On this page we’ll post our occasional musings and wonderings when it comes to the subject of massage and human touch in general. Some of it is meant to be informative, whilst other parts are just our thoughts and opinions. We'll also post some stuff about life in general and the experiences we've had.
The latest posts are nearer the top, and the older posts further down, but they do not appear strictly in the order they were written.
Thanks for nothing, Harvey
The whole Harvey Weinstein debacle did us men no favours whatsoever, especially when it comes to men-hating women with grudges of the past or an axe to grind. Thanks Harvey… for nothing. The thing is, though, not all men are the same, and it is quite wrong of certain people to assume that we are. It is just plain unfair to take the characteristics of one man, or a percentage of men, and apply a one-size-fits-all tag to all men.
Here's the two sides of the coin… as I see it. Unfortunately, the spirit of Weinstein lives on. Val and I come across it with alarming regularity in our positions as massage therapist and counsellor. The nature of some of the enquiries we get and the occasional knuckle-dragger that slips through the vetting net tells us that not all cavemen evolved into homo sapien. Some are still kickin’ about and have only just learned how to walk erect. Their attitude towards women stinks.
But not every man is like this, and I get a bit fed up with insinuations in the media that we are all a bit “Weinstein”. I’m wondering if society is getting a bit fed up too. The new film “She Said” has apparently bombed at the box office in America, and will be lucky to claw back anywhere near what it cost to make the film. The flip side to the coin is that men and women have flirted and chatted each up since time began. It’s about as biologically and psychologically normal as it gets. And without it nobody would date anyone and nobody would pro-create! We’d all be single…. terrified of offending or upsetting someone by daring to ask them out, or (god forbid) pay them a compliment. It’s not unusual for Val to get a compliment about her boobs. I once asked her how she felt about it. “I love it” she replied. “Why would I get a gob-on if someone pays me a compliment?” Exactly! And yet we men are confused as f**k at times because some women do get a gob-on. But why? And then there’s some women who deliberately dress to thrill, knowing they look gorgeous, and then have the two-faced audacity to wonder why they get more than a passing glance. Are they for real?
If Janet in the office get’s chatted up and asked out by handsome Dave from marketing then she’s flattered and agrees to go on a date. But if spotty, fat Nigel from accounts gets there first and asks her out she considers making a complaint to her boss about “sexual harassment”? Well I’ve got news for you Jan. Just because Nige asked you out and you didn’t fancy him doesn’t mean he’s acted inappropriately. Just politely decline and move on. It only becomes unacceptable if Nige doesn’t take no for an answer and pesters you.
So yes, there are STILL far too many Weinsteins out there. I come across them too often. But women should remember that we’re not all like that, or they run the risk that decent men will avoid them like the plague for fear of unfair accusation.
We’ve been massaging for eleven years, and I’ve (Bri) been counselling for five years. It’s fair to say we’ve learned a thing or two about the differences between how and men and women tend to approach matters of a sensual or erotic nature. I am, of course, generalising; because as soon as I say something like that there’s always someone who loves to point out the exceptions and give examples of how I’m “wrong”. But we’ve had far more experience than most people in this regard, so please give us some credit for that. So please, take the next few sentences as a generalisation, not a rule.
Women tend to be just as interested in sex as men, but they are far less inclined to actually put their curiosities into action. Men (especially as they get older) tend to give far less of a damn what other people’s opinions are, but women seem almost paralysed at times by concerns about what others may think of them, as though sexual curiosity was an atrocity, instead of the humanly natural thing it actually is. This pans out in practice that men seem (to us) to be way more sensually adventurous than women, far more willing to give things a go, and far more willing to include others outside of a conventional (socially conditioned?) relationship. Which is weird when you think of the film “Fifty Shades of Grey”, when cinemas across the UK were crammed with middle-aged women; all drooling and going weak at the knees. And then returning home afterwards to a life of “not much going on in the bedroom” and “two minutes in the missionary position once a fortnight”. I asked Val what she made of this phenomena and she reckons it’s the fantasy of a young, physically perfect and ridiculously rich man attending to them. (Shen emphasised the allure of wealth to shallow-minded, materialistic women). Then they go home and face the reality that neither they, nor their partner have been paying much attention to themselves as far as their appearance is concerned, and the fantasy remains just that… a fantasy. Now before some women take exception to this, it’s fair and accurate to say we have also come across plenty of sexually adventurous women who are disillusioned with their unadventurous counterparts, but the difference between them and their male partner is that they want to keep it all in-house and (very) strictly monogamous, and are more likely to just “lump it” if it all falls flat, whereas men are more likely to consider including others too.
It's a very complex and controversial topic, so I don’t expect everyone reading this to just nod their head in agreement with me. There’ll be plenty of folks with other experiences and opinions.
PICK YOUR THERAPY
An activity can be described as therapeutic if it improves and benefits the wellbeing of the person engaged in it, or on the receiving end of it. A therapy can be described as holistic if it benefits the “whole” person", ie body and mind. Hence the term “holistic therapy”.
When most folks think of holistic therapies they actually think of therapies that have become collectively known as “complementary therapies”, with massage being one of the most well known. But there are more therapies than you’d imagine, because the definition is so encompassing.
Take gardening, for example. I’ve yet to meet a keen gardener or allotment owner who didn’t wax lyrical about the joy of growing things. The simple act of propagation or planting a tiny seed, nurturing it and watching it grow into something pleasing to the eye or pleasing to eat. There’s something deeply earthy about it, a connection to nature and to soil and to elements, an appreciation of photosynthesis and growing conditions, and a visual feast. Strangely relaxing for the mind too, even at times of hard graft like turning over the soil and digging in compost.
If gardening doesn’t float your boat, how about drawing, painting, dancing, yoga, playing an instrument, playing a sport, stargazing, crafting, birdwatching, fishing, baking, or climbing mountains? How about turning your phone off, lying back on the sofa with headphones on and playing some spa music or relaxing guitar tunes? How about Shinrin Yoku? Never heard of Shinrin Yoku? It originated in Japan and means “forest bathing”. Or to explain more simply, going for a slow walk in the woods and being mindful of all the sights and sounds around you. The fluttering of birds, the wind through the leaves, the sun glistening on water, the feel of the bark on a tree. Research has shown that it can lower the heart rate, reduce high blood pressure, improve the immune system, calm the mind. Advocates of Shinrin Yoku will often only cover a small area, because much of the time is spent just taking in the natural surroundings and maybe lying down staring at the tree canopy. However, as humans, we don’t just observe nature, we ARE nature, or at least part of it.
