Just after lockdown three we went on a family retreat of sorts in our bubble of three to The Bathing House. Set on a bend of the River Dart on the Sharpham Estate in south Devon, this one bedroom historic haven is 30 minutes from our home, self-catering, beautifully private and next to a vineyard - a perfect mid-pandemic retreat. As we had to drive there, we could take our own DIY retreat tools too: a Vitamix, art stuff, hot water bottles, epsom salts, yoga mat, bikes, guitar, etc.
My 10 year old daughter Annoushka was initially livid there was no wifi, but soon defragged and found herself story writing and song composing instead of playing the Roblox that had become a social lifeline to her. We’d known mobile phone reception would be patchy too, so Tom and I worked hard beforehand so we could fully embrace the disconnect and switch off. The weather played ball by giving us an unexpectedly warm and sunny set of three days - thank you Blighty, and long may it continue this year.
The outdoor stone terrace overlooking the water became the setting for most things. My dawn yoga practise and Tom’s river dips, listening to the resident woodpecker and watching the early morning steam rise off the river. Family breakfasts of immune boosters, smoothies, good coffee and pancakes, sat on solid Indian Ocean wooden furniture. Afternoon guitar playing, sketching and stone painting. Watching boats and paddle boarders pass by on the high tide, and herons and egrets swoop and dive. Lingering in the sunshine to properly talk - which with our daughter in her last term at Primary School, felt most precious of all.
We did get out. To walk the private estate trails, and cycle five miles to Totnes and back along a path with heart lifting river views. To eat scrumptious food at the nearby Cellar Door cafe, and drink Sharpham wine made in the vineyard next door. Mainly, we enjoyed the fact we were (finally) anywhere other than in our own house or garden, with nothing too familiar or too taxing to annoy or unsettle us.
Annoushka slept well in the original 1770s octagonal tower. With its Portland stone floor and decorative ceiling, it’s now a charming sitting room with a sofa bed and a log fire that kept us all toasty warm in the chilly evenings. Tom and I were in the double bedroom (which has a pretty white painted balcony) in the 19th century extension, where the estate’s gamekeeper and his family used to live.
Our break was simple and far too short, but it gave us the comfort, space and time we needed to rest and reconnect. Just what the retreat doctor ordered.
Rental of The Bathing House helps fund Sharpham Trust’s charitable work, and meditation retreats take place on the estate all year round - more at queenofretreats.com/retreats/the-sharpham-trust-england/
Caroline - Psychologies Retreat Editor and founder of queenofretreats.com
Tip: Let go of what is no longer serving you
By Kate Emmerson, coach and decluttering expert
"To help you fully embrace your retreat, let go beforehand of what is no longer serving you. Declutter your inbox, tick off your to do list, physically clear out spaces to shift anything pulling at your energy, whether it’s your desk, fridge or wardrobe. Harmonise relationship issues by having courageous conversations, writing a letter or saying sorry. By clearing out stuck energy, you free up white space in your mind to download new ideas."
Quote to live by
‘We were together. I forget the rest’ – Walt Whitman
Take this on retreat: Asquith harem pants
Asquith’s harem pants made from bamboo are a great find for your suitcase, whatever retreat you choose. With a comfy flattering foldover waist and deep pockets, they work for yoga, Pilates, barre or simply languishing, and come in lots of colours including my favourite, this new shade of Sage. More at https://www.asquithlondon.com
Retreats for Autumn reconnection
Holistic treats to help you reconnect with yourself, your life and your loved ones in the UK or on a European isle.
Wonderment Festival, Berkshire
16 Sep 2021 - 19 Sep 2021: an unusual and unique retreat festival packed with gorgeous wellbeing activities to suit different tastes (and including childcare) at Autumn Equinox. See here.
Resilience and Flow Retreat with Resurface, North Devon
17 Sep 2021 - 20 Sep 2021: a transformative surf-therapy retreat to improve your resilience and flow on the British coast. See here.
Radical Sabbatical Retreat with Advivum Journeys, Kent
20 Sep 2021 - 25 Sep 2021: a powerful life coaching retreat at a luxurious manor house for those ready to start a new chapter. See here.
Pilates and Wellness Retreat at Dolphin’s Leap, Lefokastro
11 Sep 2021 - 17 Sep 2021: replenish your spirit, revitalise your body and calm your mind on a tranquil Greek island. See here.
Healing the Ancestral Line Retreat with Holy Mama, Ibiza
9 Oct 2021 - 16 Oct 2021: delve into your mother/daughter relationship, clear blockages and heal your energy. More family retreats available that month too. See here.
Safe to Surrender Retreat with Soul Adventures, Ibiza
20 Oct 2021 - 24 Oct 2021: perfect for the solo traveller, flow and grow in a safe, supportive space with Kundalini maestro and shamanic practitioner Trish Whelan. See here.
For more information and honest reviews of these retreats and more, go queenofretreats.com/destinations/retreats-uk/
Image: Getty Images