Health, Beauty & Fitness

Before our recent visit to The Spa at The Balmoral, my partner had only been for a massage once in his life, and he wouldn't want to relive this experience. That's because, like many massage virgins, he'd known nothing of spa etiquette before he went along (and the masseur didn't explain that he had to strip to his undies and, then, get underneath the towel on the massage table). He'd, therefore, ended up sitting in a chair in the treatment room waiting for the thera

This probably has something to do with the fact that, when I recently treated him to The Spa at The Balmoral's new Rose to Toes couple's experience, he looked as if he was going to have some root canal work done. Luckily, I'd already talked him through "what to do", so when one of our therapists took us through to the locker rooms, to change into our fluffy white robes, he didn't do anything crazy – like throw it on over his jeans, shirt and trainers.

Once in his gown, he did look slightly more chilled out – until our masseurs came to collect us from the waiting area, and take us to our separate treatment rooms. "I thought we'd be having this done side by side," he whispered, as we were whisked off to neighbouring spaces.

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This package consists of an hour long Ytsara Sukapao Foot Beauty Ritual each. First of all, my feet were bathed in a bowl of warm water, which was scented with lemongrass and sweet orange, before they were exfoliated and dried. Then it was time to hop up on the treatment bed, where a cooling foot mask was applied and an acupressure scalp treatment was administered – as well as a slightly perfunctory shoulder and neck rub. My favourite element, however, involved the mask being removed from my feet, before a velvety oil was rubbed into them in its place.

I couldn't quite relax, however, because of the nagging worry about my beau next door, who I imagined was quaking with embarrassment under his towel. Not so, it turned out. "That was absolutely brilliant," he raved afterwards, looking all radiant and tousle-haired. In fact, I couldn't shut him up – even while we were quaffing our glasses of champagne in The Balmoral Bar and comedically feeding each other the strawberry slices that had been served in a Martini glass.

"I could really get used to this kind of thing," he said, as he enthusiastically ticked all the "excellent" boxes on the staff feedback form.

I think I may have a convert.

The Spa at The Balmoral, 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh (0131-556 2414,

The Spa at The Balmoral's Rose to Toes package, 100 for two people, including treatments, strawberries and a glass of champagne each Fab facts for a beautiful life


Boost at breakfast

Tasty and healthy don't often go together, but Linwoods has decided to do some match-making with two new blends. One of these is milled flaxseed, cocoa and berries, a combination that boasts antioxidants, selenium and omega 3; the other is milled flaxseed, walnuts, brazil nuts and almonds, which is packed with all of the above, as well as melatonin and magnesium. If you're feeling virtuous, sprinkle liberally on your breakfast cereal.

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Linwoods milled flaxseed blends start at 8 for 420 grams, Holland & Barrett and Waitrose stores nationwide (


Sweet revenge

Been dumped in time for Valentine's Day? Then forget sticking pins in a voodoo doll and get hold of Lush's new bath bomb instead. The Ex-Factor is a gingerbread man-shaped blue ballistic (with a little red heart), which has been scented with vanilla and aromatherapy essences that have been selected to help dissipate all that pent-up rage. Chuck him into the tub and he'll quickly dissolve into nothing – satisfying, no?

The Ex-Factor 1.95, Lush (


Don't sweat it

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If you're heading off into the great outdoors make sure that you're kitted out in one of these new North Face Men's Stretch Softwool Crews. Designed for activities such as running and hiking, these are made from a breathable and waterproof blend of merino wool and nylon, for a soft feel. They're also odour-resistant, so you needn't worry if you bump into a love interest on your way home from a sweaty work-out.

North Face Men's Stretch Softwool Crew (available in black, asphalt grey and denim blue), 55 (

• This article was first published in the Scotsman, Saturday February 13, 2010

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