Pick your therapy. Maybe pick several. Whatever floats your boat and makes you feel good. We each have the same twenty four hours in every day. The same amount of hours as Albert Einstein, Mozart, Picasso, and Lionel Messi. How we spend it is up to us. Very few, if any, stare at the ceiling from their deathbed and wish they’d spent more time at the office.
Have you ever been to Glastonbury? Not the festival (which is actually nearer Shepton Mallet!), we mean the town, the place. If you’re someone who loves to people-watch and is interested in a broad range of things that come under the banners of paganism, mysticism, energy work, yoga, wicca, crystal healing, tantra, spirituality, then Glastonbury town ticks all those boxes. The town centre is actually quite small in relation to the surrounding residential areas, and the main retail/supermarket areas lie on the outskirts rather than the town centre. However, it’s the town centre where the vibe is happening, and it’s not like any other town we’ve been in. The only big-chain shop you’ll find is a small Co-op. Everything else is an independently run shop or café, and not just any old shops or cafes. These shops cater for the melting pot of cultures and beliefs that exist amongst the folks who live in and visit Glastonbury. There are bookshops selling books on stuff you didn’t even know existed. And even if you did, you certainly didn’t realise that so many books were published on certain topics. You’re unlikely to find these books in Smiths or Waterstones. The cafes tend to have a bias towards catering for vegans; the reverse of what you’d normally find elsewhere. The gift shops sell stuff that tends to be related to earthy, witchy, pagan things. And there is a tantra shop that almost on the verge of being an xxx adult shop. So naturally we go in there every time we visit, lol. There are small alleyways hidden away off the main street that hide small shops selling all sorts of boho-hippy type clothing and incense sticks and artefacts that are related to pagan rituals and even witchcraft. In fact the whole town smells of incense sticks, because its common for shop owners to burn it in the shops. The pubs are ancient, and filled with a combo of locals and visitors. There are folks in some of these pubs who look like they’re in fancy dress, until you realise that the bloke at the bar isn’t just dressed like a druid, he IS a druid, complete with staff! Perhaps the most well known pub is The George and Pilgrim, one of Englands oldest pubs with a reputation for being haunted. We’ve stayed there a couple of times and we had a very ghostly experience indeed; one that we both witnessed together. Things don’t just move on their own!
There are sights and experiences in Glastonbury that would raise eyebrows or even criticism/mockery in other towns, and yet they are normal for Glastonbury. We have even watched a topless female hippy walking down the high street and nobody batted an eyelid. It’s not unusual in Glastonbury. It was a hot day and she probably thought so what? Nobody phoned the police or covered the children’s eyes.
The shop windows and community notice boards have events and advertisements like you rarely see anywhere else. One might be advertising “Cosmic yoga with crystal energy breathwork”, whilst the one beside it might say “Wicca, spells and herbal magic for beginners” All at the village hall. That’s besides the umpteen tantric massage practitioners that Glastonbury is well known for. They also seem to have an unusually large number of “retreats” for such a small town. Where you can find your inner goddess, learn how to breathe (!!??), do some yoga and release your inner tensions as you perform your buddhist chants. Meals provided… vegan only!
Despite not being remotely interested in the pious peddling of veganism, Val and I enjoy visiting Glastonbury and spending large amounts of time browsing the shops, taking in the sights and smells, and drinking proper flat Somerset scrumpy. We recommend it to anyone who is interested in this kind of new age stuff.
WHY DO PEOPLE COME FOR MASSAGE?
When we first started in 2011, we went down the very pleasant route of learning and providing Swedish massage for relaxation, and because it felt good to be treated and pampered this way. We rubbed shoulders with a variety of holistic and complementary therapists and provided massage at sporting and charity events.
A treatment or activity can be described as “holistic” if it benefits both mind and body, and that was our aim... to provide relaxation for mind and body. As the “givers”, we also find it quite relaxing too, although physical repetition can cause all sorts of aches and pains that we keep hidden form the client, lol. In the circles we mixed with, clients could enjoy human touch, but any form of arousal by client or therapist was meant to be suppressed, and would have been thought of as “inappropriate”. Knickers or boxers would be left on. This is still mostly the case in mainstream massage services provided by salons, spas, hotels, and sports clinics. And besides... not every client wants a sensual experience. For example, some may want a deep tissue sports massage because they’re training for an event or stepping up a gear in the gym. Massage improves recovery times and improves flexibility.
One of the things we learnt was the variety of expectation amongst those who enquired of us. The “norm” that mainstream practitioners promote was not universally shared by the general public. Clients had their own particular views on what was considered “the norm”. We met some people who were “horrified and disgusted” at the thought of naked massage where “full body” literally means “full body”. And we also met people who just assumed that they would be naked for their massage and were genuinely perplexed why anyone would want to have their massage encumbered by underwear! Similarly, many therapists are against sensual massage as they claim it causes them problems if (male) clients think that every therapists provides that sort of thing and brings the massage industry into disrepute. But there are also massage therapists who are okay with this aspect. Some of them have even told us they were wary about being open about it for fear of a fierce criticism by their halo-wearing peers. (Funny how some people seem obsessed with dictating the behaviour of others?)
I (Bri) recall recently having two female clients back to back; the first asked me to include her bum in the massage, but the other looked aghast with horror that I’d even made mention of the option! So it varies.
It was only about three years ago that we went public with giving clients the option of naturist massage, ie being naked and undraped. Then we looked into tantric massage too, which was entirely new to us.
Most (genuine) naturists we know get a little bit annoyed when non-naturists equate their interest in naturism with aspects of sexuality. But it’s also true to say that naturists are part of the human race too! And are therefore sexual beings just the same as everyone else. In our experience, clients who opt to be naked for their massage don’t just ask for it because they prefer to be free and unrestricted without clothing, but also because they want “full body massage” to mean exactly that. This means that arousal is common, and we made a decision three years ago to be okay with that, as long as there were no presumptions by the client that we would be anything more than massage providers, or that one thing would inevitably lead to another.
