The Detox Barn, Suffolk, UK
Gentle, plant-based detoxes in a rural setting to energise and motivate
Best for: Those seeking a gentle detox experience to boost their health through plant-based eating, yoga, fresh air and laughter.
Not for: Hardcore detoxers, advanced yogis, and those who take themselves too seriously.
Hosts Sharon and Lauretta Gavin run monthly retreats over a long weekend at an elegantly converted barn near Stowmarket in rural Suffolk. These are an ideal introduction to plant-based, wholefoods eating, and include delicious vegan meals. You’ll be energised, enthused and entertained by your hosts, whose own personal journeys will inspire you. An established comedy double act called ‘The Funny Vegans’, the Gavin sisters are also serious about guests having a laugh on their retreat. Relax in a homely environment, join yoga, country walks and meditation, and meet new people in a supportive, down to earth setting.
The refreshing approach of hosts Sharon and Lauretta, who have experienced transformative results from plant-based, wholefoods eating and are passionate but “without being hippy-dippy tree-huggers”. They prove that even vegans can laugh, especially at themselves.
The need to rely on British weather. Bring wet weather walking gear just in case.
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During your long weekend healthy meals based on plant-based, wholefoods are complemented by daily yoga, meditation and country walks. You will be encouraged to turn off digital devices, and massages, facials, reflexology and personal training are available at extra cost.
The ethos of the Detox Barn is that a gentle plant-based detox can get you started on a new healthy lifestyle, help you to re-energise and even (if this is what you are after) lose extra pounds. Sharon Gavin has used years of strict plant-based eating (eliminating processed sugar, alcohol and caffeine as well as meat, fish and dairy) to help her recover from a rare auto- immune disease, and Lauretta Gavin has supported her sister by diving wholeheartedly into the same regime. Both are passionate advocates and wish to share what they have learnt with others. On your retreat you will combine smoothies and juices with healthy vegan meals. Your schedule enables ‘intermittent fasting’ too, in the break of 15 hours between dinner and breakfast. Numerous studies have concluded that an eating pattern of cycling between periods of eating and fasting can have powerful benefits for body and brain, by reducing inflammation in the body, initiating cell repair and regeneration, and promoting short-term increase in metabolic rate that can assist weight loss. Guests will be asked to share their motivations for joining the detox weekend in advance of their arrival. Post-retreat follow up support is offered via a private Facebook group. Here, the Gavin sisters touch base with their guests and provide tips and inspiration for the 30 day challenge they set of maintaining at least three positive habits from the retreat (such as 30 minutes of exercise a day; eliminating processed foods; including a daily juice).
Yoga teacher Wendy Brown leads two 90 minute morning yoga sessions based on gentle and detoxing ‘flow’ routines. Her style is accessible and easy to follow. Wendy has practised yoga for 20 years, taught for seven years and is certified by the Kundalini Research Institute. Yoga mats are provided and the sessions may take place indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather.
A typical retreat includes an hour long walk of about three miles, a silent walk of about two miles and a walk on the final morning of about five miles. These guided walks are not compulsory but are an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful Suffolk countryside while working up an appetite. Guests are encouraged to watch a number of health- focused documentaries during the retreat) or borrow books (there is a particularly good range of health-oriented and self-help books available).
There is a collection of inspiring documentaries available to watch in the communal lounge area, and on occasions a movie night showing documentaries on plant based eating.
Highly rated local therapists are available to provide a wide range of very reasonably priced holistic therapies as well as other beauty treatments. Oliver Ricote is a massage therapist, yoga teacher and movement specialist with qualifications from the ARYM Institute Mysore India and World Peace Yoga School, Rishikesh India. Nicky Hardy specialises in reflexology, Reiki and Indian head massage treatments. Toni Harvey and Michelle Pipkin are beauty therapists offering a range of treatments including luxury Neal’s Yard facials.
Experienced PT and elite badminton coach Helen Thornton of local company Ardent Sports offers private one hour sessions (for £46) tailored to your needs, and can take guests through a range of cardio, HIIT and strength-building exercises using weights, kettlebells. Her style is thorough (she will take your resting pulse and blood pressure to calculate the pitch at which you should be working during different phases), supportive and she will push you to get the best out of you.
Bedrooms: There are five spacious yet cosy bedrooms, one with separate twin beds and the rest with double beds. Décor is simple, elegant and cosy. Walls are painted in white, cream or warm pastel colours and bedrooms have a mix of wooden flooring and carpets. You can expect a mix of traditional exposed beams, brass and wooden bed frames and antique style chairs and cupboards with stylish modern touches such as tasteful plaques that remind you to ‘Relax’ or ‘Love your Life’. The upstairs room overlooking next door’s farm and the fields beyond is particularly attractive. Each bedroom has its own bathroom, with three that have adjacent bathrooms and two that have private in-room bathrooms. Exposed beams combined with pristine white décor give these a luxurious feel. Dressing gowns and Charcoalogy organic detoxifying shampoos and conditioners are provided.
Other places to stay: Late-booking guests may be accommodated off-site in a gorgeous local farmhouse where rooms are of a similarly high standard.
Other spaces to be: Guests will easily find a quiet spot in the beautiful, well-tended garden, including a garden swing-seat by the summer-house. The garden backs on to the fields and guests can step through the fence and venture into the surrounding countryside for more ‘alone time’. A short walk up the lane leads to a small, picturesque village church.
Try to cut down on processed foods, meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol in advance of the retreat to make the most of it. Pack for British weather – ie. all eventualities. Take up as many massage and holistic treatments as you can afford – they come highly rated.
When to Go
Retreats in Suffolk run throughout the year so check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Summer retreats will enable you to enjoy the two-acre garden, outside yoga, treatments and personal training. Most activities are transferred indoors during winter months, when guests can also enjoy cosy open fires.
Weather permitting, breakfast is eaten in the interior courtyard patio and lunch on the garden patio. Otherwise, communal meals are in the cosy family dining room which has traditional wooden furniture and exposed beams, as well as a herbal tea point for guests. The Detox Barn is all about plant-based wholefoods. Lauretta is head chef, and uses plenty of fresh organic produce to make meals that are free from processed foods, meat, dairy, sugar.
Breakfasts include overnight oats with berries, or banana pancakes topped with fresh fruits, along with a different smoothie or juice each day. Lunches include fresh tomato courgetti, beetroot and pear soup, or a homemade almond milk smoothie. Dinners include Thai or Indian style curries of vegetables and pulses, with wholegrain rice or sweet potato noodles, and crunchy, vibrant salads. Fruit is available for snacking but you will not go hungry. Green and fresh herbal teas are available, and guests can request a black tea or coffee with non-dairy milk if caffeine withdrawal symptoms become too much. As a general rule though, no caffeine is offered. And certainly no alcohol.
Fresh produce is brought from a local organic garden and is the basis of most meals and smoothies. Therapists, personal trainers and those who help run the retreat are all locally based. Drinking water is filtered tap rather than bottled water. Food waste is composted and other waste is recycled where possible. Guest towels are kept for the duration of the long weekend. The barn runs on an air source heat pump that absorbs heat from the outside air to generate hot water and heat radiators.
Prospects, Nedging Tye, Suffolk, IP7 7HJ
Stowmarket or Ipswich, with direct links from London Liverpool Street.
Airport: Approximately 1 hour | Train: 25 minutes from Stowmarket; 35 minutes from Ipswich.