Now it’s my turn. I’ve never written a blog before, have never had cause to and I’m not by nature a big ‘sharer’, but as Marie Claire and I embark on this adventure, it feels so huge that it really needs to be recorded. I really hope that if you’re reading this wanting to make a big change (or even a little one) that we can give you some hope that it really is possible to make a brave leap for yourself or just acknowledge that you might need to focus on you for a bit.
I was going to write about how the story started for me relatively recently, but I guess it probably started, as for all of us, as a result of little events that we barely notice.
I used to be REALLY unfit. Not overweight but REALLY unfit. From quite a young age, I smoked 20 cigarettes a day, and drank a cup of coffee (2 sugars please) with each. Every time I stopped for petrol I would buy 20 cigarettes, a coffee, a chocolate bar and a bag of crisps. I literally never exercised. I was a size 8 and thought that was what counted.
These days I don’t smoke, I drink very little coffee, I don’t take sugar, rarely eat chocolate or crisps and exercise every day, even if it’s just religiously logging 15,000 steps on my activity tracker.
There was no epiphany. It happened over time. It was a bit of a convoluted route. For example, until I gave up smoking I literally never drank unless socialising. I wasn’t one of those people who had a glass of wine to relax at 6. Somehow, I switched one excess for another and could comfortably sink a bottle of wine in the evening (my husband drank red, just a glass or two then cork in, I drank white. SO silly to leave just that little bit in the bottle…)
I still drink a bit more than I’d like but I’m very much an all-in or all-out person which means if I have a big night out, I’ll take a break from it. At the moment, I’m taking a break from my favourite bubbles, as I know Christmas is coming, and I want to wake up clear headed with a spring in my step to get on with this exciting new adventure.
And this is how it happened…
The house that hosts our Pure Retreat (pictured above) was bought four years ago after my father-in-law died. He was a family man who had always been very careful financially. I was determined to use the money he left us to create a place the family, his family, to come together now, (with boys 25, 22 & 18), and over time, as the family grows. My husband thought his father might have viewed that choice as frivolous but I determinedly pushed through the idea. It has since become a place we absolutely love, the place my husband would rather be than anywhere else.
We had a big party at the house 18 months ago, celebrating big birthdays and the like. A lot of time and effort was made by us and my friend’s designer daughter, Polly, to lovingly create a setting in this beautiful place to welcome all our friends. They seemed to find the place as lovely as we do. An idea started gnawing away at me. The house and the feeling it emanated really was special, and I wanted to share it. I promised the family that high summer would remain sacrosanct and a year later I was inching towards my goal but not quite confident enough to put my foot firmly on the gas.
Awaiting our friends in the barn, we learned the pleasure of sharing this special pace
Enter Marie Claire. Out of the blue, she got back in touch, asking if I was still planning on opening a retreat in our beloved France, I was embarrassed to admit that although, yes, I was, I was not going to win the Grand Prix of business startups for my speed. She was exactly the person I needed. Not only had she trained as a personal trainer and become a yoga instructor, she was embarking on her own plan to make a massive life shift from successful businesswoman in a field that wasn’t fulfilling, to choosing to do something that would make her and others really happy. Her mother wasn’t well and Marie Claire was determined for her to see her daughter happy and fulfilled while she could.
I already knew the benefits of ‘Retreating” from my own personal perspective. I wasn’t ever sure I’d be brave enough to attend Boot Camp, (although I’m always keen to drop a few pounds) despite a group of friends loving the challenge (including Marie Claire). I do however love to be active, I want to eat well, sleep well and find some time and space for myself to read a book or forcibly take a break from the draw of electronic devices. Hands up, I do want to drop a few lbs as a result of the process, so shoot me! But I also want to feel special for a bit and accept that I deserve some ‘me’ time in like-minded company. I don’t wanted people barking the next activity at me but I do want to be smiled at, encouraged and calmed by my experience. And that’s why, when we reconnected, Marie Claire and I knew wanted to create a beautiful space in which different types of retreat could flourish and our guests within them. We had decided. Actually decided. We were going to do it. She rented the beautiful big ‘sister’ house opposite (Did I mention she gets things done?!) We planned our ongoing gentle expansion into the beautiful stone barns before we’d even opened! We simply could not imagine doing anything else. We reached out to our friends and we met amazing, talented, generous spirited people who could have been gifted to us as they were the perfect people to join us along the way.
Next time you’ll find out how we got on with making it happen …