Whilst Val and I aren’t ardent naturists ourselves, we have several naturist friends and we have no problem with stripping off when in the company of naturists, or at a naturist event or a naturist beach. We started mingling in naturist circles gradually over a period of twelve months, and we soon discovered that naturist men outnumber naturist women by about 10 to 1. Maybe more. It was clearly a male dominated thing, and there are never-ending discussions amongst naturists as to why this glaring imbalance might be. (We have our own theories... for a different blog). This imbalance is also reflected in the clients who book in for naturist massage. It seems that (generally speaking) men are far less likely to have hang-ups about sexuality, human touch and body-image issues than women are. They are also more likely to seek out erotic human connection in the absence of anything going on in that department at home. Women seem more likely to just lump it. Men also seem far more likely to question and push back against restrictive social conditioning where other people’s opinions are used to control and dictate the behaviour of others. For some reason, women seem more susceptible to the controlling influences of others. Not all of course... I’m just generalising (before some angry female gets on my case, lol).
So there are clients who come for relaxation, for stress relief, for a bit of peace and quiet. And then there are clients who want something more erotic, and hold the view that this is a perfectly legitimate, valid reason despite all the critical, pious voices in the background.
Next we have clients who book in as a couple. And this is where we have to probe further and get some clue as to what’s going on beneath the surface. Some couples just fancy a massage; a straight-forward, conventional, undies-left-on massage, and that’s it. But others come for a shared sensual massage experience with either boundaries in place or something specific in mind that they want from us. We welcome couples who communicate clearly with us and have properly talked between themselves about what they want. Some couples want to share a sensual experience without having an affair or going behind each others backs. A sensual massage can make you feel like you’ve done something different and daring without the feelings of deceit or infidelity. However, the two biggest issues we’ve found with couples are 1) They are far too coy when it comes to being upfront with us, and just hope that we’ll magically read their minds. 2) Each partner has not fully disclosed their thoughts to the other and therefore the couples themselves are not singing from the same sheet. This is often because the man believes he is more adventurous than his partner and is apprehensive about her willingness to discuss erotic curiosities that involve other people (in this case, Val and I). This can result in a thread of email enquiries that fizzle out without a booking; the female having either poured cold water over the idea or the guy has bottled out of even bringing it up.
Moral of the story? Couples... please talk to each other before you enquire. And then be upfront in your communication with us.
At the beginning, we didn’t start off offering naturist massage to clients. For the first seven years we were conventional, conservative and conforming in accordance with general massage practice as it commonly occurs in hotels, beauty salons, health spas, and sports clinics. If anyone requested to have their massage in the nude, we politely declined; worried that our reputation might be tarnished and making sure our halos were intact, lol. Privately, though, it really wouldn’t have bothered us.
We are not “proper” naturists ourselves; or at least not in the truest sense of the word. We are part-timers who exercise our legal right to be naked when we feel like it. Most of the time we’re clothed to some degree. So how did we get to doing this? Ten years ago we got to that age where you start to assess and evaluate the first half of your life, and decide what you’d like the second half to be like. What’s great... and what sucks? What needs ditching... and what needs adding? One thing that needed adding was to be a bit more curious and open-minded when it came to doing new things and having new experiences. We engaged in some organised activities that brought us into contact with some people who turned out to be naturists, and so our curiosity about naturism began. Now, lots of our friends are either naturists, or are at least relaxed about social nudity as and when they feel like it.
Hardcore naturists have a personal preference to be naked as often as possible, unless it’s downright cold or they need PPE! Casual part-timers (like me and Val) are clothed most of the time, but are quite relaxed about stripping off for a bit of naked sunbathing or visiting naturist friends or visiting a naturist resort.
Although there are designated beaches for naturists (plenty even in the UK), it is actually perfectly legal to naked in public (in the UK) as long as it not done deliberately to offend people with some kind of sexual intent.
Some naturists try to claim some kind of superior living standards, by stating how natural it is. We are the only animals that wear clothes! The lioness doesn’t say to the lion, “Oh for god’s sake, put something on. Don’t go walking through the Serengeti like that”. Some like to link it to more ethical, green ways of living. But the credibility of this is difficult when you need your central heating on three times as much as everyone else, and you lounge around in the energy guzzling hot-tub at your local naturist club. And then there’s the carbon footprint from the aeroplane due to the three holidays a year that so many middle class naturists seem to have. And the big 4x4.... etc. You get my gist. So we’ve always found the ethical living claims to be flaky at best; it’s never really washed with us. To us, it was more about the liberty and freedom of casting off the social conditioning that still restricts so many.
One of the things we noticed when we started mixing with naturists, is that there are far more male participants than females, and there is regular debate as to why this may be. Popular theories include that women tend to be more body-conscious than men and have more hang-ups about their bodies. Another theory is that women are more easily socially conditioned into believing what’s acceptable and not acceptable in society. This can lead to debilitating conformity and being overly concerned about “what will other people think of me?”
We also discovered that non-naturists would often make sweeping assumptions that weren’t necessarily true at all. Like “naturists must be swingers”. We discovered that the same variety of values, beliefs, sexual practices and political stances occurred amongst naturists as they did amongst society in generally. So yes... some of them are swingers. So what? It’s no more prevalent than you’d find in society at large. But many aren’t. They just want to be naked; nothing else, no other agenda.
So I suppose it was only a matter of time before we decided to offer clients the option of receiving their massage in the nude. It’s possible we may have lost a few clients when we did this, but we gained more than we lost. And besides, we still offer conventional massage too; you don’t have to be nude, lol!
