Last weekend it was The Nature Sessions, a 3 day retreat held at my favourite place, Elmley nature Reserve on the island of Sheppey in Kent (yes, there is an island in Kent!) . I helped to found the retreat last year, and this year I ran two sessions; a styling with nature session and a beginners guide to journalling session and I also styled the meals. It was full on from a work perspective but utterly wonderful too. We were blessed with glorious sunshine the whole weekend so everything felt like it was bathed in gold.
The basis of The nature Sessions is getting back to nature, and the focus, unlike lots of other retreats, is not about deprivation. Yes some guests sleep in tents; but they’re 5 meter bell tents with proper double beds and mattresses complete with fluffy towels and bathrobes. Food is served regularly, mostly healthy but definitely decadent too and wine is plentiful at meal times (it was from a Kentish vineyard called Simpsons and was delicious- not sponsored- just excited to try a new local wine!) . There was yoga, wild swimming, beach bonfires, picnics, creative sessions, and lots of free time to explore the reserve and be alone. We created our ideal retreat, basically! Below are some photo’s.
First I want to say thanks to Elmley who host the retreats and Kim, the coordinator. Also a huge thank you to Macknade, my local farm shop who provided all the produce along with Wasted Kitchen. In particular they catered an incredible opening night beach picnic. Lastly, thanks to The Floral Madam, the resident florist at Macknade for providing blooms for me to create with. It’s lovely to be working with local companies!
The opening night. A welcome, a group commitment to ourselves, a delicious feast, a roaring bonfire and the tide creeping toward us as the sun sank.
Both mornings started with yoga led by Kim, and then breakfast styled by me. We wanted every meal to feel beautiful and nourishing. River from the Elmley team made sure to feed us the most delicious fresh fruit and granolas every morning.
Pack lunches. Bowls of salad wrapped in paper, twine and rosemary. Guests took a bowl and a linen blanket, and were sent off to the reserve for some quiet time.
I ran a styling with nature session, and a journalling session but dont have many photos of theses as I was busy teaching/facilitating!
Then it was the Saturday feast. Sun setting, table glowing. Peachy pink with pops of blue, fresh pears and abundant blooms, tagine served on platters passed around the table, talking late into the night around the bonfire.
My main take away is that nature is a powerful healer whether you spend most of your days outdoors or just an hour a week, whether you are fighting fit or battling ill health. And also the power of a group of strangers coming together and becoming friends.
It was a wonderful few days with a group of equally wonderful people from varied walks of life, ages and backgrounds. What a privilege it was to get to know them there. Tickets are available for a one day retreat at the end of summer, and for the 3 day version in 2020 too. Head to The Nature Sessions to find out more.