Getting grounded on a relaxation weekend at The Orange Tree in Yorkshire
‘By Saturday lunchtime I was fully grounded and thoroughly chilled out’
I was the last to arrive at the fully-booked weekend and the only person there alone. I ventured downstairs and popped my head into the living room, which was full of women, laughing uproariously. I helped myself to a home-made biscuit and fennel tea from the dining room and ventured back into the lounge. My fellow guests were nearly all in there: a eight strong group of women there to celebrate a few birthdays, a group of four women there together, and a group of two old schoolfriends (also female).
Realising that I wasn’t in the mood for all this company so early on, I decided to explore a bit. Encouraged by Claire, one of the staff, I ventured upstairs to the carpeted attic practice room. The room was warm, quiet and, importantly, peaceful and so I treated myself to a relaxing meditation to enable me to recharge my social batteries in time for dinner.
Dinner turned out to be a social affair, with everyone gathered in the dining room chatting and laughing. The atmosphere was friendly, and everyone seemed to be there, not just to relax, but also to let their hair down a little and have some respite from their everyday lives. The meal was delicious – vegetable gratin was followed by a choice of quiches, baked potato and salad. By the time my upside down pear cake arrived, I was pretty full, but it was just too damn tasty to leave and so I managed to squeeze it in!
Edward gave us a bit of a talk while coffee and tea was served, letting us know about a few house rules and giving us details of Saturday’s treatments so that we could book them with him. I retired to bed early and slept like a log in the comfortable bed.
Saturday proved to be the relaxing experience that I had been seeking. I did a personal yoga practice and meditation in my room prior to breakfast, which was served at the leisurely time of 9am. Following that, all of us guests met upstairs in the practice room for the workshop led by Edward himself.
Edward bought The Orange Tree in 2011 and has gently steered it towards the holistic and relaxing venue that it is now, introducing his own take on mindfulness meditation, something that he has been practicing for a long time before its recent popularity. Saturday’s workshop was a good introduction to stress management and relaxation, and the ice-breakers ensured that by the end, the group gelled pretty well.
Edward’s humour and gentle nature persuaded even the most sceptical of guests about the benefits of the various techniques that we were getting a taster of over the weekend. He emphasised that we did not have to have a particular spiritual belief to get benefits from the different exercises. The Chi Kung session (my first ever) was relaxing, mindful and accessible and followed by a guided relaxation, accompanied by the sounds and vibrations of the “Therapeutic Earth Gong”. By lunchtime I was fully grounded and thoroughly chilled out.
A hearty lunch of leek and potato soup followed by a choice of salads left me satiated yet again. I had a little time to walk it off, taking in the beautiful views, before my treatments started. There are two dedicated treatments rooms, and the practice room also turns into two treatment spaces. I was in the practice room, which was warm in temperature, cosy and almost seemed like a totally different space than the one we had all been in earlier.
I had an Indian Head Massage with local therapist, Bridget, followed by a relaxing facial using natural creams and oils made by another of the local therapists. Bridget had a firm and caring touch with the massage and I left with a fresh-looking face, a less knotty neck and shoulders and an oily head of hair, which left it pretty shiny and conditioned when I washed it later. I relaxed a while in the lounge afterwards, and munched on a slice of made lemon drizzle cake and scones, cream and jam. Though tempted to work my way through the lounge’s books on yoga and meditation, instead I treated myself to a short spell in the sauna. Despite the fact that there were 15 of us staying that weekend, because people were all occupied with treatments, out hiking, in the hot tub, or just hanging out in their room, my sauna session was completely solo, which felt like a lovely luxury.
Despite my afternoon tea indulgences (yes, I did go up for a second scone!), I still managed to find room for the evening’s vegetarian lasagne and chocolate cake. The chatter round the table was light-hearted, laughter was plentiful and everyone was enthusiastic about the morning’s relaxation session and their various treatments.
I started Sunday with a dip in the hot tub, appreciating the view, as well as the contrast of the hot water to the cold Autumn air as I padded back to the main house.
Sunday morning’s post-breakfast programme focused on introducing us to mindfulness, and mindfulness meditation. As with the previous day’s workshop, Edward has a down-to-earth way of explaining that made it fully accessible to all. There was lots of laughter from both him, and us, and though it was not as new to me as it was to many of the other guests, I still felt as though I benefited from Edward’s calm and straightforward approach and instruction.
Following a short meditation, Edward led us in a lovely, very relaxing Hatha yoga session which left me with a feeling of wellbeing in both body and mind. I found the gong relaxation a little intrusive that day, possibly because I am quite aurally sensitive, although I tried to approach it with curiosity. Most of the other guests found it super relaxing.
The weekend ended with a yummy traditional vegetarian Sunday roast, including roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Happily, I was able to avoid a lengthy taxi journey on my return journey as one of the other guests offered me a lift instead. I left feeling uplifted and rested, pleased with how much relaxing I’d managed to fit into such a short space of time.
While the sauna and hot tub were lovely, and the workshops were great, The Orange Tree’s main asset are its staff, who go out of their way to make everyone feel looked after and comfortable and ensure they get the most out of their weekend. My only regret is that I had little time to get my teeth into some of the fascinating books on the bookshelf. I have a nice reading list to be getting on with though!
© Queen of Retreats