One of the difficulties we continue to have when it comes to tantric massage, is the degree to which we might allow each individual client to interact back in some way. In all forms of massage, someone gives the massage and someone receives the massage. In fact, in most forms of massage, the client might think it rather odd if the therapist said, “Go on... now you massage me". The client is paying for the therapist to do the massage, not the other way round or as some part of a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” sort of thing. But it’s not always the case when it comes specifically to tantric massage. There may be some parts of the routine where it’s actually necessary or advisable for the client to place their hand on the therapist, for just a few moments. This is not a problem. All massage is sensual to some degree or other. If one person is touching another person then the sense of “touch” is occurring. This is true even for a gym-goer who comes for a deep tissue sports massage on his legs. However, tantric massage is deliberately and unashamedly sensual in a more erotic sense, and arousal is common. This would be a problem during a conventional spa-type massage, where relaxation is king but clients are expected to suppress any feelings of arousal. But in tantric massage, all feelings are allowed, and clients sometimes feel the urge to touch us too... in ways that have not been discussed or consented to by us in advance. Notice we said “all feelings are allowed”, not “all responses”. The more a client is distracted by thoughts of interaction, the less they are concentrating on the receiving part. Or at least they’d be receiving enjoyment in more mutual ways that are not strictly massage!
When a potential client makes an enquiry or books in, we know nothing about them. They are a name in an email or a text message. We have no idea who’s going to turn up at the door or what their disposition is like. So when someone asks, “Can I touch you too?”, the honest answer is that we can’t decide that in advance of meeting you. Our default answer is “probably not”, because we need to manage client’s expectations in realistic ways. But whilst our boundaries start off the same for every client, they do not always stay exactly the same, and can vary from client to client over time. There are times when it’s a bit awkward if there’s a mismatch between the client’s hopes and Val’s current boundaries for that client. Unfortunately, some clients have totally over-inflated opinions of themselves and come with the assumption that Val just can’t wait to “get it on” with them. Methinks they haven’t taken on board the info sheet properly, lol. A lot of clients hope that they’re going to be the exception, and that frolics of the sexual variety will occur at the end of the massage. But exceptions are just that... they are exceptions! In reality, Val takes a really dim view of any client who attempts to touch her sexually without checking if it’s okay to do so first. And many times the answer is no. Client trust and rapport happens over several visits, but sometimes it never develops beyond common courtesies and professional actions. Every client starts with the same boundary, but after several visits each individual clients has their individual boundary. The client is booking to be touched by Val. Val is not booking to be touched by the client. Some boundaries flex over time, but many remain more or less the same; it all depends on trust and mutual chemistry. Nothing should be assumed, and consent is king.
"ADULT" ONLINE FORUMS
“ADULT” FORUMS. Oh my god... if there’s one thing that rubs us up the wrong way it’s sleazy “adult” forums. The fastest way to switch Val off and lose all chance of gaining any genuine rapport is to mention you found us via a forum! In fact... please don’t come at all if you’re into these type of forums, and definitely don’t come if you intend to post about if afterwards!
We first discovered we were being talked about on forums by a guy who was enquiring about massage. Because we have zero interest in such playground nonsense we’d never really imagined this would be the case. We took our massage seriously and most of our clients seemed “okay”. (Most... but not all).
So we took a gander and were horrified at some of the comments. Okay... some of it was quite nice and flattering, but some of it was a bit nasty or just pure imaginary BS! What struck us most was the tone of the whole site. It lowered massage and the therapists that offer their services to the prostitutional meat market. To make matters worse, back-street “massage parlours” who operate a quick turn-around of jerk-off services were talked about alongside more genuine and holistic practitioners.
If you Google “tantric massage” and spend long enough going through all the search results, you’ll soon notice a big variety of practices that come under that banner; from genuine new-age sort of hippies in yurts, to the sex trade who abuse the word “massage” to disguise their true activities; as though the photos of young, attractive scantily clad women in provocative poses on their websites are going to fool anyone. Nothing wrong with these establishments, but for god’s sake please don’t call it massage, because it gives some people the wrong idea about all the genuine massage therapists. I bet none of these women have ever attended a proper massage course in their lives!
That’s why we insist that new clients read, understand and accept our info sheet before booking in, because it describes exactly where we lie on that scale.
There have been umpteen studies into the effects of touch deprivation from birth onwards. I don’t claim to have read them all but I have read about some. There are benefits from receiving nurturing touch from others, although it’s also possible to become over-reliant on getting too much. Children who don’t receive much caring touch tend to be more likely to have social problems later in life. Touch that feels pleasant releases all sorts of desirable hormones that make us feel even better, such as dopamine and oxytocin.
Some of our clients come simply because they feel touch-deprived. Unfortunately, this can occur in long-term relationships too; each partner taking the other for granted until one of them realises the physical spark is getting weaker and weaker. Other factors can come into play too, such as depression, stress, mid-life crisis, effects of illness, medications. Some people withdraw from human touch when faced with these things, but some seek to feel connected to others again, both psychologically and physically. It is not uncommon for clients to tell us they “need” human nurturing connection. And massage is a great way to fit the bill.
When I was a teenager, if a young couple booked a weekend away there would often be humorous remarks about the possibility they were “going for a dirty weekend”. The word “dirty” was used to describe any sexual interaction that may take place.
My mother would describe tv shows or comedians as “dirty” if they contained any sort of sexual innuendo or references, and shows or comedies devoid of such references would be described as “good clean fun”. She wasn’t alone; lots of her generation were like that. So “dirty” was associated with sex, and “clean” was associated with anything that didn’t have sexual reference. Dirty was bad... clean was good. You washed your dirty clothes to make them clean... because clean is better. You washed your dirty hands before mealtime... because clean is safer.
Is it any wonder some people have unhealthy hang-ups about sex when our parents talked in this way!
Virginity was talked about as “innocent”, implying that once you had sex you were “guilty” of something. This got extended to “the age of innocence”. You then “lost” your virginity. Losing something is not usually good. But nobody ever talked about finding something in return; finding fun, novelty, excitement, orgasm, connection. So I'd like to offer a great big sarcastic thank you to all the parents who talked this way. Thanks for nothing!
"Address not found"
When enquiring using our contact form on the contact page, please be sure you are quoting your correct email address. We've recenlty been unable to respond to some enquiries because our replies were bounced back, "Address not found".
MASSAGE MEDIA - new changes
A massage medium is the stuff we use for massaging. (As opposed to someone who contacts the dead whilst doing a massage, lol). In Autumn 2021 we've now ditched using oils altogether, as they were difficult to properly wash out of fabrics and we're guesssing they were for clients too. So we now use a specially blended massage lotion for general massage, and a liquid massage wax for deep tissue/sports massage. Both of these media wash out of fabrics so much better than massage oils, so you needn't worry about any residue on your clothing causing you laundry problems.
