I have never seen the appeal of feet and I particularly dislike my own. They are the stuff of legends amongst my friends. Years of neglect, a smattering of long distance-running, dry skin, and bunions inherited from my mother’s side of the family mean my feet are hardly an oil painting. And as I am a prolific walker, they often ache – just as they have done this week.
I had not abused my poor feet too badly in the last seven days. There had been some packing and moving, some yoga and plenty of walks about Greenwich. Although I had braved high heels on Thursday evening, I had mostly been barefoot or in sensible flats. Admittedly, I had neglected them in the previous months, well to tell the truth since last autumn. Other than treating them to cashmere socks on the coldest winter nights and the occasional lather of peppermint cream, I had shrouded my lower paws in man-made fibres for most of the winter and by last week they were definitely voicing their discontent.
In an effort to be kind to myself I listened to the nagging tension in my arches and toes and tried to book myself a pedicure at the local organic beauty parlour. I really fancied seeing the farrier – an unpretentious chiropodist who does not bother with fragrant creams or lacquer but leaves the feet feeling soft as those of a baby – but he was booked out for over a month! Unfortunately, my local treatment rooms were also fully booked. The onset of spring and the appearance of strappy sandals season had triggered a rush of appointments.
Now beauty pampering does not feature very highly on my list of favourite things to do. I can count the number of times I have had a facial on one hand and manicures on two. To me an intense Thai yoga massage or cleansing lymphatic drainage massage at the height of summer constitute pampering spa treatments. However, when I heard that nobody was available to attend to my hoofs, I could have sobbed.
After feeling sorry for myself for about 15 minutes, the fighting spirit kicked in and I headed down to the bathroom with a jam jar and a box of rock salt. There I set to work, like an old-fashioned apothecary, mixing the salt with grape seed oil in equal measure and adding a few drops of invigorating essential oils: grapefruit and lime. I pulled the bowl normally used for washing my delicates out from under the sink, filled it with warm water and added a couple of splashes of one of my secret weapons: Weleda’s Revitalising Citrus Milk.
A little later Mr M found me soaking my feet in the milky substance and reading a book. Amused by my makeshift pedicure he disappeared chuckling as I doused my left foot with a teaspoon of home-made foot scrub and worked it vigorously into my sole and heel. There is nothing more relaxing for tired feet than having somebody massage them but a home-administered deep foot scrub comes a pretty close second.
By the time I had finished my old school pedicure, there had been no deft filing of the toenails and the burgundy polish would certainly not bear close scrutiny but my poor feet did feel a lot better and almost past muster when I slipped them into my Birkenstocks again.
Thrilled with the success of my home-made salt scrub, I quickly made up a second batch, this time with lavender and bergamot, for a gentler body scrub. Although it is not quite as luscious as Nirvana Spa’s body scrub, the oil and salt mix works just as well at exfoliating and hydrating the skin and at a fraction of the price feels considerably more virtuous, not to mention fun!