Do not be afraid of the float

Or, relaxation for introverts, I like to call it. All the benefits of a massage without having to make small talk with some stranger while you are partially unclothed and trying to have a wee kip. Well, all the benefits apart from actually, you know, getting a massage.

But it is very relaxing, and not at all scary and claustrophobic as I had feared. Though, I do feel compelled to check for swimming snakes before I settle into the water.

The flotation room at Willow Trading is an actual room, not a tank (it measures 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 7 feet high). The idea of being in a tank in the dark scares the bejesus out of me. What you get is a swanky bathroom with a largish shower area, where you have to rinse off before getting into the flotation room. The room is entered through a small door set into the wall. You get inside and close the door to trap in the warm humid air, and lie down. The water is full of salt, so you actually do float on it. You don’t have to support your head or anything, though I still did the first several times I tried it. Then that’s it, you float in the dark for about an hour, until you hear soft music piped into the room. Then you take a proper shower, dress, and go back out onto Great Western Road, where you feel as good as you would on half a tab of valium. I am now an addict, and try to get a float every two weeks or so. In my dreams, I would do it every week.

The people at Willow Trading are very nice, and will talk you through the whole process before you do it. They’ll show you the room before you commit yourself too, if you’re still not sure. They provide everything you need: shampoo, conditioner, towels, even a hair dryer. All you need to bring is your stress.

Each session costs £30, or you can get a block of three for £60. Willow trading also offers various massages and other treatments. A full list of services and prices can be found on their website.

Chairs and tables and sofas! Oh my!

I first visited Sofa Workshop when it was located in Nelson Mandela Square, before that particular corner of Glasgow became mini-America (American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Subway, Pizza Hut – all it needs now is a Gap). I had checked out some of their sofas online, but there’s something about buying furniture sight unseen – yes, you can ask for a swatch, but how much can you really tell from a 1 inch by 2 inch piece of fabric?

Once I discovered they had a store in walking distance (I don’t own a car, eco-smugness a friend calls it) I dropped in to the showroom. And I was so glad that I did. Apart from the fact that the sofa and fabric I thought I liked was actually hideous (I love you Sofa Workshop but not everything you sell is lovely), I made a fabulous discovery – the clearance room! This was a room where ex-display, discontinued, or returns wait for some loving family to take them home for TV and snuggles.

Mind you, clearance buys at Sofa Workshop demand a firm commitment. There are no returns on these items, so make sure your choice will fit through your door. The Sofa Workshop offers a service where, for a fee, guys will come into your home and assess how well the item will fit through hallways and doors. Don’t go for this option – I did, and they actually told me it wouldn’t fit, and that none of the sofas in their store would fit, but then I pointed out that it was the wrong measurement they were basing it on, (you have to go by the height of the sofa because they tilt it when they go through doorways) and we all agreed that it would fit after all. My husband and I could have had exactly the same conversation for free. They also don’t do delivery for clearance items, but they recommend a guy with a van, and he was great, so do go for that service if you need it.

The store is now located next to Habitat on Bothwell Street, and the good news is, they still have clearance merchandise. The amount of clearance furniture varies – I was quite lucky when I went, there were rows upon rows of sofas. Some quirky or even deeply weird (as they had been made to other customers specifications and then returned), but enough nice items that I was struggling to make a choice between 3 strong contenders. The winner was a beige linen sofa with a deep seat, originally priced at £1500, they were practically giving it away at £500.

(The image above is a photo of my sofa, Connor. The image was taken from the Sofa Workshop website.)


Anthology Recordings

Looking for something inspired to buy your iPod slinging boyfriend for that special occasion? Try the soulful proto-metal sounds of Sir Lord Baltimore. Looking for something a bit weirder? How about Father Yod and his naked cult babes (aka Ya Ho Wha 13)? Anthology Recordings, the self proclaimed ‘source for reissues and rarities’ offers these gems and so much more. The site, founded by an NYC A&R man, sells individual songs and albums, iTunes’ style, with album covers, samples, podcasts, and exhaustive liner notes to enhance the virtual shopping experience. There are even free downloads. And if there’s anything I love, it’s stuff that’s free!

The only drawback to this otherwise perfect gem of a site is that some albums are only available to users in North America. It’s obviously due to licensing and rights negotiated with the various labels blah blah blah, but it does add a major annoyance factor.

Check out Cauldron by Fifty Foot Hose for swirly 60s sounds, Kingdom Come by Sir Lord Baltimore for fuzzy proto-metal guitars, and Folk Blues and Beyond by Davy Graham, for some influencial British folk, blues, and well, beyond.

Health clubs make me sad

And it’s not just because of the unsightly bulge around my mid-section. At the moment, I belong to the University of Glasgow’s health club, which, at its main Gilmorehill location, offers a cardio vascular suite, weight room, full sized pool, sauna, steam room, and classes in anything from step aerobics and boxfit to table tennis. That’s not to mention the significant discounts members can receive on alternative therapies like chiropractic care, Thai yoga massage, and sports massage (often at 50% of the cost to external customers). There are also discounts offered on treatments at Woodland Herbs.

Being who I am, I was simply not happy with the arrangements. I suppose I wanted to avoid bumping into a colleague in the steam room. Or maybe it’s all the students that annoy me. Any excuse will do to avoid exercising, in other words. And I moved from the West End to the city centre, so its Oakfield Avenue location just didn’t seem that handy anymore.

So, I tried to find a gym closer to my flat. And that’s when I realised that health clubs make me sad. I took a tour of LA Fitness in the Radisson on Argyle Street. There were too many people there, all looking like the kind of people who say things like, “I work hard, but I also like to play hard.” There were dozens of machines packed into one dismal, grey open planned room, a dimly lit tiny pool room, and an overcrowded room for their spin class.

I suppose I’d been expecting facilities like the ones at Greens in Finnieston. Now, that is a gym. Well, okay, the time I went there I pretty much skipped the gym and went to the spa for a pedicure. But they let me use the pool, which was nice, and the Jacuzzi and steam room. And best of all, I got to use the changing rooms. These are not changing rooms for mere mortals. These are the heavenly wood paneled and frosted class filled changing rooms of the gods, complete with individual showers. No communal bathing at Greens, oh no.

But that points out the problems with my chosen mode of transportation, my feet. I am essentially a very lazy person, and trying to get to Greens by bus or foot, of a normal working day, just did not seem feasible. So, I did what any sensible person would do in my situation. I chose to continue with my Glasgow Uni gym membership, which I never use, and bought a stationary bike from Amazon.co.uk. They were having a sale on exercise equipment so I got a very nice bike for £80 (marked down from £140). I manage to use it about 3 times a week for about 20 – 25 minutes. It’s a start, and I get to watch telly whenever I use it.


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