I used to screw my face up at the idea of ‘slow living’. My interpretation of it was really more of a passing trend, a certain style or aesthetic and all in all, not for me. No, it’s not all soft linens, candles and taking photos of our cups of tea. It’s a pace of life and considered choices. I get that now. And I think my recent stay at Elmley Nature Reserve might have had something to do with it…
WKD: IN along with Canopy & Stars, invited me along to a slow living retreat at Elmley Nature Reserve and the timing couldn’t have been better. Having spent the week previous split between the very hectic city life of Manchester and London, staying in a shepherd’s hut (in the middle of nowhere as far as I could tell) was just the escape I needed. Elmley is a family run farm and national nature reserve, where you can book to stay in one of their charming huts and wake up to the tranquil scenery on their 3200 acres of land. Each hut is unique, small but perfectly formed and kitted out with everything you need.
Nothing but the vast wilderness as far as the eyes can see. And if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a breathtaking sunrise from the comfort of your bed. I pulled the short straw on the weather front but the quiet and stillness was enough of a retreat.
I spent the day with a group of wonderfully inspiring and creative women in a barn space on the reserve. We gathered to hear the stories of some incredible independent brands, shared stories of our own and even made slippers! All before feasting on lunch, kindly provided by Abel & Cole.
Often these kinds of events leave me feeling a bit drained and ever the introvert, craving some alone time away from the conversation. The pace here was very different though, with plenty of time to fill in the gaps as we liked. During some downtime I found Tom Herbert preparing dinner for us all over an open pit fire. You might know him as one half of The Fabulous Baker Brothers or as the expert baker and frontman of the brilliant Hobbs House Bakery. If I could successfully multi-task, I’d have picked his brain about sourdough while snapping away. I killed my starter recently and need to get back in the sourdough game. Anyway, that’s a story for another day!
We were truly spoilt. I think I speak for everyone when I say all of the food was utterly delicious! Charred courgettes in a stew, with butter beans and seasonal wild garlic. Steaks cooked right on the coals. Sourdough flatbreads, polenta…damn, it was good. I’m keen to learn more about outdoor cooking and will be picking up Tom’s new book ‘Do Wild Baking: Food, Fire and Good Times’ to lead the way. Let’s hope it covers the basics of starting a fire because I’m a total novice!
beautiful table styling by Hannah Bullivant
So as you might expect, I didn’t want to leave. At least there was the smokey smell of firewood on my scarf to hang onto. On my way home back to Bristol I was already planning a return visit to Elmley. I still need to lock that in but I better hurry, most huts are booked up through the summer now! Dreaming of cooking on the open pit fires myself during those late summer evenings. Race you to the booking form: Elmley Nature Reserve!