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Back again again.

December 13, 2009

Back again – in the sense of being actively online, reading, reacting and writing, though I’ve been back in the office and the ‘world of work’ for a week or two.

Prior to that I took a week out doing some business and career planning, as well as some admin and practical jobs around the house that allowed me to spend a bit of quiet time whilst my family were all at work/school. It’s a simple thing, but I recommend it to anyone who can find that week in a year… it pays you back the time, and then some, in focus and purpose. As a bonus you get lots of little jobs done that otherwise haunt you in the evenings and weekends of the busy working weeks…

I really got off to a good start though. I booked two nights away at ‘The Retreat at Witherdens Hall’ out beyond Canterbury. It’s not a retreat in the denominational sense of following a Christian or Buddhist programme. It’s essentially a detached annex to the owners’ house, a beautifully executed conversion of a farm building, provided on a B&B basis. Everything is organic and as local as possible – I loved the apple juice, sausages, eggs and, particularly, the freshly baked loaf I was presented with on arrival.

That said, The Retreat is able to offer a wide range of treatments, provided on the spot, and support for business, professional and personal development work. Having got to know the place I will definitely be going back and will be planning to include some treatments or coaching sessions.

The real impact of The retreat for me, though, came from the palpable ambience that the owners, Louise and Craig, have managed to create. I abstained from the TV and music on offer, and from the wifi (with the exception of quick dips into my iPhone) in order to be quiet and to read and write. It takes a good 24hrs for this to happen, so that the noise you brought with you starts to die down and you can almost literally start to hear yourself think. But I think that the setting helped this to happen more quickly and deeply for me – I’m not sure if it’s the light, the garden, the décor… but one clue was the vase of freshly cut flowers from the garden which somehow brought the season indoors. I think that Louise and Craig have imparted something of themselves to The Retreat and made it personal. The delicious paella brought over for me on the evening of the second day was another example. On one level it was my dinner order, but on another it was a share in their own evening meal.

As I said, all this got me off to a great start in my reflections. I recommend The Retreat and I suggest that anyone wanting to undertake a peaceful stock-take should book at least three nights… as my two night stay was only just enough.

So I have plenty of plans afoot for 2010 and beyond. Some of those are about business and work, but many of them are, at the same time, about how I live and about how I take a full part in my family and in my community.

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