Over the last couple of years, several clients have commented on the photos of our “daughter” on the website. This relates to the illustrations on the various sub-pages relating to the types of massage we offer. We have no idea why anyone browsing our website would just assume that this was our daughter. It’s also seems a bit weird... maybe even creepy, that we’d massage our daughter. There are two females who kindly agreed to be photographed for our website, and neither of them is our daughter. One client even went so far as to warn us of the pitfalls and question the wisdom of putting a photo of our daughter on our website! At first I gave him blank looks because I didn't have a clue what he was going on about. Our daughter is not on the website and for all he knew I might not even have a daughter! Turned out he just invented something in his mind about the girl in the photo that was completely unfounded.
I suppose, putting my counsellors hat on for a moment, it illustrates how people are inclined to tell them stories and fill in the blanks with imaginary information that they actually have no firm knowledge about. So just one more time, neither of the females on our website photos is our daughter, lol.
YOU CAN'T DO THIS ONLINE
I was in a sauna the other day and two blokes were chatting. One of them said to the other, “You can’t do this online”. And he’s correct. Three successive lockdowns drove many service providers to go online, and to my continual dismay they seem mostly to have stayed there. There’s some things I’ll choose my words carefully over but I ain’t going to mince my words on this topic; I think it’s bleedin’ shit! Total... utter... shit! Many courses that were once provided in person in hotel conference rooms etc are now online; where internet connections continually freeze and Joyce hasn’t got the foggiest clue how to unmute herself. Subtleties and nuances of body language and facial expression get lost and there’s no laughs or social small talk at the coffee break. Like I said... shit. Some things are simply just shitter online, and some things you simply can’t do at all online; like having a massage, or sitting in a sauna! I’m quite concerned when I hear about folks withdrawing from the world like this. Losing their social abilities and retreating like troglodytes under the stairs. Living in fear and seeing every fellow man/woman as a danger to be avoided. If life is meant to be lived... a collection of meaningful experiences and personal encounters that happen in a real world instead of a virtual one, how is that going to be achieved if this ridiculous obsession with doing everything online continues? What next? Sex online? Ha... they wish! Except you can’t... you need to jump in the sack with a real person and bang each others brains out as the excitement and adrenaline flows. How’s that going to happen online?
AVAILABLE THIS WEEK...?
We get numerous enquiries asking “When are you available this week?” The problem with the answer to that question is that it is only correct at the time of the reply. If a client responds immediately and makes a booking for one of the times mentioned then it’s not a problem. The problem occurs when a client replies three days later and somehow just expects those times to still be available... like nobody else would enquire or book in the meantime. Occasionally I even sense a hint of anger or criticism, as if they are thinking “But you said on Monday that Thursday was available”. And on Monday that was true, but on Tuesday somebody else booked it before you got back to me on Wednesday.
It seems there’s no end to nuances and caveats when it comes to one’s sexual identity. Some things aren’t quite as straightforward as they used to be... or at least how we used to assume they were “back in the day”.
Since we added tantric massage to our services three years ago, some of our clients have felt like risking talking to us about these things. These are some of the puzzles and curiosities that go on in our heads but never get spoken out loud, either for fear of ridicule, or simply because folks are still trying to figure themselves out.
There’s a great book called “Re-writing the rules” by Meg-John Barker, and in it she mentions a survey wherein males were asked whether or not they considered themselves to be heterosexual, and if so did they consider themselves to be 100% heterosexual. The results surprised me. Only 65% said they considered themselves 100% heterosexual, which leaves a whopping 35% who described themselves as something else. Although it’s a minority, it’s a large minority! I’d have thought this figure would be more like 10% so it shows how wrong you can be. Three years on and I understand this figure better. It not only includes gay, bi-sexuals and pan-sexuals, it includes every male who possesses any sort of urge or curiosity outside of heterosexual norms. Some of these curiosities stay inside peoples head forever, some get acted out on the internet (often with fake profiles), and some get explored and tried out in real life.
YOU DIDN'T REPLY OR CALL ME BACK
In the info we send out about tantric massage (to male clients) we mention that the most common reason clients fail to get a second appointment is because the client presented themselves with poor personal hygiene or unpleasant aromas for their first visit. Unfortunately, this seems to get completely lost on some clients, or maybe they think it doesn’t apply to them. Or maybe they’re oblivious? Maybe they think it doesn’t include their horrendous bad breath? And maybe it partly explains why they have intimacy issues with other people too, including their own wife or partner! A block of soap, a tin of deodorant, and not forgetting a tube of toothpaste, will go a long way with Val. The deodorant, by the way, is to be applied after your shower; not to try and disguise the body odour you’ve accumulated during a days work.
If you message us about a second appointment and we don’t reply, there’s always a reason. The reasons are varied... not just hygiene issues... but there’s always a reason. It’s very rare that we just forget, or miss your message entirely. We have no appetite to get embroiled in ping-pong insults that could turn nasty, so we just don’t reply.
THE CANARY IN THE COAL MINE
Most of us (of a certain age, lol) will have heard about how miners used to take a canary into the coal mine. If harmful gases were exposed during the mining process then the canary was likely to croak before the miners even detected it. Thus it provided an early warning system, albeit quite brutal for the canary! Erectile dysfunction can be like the canary. An early warning that something more serious isn’t right. It is quite simply staggering to Val and I how many men don’t get themselves checked out when an early warning like this is present. ED is way more common than most folks imagine. But what surprises us is how few men seek to do anything about it. Viagra and it’s generic constituent Sidenafil are so widely available and so easy to get hold of. It’s “piss-easy” to buy and will help in the vast majority of cases. You take it on an empty stomach about 45-60 mins before sexual engagement and bingo! Stays in the system for anything between 4 to 12 hours. There are a few side side effects, like feeling a bit bunged up or snotty afterwards, or feeling a bit queasy in the stomach, or a feeling similar to indigestion. This is usually mild but if it’s too much then just try half a pill instead. In fact, Sildenafil pills come in different strengths anyway. But before you rush off to buy, you may want to check with your GP first, because I’m not a medic and for all I know it could interfere with other medications or do more harm than good for some individuals. Anyway... back to my point about the canary. ED is sometimes a sign of poor circulation or heart problems. It’s also a side effect of diabetes in a fair number of cases. If you can’t get or keep an erection for more than a brief minute or too it may be worth swallowing your pride and getting a general health check or man-MOT with your GP. It could literally save your life. Astronauts wear a space suit to survive in space. Your body is your earth suit. It’s the only place you have to live. Getting checked out could make all the difference.
