampering treatments at homeJo Kessell attempts to recreate a holiday spa treatment at home on lockdown She uses common kitchen ingredients including rice, ginger, cloves and nutmeg Jo and her daughter don hotel slippers and lie on sun loungers in their garden  

Remember the excitement of booking in for a spa treatment? Back in the good old days of travel, it was a highlight of any holiday, and a mood-changer — albeit an expensive one.

Now, as the lockdown continues, the challenge is to replicate all that pampering in the privacy (and chaos) of your own home. 

Not easy, but not impossible either, especially if you follow the advice of Claudine Cooke, whose celebrity clients include Madonna and Janet Jackson. She was my go-to beautician long before the moneyed brigade found her.

Jo Kessel and her 14-year-old daughter Hannah try to recreate a holiday spa experience at home 

When I call her she says you can rely wholly on common kitchen ingredients to make indulgent spa products, such as a body scrub of rice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.

My 14-year-old daughter Hannah joins me (any excuse to shirk online education) for my home spa experiment. 

We start with a workout, and an hour later we’re ready for beautification. We put on relaxing music and light a scented candle (which smells of the Seychelles) to set the scene, then we hop in the shower.

First, we circle a loofah across our bodies in upward circular motions to aid circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Next we apply the body scrub. We’d whacked the ingredients into a blender earlier, and added olive oil to achieve the right consistency.

The texture is perfect. It’s abrasive enough to detoxify and exfoliate, and oily enough to hydrate. We smell divine afterwards, too — like a spice plantation. Now for a face mask. We dab a warm flannel infused with lavender oil across our cheeks, chins and foreheads, then we pop mango, cucumber and banana into a blender.

The mask should be made just before application, lest it turn brown. Fruit acids, says Claudine, are a natural exfoliator which brighten the skin. But we’re peckish, and more of the mango ends up in our mouths than in the blender.

We don hotel spa slippers (I found some in my cupboard) and relocate to sun beds in the garden. It’s not exactly Bali but at least the weather’s balmy.

Jo says that her garden spa isn’t exactly like one in Bali, pictured, but at least the weather is balmy 

Sadly there’s no waiter to bring us smoothies, but there is a 16-year-old son kicking a ball. ‘Gabriel, can you help?’ He ignores me. ‘I tip well.’

‘In that case . . . ’ he says. That’s how he ends up slapping the fruity slop onto our cheeks with a spatula. He’s indelicate — bits trickle down our necks — but it doesn’t matter. In this strange world we’re living in, where days can feel heavy and scary, we’ve made a few hours feel special.

Afterwards, we lie back while Gabriel delivers ice lollies, glasses of lemonade and footbaths.

We rub castor oil (an unsung beauty hero) into cuticles and nails. Its unguent, nourishing properties prove it to be a miracle cure for hands made sore from excessive hand-washing.

Our bodies and minds feel revived. It’s not quite the real deal, but when Hannah asks if we can do it again, I know we’ve hit the spot.


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