Lovelution is a hygge-filled woodland adventure buried in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside, with the aim of empowering and inspiring guests through health, love and compassion.
I got to spend the weekend with Lovelution founder – James – and his wonderful team at the last retreat of 2017, detoxing from life in the rat race and meeting beautiful people on their journeys to becoming their best selves. Like Felicity – a reiki teacher and spiritual life coach, Sophie and Sophie – two vegan teens, and Barbara – a retiree proving it’s never too late to make a change and go vegan.
Mostly, I spent 3 days cosied up in a converted barn filled with glowing candles, drinking endless mugs of hot tea and sheltering from the i rain. It was just what I needed after a stressful week of wedding planning, job interviews and illness.
After setting up camp in a grassy field overlooking a skyline of lights and a brooding pink sky, the retreat began with a warm supper in the candlelit barn. We gathered around the long banquet table and tucked into a feast of yellow thai curry, jungle tempeh, roasted kale, steaming rice and noodles. It was set to be a weekend of free-flowing nutritious goodness from breakfast to dinner and all vegan, of course.
After a good night’s rest, I unzipped my tent to dewy grass and a fresh morning breeze – a welcome break from the rain. I joined the others in the barn for fresh fruit and herbal teas before an energising yoga session and morning meditation. Breakfast was a big pot of warm chia pudding featuring banana, pineapple and berries. With the log fire roaring, good food in my belly and having moved my body, I was already starting to feel detoxed.
We spent the rest of the day in each other’s company, talking about the different ways we each try to grow and make a difference in the world, as well as making the most of the reiki and massage therapies on offer.
I wanted to sit down with James and find out why Lovelution came to fruition and to understand how the magic came together.
“I’ve worked for a long time to try and do something worthwhile and I’ve gone through my own journey of awareness,” he said. We sat on hay bales in the relaxation area with a cup of tea and portable heater to keep us warm.
“I wanted to do something to bring people together and allow people people to connect with each other about something they’re really passionate about. I know how hard it can be to make change if you’re the only person in your life to want that.”
“My vision is that if enough people come together to do great things for the world, we can make a real difference. It’s about planting the seed, because you never know what knock on effects people have on each other.”
While James was talking, we were joined by other members of the team and those enjoying the retreat who seemed equally as eager to understand how Lovelution came about. It turned into ‘an audience with James’. Before long, everyone was talking about why they came to the retreat.
Retiree Barbara said: “I can come here and talk from the heart. I’ve always been the odd one in my life – the vegan, the vegetarian – and coming here has been so positive for me.”
“It’s helped me to see it’s normal and healthy and I’ve met some great people. It’s confirmed that i’m going the right way with my life. When you’re out there on your own, it can feel quite isolated sometimes, but here I feel free to be myself.”
One thing that struck me about the Lovelution retreat was that it started to feel like a community very quickly. It was like we had developed into a family because we could give each other the support we needed and encourage each other to keep going – something some of us didn’t have access to at home.
“You’ve got the yoga and the different treatments like other retreats,” Barbara said, “but you also have time to sit together and learn. There’s things like the open mic night and standing round the bonfire. It’s so lovely.”
The open mic night would take place later that night after we were treated to a three-course meal by one of Pig Out’s wonderful recipe contributors, Callam. Callam cooked us up a real storm starting with a curried spinach and kale soup with cashew cream, a mushroom and walnut stroganoff with mashed potato and two cheesecakes.
As an often socially awkward person, I was feeling pretty nervous about the open mic night. I didn’t think loud music and people singing karaoke tunes really fit in with the vibe of the weekend – and it wouldn’t have. But the open mic night at Lovelution was a modest line up of acoustic guitars, vegan-inspired songwriting and poetry and a bit of beatboxing. It was a truly inspiring end to the night.
Sunday welcomed more delicious, fresh food, yoga flow and massage. It was my last chance to take advantage of the weekend’s restoration and chat to the guests.
23-year-old Demi visited the retreat in 2016 as a guest, and has been involved as a volunteer at every retreat since. I was interested to hear why the retreat brought her back again and again.
Demi said: “I’ve been feeling isolated lately as my friends are very different to me and I’ve felt a little bit trapped. I can feel connected here and feel self love. It’s empowered me and given me the fire to finally make the change and go vegetarian and vegan.”
“I come back because if I’m not around like-minded people I can lose my way quite easily. I lose awareness but I come to the retreat again and it resonates with me. The food is so beautiful and tasty and I always feel full afterwards so it’s showed me that I can do it easily.”
I left Lovelution truly feeling the love, feeling refreshed and ready to make further changes in my life. I met some amazing people, spent valuable time away from the pressures of city living and I felt thankful for the opportunity to share my passion with others.