YOU DO COUNSELLING TOO?
It was in 2011 when I (Bri) did my first massage course. More followed over the next few years. In 2012 Val decided she wanted in too. One of the things we noticed is that clients often spoke with us about quite personal issues during their massage. It became clear that entering the massage room wasn’t only about the soothing pleasures of being rubbed all over; for some, it was an opportunity for wider holistic therapeutic experience. Val and I had just gone through a period of mid-life change ourselves, so we could identify and engage with what many of our clients were telling us. I decided to do a counselling course. Level 2 became level 3, and level 3 then turned into a three year degree course. I qualified in 2017 and have been taking on private clients ever since. Some counsellors try and be all things to all people, but many I know about have discovered they prefer one method of therapy over another, or are more useful to clients in some areas than others. For me, I discovered that relationship and intimacy counselling was more “my thing” than, say, addiction or OCD, and it’s one of several topics I read up on and study more than others. I also feel more helpful in the philosophical arena of helping clients find personal meaning, purpose and priority, especially during mid-life turmoil; a period when many try and make sense of who they are and what the second half of their life is going to be like.
If anyone would like to enquire about counselling, either as a couple or an individual, please contact me.
Leopards and Spots
They say a leopard can’t change it’s spots. It’s one of those things some people say when they have no belief that someone can change their ways. Well maybe a leopard can’t change it’s spots the same way that we can’t change the colour of our eyes or the size of our feet, but to assume that people can’t change their values, beliefs, attitudes, thoughts and behaviours is just plain not true. Whether or not they want to change is a different matter entirely, but the capacity to change exists. In counselling terms we call this personal development. This comprises putting into action our willingness to assess and evaluate how we’ve been living and then making any necessary changes to provide us with a more contented, satisfied and congruent life. Of course there will always be some who make very little change, either because they don’t need to or because of an unwillingness to think outside the box or think about other people’s opinions and differences. Muhammed Ali once said, “If a man were to say to me he’s the same person now as he was thirty years ago, I’d say that man has just wasted thirty years of his life”. When people talk about a mid-life crisis, they usually mean a time in life when we unravel the past and see which bits of life are working for us and which bits need changing. What do we need to introduce into our life that’s been missing in order to bring fresh meaning and purpose to our experience on this earth, and which unhelpful beliefs or behaviours need modifying or ditching altogether.
HRT - still a taboo?
It’s in the news that a certain type of HRT is likely to become available over the counter without prescription at pharmacies. This announcement has prompted me to make this blog post.
Post-menopausal issues are still, in 2022, massively difficult for many women to face up to and talk about. Even to their GP. To make matters worse, it is reported (anecdotally) that many GPs are way too dismissive or simply don’t know enough to deal with these issues.
Some of our clients who feel touch deprived (or even sex deprived!) within a long-term relationship find soothing comfort and human connection when receiving massage. However, lack of sexually intimacy within a relationship has many possible causes other than the most common reason cited, “she’s just suddenly gone off it”. I’d love to go into these reasons further, especially for those men who are completely oblivious to the fact that it could be something to do with them, but the wife is too concerned about demolishing their ego by telling them exactly why! But this post relates to the fact that some women might not be talking to their partners about the issues they have going on down under in the genital area. One of the many symptoms is pain during intercourse after the menopause due to dryness and vaginal atrophy. One lady I heard about said that her husband thought she was having an affair because she suddenly “went off sex”, and stayed off sex for two years before plucking up the courage to finally admit she felt pain during intercourse and went to see her GP about it. She couldn't even talk to her husband about it; such was her embarrassment about mentioning it. Even then, it took several visits before she found a GP who took her seriously, and several more visits before she found a HRT treatment suitable for her. These issues are usually treatable with a GP who’s clued up in this area and with medication specific to each individual woman’s need (the wrong medication can cause unpleasant side effects, so its important to feedback to the GP how the meds are working for you).
Why do so many women in long term relationships still find this such a taboo to talk about and get sorted? Like it’s still the bloody dark ages or Victorian Britain!
The Wrong Idea...
It’s about three years now since we introduced the option to be “naturist” when receiving Swedish massage. Or is it four? I can’t remember… time flies. We also looked into tantric massage and made the decision to offer (our version) of that too.
However, we knew that by allowing clients to be fully naked there was a real risk that some clients might mistake us for a very different kind of service provider! That’s how we came to put together the info sheet that we insist every new tantric massage client reads and accepts before booking in. This info has been re-worded several times. We wanted to word it honestly but without encouraging assumptions, or putting off the sort of clients we actually want. It’s a balancing act that required a precise form of words. We also wanted to convey the possibility of flexible boundaries over time (which does actually happen with some clients), but without implying they should be expected or that it would apply to everyone automatically. The key word is "possibility", not "definitely".
It’s now 2022, and we’ve done hundreds of naturist and tantric massages. Or rather, Val’s done hundreds, lol, I’m not sure I’ve reached three figures yet. And yet we still get the odd client here and there who turns up with the wrong idea. It makes us wonder if they’ve read the info but somehow think it doesn’t apply to them, or they’ve bullshitted us by saying they’ve read it, but actually haven’t. Either way, it’s frustrating.
"My Wife and I would like to..."
We perform massage for couples who wish to book in together. Sometimes we’re all in the same room together, but more often than not we’re in separate rooms, ie Val with one in one room, and me in another room with the other partner. That’s the score for genuine clients booking in together. But unfortunately, we don’t ‘arf get some phoney enquiries from male blaggers and armchair fantasists who pretend that they have a partner who is interested. How sad and pathetic is that! But it happens, and I’m typing this post because it’s just happened again today. It’s as if they are getting off on what I might tell them about what could happen. There’s always an angle… an agenda… a goal. They ping-pong their messages asking for more and more (explicit) details, or even some photos of us. When I ask can I speak to their wife/partner to confirm the enquiry, it suddenly all stops. These timewasters will never know the eroticism that real, in-the-flesh, couples get to experience.
