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Slow down, you move too fast…

February 14, 2020

Slowing down doesn’t mean stopping thinking, although you have to do that to begin with.  If you  can stop, and just sit, with yourself your mind will begin to free itself.  If you place yourself in a setting with others who are doing the same thing, with no pressure from anyone, your creative synapses begin to spark and snap, your thoughts come tumbling.  If you let it all come you will find it makes you want to do things, make things, talk, walk, eat and open your eyes to look further than the next text, instagram post, meal to be made or work deadline to be reached.  It will awake your curiosity and creativity.


The Slow Movement began in Italy with Carlo Petrini having a wonderfully Italian response to a fast food chain wanting to open a restaurant in Rome in 1986.  Slow Food was born and is a now a world wide organisation with spin offs everywhere with slow parenting, slow travel, even slow gaming. It’s about thinking about what you are doing at any given moment, and getting the most out of each of those moments, shaking off distractions and focussing.

Slowing down is hard for normal people, with normal lives.  It’s almost a badge of honour to get less than the required amount of sleep because of being too busy.  Technology is nipping at our heels all the time, the demands of work and family can be relentless and life just seems to get faster and fuller with information less than a second away from the tip of your finger and from so many sources it’s impossible to work out what is right, wrong, upside down or sideways.   It’s not good.  It’s not healthy.  We absolutely need to be more mindful of ourselves.  Slowing down is not woo woo stuff, its common sense (which contrary to popular belief is not as common as we think).

In order to remember who we are we need to go slow.  That way we can rediscover what is important, shed the unnecessary claims upon our lives and get bit Maire Kondo, only keeping what sparks joy.  Add to that what we are facing as a species on this planet the requirement to slow down is even more vital.   So where can we go to start the slow process?

Mention the word retreat and yoga springs to mind, lithe young woman doing impossible things with their bodies atop a mountain against Mediterranean sunset.  As a women whose litheness, if it was ever there, is a distant memory, when I was asked if I’d like to go on a slow retreat in the Forest of Dean I was a bit, weeeellll, not really sure it’s my thing.

But, as it turns out…  Firstly, no yoga.  Don’t get me wrong, I love yoga and do my own, weird, slightly stiff version at home, alone, sometimes, but me and yoga bunnies in the same room, nooo.  Secondly, this was just about just slowing down, having some time to recalibrate and re-find a creative spark.  Which at that point in my life was precisely what was needed, and what was delivered.

Inspired by Carl Honore’s ‘ In Praise of Slow’ Liz Lewitt created this retreat in her fabulous house, Mill End, in the Forest of Dean, which can be booked for any kind of get together, not just Slow Retreats, and can be self catering or catered by the fabulous Bordello Banquets, with added props for extra glamour and fun.

Eighteen women of all age groups, walks of life and backgrounds got together to try and slow down, to just be, for three days, with a focus on creativity and in this instance learning about raw food ‘cookery’.

The rooms at Mill End are absolutely top drawer, as Katherine Hepburn might have said, beautiful, stylish and each one unique.  They are warm and comfortable with gorgeous crisp white bed linen.

After being shown our rooms, acclimatising and adjusting, slightly nervously, to the fact that we had hours and hours stretching ahead of us in which to do absolutely nothing, if we chose that, or, as it turned out, we could do lots of things, very slowly.

There is a large hot tub and other spa facilities available at all times, and the setting is within minutes of beautiful country walks.  You can help yourself to tea, herbals and coffee any time.  All food was included and wine should you feel the urge (and several of us did, just a little bit) can bought in the village shop.

The raw food demo by the deliciously talented Deb of Deliciously Raw, was followed by dinner of raw food.  If you’d told me I’d enjoy that before this retreat I’d have laughed, quietly and respectfully, but with absolute surety that you’d be wrong.  I was wrong.  It was delicious, very satisfying and also extremely pretty.

There were pens, pencils and paper scattered around.  There were books on creativity, slowing down (lots of copies of Carl’s book!), food, fashion… endless creative inspiration.  There was a clay play table.  There was a wood burner for cosiness, there was space to hide away, space to gather.  For an added cost you could also book to have your angel cards read or some reiki, which is where it got a bit woo woo but it’s always good to open your mind to things that challenge your cynical core I find, and lots of us did and got a huge amount from it.

So we all slowed down.  And now we are feeling groovy*.

This article was written by Liz Haughton when she was a participant at the first Slow Retreat in November 2019. Together with Liz Lewitt Liz Haughton now runs the retreats and will be cooking gorgeous, organic food as part of the nourishing and nurturing experience of Slow Retreats.

*apologies for the Simon and Garfunkel ear worm

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2020 6:25 pm

    Doing nothing and slowing down is hard work for me and it certainly takes practice. Learning to cultivate dolce far niente is still a process I’m learning to master. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful read. Aiva

  2. February 16, 2020 12:45 pm

    I love that Italian expression! Keep on trying to slow down – only good will come of it 🙂

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