On May Bank Weekend, I found myself traveling to Pembrokeshire to attend The 1st Big Retreat Wales in Lawrenny. A weekend dedicated to soothing the mind, caressing the body and feeding the soul.
I asked the universe for more solo micro adventures this year and she delivered. Spending time on my own in the outdoors has helped me to learn to rely on myself and the art of learning to be with myself in every moment.
It’s also made me realise just how much Rik does for me and how he’s cushioned my adventures for that I’m oh so grateful….
It felt like a big deal to travel 5 ½ hours on my own, set up camp in the blistering heat and then go and introduce myself to people I’d never met in my life. And I feel I’m a better person for it.
Life Seeker Wales was an absolute pleasure to meet. Sally and Dave are originally from the north but living and working in Pembrokeshire.
I spent most of the weekend lazily lounging in their hammock, colouring in, taking silly selfies and understanding how important it is to maintain a work and life balance – something Sally is keen to promote. We both are it seems.
My first Kundalini yoga workshop was like a reenactment of Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love. I fidgeted, fidgeted and fidgeted some more. It’s challenging to get on the path to enlightenment but it’s worth the life and long journey. This yoga session was run by smiling soul Alison who helped me to restore my inner peace and give me some time out of my brain.
The combination of controlled movement, chanting, and song stirred up a tad of emotion as I meditated on the estuary views! Perhaps it was my mind letting go of things that had lodged themselves in my cells. After session 3, I floated around camp. Maybe literally?
I was excited to meet Jade Mellor from Wild Pickings. She reminded me of a little woodland nymph, equipped with a compact wicker basket and a colourful umbrella to shield her from the afternoon drizzle.
We took a walk around the old castle grounds foraging and learning about the greenery that grows all around us. We made a wonderful salt with what we’d picked- she’s given me a taste for more wild eating…
I’m a sucker for personalised gifts so when Tunde and Al invited me to answer some silly questions so they could create a poem for me, I jumped at the chance. It still makes me smile now.
Having got back from Italy recently, I thought I couldn’t eat any more pasta! Then local Cardiff based celebrity chef Giovanni turned up for a cooking demonstration. Three hours full of frolics, fun and delicious foods. No camp cooking that night.
I left the retreat for some walking time and embarked on South of the Landsker trail. I took the not so scenic bottom track so I couldn’t see much of the estuary.
But I could hear the little boats racing one another and the smell of poignant seaweed mixing with the sweet earth from the fields above. There was a lovely sunset and I could see the Big Retreat Dome sparkling on a hill in the distance (which my camera couldn’t pick up).
I enjoyed talking crafts, comfort zones, food politics, feminism and of course carving a spoon courtesy of SingleMaltTeapot.
I’d waited all weekend to get on his ever so popular spoon carving workshops!
I’ve got a long way to go before my creation resembles love spoon rather than devil handed hacked at spoon. I got a few cuts and tellings off from first aid. 😉 Everyone did well with the little time they had. I think I’ll be purchasing a spoon from Vic – his craft is oh so, wonderful.
Edit: I wanted to express how Vic is obsessed (rightly so) with safety and keeps a watchful eye on everything you do with his knives!
The many people I met who took the time to share their stories of traveling, adventure, life and of course their love for Wales.
The live local music, the campfires and the delicious brunches from Slow Pig Pembrokeshire. I can’t forget a warm welcome from Amber and her family, I got a sense of their wonderful community and despite all of the strife going on in the world, it’s good to know that community will always stand strong.
Leek or leak?
After being woken up at 3 am by a tremendous flashing light in my tent, it turned out a storm was upon on which lead to a semi-wet and loud early hours ( totally my fault as I’d put my tent inside out!) ‘Naturally’ my new friend Sally let me sleep in her marque for the last night since mine was near enough floating. I was offered a warm bed from the retreat organisers but I couldn’t tear myself away from the atmosphere and natural surroundings.
Good ol’ sense of direction
Getting lost in the meditation garden was fun and hopping over the stones to avoid snagging my bare feet on them so I could finish the trail.
Thankfully, no one was watching but the birds… I did meet the creator of this detailed project. Tom, a healer – an ‘apples and pears’ sounding Londoner who spoke fluent French (since he’s got a retreat business over there). He had eyes which felt like they could truly see your soul. The aura and energy workshop I attended of his was informative, fun and involved touching up people I didn’t know (not as dodgy as it sounds) honest!
Giovanni throwing a raw asparagus at me during his live cooking demo when he found out I was veggie. He certainly created some culinary masterpieces and demonstrated that veggie food is full of flavour and easy to make.
We Interrupt this Pizza Broadcast
Queuing up for a much-needed wood fired pizza after all of the exercises but being intercepted by Amber (owner of TBRW) to join her Zumba class. I needed the pizza even more.
Further Thoughts – Switching Off
Some people find it a challenge to sit and do nothing. I used to be and in some way, I’m still one of those people. My change of lifestyle (from city to countryside) has enabled me to learn the art of doing nothing but it’s an ongoing practice.
It took me until Sunday to realise that it was OK not to attend every workshop and conversation. And instead, it was also part of the retreat to simply sit, take in the majestic surroundings and have a delicious ice cream.
I guess the end goal is to be able to take the vibe of the retreat and use it in your everyday life, of course, the spectacular view makes it easier but, peace and contentment are found only within.
We’re all on our own journey hey?
Thank you to everyone who listened and asked about my stories. I thoroughly enjoyed yours. It was a pleasure to meet the families of Lawrenny and I’m looking forward to attending next year’s Big Retreat Wales.
Hwyl fawr am nawr!
Disclaimer: I was invited down in exchange for my honest review. My feedback has been sent to the organisers. All ice cream and pizza eating, dancing and ‘yogaing‘ are my own.