Here’s my parody of a typical fake enquiry….
"My wife and I would like to enquire about sensual naked massage, what’s involved and what else might be included. We are looking to add some spice to our sex-life, as the last time either of us felt aroused was in 1987. I can’t give you an email address because despite the fact it’s 2022 and I’m an accountant I still don’t have one."
"Yes, of course I believe you don't have an email address; that's totally believable - NOT!."
"So can you send me the world’s longest text and give me all the juicy details so I can fiddle with myself whilst reading your reply. After you’ve replied I’ll string you along further by asking some more questions that any person with a working brain would find impossible to answer without meeting us first, and I’ll ask for info on your appearance and possibly for some photos (I know there’s some on your website but naked photos would be nice). I’ll keep the façade going as long as possible because I’m a sad git who has lots of time to fill sitting in his white van while the guys on site have to hang around waiting for more construction deliveries before we get going again."
"Can I speak to your wife?"
"Sorry, my wife can’t speak to you to confirm the enquiry because I don’t actually have a wife and I’m making all this shit up for a lark, due to the fact that my body may be 43 but my mind is still 13."
Meanwhile, some genuine couple is actually booking in, no messing about, and experiencing it for real.
“Hi, is Val available on Tuesday afternoon for a tantric massage. Cheers, Dave”
We literally have a dozen clients called Dave, and more Dave’s who enquire. Exactly the same applies to Steve, Phil, John, Mike and Pete. Please don’t assume we know who you are when you just put “Dave”. We need to know who we’re replying to so Val knows who to expect when you come round. She mentally prepares herself accordingly, especially as each client is different and Val tries to cater or adjust for these differences. And then there are the occasional clients that she’d rather not see at all.
So if you’re reading this now, please don’t be offended if we ask “Dave who?”, because there are lots of different Dave’s.
"IS THAT EVEN LEGAL?"
Whilst our European neighbours seem far more relaxed about nudity than the buttoned-up Brits are, it might be interesting to some to see what the actual law is regarding public nudity for those who consider naturism to be a part of their lifestyle.
Val and I are not ardent naturists… more like occasional part-timers, lol. When the weather, the occasion or the company we’re with suits, then we’re pretty chillaxed about nudity. But we still love the warm, practicality and comfort of clothes too.
Some of our clients are naturists, but most aren’t. However, those that aren’t are often very curious about the topics, and will ask us lots of questions about how we stumbled into it, and whether it’s even legal!
So here’s two links that will clarify the situation in the UK (as at Feb 2022). The first link is to the Crown Prosecution website which is really clear and concise. The second is to a PDF by the College of Policing, which is similar, and gives guidance on the law and procedures for police to follow if a member of the public makes a complaint about a naturist. Unfortunately, many police officers are totally clueless on the law about naturism, and we’ve heard appalling cases of officers literally making stuff up on the spot or attempting to make arrests, only to have their eye wiped later when they discovered their folly.
In a nutshell, public nudity is perfectly legal in the UK unless it can be proved that a deliberate and wilful attempt was made to harass the public in sexually provocative ways. The possibility or potential of upset and harassment is not enough; there has to be actual sexual harassment taking place, or intent to alarm. The fact that a member of the public might decide they are alarmed is not enough; it has to shown that there was intent to alarm. So stuff like naked sunbathing in your back garden or on a beach is perfectly legal. If someone takes the huff and thinks it’s disgusting then tough! You’re not breaking the law unless you sexually harass them. The fact someone might be offended is entirely subjective (a matter of personal opinion and reaction) and has no grounds in law. Or to put it another way, the fact you’re offended doesn’t make you right!
“But what about the children?” Personally, Val and I avoid being naked around children. We’re not at all comfortable with it, so we stay well clear. But that doesn’t make it illegal. I’ve never come across a single child… not once… not ever… that was psychologically traumatised by the sight of a naked body. (And it would only happen if the warped parents conditioned and drilled it into them to be traumatised by such a sight). But I’ve lost count of how many stories I’ve heard of sexual abuse that took place in secret behind closed doors by perpetrators who were family members or close to the family. A public nudist beach is possibly the last place you’re going to find cases of child abuse. It’s way too exposed and the parents are likely to be close at hand in any case. A key point made by keen naturists is that it’s really unhealthy and unnatural for prudes to keep demonising the human body, as though it’s something to be scared and ashamed of. Also, statistics show that naturists are far less likely to suffer from negative body image hang-ups that so many of todays youngsters succumb to.
Finally, although naturists tend to frequent beaches that become known as "naturist beaches", in law any beach is a naturist beach. It doesn't require any sort of special designation. There have been instances in the UK where local councils have tried to ban naked sunbathing even on beaches that tend to only be used by naturists. But on each occasion they have found that the law prevents them because its perfectly legal.
Too many virtue signalling power-mad prudes who want to control and dictate to others instead of minding their own business.
If you’ve visited us before, you’ll know that our massage room is a cabin in the back garden. It’s warm and inviting, and set up specifically for massage. Since we started doing massage in 2011 we’ve been blessed with low profile neighbours who don’t make much noise and don’t go into their gardens that much. This has been to our benefit when it comes to providing an appropriate atmosphere for massage.
However, last year one of our direct neighbours increased their usage of their garden considerably, with increasing visits from a grandchild. This dropped off in the winter months but is already showing signs of resuming again this year. We have no right to expect our neighbours not to use their own back garden as and when they wish; they are perfectly entitled to do so freely. But we are conscious that the noise sometimes makes it into the massage room. It has been suggested to us by one client that we needn’t worry, because he was too engulfed in his experience to even notice what was happening on the other side of the fence. But it’s something that we’re conscious of.
If you’re reading this post and thinking of booking, can we advise you that weekends and late afternoon/early evening are the times when we are more at risk of disturbance. Not all the time of course, but in terms of risk and possibility you might want to avoid booking at these times.
