Spa Junkie’s hopes of a break after the morning’s hill hike and yoga session are futile – to say the least…
We meet personal trainer Andy in the yoga studio for a full-body and core workout: a mixture of kettle-bell throwing, sit-ups and squats with medicine balls, arm exercises using stretchy rubber resistance bands, and boxing with pads and gloves. The equipment is quite sandy as Andy has already led five morning Bootcamps on Croyde beach this morning. Although the class doesn’t push me to my limits, it’s a satisfying, sweat-inducing session.
It’s back to the kitchen for another Yeotini, this time with a dash of lime.
We head to studio for qigong, a Chinese healing and meditation exercise where breathing and movement are aligned, with our instructor Dan. The practice is similar to tai chi – rhythmic breathing co-ordinated with slow repetitions of fluid movements designed to harmonise body and mind.
We work through a series of poses, such as lifting our arms out to the sides and moving them rhythmically in figures of eight. I feel the rush of blood through my veins. There’s one move that makes me feel like an extra in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, but no matter how silly it looks, there’s no denying that the routine is calming my mind and enlivening my body. By the end of the session I am away with the fairies.
We head for a 30-minute meditation session in The Sanctuary – a candle-lit and carpeted barn, the back wall piled high with logs, a glowing wood burner in the corner. We sit on cushions in a circle, as Mercedes guides us through some gentle stretching and breathing exercises. I am completely blissed out as we lie there in the darkness, hearing nothing but the sound of our breathing, the log fire crackling, candles flickering and doves cooing.
It takes me a few moments to adjust to the sunshine when I leave the barn – by now I am unbelievably chilled out.
Supper is an asparagus and petit pois soup with a hint of lemon, followed by a summer salad of cannellini beans and tomatoes topped with roasted hazelnuts, anchovies and edible wild flowers. We are also treated to a tiny portion of strawberries with a balsamic glaze... puddings are rare at Yeotown, but seeing as it is the summer solstice they’ve decided to push the boat out.
I have an hour to myself before my full-body deep-tissue massage, so I decide to visit the sauna, which is conveniently located a hop, skip and jump from my bedroom. It’s a great way to unwind – perhaps not quite as hot as I’d like, but it does the job.
I make my way to the living area where my massage therapist collects me. The movements of chef-turned-sports-science-lecturer (as well as therapist) Theresa are expertly considered and thorough. She kneads the cellulite on the back of my thighs, works up my spine and presses deep between my shoulders, unlocking knots of tension.
She turns me over, working into the fronts of my legs before giving me a soothing neck massage, using Amanda Soveral aromatherapy oils (the smell is similar to the bathroom products – a rose and mandarin infusion with a touch of lavender).
Theresa then hands me my final Yeotini of the day – a combination of herbal berry tea and crushed blueberries. I drink it hungrily.
I hit the pillow at a reasonable 10pm and sleep like a log.
The next day, the wholesome retreat changes key. Check back on Tuesday July 23 for more hiking, purple porridge and… harmonising.