‘Yes please, that sounds lovely ….’

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I’m not very good at saying no to freebies. We have a cupboard full of apple-flavoured liquorice to prove that. I don’t like liquorice, I don’t like synthetic apple – at what point exactly did I feel the combination was going to improve things? Sometimes I just make myself sigh.

Anyway, you take my point, that, despite years of being lucky enough to be asked to review products on newspapers and magazines, and now here on my beloved blog too, there’s still something about the words, ‘we’ll send it over by bike,’ which make me feel that the product, whatever it may be, will be the answer to all my prayers. So when my kind blogging friend Adventures of an English Mum mentioned that her brother Chris from Urban Massage could pop over and give me a lovely stress-busting massage, I said  yes straight away.

And then I realised I had invited a strange man into my home, and more or less promised to strip off for him.

Ahem. I started to have my doubts. I looked again at the apple liquorice-infested cupboard. Are freebies always a great idea, I wondered?

Well yes, as it turns out, in this case they definitely are. Chris absolutely could not have been more delightful. As soon as he walked in I relaxed, and by the time we’d had a cup of tea, I felt as though I’d known him years. He’s a properly trained sports masseur, who worked for ages with Birmingham football club, but he also treats people like me, who don’t even walk down the sports drinks aisle in Tesco, let alone actually do sport. Within seconds, he had found the ‘bad’ bit on my right shoulder, and told me I sometimes had lower back twinges on the left hand side, and pains in the top of my right  leg. Amazing – he was absolutely right. I also didn’t even need to take a stitch off, as he was quite happy massaging through a cardigan and a jumper (Divorce Towers is quite chilly at this time of year). For his final trick, he sorted out my right foot, which has been giving me considerable gyp since the cold weather began. Turns out I had been compressing my tendons by wearing too many pairs of socks. Doh!

Chris has an office in the City of  London but also travels with his fold-up massage couch, charging £60 for a very generous hour. If you have a twinge and live in the London area, I really wouldn’t hesitate.

No sooner had I peeled myself off Chris’s couch than I was speeding away to North London to commune with cupcake queen Mich Turner, founder of the Little Venice Cake Company, who was demonstrating her way with royal icing for Tesco Real Food. While we made a big mess, playing with edible glitter, trying a trillion different food colourings and attemping to make teeny tiny holly berries out of sugar paste, Mich remained serene, her white chef’s jacket pristine and not a gorgeous blonde hair out of place. How does she do it? Her CV is amazing, she has made cakes for the Queen, Barrack Obama, Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney and she was made an MBE this year – but I was most impressed by the fact that she was sponsored by United Biscuits throughout her university career. That would have been utterly my dream come true as a student. Mind you, I don’t think there were that many biscuits in the world back then.

What a lovely day! Big thanks to Emma at Adventures of an English Mum, Chris at Urban Massage and Tesco Real Food.

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