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This, I suppose, is part one of completing my Bucket List point, Have a session in an isolation/sensory deprivation tank, as I haven’t technically yet been in one…

I did, however, have a session in a floatation pool with three of my nearest and dearest at the Nirvana Spa in Wokingham.

As a gift for my 30th, my friends paid for four of us to spend the day at the spa and to have a floatation treatment which was to last 35 minutes.

I also mentioned in my Bucket List point that I was slightly worried I’d end up having a freak out in a tank session, so this was a lovely way to slowly be introduced to the idea as the four of us would be enjoying the treatment together in a large room and in a big pool. Not a single person sized tank.

We arrived at the spa at about 10:30am and weren’t booked in for our treatment until 3:15pm, so we had some time to kill. We were given waffle robes and towels and told to go off and enjoy ourselves. We were determined to relax and sample everything the spa had to offer. Turned out the spa had so much to offer that we didn’t get around it all. The place even had maps – it needed a map – it was a huge complex!

After getting changed, we first had a little ‘welcome’ meeting in the restaurant hall where we found out that the soft drinks and buffet lunch were free. We could get as many drinks as we wanted throughout the day, but we would have to be signed in for lunch and could only go up to the buffet while we were seated in the restaurant area. We couldn’t decide to go back an hour after we’d eaten and expect to still get food for free – any more would have to be paid for.

There were various swimming pools – inside and out – all doing different things (sort of, they’re all still swimming pools at the end of the day), different depths, lengths, Jacuzzi type ones, hot tubs, plunge pools and even a treadmill type one where you set the speed and you swim against the current (didn’t get to try this one out though, next time). Sauna, steam room, heated stone beds and plenty of areas to lounge around and relax were to be found too.

Where the hell do we start? We thought.

It was the hottest day of the year (at that point) on Monday (the day we went) and decided to first head outside to find a place in the sun. There wasn’t one. Turns out everyone had had the same idea. It was actually a lot busier than we thought it would be for a Monday – hate to think how busy a weekend day gets! Most of the sunbeds were taken, and there certainly weren’t four for us to use. So we commandeered a single bed to put our stuff on and got in one of the outside hot tubs. Seemed like strange idea to us too, what with it being the hottest day of the year, but we went with it all the same.

After a small session in that we went inside to find a lounger each (it was far less busy inside, we could have had four loungers each if we wanted!), again dumped our robes and got in the pool for a swim. Next we headed to the Jacuzzi pool. A big pool with water jets all around it, most so powerful you have to grip onto the pool edge to stay in place.

After all that exertion, we went for a little lie down and a refreshing drink (or three or four… ) before we decided it was a good time for lunch.

We were seated outside, after a little wait with a buzzer at the ready, at table 91 from where we could go ravage the buffet. The hot section was small but the peanut noodles and coconut stir-fried vegetables – were-to-die-for. I only didn’t go up and get more of those because I still had to do my floatation treatment and I wanted to actually be able to float. Obviously it didn’t stop me from going up again in general – there were lots of other lovely salad, pulse and bean dishes that I had to at least try.

Next we headed to another inside pool that also had more seating leading to a little outside section. We even managed to find four beds together! We had another swim and then sat out in the sunshine for a bit.

As our treatment time drew closer, we decided to use the sauna and steam room which were right next to the floatation pool room. The steam room was lovely, hot and filled with a menthol-ly aroma (I’m not sure what is was). The sauna was torturously hot and I couldn’t last long, but I didn’t need to as our time was up and we were ready for our treatment.

We were taken into the pool area where our therapist explained a little about the treatment and the pool – none of which I can remember now, something about minerals that get soaked up into the bloodstream from the water after twenty minutes, and that there was 60 tonnes of salt from the dead sea in the water. Blah, blah, blah. I just wanted to get in the water ready.

