To read part one, covering our accommodation, nature safari around the reserve, energy cleansing session, opening feast, morning yoga and candle making workshop click here.
Following the pack lunch and some free time, our guests convened in the coolness of the barn, for a "Styling with Nature" session led by me, in which I talked about the importance and power of the spaces around us and the benefits of using natural finds in your home. I then demonstrated two different wreath making techniques, using primarily dried or fresh ingredients.
I was incredibly impressed by everyone creations, even from the guests who thought they weren't very creative.
Kim then led the guests in a walking meditation, a simple but effective nature meditation that can be practised anywhere, and a tool we hope guests took away with them.
During the following guest free time, I set up for dinner. The weather turned a little in the afternoon, bringing some welcome wind (but sadly no rain- the reserve really needs rain!) so we decided to set up in the barn, which ended up being utterly perfect. The day one flowers were rather wild, colourful and wonderfully rambunctious, but for day 2 I created a much simpler affair- just grasses in bottles. As guests arrived my Easy Summer playlist quitly played, my frankincense incense filled the barn and the candles flickered on the tables and in the jars around the room. The evening finished around the fire pit. It was wonderful.
Day 3 Yoga led by my co-host Kim Hill, was held in the barn, with the candles and incense lit (mmm, wow), and followed by another breathtakingly beautiful breakfast granola bowl by Sophie Gordon.
The next workshop for the guests was a screen-printing with nature workshop led by Fran from Fable & Base. Guests first went on a walk to collect bits from outdoors, then took it back to the drawing table. Fran led guests through sketching, cutting out, screen preparation and finally the printing.
Another gorgeous lunch from Sophie Gordon followed, which we ate in the Linhay outside as the sun had come out for us again. I laid the table with my LinenMe linens and put a mix of the previous 2 days flowers on the tables. So much love for that trailing jasmine!
We created cake breaks twice a day (!- like I said, dream retreat!) during which we served the incredible vegan creations made by Hannah Perkin (aka VeganPerks). She gave us a mix of healthy (various energy balls which we served in the early afternoon to give us a boost until dinner) and some rich decadent stuff too; Oreo brownies, pecan slices and peanut bars, Mmmmmmm.
My lovely friend Natasha from Forage Botanicals, led us in our final session, which rounded off the retreat perfectly. It was a very practical session focussed on our everyday stresses and what we can do to create meaningful, and simple rest for ourselves everyday.
Then Kim and I closed our retreat. We gave our guests a postcard and envelope and asked them to write down some of the self care commitments they want to be reminded of in 6 months time. We will pop the postcards in the post in January (a very good time to be reminded of the importance of putting your wellbeing first!) It was super important to all of us that the retreat gave the guests real inspiration to look after themselves every day, and the tools they needed to do that. From journalling to crafting, yoga and meditation, and give the feedback we have had so far, we are confident that we delivered that!
We waved goodbye to everyone, then started the pack down. What an incredible few days!
Phew! so that was The Nature Sessions. It was utterly incredible, if a wee bit exhausting! It was a pleasure to collaborate with Kim Hill, who ran our yoga and meditation sessions, but also did so much behind the scenes to facilitate the smooth running of the retreat; from guest comms to managing the timetable and the budget spreadsheet. I couldn't have done it without her! And of course it was a joy to work at Elmley Nature Reserve again, with owners Georgina and Gareth, and their team who all bent over backwards to accommodate our (sometimes challenging!) requests.
Our next step is to get together and review the retreat and crunch the numbers, and decide if/how we want to run any future events. if you want to be kept in the know, you can join the waiting list here.
The Nature Sessions suppliers part two:
Wellbeing workshop - Forage Botanicals
Location- Elmley Nature Reserve
Vegan cake made by local baker - Vegan Perks
Our day 2 and 3 Vegan caterer - Sophie Gordon
Linen table cloths, napkins and towels (used as picnic blankets) - LinenMe
Dark grey plates, bowls and cutlery used throughout the retreat - House of Fraser
Our pre dinner drinks each night - Mighty Fine Things
Yoga and meditation - Kim Hill
Candle making session led by Studio Milkwood