Taking the time to go on a retreat

‘By and large it’s not acquisition that leads to gratitude. People report feeling more gratitude for their experiences than for their material possessions. If you think about meals you’ve had with family members, great concerts your’ve seen, holiday you’ve had, you are much more likely to be grateful that it was money well spent. Experiences define us in a way that objects really never do’. The Gratitude Diaries, Janice Kaplan (pp.99-100)

I am not sure I ever got how gratitude could help me in my life, but Janice Kaplan’s book has really changed my view and this quote especially really resonated with me. I am definitely trying to focus more on experiences than possessions and it seems to be a trend as more and more retreats/experiences are being organised.

My friend Annabel who owns the lifestyle shop Bleak House London took important steps to change her business. She now organises modern adventures in the UK. We had discussed ideas for this retreat in London in the summer, and when she was ready to launch her first retreat in Devon, I knew I had to go. We had talked so much about it – that I could not let the chance of attending the retreat pass me. And soon I was lucky enough to be boarding the train to Totnes to experience the first ever Bleak House Adventure in Devon with 6 other women.

From the discussions we had, I knew what I wanted out of the retreat and what I wanted to experience. I did not want to search my soul to find my ultimate goal in life. I wanted to be grateful to be working for a company that allowed me to go on retreat. However I also wanted to challenge myself physically, learn more skills and explore places and people that have inspired me – in this instance, Agatha Christie. But also discover a part of the UK which I have not really been to, Devon.

I wrote a post for Unique Home Stays on the cottage we stayed in – Dusky Cottage (you can read it here with more pictures of the beautiful cottage we stayed in). It was really so beautiful, and definitely contributed to an amazing retreat.

The itinerary planned by Annabel took us to Overbeck’s (a National Trust house and garden). Tucked away on the cliffs above Salcombe  we found a subtropical garden, filled with exotic and rare plants which surrounds the seaside home of scientist and inventor Otto Overbeck. The views from the garden over the estuary and coast are truly breathtaking. Unfortunately the house is now closed until February.


And of course Annabel had planned a whole day at Greenway, the holiday home of Agatha Christie and the set of some of her books, most notably Dead Man’s Folly – a Poirot’s book (the ITV adaptation with David Suchet was filmed there as well). The way Greenway is presented makes you feel closer to the writer. The interior feels relaxed and atmospheric and still set in the 1950s, when Agatha and her family would spend summers and Christmases with friends, relaxing by the river, playing croquet and clock golf, and reading the latest mystery to guests. The family were great collectors, and it shows in every room.


And finally Burgh Island, the set of another Poirot (book and TV adaptation), Evil Under the Sun that I finished reading once back. Burgh Island is a tidal island on the coast of South Devon in England near Bigbury-on-Sea. There are only a few buildings on the island, the largest being the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel. The other buildings are three private houses, and a public house, the Pilchard Inn, run by the hotel. And that is it. It is an incredible stop, and walk.

Not really featured here is the amazing swim in the sea early in the morning followed by hot chocolate at Beach House – a small restaurant shack near the sea that you need to go to in Milton Sands. But also the fact I came back with my budget intact. Everything was included, everything. A very happy surprise.

This is where we ended our trip. And soon it was time to board our train back to reality. I think my post may not reflect how much I gained about the experience personally . The itinerary is of course accessible to everyone, and I encourage you to see these places as well. But to do with women of similar interest (rather than 2 kids running around), and organised by someone else so I only have to get myself ready, is a totally different experience (and lead to different conversations). By being much more relaxed, I found inspiration and definitely raised my game with my photography thanks to Lauren‘s photography workshop and her being there all the time.

For me to go on a retreat like this, it takes a bit of personal organisation so that Marc have some help and that life carries on as it is. I do not feel guilty about it. We talk about it with the kids. I do things for them on a daily basis and once in a while I need some time for myself (to be that little bit happier). We are a team.  But what would you find out there?

This post was not sponsored nor did Annabel asked me to write. However she just opened registration for a new adventure in Pembrokeshire. 


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