Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Away to Holy Isle and home again

I forgot to tell you all I was going away for 5 days on my annual Mindfulness Deepening Retreat on Holy Isle off Arran and here I am back.

It was truly amazing like many of my trips to Holy Isle. It is a very, very magical place. A lot of that is because there's a complete feeling of spaciousness, which comes from being on a very small island.

The animals that live on the island do so without predators. There are Eriskay ponies, wild goats and Soay sheep, sea otters, seals and birds of all kinds. Most of the food that is eaten is grown on the island and there's a real simplicity. Of course the fact that there's limited mobile phone signal and no computer access is a great help to that sense of getting away from it all.

Looking out of the front gate of the Centre towards Arran

Looking out over the Centre towards Arran

A Soay sheep and her very curious lamb

Wild goats enjoying a gorse lunch

Eriskay ponies grazing at the boathouse

Wild goats eating seaweed on the beach
The folk who paid good money to come on the retreat were amazing. I was a bit taken aback at the beginning when two friends told me they'd changed their holiday plans so they could come on the retreat and then another, who'd been saving up all year for a holiday, decided to use her money to be with us on Holy Isle. It felt like such a responsibility. But in the end I'm pleased to report that everyone seemed to get what they wanted, if not more, out of the retreat and the feedback was fantastic. I don't think I could have asked for a better experience.

I only realised how exhausted I was when I actually got into the house, and then the days of getting up at 6 am and working through til approximately 9 pm every day followed by a 5 hour journey to get back home sank in.

I bought Mountain Man a rather fetching little gift courtesy of the Cal Mac ferry, which took me from Brodick to Ardrossan. It seemed to give him pleasure, though he tells me the ballast is slightly askew. But then cheap as chips presents often come that way!

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