It's late-November, the sky is blue and the temperature has risen to 24 degrees of heavenly. The last rays of sun I'll see in 2017 for sure. For around £100 I flew with British Airways from Heathrow to Gibraltar. I hired a car and within an hour I'm on sandy beaches that are all but deserted except for a few ardent kite and wind surfers. I say 'empty' because I can't imagine these beaches ever full. Parasols and loungers don't fit into this landscape, which is all very natural and vast. I sound like a tour operator don't I? Well, in a way I am because I'm here on a dry run for the Soul Alive Retreat I've planned for this time next year, if you care to join me?
I have the exclusive use of Villa La Pena for the week long SOUL ALIVE (Saturday 17th - 24th November). It's located on the most southerly tip of Spain, where the Mediterranean sea meets the Atlantic in the Andalusian tuna fishing town of Tarifa. Accompany me on a photo tour of this spacious, comfortable villa with its magnificent gardens and I think you'll be as delighted as I am.
The Villa itself nestles on the hillside with panoramic views over the countryside and the sweep of sand that stretches as far as Tarifa town itself. Gazing out over the Straits of Gibraltar, the mountains of Morocco loom large and Tangiers is a 30-minute ferry ride away.
This whole area drifts in and out of national park. There is a wildness to it which I love and so be-fits the purpose of SOUL ALIVE. Cows, mules and goats graze freely outside the walls of the villa accompanied by the tinkling sound of their collar bells. It gets hot, very hot in the middle of the summer but I know from first hand experience that in November the temperature is still gorgeous and the swimming pool is heated anyway.
After the creative enquiry which is planned for the mornings, with time-out by the poolside after lunch, we're ready to explore what Andalusia has to offer. I love taking my guests out and about in the afternoons but never more than half an hour's drive in any direction. These outings of natural, historic or cultural interest are an integral part
of SOUL ALIVE. They serve to awaken different aspects of your imagination and memory and allow you to expand beyond the confines of your normal thinking.
SOUL ALIVE allows you to take yourself away from the thick of things. For a whole week you can come back to yourself and turn your attention inwards for guidance. I only ever run small group retreats for three good reasons:
1. I prefer it!
2. I like to offer guests their own ensuite bedrooms unless they chose to travel with a friend and share to reduce the cost. So unless I hire a mansion and sacrifice intimacy too, the group will always be small. Time alone is such a rare commodity these days, without the internet to accompany you too. There are plenty of spots to chill out in around the villa, including a watchtower. You don't always have to go to your room.
3. With a small group I can offer the best support for the inevitable shifts that occur. These have such a knock-on effect beyond the Retreat itself. When the group is smaller I've noticed, people genuinely look out for one another so everyone benefits.
"I had no idea how deeply exhausted I was when I went on Mary's retreat. I even felt stressed out at the thought of being away. With so many responsibilities weighing me down, it was hard to imagine how I could let go. By the end of the week I felt entirely different and had recharged my energy and my creativity."
SOUL ALIVE is a fully inclusive Retreat in southern Spain and includes:
* A private ensuite room
* All meals catered by a professional chef
* Dining out on our last evening together
* Airport transfers to and from Gibraltar on specified BA flights
* 6 pre-breakfast movement sessions
* 6 mornings of art therapy workshops
* 6 afternoon excursions
Please phone me or drop me an email if you're interested. Let's meet for coffee if it's practical to do so and talk through whether SOUL ALIVE is right for you. I'm taking reservations now - something to look forward to in November 2018 before winter sets in. Hasta la vista..... Mary