Hello, it’s me, Daisy. I am not a yoga teacher. I am not a nutritionist. I am not an aromatherapist, or a professional cook, but I
have spent well over a decade specialising in travel with a serious health bent, reviewing many of the world’s most innovative and effective wellbeing retreats and spa programs. I’ve had the enormous good fortune to travel everywhere from Arizona to Austria, Ibiza to India. And in these wildly differing places of beauty, luxury, simplicity and starkness I’ve juiced and I’ve fasted, I’ve dabbled with tofu, seaweed, organic wheatgrass, Epsom salts, the famous Mayr method and many other regimes besides; I’ve learned about Ayurveda, zero balancing, chakra alignment, reiki; I’ve practised Hatha, Iyangar, Ashtanga and Kundalini yoga, different meditation techniques, pranayama and pilates. I love my work. I’ve learnt a lot along the way, and been through some truly magical and transformative moments. Because beyond all the detoxes, sun salutations, squats and massages partaken in the name of journalism, it has been, and remains above all, a very personal journey.

I am, in my heart, as vulnerable as the next person. I’ve loved and lost a beloved brother, in pretty unimaginable circumstances – he took his own life many moons ago – and what no-one really warns you about is the way grief can lodge into you physically, making a home for itself on a cellular level. My body’s response to the loss of a loved one has led me to a belief long held in the alternative health world, and one that is slowly, at last, seeping into the mainstream. I believe that our biography can become our biology. The body holds on to what we can’t let go of. It becomes a physical map of our emotional landscape. Insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress – these are the symptoms of life at large, in all its rawness. When we visit a spa hotel or retreat, seek the advice of an alternative therapist or go yogic we are looking beyond our doctor to find an answer. Medicine, of course, has its place – but so, too, herbs, hands and kindred hearts.

I do not exaggerate when I say that I really do believe that if you find the right spa, medi-clinic or retreat for you the experience can be life-changing. They are not just a flight of fancy or an expensive over-indulgence. They can help to flip you into a whole new sphere. A sphere where the empowerment of making the right choices for your body, mind and spirit becomes yours. The best spas, and the people that work in them, can be a link and a stimulus for self-awareness, self-education and self-liberation. Yet whilst spas are powerful places to visit when you need a springboard to bring you back to yourself, I suspect, indeed I know, that it is a far more profound and personal connection when you can retreat within the inner chamber of your very own home. SPA.Kitchen is not just a place for healthy holiday inspiration, it is also about bringing the spa experience home. The kitchen has always been a sacred space – a place where nature and the divine (whatever that may mean to you) combine to make magic. I believe food to be one of the greatest and most nourishing medicines we can utilise to help ourselves feel the best we can be. I believe every hotel out there should be meeting the desires of a more conscious and health-aware guest. Who wants a lymphatic massage followed by that obligatory basket of white bread?

On a personal level for me this project is a manifestation of my own dark to light path. After a period in my life when I became too busy juggling to enjoy the game, and too wrapped up in gloom to see the sunshine, I’ve decided I’d like to get back in the kitchen – a place I love to be – at a stage when I could easily convince myself that I don’t have the time or energy. I’d like to get sticky-fingered mucky with my babies; chop, chat, laugh and reconnect with my friends; rediscover the juice of life. Winston Churchill built walls on what he called his ‘black dog days’. SPA.Kitchen is my wall. It is a stabiliser, a focus, a self-feeding exploration. This project is not about the new me, it’s about the true me – searching, in unity with you, for those little pearls of wisdom that might gently help to keep me on track. I don’t claim to have any answers. None of this is about encouraging you to be like me (I really don’t recommend that). But if I can share one grain of truth that speaks to you then I won’t have tried in vain. A bad back, some unwanted flesh, a worn out soul, a whirring mind – we all of us have a story to tell. And we can all do with a little help along the way.

Really, when people talk about healing what they mean is acceptance, not a cure. It took me a long time to learn this. That you can emerge from total annihilation and shine again, move that pain through you, let it flutter, let it rest, and with it create something beautiful, and laugh into a starry night. SPA.Kitchen is about dipping in and mixing your own unique concoction, one that realistically suits you, and that you can enjoy sustaining amidst a busy life of family, friends, work and, perhaps like me, travel. It is not about rules. It is not about self-punishment. It is about raising a glass of my favourite kind of wine: berry-hued, rich and heavy as velvet, smooth as a silky night, and making a toast, to you, and to your health.

This is SPA.Kitchen. Here for you, wherever you may be.
I really hope you enjoy it,