As soon as I stepped into the salty water I realised I had made the classic mistake of shaving that very morning… It stung; I’ll put it that way. I slipped into the water with my banana neck brace thing (optional, meant to support your neck more and stop the water from reaching your ears – honestly, don’t bother, I think my experience would have been better if I’d have just simply got in the water and floated without anything else), ear plugs and lifted my legs until I was on my back floating.

The ear plugs didn’t help. They didn’t want to stay in my ears and water kept seeping in so for the whole time I had to hold my fingers in my ears, not that relaxing. But I tried to ignore that and the neck ache from the banana ‘support’ and just watched the stars twinkling above me. Oh, the ceiling had twinkly lights like the night sky in them too.

The therapist had also told us that the water was four degrees hotter than normal (due to the heat wave) and we were within our rights to not have the treatment and get our money back as other guests had said the pool was far too hot, but we wanted to give it a go. She told us the pool had a current so we should try not to move too much as this disturbs the current and would make us bump into each other.

We bumped into each other a lot, so someone was moving in that pool. I couldn’t hear anything and I couldn’t see anything except the night sky above me, so it came as a shock every time I bumped up against someone. This wasn’t really a problem though. We’re all friends; but to others who are in the pool with strangers, it may make for an awkward introduction.

At times I felt like I was completely alone and the water was swirling me around at light speed, it almost felt like something was wrong; but this was just my perception. Nothing was wrong, it was just my anxieties, I reassured myself.

I think we all had little mishaps whilst we were in there, me with my shaving, ear plug and neck brace fiasco along with getting some of the water in my eye (ouch!); it proved too hot for one of my friends who had to get out to cool down and get back in again; salt water in the eye for another; and Dan, poor thing, got a blocked ear straight after and is still suffering with this now (he can’t get a doctor’s appointment until mid-July so we’ve ordered some hopi ear candles in the meantime to give a try).

The lights were brought up in the pool room signalling the end of our session. I didn’t have any epiphany moments whilst immersed in the mineral filled water, but I also hadn’t freaked out. Then again, I was in a pool with three friends right by my side even if I felt oddly alone at times in there. It does make me wonder how I will be in a tank session – full on sensory deprivation – but I am still super keen on giving it a go.

We were ushered through to the shower room to get rid of the salt from our skin and given different products to try out that had actually been developed at Nirvana Spa. There was a face wash, a body wash and mask that could be used for both hair and body. I put it in my hair but rather than leaving it in for 30 minutes, I washed it out right away and instantly my hair felt silky smooth, ‘damn’, I thought,’ I should have left it in longer’.

We’d had a chat about what to do next and agreed that a nice slice of cake was in order. So that’s exactly where we headed. Three of us non-gluten-free-ers had a lovely raspberry sponge and chocolate brownie mix-up cake, while the gluten-free-er assured us her fake Victoria sponge was really good! For a gluten free cake.

Full again, now from tea and cake, we went for – you guessed it – a nap on the inside loungers as there was still nothing available outside.

Two of us then went for another dip in the pool before taking a turn on the heated stone beds while the other two napped some more. Enclosed in a room of silence surrounding the quietest fountain you will ever see, there were plenty of the heated beds to choose between. It was a hot day, there were very few people in there. These were so relaxing and I did actually end up waking myself up at one point through snoring…

All relaxed out for one day, thoughts of what still had to be done when we got home began to creep in. We could’ve stayed until 10pm when it closed, but thought that close to 7pm was a good time to leave. There were still people coming in to the spa at this time too, so it looks like it’s a popular place any time of the day.

We’d had a lovely day in Nirvana Spa and were pleased to have been able to try out the floatation pool, after all we’d had no idea what to expect. But to be honest, I don’t think any of us will be trying it again – just the floatation treatment I mean – we’re planning a trip back to the spa already!

Part two of completing my Bucket List point, Have a session in an isolation/sensory deprivation tank, will come after I have booked the session for which I was given a voucher by my sisters also for my 30th birthday. I just have to book it…

Until next time. x

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