High-flying magazine editor lands on her feet thanks to reflexology.
Interviewed by Jo Reynolds
How long have you lived in the area?
We moved here from Brook Green in mid-2015.
Where are your favourite local haunts?
Detour's, Laveli, Caco, Adam's Café, and the sourdough in October 26 is excellent.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in London, in Westminster. When I was five we moved to Surrey and then Kent. But, I hankered to return to London so as soon as I'd done a secretarial course – because I wanted to be a journalist – I came back.
Most of us don't get enough good sleep
You're a reflexologist now. Any medics in the family?
No, my father was in the timber business, but my mother, who came from Argentina, was something of a medic manqué. She wasn't a doctor, but everyone went to her with their ailments. She was known as “Doctor” Evans. It wasn't that she was a hypochondriac, just that she was caring. She was interested in why people get ill.
What is reflexology?
The stimulation of reflexes on the feet that correspond with organs and systems of the body. It originated in Egypt where they found carvings of reflexology and it aims to boost the immune system and a feeling of wellbeing. My focus is complete relaxation. The pressures of modern living have caused a massive rise in anxiety. It's important to have an hour of deep relaxation to help your body rebalance. Most of us don't get enough good sleep each night.
What reflex points correspond to what parts of the body?
The soles of your feet map your body. They correspond vertically, so the toes cover the head, the lungs are down a third, the stomach's in the middle and the knees are midway down the outsides. The spine runs down the inside edge of both feet.
Do both feet have the same reflex points?
No, the heart and spleen are on the left, and the liver, appendix and gallbladder are on the right, as they are in the body.
At school, were you good at biology?
I was very naughty at school. I went to lots of schools, not because I was expelled, but certainly, Biology was one of my favourite subjects.
With so many alternative therapy options – Reiki, osteopathy, homoeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic – why did you chose reflexology?
I'd had some amazing reflexology. My first was in China where this old woman told me I had three children, a boy and two girls, and she was right, though personally, I don't do foot readings. I've been aware of alternative medicine all my life. My grandmother took me to a herbalist and I took all my children to a cranial osteopath. When I hit 50 and decided to change careers, I had some savings but only one spare year in which to train. I didn't want to work with needles or do full-body massage, so I looked at what the NHS approved – they don't approve homoeopathy for example – so I chose reflexology.
Is enduring smelly feet an occupational hazard?
I often get clients saying, "Sorry, I haven't had a pedicure." In summer, I sometimes get girls wearing ballet shoes without socks, but I do wash and disinfect feet beforehand. I have a very acute sense of smell and when I started my family laughed and said, "You won't last a week," but I'm so interested in what I'm doing I never notice.
You also do facial reflexology. What facial reflex points relate to what body parts?
Some are obvious – like the sinuses are worked above the eyebrows – but, again, they follow the body from top to toe. I use a system devised by Ziggie Bergman, which is inspired by the Native Americans who tend to treat the face. Plus some teaching from China.
You also use hot stones. What is hot stone treatment?
I use hot stones, palm-size down to a marble, to take heat deep into the skin. They're about 48 degrees (Celsius), not burning hot. It's like walking on warm sand, very relaxing.
What's more effective, stones or touch?
Stones are great but nothing beats touch. You can feel if something is out of balance. Sometimes you can feel little lumps like grape pips, like crystals stuck in there. Or dips and hollows. I once treated a lady with cancer and her feet felt like they had no bones in them. I knew she'd given up.
Are your treatments painful or ticklish?
I don't believe in the theory, no pain: no gain. I don't have to dig in, but I sometimes hold quite firmly, always aiming for a deeply relaxing session. It's never ticklish. On the face, I use a jade stone with lovely oils. It's very light touch.
How can you be sure reflexology cures your patients?
It's clients, not patients. We can't say patients because we're not doctors. And I'm not allowed to claim it cures. There are strict guidelines. We work alongside doctors. We're complementary in the true sense of the word. I'd never say, "Don't go to a doctor." I'd never say, "Don't have your heart pills or insulin for diabetes or chemotherapy." But, it’s very affirming for the therapy when people want to keep coming back. One of my clients was wearing a fitness tracker and he pointed out that when he was having reflexology his heart rate was lower than when he was sleeping. I asked my other clients to check and they all said the same.
Do you treat your family?
I treated all my children through all their exams. My friends too. They wouldn't come back if it wasn't working for them. They'd tell me.
Do you have reflexology? If so, can you administer it to yourself?
I can but it's not quite the same because an important part of the treatment is the chance to totally zone out. We have to constantly train for CPD (Continued Professional Development) so I swap with other reflexologists.
What did you do before reflexology?
The magazine world, in the home-interest market. I started with the launch of Interiors in 1981 and moved on to become editor of Homes & Gardens for 10 years. I've been fascinated in people's homes since I was 8. I used to love looking through people's windows. I'd wait till dusk and look in before they'd drawn the curtains. I'm nosey.
Do you feel under pressure to have the perfect home?
Not really. In fact, my husband, Andrew, played a much bigger role in designing our home than I did. He's an accountant and he should have been an architect.
How and with whom do you relax?
I walk. Every day I get up early and usually walk to the river. And I love to cook – with Andrew and my kids. Two still live at home. We love to cook and chat over food. Cake is my favourite word.
Thank you, Amanda. It's been a real pleasure to meet you.