Letting go and reaffirming life at Green Farm rural retreat in Kent, England

Sally Kirby reviews this lovely rural retreat in Kent and deeply relaxes with ESPA treatments, woodland walks, yoga, good food and a unique Singing with Nightingales experience

The morning I set off for Green Farm retreat in Kent I had a call from my estate agent to say the house sale I’d been negotiating for three months had fallen through. My VW Campervan trip to southern Europe and plans to buy a property on the Atlantic Coast was suddenly a distant dream. The same day, a letter arrived in the post from an old family friend, telling me he’d discovered a box filled with my late mum’s ‘memoirs’ in his attic. It would seem that whilst my future had become very unclear, a large part of my past was about to be revealed. With tears falling because of the emotional intensity, I jumped in the car, only to be scooped up the other end by Maryann, Martin and the Green Farm family.

Sitting round the kitchen island, they told me the story of how Green Farm had come to life. They’d been close to buying a boat to sail around the world when Green Farm, on the same lane where Maryann grew up, came up for auction. It was her vision – she’d had her heart set on the property since childhood, but now finally experience, partners and timing had all lined up. I felt myself surrender too, trusting that the Universe had a better plan for me.

That afternoon we took their three dogs for a two hour walk through ancient woodland and wild flower filled meadows along with fellow guest – a new mum, who’d been given the weekend as a gift from her husband. Martin explained how they’re working to bring the farm and its woodland surrounds back to their natural state, using traditional methods, working closely with local farmers, neighbours and Kent Wildlife Trust to manage 12,500 hectares of land.

Afterwards I was treated to a couple of hours pampering and use of the beautiful and (surprisingly for the size of the property) extensive facilities of their on-site ESPA spa. Helen the Spa Manager used to work on cruise ships and has years of experience – we had a giggle at my current skincare regime, noted on the questionnaire as ‘flannel and shea butter’ because I’d tailored my routine to budget and a love of natural products.

‘Singing With Nightingales was a magical, beautiful and quirky experience – kind of how I was seeing my life right now’

The facial consultation saw me choosing oils and cleansers based on how they made me feel – I chose geranium for balancing, and after 45 mins of a face, neck and shoulder massage, drifted out to the hot tub overlooking the pond, listening to the bubbles and bleeting lambs in the adjoining field, feeling infinitely more relaxed. The magic of Green Farm was taking effect.

That evening we participated in the rare, ‘Singing with Nightingales’ experience, organised in partnership with well-known folk singer, Sam Lee, one of his contemporaries, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, singer and celloist, played a mini set for 25 of us in the Haybarn.

After dark, we walked crocodile file across fields and into thick forest with no torches in the darkness so we connected with all our senses other than sight. We were told to cross the uneven ground and water-logged puddles by lifting our feet and walking gently and flat-footed, like our barefooted ancestors would have done.There was a fair bit of bumping into each other, and tripping over tree stumps until eventually we stopped and sat on the earth for 30 minutes, listening to the nightingale sing in unison with Ayanna’s voice and music. It was a magical, beautiful and quirky experience – kind of how I was seeing my life right now, and I collapsed happily into my luxuriously comfortable bed around 1.30 am.

On Sunday I had a blissful schedule of two yoga sessions in Green Farm’s converted, glass-fronted Haybarn studio. A group lunch – for those that had come for the Spa & Yoga Day – was a delicious medley of freshly picked salads and veggie frittata using their hen’s eggs. Most guests left that afternoon, after tea and delicious homemade banana loaf, but I stayed on with Maryann and Martin for a cycle ride to a local pub for pizza and wine.

I’d drank more and slept less than I usually do over a 48 hour period, and yet I was buzzing, radiant. I had learned a valuable lesson – letting go isn’t always about letting go of past and emotions – it’s equally as important to let go of being in control of yourself and situations too.

The nurturing, kindness, laughter, outdoor life and inspiring company lifted me at Green Farm. I’d been completely present and content and reaffirmed my values. Retreats don’t have to be restrictive, and Green Farm provides a safe and loving space to create your own, tailor-made wellness weekend for you and wherever you are in your life right now.