Fish eating the dead skin cells on your feet sounds bizarre doesn’t it? But it is actually a completely natural pedicure using therapeutic Garra Rufa fish. It’s not a modern fad that someone just dreamt up, it’s been around for centuries having originated in Kangal in Turkey, where the fish live in the hot springs. They have no teeth, so there is no risk of pain or infection and the treatment leaves you feeling relaxed and your feet soft and smooth.
I was here at Garra Spa in the Beechwood Arcade to meet my editor James, who was going to share the
experience with me – in other words we were both too chicken to go alone.
However, as I got there before him and was reassured by other customers and the staff that it was going to be a pleasurable 20 minutes or so, I thought I would start first and get the embarrassing screaming out of the way before he arrived.
‘It’s weird,’ a lady having her hands and feet done told me, ‘That’s the word - weird, but the results are good.’ She was visiting from Nicosia in Cyprus and was taking some time out to meet her friend and enjoy the whole experience. It’s more fun if you share it with friends.
Another lady was laughing, drinking coffee and obviously loving the whole thing. Her friend, however, looked petrified. Tavia, one of the lovely girls who work at Garra Spa, assured me that, ‘Everyone is nervous initially and the first minute can be quite ticklish, then you get used to it.’
Just like when you go into cold water and edge your way out torturously rather than taking the plunge, I mistakenly put one tentative foot in the water first and the Garra Rufa fish – about 50 of them - swarmed on my flesh like a scene from Piranha 3D. I jest. OK so I did pull my foot out and squeal a little, but as the other ladies having treatments had managed to walk out without crutches I bravely inserted both feet and waited for the initial ‘attack’ to subside. Within about 30 seconds it did. It became a pleasant tingling feeling which after a while felt really nice, especially on the backs of my heels. I have to admit it was quite ticklish under the arch of my foot but they didn’t seem to concentrate much on that bit. And I could always shout ‘Whitebait’ and watch them scatter. They are about the same size and shape and I could almost
visualise the batter and garlic mayonnaise....
But back to the fish. James arrived and asked me how it was. I said it was quite nice really. He didn’t look convinced. But once his treatment was under way, we both relaxed and the 20 minutes passed really quickly. When mine was over, I volunteered to have my hands done as well. My feet by this time were as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
When you put your hands in the water you are much closer to the fish, so you can watch them and they
really are quite sweet! And the results are so good I can’t wait to go back. In fact it could become a habit.
But for me now the burning question is, ‘Will I ever be able to eat Whitebait again?’
Garra Spa is upstairs in the Beechwood Arcade. A 20 minute foot session costs £20 with the hands extra at £10 for ten minutes.
Tel: 07413 430862 for an appointment or just drop in.