I’ve never considered myself extravagant when it comes to pampering myself, but in Los Angeles a bi-monthly mani pedi was considered reserved, and no one batted an eyelid if the man sat next to you getting his cuticles trimmed was talking about spending the afternoon having his crack, back and sack waxed.
Sadly though when it comes to the hair on my head, I’m having what my brother calls “a bad hair lifetime”. I could hide it pretty well in America, under hats or by saying it was a beachy look but the British weather leaves me baring a striking resemblance to Albert Einstein or as my daughter says “a crazy lion”.
In LA I had the luxury of incredible hair salons on almost every corner, and I was safe in the knowledge there was someone out there who could tame my mane.
But searching for a hairdresser in the countryside, when you’ve only got the recommendation from your 65-year-old mum, is a truly terrifying endeavour.
I trust my mum, she’s cute and trendy and has nice hair, but it’s white-blonde and short and I’m not ready to go down that route just yet. So when I asked her if the lady she uses does Balayage she looked at me blankly. “I can call her and ask,” she kindly offered. “What exactly is it again?”
For the record Balayage is just a painting technique for highlighting hair to give it a sun-kissed look, but I guess in the countryside blue rinses and a set are the most popular requests.
It turns out mum’s mobile hairdresser didn’t do Balayage but she’d “heard” about a salon that did. I got the number and gave them a call only for them to put the phone down on me.
“I beg your pardon?” said the voice on the other end of the phone after I’d asked if their establishment did Balayage. Confused, I called back and the enraged receptionist warned me: “Don’t ever call back here again.”
I still don’t understand what she thought I was asking for, “can you give my balls a massage” is all I can come up with. Other suggestions are welcome.
My hair needed attention though and I was getting dangerously close to asking my mother-in-law, who once had a job washing hair in a salon 45 years ago, to give it a trim.
Many phone calls later, I finally found somewhere that did Balayage. I’ll admit it wasn’t that comforting when the lady put her hand over the mouthpiece to ask the stylists if they did it and then had to come back to me to ask me to spell the word, but I decided to go for it.
That was until, the talented guy snipping my husband’s hair in an actually quite trendy barbour shop, the next day, pulled a face and whistled: “You’re brave,” when I told him where I was going.
NOOOOO!!!!!! I almost asked him to just shave my head there and then. Fortunately with the bad news came some good. He gave me the name of a great salon 20 minutes away and when I googled ‘Robin James’ I was over-the-moon.
I did have to wade through the sea of ambling white haired wanderers in picturesque Sherborne to get to the salon’s front door, but once inside I felt like I’d been transported back to LA – so long as I didn’t look out the window that was.
Ironically my young, tattooed and uber hip stylist talked me out of a ball massage, sorry Balayage, even though she could have made a lot more money from it! Unheard of.
To top it all off as I walked back to my car and dived into a doorway to make room for the approaching train of mobility scooters, I stumbled across the most amazing coffee shop. The sign in the window read ‘Bloody Good Coffee’ and it bloody well was. Thanks Robin James and Bean Shot Coffee for making what could have been a truly hair-raising day, amazing!