ALL THE UNSAID THINGS
In my role as a counsellor I occasionally, where appropriate, do an exercise with clients called “All the unsaid things”. I provide various prompts and get them to write down some of the thoughts they hold secret but have never been spoken about. These things are to do with things they wish they could say but have either never had the opportunity, the moment has passed, or they just find too awkward and difficult. They could include things like regrets, apologies they wish they’d made, times they’d been hurt by someone’s words, gratitude they wish they’d expressed, things they want to bring up with their partner but can’t. In relation to massage, we quite often hear from clients about things they wish they could discuss with their spouse but deem the topic too risky or bound to cause trouble. So the unsaid things can cause untold anxiety, disappointment and even resentment for years. It's a weird paradox that the person we most want to have honest and intimate conversations with can also be the person with whom we don’t want to risk a falling out, so we avoid it; carrying on like everything is tickety-boo. To the outside world you’re the perfect couple and everything is fine. But internally you’re bursting to lay your soul bare, put all your cards on the table and speak your truth. Why is that so many couples find it so difficult to have honest conversations? Why (oh why) are there still taboos even in supposedly the closest of relationships? What would our partners thing if they really knew what was going on in our heads? And do we really know what’s going on in theirs? A lady recently came on a radio phone-in and said she failed to be intimate with her husband for two years. She’d gone through the menopause and her body changed; she found sex was quite painful due to vaginal atrophy and she avoided his advances. After two years of total confusion and rejection the husband finally asked her if she was having an affair. At this point she realised she needed to see a GP and get it sorted. In two years she had never spoken to her husband about what was going on for her. After several visits to the GP and some trial and error with medications/HRT she was a different woman and regained her sex life. When Val and I hear clients stories we never fail to be amazed and saddened by just how much goes unsaid between couples. Why are some things just too hard to talk about? Is it the anticipation of criticism or judgement or the potential for misunderstanding?
GREBS ON FORUMS
When clients make enquiries, we try to filter out neanderthals, pond-life and half-wits before they make a booking. The kind that don’t have mirrors in the house or don’t know what a block of soap is. With as much personal charm as a crack in the ceiling or a bucket of tarmac. But occasionally one of them slips the net. These are the sort who turn up looking like something the RSPCA scrapped off the road and with the complete absence of personal hygiene. Then they go on childish “adult” forums where all the other pond-life congregate to discuss who’s got the best tits in the seedy backstreet establishments. They seem genuinely surprised when Val keeps them at arm’s length and doesn’t actually fawn all over them like they’re god’s gift, which adds to their lameness. Despite all our attempts to relay to them that she’s not a prostitute and actually gives a genuinemassage, they somehow think it doesn’t apply to them. We then get the brunt of Mr. Dirtbag’s discontent on these forums. Also, despite having a rather expensive and substantial cabin that’s heated and carpeted and spotlessly clean, they insist on referring to it as “the shed”, which gives the wrong impression to prospective clients. So if you’re someone who frequents these forums, please realise that’s it’s not just the sane who go on these sites; cretins do too. And ask yourself if you’ve fully understood what we’re about… and not about.
We’ve been involved in providing therapy of one sort or another for eleven years now, and it’s provided us with some quite personal information on the human condition. The sort of insight, or inside information, that the public at large wouldn’t have access to. Kind of like working in a government department and seeing the inner workings of government that the rest of us can only vaguely imagine.
In my earlier adult life, one of the things I was unaware of was just how many women haven’t experienced an orgasm! Like so many aspects of folk’s sex lives it’s kind of one of those unspoken taboos that get quietly dismissed or swept under the carpet. They sort of enjoy having sex… up to a point… but are totally unaware of the fact that they are not experiencing the full hit. When they eventually do (often with a new partner or as the result of an affair) it blows them away as they realise just what they’ve been missing out on all these years. Why did it take them till their forties or fifties to discover this? And why were their partners/husbands oblivious or indifferent to their deprivation of this wonderful experience? When women don’t experience orgasm it can make them wonder what all the fuss is about sex. It makes them wonder why some women love having sex so much, whilst others (like themselves) can’t see what the big deal is and they can take it or leave it. It can also lead to a general disinterest in sex. The problem is often made a lot worse by male partners who rush to the finish line and make it all about their own experience without paying sufficient attention to whether their female partner has cum or not. Or even what their partner wants to do in bed, or how their partner wants to be touched. It’s all about the male ejaculation; “job done”, so to speak. Except it isn’t for the female; she might be only half way there. So the woman loses interest, and the man gets frustrated because he thinks she’s lost her sex drive.
If this is your situation and you want to arrange a counselling session to find out more and see what can be done, either as a couple or an individual, get in touch. Alternatively, you could try booking a tantric massage session which can help.
THE BEIGE ARMY
This is an excerpt from a book called “Be a Free Range Human” by Marianne Cantwell.
Needs no intro; speaks for itself.
These people are a type you come across every day. There’s one in the office with you right now. They prefer tradition and routine to innovation and enthusiasm. They think your idea of a freer, more fulfilled life is a fantasy best quashed soon.
They are the beige army and they have more of an impact than you think.
They are the managers in the office who can’t see the bigger picture, preferring to nit-pick on the one percent of negativity. “Well done for completing that project that will change the world, but you didn’t fill in the third line of form 30B in triplicate.”
The beige army are staid, repressed and terrified of change. But that’s not why I have a problem with them. After all, it’s up to them how they live their lives. I have a problem because they want YOU to be that way too!
They wander round the office and your extended family reunions, judging anyone who does anything outside of their comfort zone.
Should you be so audacious as to do anything that challenges their beliefs, they say “Are you sure that’s wise?”
What they really mean is if you do that weird thing it is bound to fail and you will crash and burn and be a laughing stock. You will be miserable and harken back to the days when you were safe in this beige existence, where nothing changes… ever.
The truth is that the beige army are a bunch of scared and vocal of people. Their criticisms of others are a weapon against facing up to their feelings. They pretend so much to be doing the right thing they forget they are even pretending. Other people who are different to them are far too scary to contemplate.
Everything they say is a manifestation of their fear:
They question your worthiness.
They criticize without ever putting themselves on the line.
They make you feel small and naïve.
The beige army’s biggest weapon is its pretence that is represents everyone, but it doesn’t. They are terrified of getting any bright colours on their bland beige uniform.