As you may or may not know, I’m in involved with a slow and seasonal magazine and a journal called Creative Countryside. As part of it, we host seasonal gatherings designed to expand more on what we write about. The following is a little story of my attendance at the most recent one – a summer gathering!
One of the themes we try to keep up with the CC gatherings is the remote location and scenic countryside. As we drove down a single lane track, in the blistering heat, past wondering sheep, we wondered if we’d taken a wrong turn! Rik was a little worried that if we had, we wouldn’t get back up the lane. He’s overprotective about his fragile Ford Transit and I tend to look at it as a Land Rover…
Luckily for him and Martha (the van), we were at the right location – The Tarn, set amongst the rolling countryside of Ravenstonedale. Somewhere between the Cumbrian and Yorkshire borders. The Tarn, named after the tarn in the ‘garden’ hidden under pink lilies, is a converted open plan barn and would be home to lots of lovely women (and men) who traveled far and wide (even as far as OZ!) to have a taste of the simple, seasonal and slowed down lifestyle that we’re all about. We’re students of it all really, rather than teachers, hoping to spread the benefits and learn from one another.
Eleanor, Rik and I all had the luxury of staying the night before to prepare for the guests. And I mean luxury in every sense. We dressed tables with vases of British grown flowers, put up the fairy lights, strategically placed the candles, prepared the campfires, stocked the fridge full of fresh and in season foods and spent the evening basking under the sun until the night arrived.
It was the summer Solstice which meant it never got dark – the night’s sky looked more like it does at dawn, pink with hints of purple and orange hues.
One of the wonderful things that stick out for me at the gatherings is the sense of community. We’re all here for similar reasons and that common ground provides many hours of storytelling, laughter, and sharing.
On this particular gathering, the exceptional weather helped to reinforce our love and appreciations for the seasons especially as we ate in the garden, performed a tree ceremony and told stories around the campfire (despite those pesky midges!)
Here are the workshops we had during the summer gathering:
– Yoga & Meditation by Elizabeth Cairns
Lovely Elizabeth is a ray of light with her Cheshire cat-like grin and her bright and floaty clothes. Her enthusiasm for inner peace, gratitude, and opportunity is infectious. We were treated to a morning yoga session ( loved the sun salutations) barefoot on damp grass, a chance to ground and reconnect as well as a morning of meditation. An extra opportunity for some ‘me’ time and to meditate on the dramatic summer views.
-Herbal Medicine & butter by Heather
Mysterious Heather, quiet and knowledgeable about all things plants. Originally from America but living in Scotland where she practices herbal medicines. She took us around The Tarn’s grounds to show us what healing plants were growing and how they could be used. We were also treated to freshly made herbal teas, we made sleep pillows out of dried lavender, rose petals, chamomile etc, and made our own herbal butter (vegan for me) out of the likes of chives, thyme, and rosemary etc.
– Photography by Annie Spratt
Photography by Annie Spratt
I can’t find one word to describe Annie. She’s deep, complicated, boisterous, thoughtful and creative. Always with a camera in her hand (and makes incredible lavender shortbread)! She had a Q&A for those of us who have a burning desire to use our cameras. She took us out for a womble around the grounds to put her tips into practice. Rik was especially enthusiastic about this workshop and hasn’t put his camera down since!
Image was taken by Annie
– Mindfulness walking by me
Then there’s me with not really a clue of what I’m doing, but I’ve discovered life’s better experienced through our senses rather than using our brain all of the time! Boy that gets tiring. It was a super hot day during our mindfulness walk so we chased after the shade and did a spot of tree hugging, earthing and a few others activities to get the senses tingling.
Image was taken by Annie
-Seasonal Feasts by Eleanor & Jess
The incredible duo who not only run the retreats but slave away in the kitchen making treats that make me not want to go back to my pasta combinations! The food is certainly one of my favourite activities… Even better when it’s breaking bread amongst the flowers and trees with people who share your ethos.
During the summer gathering, I got to catch up and walk with Mel and Jona – Mel does the social media for CC so it was great to see her in person! They were planning a trip in their newly converted WV camper to Switzerland. I briefly chatted with one of my favourite Instagrammers Katy who has the most incredible hair. And it was lovely to meet larger than life mummy_barrow who seemed in her element at the thought of slowing down from hectic blogger life. I love the diversity these gatherings attract and I am so excited for the autumn one in November, a little bit of warm heaven to get us through a cold winter.
I am now a stocker of Creative Countryside Magazine and you can order the Summer copy directly from me for £12 + £3 P&P. Simply email me your address details at email@example.com.
Enjoy the rest of your summer, slowly won’t you?