Cold, it was, but sublimely beautiful : One of those exquisite Winter days that abounds in rich sun and, somehow, lifts the spirits of all who venture out in it.
Our destination was the Courtyard Natural Therapy Centre, in Wells – and our mission, which we were all slavering at the bit to take on, was an Aromatherapy Workshop led by Aromatherapist, Stephanie Mathivet.
The walk from car to Wells centre – along the footpath by the Bishop’s Palace Moat, a flurry of birds flittering and flinking, ducking and diving in gelid water; the Cathedral, limned in gold ahead and fields etched in sun’s warming palette behind – was so beautiful and calming that I feasted eyes and spirit upon its details and felt taut muscles beginning to unwind.
Alyson, Rosie and I got to the centre just as the previous group left – and found Stephanie and Practice Manager, Karin Baynes, awaiting us with broad smiles, welcoming auras and a festive feast of delectable biscuits and Quality Street chocolates.
On a table to our left were some of the tools of the aromatherapeutic trade: Blue bottles, mysterious smaller bottles of essential oils, a plethora of pillows, and so forth: All most enticing and, with the delicate scents from earlier still permeating the air, evocative.
We started with a session of questions and answers. This was fascinating, and Stephanie’s knowledge very impressive. It made me realise how much I did NOT know about aromatherapy – and the extent to which so many of us rely upon rumour (often highly inaccurate!) when speaking of this most ancient of therapies.
This was followed by a wonderful sniffing session (the nasal equivalent of Proust’s Madeleines, in many respects!), as we detected the top, middle and bottom notes of Grapefruit, Geranium, Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils.
As a music-lover myself, the connection between perfumery’s vocabulary and that of music was fascinating and lovely: Notes, tones, compositions. I have always felt that music was the most immediate, and sensual, of the arts – and, let’s face it, you cannot get much more hands-and-nose-on than perfume!
We were then let loose on the Alchemy side of the morning: The blending, in bottle-shaped blue ‘crucibles’, of our own mixture – and our attempts, through mixing and matching, sniffing and sinus-clearing, to turn base oil into olfactory gold. Lovely!
Concoctions ready, we were then seated opposite a partner (I worked with Alyson), a pillow between us, and instructed in the art of hand and arm massage. But this was no academic exercise! Au contraire, it was oiled and sweet-smelling hands straight on and up and down.
Being, as I always have been, a trifle cack-handed, this part of the workshop, though thoroughly enjoyable, did not come naturally to me – and I struggled a bit with the instructions – though I hope I didn’t cause Alyson any actual bodily harm!
Alyson was a natural – and being massaged by her felt wonderfully relaxing and soothing.
All in all, it was a delightful session, and I adored the Therapy Centre. A wealth of therapies take place within its walls – and I would totally recommend the place, and the two ladies I have met so far, to anyone wishing to investigate alternatives treatments in a lovely setting.
Thank you, Stephanie and Karin!