The Queens, the hills and the herbs

So she said come to a well woman retreat – no boys allowed (not even you Vishal). We went looking for answers and direction and came away full, and not just our bellies. The Castel embraced us in its old walls that had seen so much pain but stands proud,alone defying the gods of the sun and wind. In view of the mountains and forests we lived like queens for a week. Even the church bell rang out to welcome us and wishes us well.

A strong woman needs sustenance. Who says you can’t eat well in the ways of the vegan? The team shopped long and far (UK & Spain 😂) to fill those kitchen cupboards. How would we do justice to all these wonderful ingredients… enter stage right Angie and stage left Nitasha and then the magic pot that kept giving.

Each meal tastier than the last (can’t decide my favourite 🤦🏽‍♀️) and all quizzing the chefs .. “what’s in that, how did you do that , what does that do for me, what herbs did you use, can you share the recipe and can I have seconds “!! Eating as a family at each meal stories and secrets were shared along with much laughter. The table was laid and cleared as if by the magic fairies. If food is love and this was then a true romance.

I suppose I should really have done this at the start but how could I put us before the Castel and the food 😂. We were just passing guests in this 10th century idyll.No ghosts, well not any those who wanted to share our food! In no particular let me introduce you to the Spanish family. We were a motley but beautiful bunch (no bias here) of varying ages but after the needles we all looked around 30 somethings!

The Players

Gujarati Ninja: Rita: she may be small but don’t be fooled !! Super glam and willing to learn everything thrown at her.

The strongest: Rekha: she may have been the oldest but again with wisdom comes strength.

The giant : Marc: the gentle giant who oozed love for his world and made the Castel a place fit for women.

Wonder Woman: Nitasha: do I really need to say anything ? Not sure if actually sleeps 😂. Gives so much of herself to us all that we do think of her as the mother.

The Creative One: Nadine: or she could be the dog whisperer. Filled with curiosity for the world.

The Silver Fox: Urmila: So beautiful inside and out. Stronger than she thinks.

The Sporty One: Asifa: Just got on with it. Nothing phased her. She is safe to share a bed with 🥰

The Adventurer: Poonam: Adventurers fall and get up and climb higher and further 💪🏽.

The Giver: Angie. I could have said feeder but that would not have been enough. Warm being.

The Observer: Seema: that’s me. Rude to talk about oneself so I won’t and will snooze.

It wasn’t a holiday you signed upto . It’s not an army camp either. It is a well woman retreat. And if you weren’t well before you certainly were on departure (well most of us 🙆🏽‍♀️).

Sharing with Asifa in the honeymoon suite simply meant we did more steps than anyone else but the prize was the awesome view! To sleep with no curtains or blinds was liberating and if I propped myself up slightly I could savour the Pyrenees.

Morning call was 6am (5.30 get up!) and Asifa and I perfected the art of getting ready for morning yoga to approximately 12 mins 😂 We started at 30!

A short walk across the main building we would enter the church – atmospheric and haunting with lit candles with a red glow.
Sun salutations completed by 6.30 we would then start kicking and punching whilst squatting. Not each other of-course. We were strong queens able to protect ourselves.

And before you could throw another ten punches it was time for the big breakfast created by Nitasha and made by Angie. You would occasionally find recycled peels and other useful veg and fruit bits somewhere. But she made us drink our coloured juices my lord! Yes 2 glasses and if you’re really unlucky. Yes of-course I will carry on. I just need a few months to grow my beetroot.

Ok girls get ready for the walking (minimum 15k steps) or an adventure. Every day we walked and talked. We climbed, we slipped, we straddled, we clambered and then we sat and rested. Refreshed with water, oranges and those little snack bars. Depending on how hard we’d worked we sometimes got two and on the last walk we were trusted to carry our own. I’m sure Nitasha didn’t trust me not to eat it straight away 🤪.

Who’d have thought we would be able to collect mint, oregano, dill, thyme and rosemary. Who needs a Waitrose !

One day we were taken to what can only be described as a fairly tale glade. With a green aura matched only by Asifa’s swimming costume. We swam (briefly) in the cold water and warmed up on the rocks with the blazing sun which made it through the trees. I felt like a Famous Five member – we had found our secret hideaway.

Our resident model on all walks was Rekha. How could you say no 😂. She would just sit or stand and we would follow. She does make a good model though and has left “the three holes” embedded in our minds.

We managed to elude the rain but some got to experience the rainbow of a lifetime.

The takeouts or the bits I just forgot to mention to date
⁃ The pulley that took everything to and from the castle ! I mean everything – you know what I am referring to.
⁃ The dogs – Truffalo and Dora . Who doesn’t have an item that hasn’t been in Truffo’s mouth. Wise old Dora was just rolling her eyes … conserve your energy little one. But there is no telling these youngsters .
⁃ The juices 😂. What colour are you today ?! No please don’t make me have a third glass. It’s good for you – ok give me 4!
⁃ The pistachio squares – I’d have been svelte if it wasn’t for these dastardly treats.
⁃ The endless teas. Even the interesting ones 😉
⁃ The lack of makeup 💄. But don’t take away my earrings.
⁃ No hairdryer , straighteners or iron – how very novel.
⁃ Black salt : it’s a love hate relationship.

Can’t believe I have to wait until September 2024 for the next retreat with this teacher. Peru I will be ready for that journey.

Thanks for the ride ladies .🥰

Photos are from a number of people.

2 thoughts on “The Queens, the hills and the herbs

  1. Amazing write up Seema yet again .
    Not able to get a chance on a retreat but your narration took me to experience it first hand ..


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