We spent last weekend at our favourite place, Elmley Nature Reserve, retreating from January, going through our January Book, resting, talking, eating, laughing and just connecting again. Oh my, it was a sweet piece of heaven on earth. We have been doing our January book for 9 years but for the last two we have gone away for a weekend in January to do it; something we have now decided we can't do without
This year, I also finally made a downloadable guide to my January Book so that others can go through it too and I have been blown away by how many people have downloaded it, it has far far surpassed my hopes! Thank you so much to those of you who have downloaded it, and also to those who have sent such lovely emails and DM's too. I have had a surprising number of messages from people who have done it with their partner with amazing results, quite a few formally not very talkative boyfriends/husbands have been really into it. Amazing. (The January Book can be done alone or with your partner/family. Link to download below)
But, let me think back to Elmley. To The Damson, their newest hut. To the huge soft bed and robes which we made use of most of the time. To the glorious outside bath at night; stars, planes and planets (yes, planets- so cool!) twinkling above us, clouds of steam billowing over our heads. Let me think back to the sound of the wind howling around the hut at all times, and being able to burrow a little deeper in the duvet. To the whistle of the kettle and resulting stream of hot drinks. The pop of the Prosecco bottle, the soups and curries we brought pfufting on the stove.
Back to notebooks piled on the bed, to talking and talking and laughing with Dave, as we reviewed last year and planned for the next, listening to my 'Deep Winter' playlist. Back to quietly walking around the reserve in my dressing gown at the crack of dawn with my baby perched on my hip. It is just such a special place for us, and the perfect place to think, dream and write.
Auden was with us this time which meant we didn't get quite as much done as last year, but it was lovely to be able to give him so much love and attention.
How to create a January Retreat at home.
Are you feeling a little discombobulated about the start of this year, still a bit sleepy and not really raring to go? Do you feel knackered and in need of a bit of rest and relaxation? Do you like the idea of setting some gentle intentions for the year that you’ll actually stick too? Maybe you’d LOVE a weekend away (I would strongly encourage it if you can!) but can’t find the time or pennies. If that’s you, read on.
1) Get my January Book guide
Download my free January Book guide to help you to gently look back over the last year, find your wins and lessons learned, then plan for the year ahead with an emphasis on how you want to feel, and setting goals that feel like gifts.
Get The January Book
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2) Clear some time.
Set aside some decent chunks of time. Cancel plans if you must. If you have kids, use an evening, or ask for some childcare. We used Auden’s nap times, evenings, and also took turns playing with him whilst the other one wrote. With Frankie, we set up swaps with friends. (also consider babysitter, asking for help from family, swapping with pals, setting up a super time consuming activity, or putting a film on for older kids. )
3) Create a calm, cosy space.
Whether its on your bed or the sofa, tidy up, get extra blankets, light the candles, burn/diffuse some essential oils or a gorgeous smelling candle.
Have some delicious food and drink at the ready. We tend to be quite indulgent (think warm chocolate pudding...)
5) Find time to pamper.
Make time to have a hot candle lit bath, paint your nails, have a nap or an early night. Get childcare help if you need it.
6) Be kind to yourself.
My instagram feed is full this year of people taking it easy in January and it is a breath of fresh air. It seems lots of people are not quite firing on all cylinders. I know that I won't really feel ready to go until Spring and I’m going with it and being as kind to myself as possible.
Some photos of last weekend by both Dave and I. I had time to work on my camera settings and I'm really proud of some of these shots.
Some snaps in the hut doing our January book.
The glorious outside bath!
A few favourite shots from around the reserve. It is still incredible to us that this wildernessy place is just an hour outside London?!
And a few others of us hanging back at the hut- it's the main thing we do when we're there!
This was a bit of a mammoth post. I'd love to know if you have downloaded the guide too, I hope it can be helpful for you.