Gather & Tend Day Retreat
At the beginning of this year, I can't even remember when exactly, but I do know it was very cold, I met up with my friend, and fellow blogger Melanie from Geoffrey & Grace to talk about hosting a workshop together. I don't think either of us knew exactly where it would end up at that time, but Gather and Tend as it became known turned out to be a very lovely day indeed.
I think it is always a worry when you plan something for a long time, and I know Melanie and I, both had sleepless nights the night prior but I think everything we had been dreaming of came together in the end. We hosted Gather and Tend at beautiful Tilton House in Sussex, the perfect venue for our day, steeped in Bloomsbury history and set at the foot of the Downs, a stunning location.
When Melanie and I arrived at Tilton House, the mist was just lifting on what turned out to be an overcast (perfect for photography), but warm day. Once our guests arrived, we said our hellos over a hot drink in the library with the fire providing a welcoming backdrop.
After getting to know each other a little, we grabbed our foraging baskets, and Melanie led a mindful walk up towards the top of the downs where there were plenty of opportunities to gather berries and foliage whilst photographing the Sussex countryside.
We then headed back to Tilton House, where I taught my first session; creating a floral urn arrangement loosely inspired by one of my heroines Constance Spry. We were very lucky to have an abundance of garden roses, dahlias, hydrangea, foliage, and other deliciously scented flowers provided by The Real Flower Company, to whom I want to say a huge thank you. We also used some of the bits we had foraged on the walk to add to the wild feel of our arrangements. Everyone's finished pieces turned out beautifully, and I felt very proud of all our guests, especially given some of them had never done anything remotely similar before.
It was then time for a delicious seasonal lunch, we knew that we would be using everyone's finished floral arrangements to finish off the table that Melanie and I had already styled with autumn fruits and single stems, but I don't think in our wildest dreams we thought it would look quite as beautiful as it did. Which of course meant, that as it was a gathering of instagrammers, it took a while before we sat down to eat so everyone could get some shots of the finished tablescape. Lovely Vaani from @sugarplumbakeskingston very kindly made us each a delightful hand-decorated biscuit to finish off our place settings.
After lunch and the obligatory multiple photos, I led my final session using our floral arrangements from earlier to share my knowledge on setting up a still-life scene. As with the flower arranging earlier, I was genuinely thrilled with what everyone created, it was definitely a group of very talented ladies (although I must confess, some of them were already experts without my input).
Image by Wild Blume
The day ended with a meditation and yoga session taken by Melanie. Sadly I couldn't join in, as I was busy tidying up from our earlier workshops (and maybe taking a few snaps!), but afterwards everyone told me what a wonderful teacher Melanie was, and they were feeling extremely relaxed, the perfect way to end the day.
Before we said our goodbyes, we handed out goody bags, with an array of lovely gifts kindly provided by the following folk who both Melanie and I love:
cut flower seeds from Grace Alexander Flowers, curated for slow living and still life beauty
a quartz necklace from Wanderlustlife
hibernation tea from Sacred Seeds
soap from Southsea Bathing Hut
candle from Seven Seventeen
a crystal and smudge stick from The Owl & The Apothecary
hand printed cards by Bobby & Co
All in all, I don't think we could have asked for the day to go better, the weather was perfect for al fresco eating, our guests were just the nicest group of people, Tilton House felt like a very special venue, and I can't thank Melanie enough for being such a lovely, supportive and brilliant co-host.
We were also lucky enough to have our friend, and talented photographer Wild Blume come along to document the day for us. Thank you Sarah-Lou for your photos and everything else you did to help.
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