Sometimes, without realising it, we become engulfed in the stresses of urban living. We could be chugging along merrily on the never-ending train of Everyday Life, when suddenly we find our mood lowering and our stress levels increasing – more so now during these perplexing and uncertain times.
Since lockdown restrictions are gradually being lifted, many of us are looking at hotel stays and retreats for some well deserved R&R.
City-stress related burnout is common amongst hard working Londoners – myself included, so when I was invited to spend a couple of days detoxing my mind and body in a regal country house in Devon called Huntsham Court (shortly before the Covid 19 crisis began) I eagerly accepted.
Upon arriving at this regal stately home with an equally frazzled city-dwelling chum, I was instantly in awe of the spacious living area – a vast space adorned with elegant antiques, inviting sofas and a roaring log fire – a welcome sight on a cold winter day.
Our two day country detox began with a nutritious vegetarian lunch in a grand dining room with wall to ceiling windows boasting sweeping views of the tranquil green grounds.
The welcoming holistic wellness practitioner, Miranda Lewis gave a talk on nutrition as we savoured the various healthy dishes specially prepared for us by the retreat’s talented private chef.
We savoured plates of butternut squash salad, vegetable frittatas and fluffy quinoa as we listened to details of what our detox mini break would involve.
We were then given a tour of our home for the next two days and marvelled at the various function rooms, plush bedrooms and antique furnishings. Available for private hire and special functions, Huntsham Court accommodates up to 130 day guests and 92 overnight guests in 40 individually styled bedrooms – my favourite was a suite facing the ground with a bathroom bigger than most people’s studio flats, complete with twin bath tubs – because bath time is always better shared…
After swanning around the ultra chic interiors of this historic building and yelping with glee upon discovering which regal bedroom was ours for the night, we changed and made our way downstairs for yoga with the rest of the retreat guests.
Experienced yoga instructor Anoushka Emson was waiting for us in a grand hall with large windows offering sweeping views of the emerald green grounds. Sprigs of burning sage were used to welcome us to the evening practice, warding off any pesky negative energy.
We were guided through a series of meditative yoga poses to help detox our hectic minds and relax our bodies. By the end of the class I felt as if I had been swaddled in a cloud of soft cotton and ready for a long, blissful slumber.
Dinner that evening was a delightful dalliance of vegan Indian dishes – fragrant curries, fluffy rice and vibrant salads, which we savoured over charming conversation with the owners of Huntsham Court.
After a soul-soothing yoga nidra class led by the lovely Anoushka, we made our way into the library where we sipped our herbal teas before making our way to bed. Our rooms consisted of regal furniture and antique beds – perfect for an Instagram-worthy photoshoot complete with obligatory pillow hugging.
After partaking in a shameless amount of posing and pomp we realised we were feeling rather peckish and alas had no suitable snackage on our persons, so, off we minced down to the kitchen in the pitch black of the night to forage for nibbles.
We crept into the pantry and were jubilant to discover bowls of healthy treats laid out on the antique wooden table – energy balls made with dates, raw cacao and nuts, fresh fruit, goji berries, pumpkin seeds and pleasingly humungous tubs of nut butters.
Satisfied with our etherial midnight feast, we made our way to bed where we drifted off within minutes – the yoga nidra clearly did its job…
Breakfast the following day was a joyous affair – fluffy gluten free pancakes, eggs Benedict topped with avocado and a specially made keto bread for me were the highlights of the morning. As was sharing various experiences to do with stress and wellness with the other members of the retreat – who we were bonding with the more time we spend with each other.
After another (this time more invigorating) yoga session with Anoushka, we made our way into the library for a life coaching session with Anoushka and friendly nutritionist and life coach Miranda Lewis.
I wasn’t expecting such a heart-opening session, but was pleasantly surprised. We were all encouraged to share our personal stories of growth and express what we feel we wish to change most in our lives. It felt cathartic to just share and feel the support of our fellow retreat goers around me.
The experience made me realise that everyone is living their own personal journey, with lots of ups and downs but we all have one thing in common – we all want to feel happiness. Being able to share in a supportive safe space was comforting and felt like a burden had been lifted from my stress-laden city shoulders.
Miranda also spoke about the important of nourishing foods to boost our health and mood and described a wind down routine she adheres to at the end of the day to prepare her body for sleep – a practice I follow religiously now.
After another highly nutritious and tastebud tantalising lunch prepared by our very own private chef, we finally made our way back home fully rested, revived and ready for any challenge life had to throw at us.
New from October 2020, Huntsham Court will welcome guests to escape to the country for relaxation and recuperation with specially created wellness retreats at the Grade II* listed manor house in Devon, including a dedicated programme for mothers and babies. In collaboration with experienced yoga instructor Anoushka Emson and a dedicated team of health practitioners, the two bespoke retreats are exclusively available at Huntsham Court. The new retreats will launch in October and November 2020.
Rest & Restore Retreat: 11th – 12th October 2020
Managing Motherhood Retreat: 15th – 16th November 2020
Private retreats available to book on request