On arrival, Rachel and Claudia, who helped us with our bags and introduced us to the rest of the team, warmly welcomed us. The grounds were breathtaking to say the least. We were ushered into one of the many reception rooms were we met the rest of the group (kisses and hugs everywhere, it was as though we were back home visiting the family), the setting was tranquil, warm and ever so cozy. It had an almost Chalet feel, with the presence of open fires and delicious smells coming from the kitchen after a long day. After dropping off our luggage into our room (I will come on to that later), we went down to the first evening meal. Roasted linseed aubergine and fragrant cod tagine followed by freshly brewed tea. The food was delicious, I was welcomed to a whole host of flavours I never knew could mix, like cinnamon on salad and coconut oil went into nearly everything, but you would honestly never know!
I shared a suite; it was a typical Spanish room, large in size with rustic decor and an en-suite. The most amazing part of our room was actually the view, the window in the bedroom overlooked the rolling hills beyond the home. It was a truly unforgettable experience to wake up to. We had been given our schedule for the next few days. Mindfulness featured everyday, sometimes even three times, an hour’s massage, personal training session, yoga, nutrition consultation and group exercise. I have tried to practice mindfulness here in London, however, it is a completely different experience when you are surrounded by nature, in the heart of a woods, than on the tube on your commute to work. Each session leaves you feeling more relaxed and in tuned to yourself than the last. What was good about practicing this was learning how to switch off to other distractions and wandering thoughts. When we are back here in the UK, stresses seem to take over our life, we flit from one thought to the next on tasks we must finish in a certain time frame, the shopping we have to pick up, family illnesses and so on, that we never actually really have time for ourselves. This retreat is the perfect place to go if you feel like this. You will be lucky/unlucky if you get mobile service, the wifi chooses when it wants to work and you are therefore forced to digitally detox at the same time too. I make it sound like a punishment but for some people, especially me, it’s hard to switch off. The food was exquisite at every meal, everything was controlled, in terms of protein, carbohydrates and size. We cut out alcohol, sugar, wheat, gluten and dairy, which I thought would be hard, however I was left feeling lighter, more full after meals and nourished.
So many aspects of my life came up in my nutrition consultation, I do eat well, controlled, take in the veggies and like the odd supplement here and there, but what surprised me most was the effect the retreat had on my skin. For years, I have had a skin condition, which basically results in a build up of keratin, leaving follicles blocked and red, bumpy areas on the skin surface. I had tried numerous different creams, body bushed, medication and had advice from a series of different doctors, but nothing seemed to work, however, even after three days of the new diet at the retreat my skin had cleared up, to say I was pleased was an understatement. It turns out that I had an intolerance to diary and this was causing my skin to flare like this. Although diary can be healthy, nourishing and a great food group to add into your diet for some, like myself, it can cause adverse effects. For me the retreat allowed me to discover knew things about my body and myself that I didn’t think I would. I met a group of like-minded people, who shared many of my interests, was pampered for the whole week not only in my massage, but also on a day-to-day basis and was able to relax in a way I never had before.
If anyone is looking to go on a retreat I couldn’t recommend this one more, Rachel has done a fantastic job in organizing such a memorable week and the whole team was a blessing to be around and have met.