Back in February I was lucky enough to attend a Local Milk Retreat, hosted by the name behind Local Milk, Beth Kirby.
It was 4 nights long
The other attendees and I all stayed in a Landmark Trust property, Goddard's in Surrey
There were 10 of us in total and a really good size at that!
So the retreat began and I was eager to meet Beth, having followed her work for a long time. Putting a face to a name is always intriguing. Upon meeting her and getting to know her I loved how down to earth, real and nerdy in the most wonderful sense, she was! Just like me! Her love of Star Wars was so great and how excited and passionate she was about her craft, her hobbies and loves.
Her way of teaching and scheduling this retreat was very nonchalant and relaxed. She explained how she writes notes like crazy but often doesn't stick to them. I just thought - that's exactly like me. I like to pretend I have a plan... then I do whatever I feel like doing and do the opposite of what I have written down. She had a general guideline of what she had in store for us, then explained that it would most likely change. I already began to like and admire her style. I loved that she was only human and that she stuck to her guns and what she knew best when teaching. I have a very similar approach to life and teaching and it was comforting to know that it works for other people too!
Beth and Marie both taught and spoke of their journeys through life and how they got to where they are today, and made me realise that I am in fact a visual storyteller. I always have been, but I just doubted myself completely, because I was surround by people and the general online community who went through such a dislike for photos of food or the lack of engagement from people about my photographs unless it included them. It crushed my confidence and made me question if I was really allowed and should be doing the thing I so loved doing. So I stopped. I started again, and then I stopped when my confidence was knocked down yet again. What many people didn’t understand or realise, was that me photographing my food wasn’t just for fun or to simply post a photo of food. It had more meaning than that. It was my way of sharing with people, my visual story, and where to eat, places to go, what to cook etc. I have been lucky enough to grow up with two parents who took me everywhere, gave me life experiences, and this in turn made me want to share these with friends and other family members.
Natasha of Taking a moment in time also taught us how to knit and weave, something I tried to pick up so many times and never managed to finish a project. The purpose of this retreat - the clue is in the name - was for people to come away from their day to day lives, and wind down, take time out for themselves and gather their thoughts, to find "themselves" again. It is a holiday with an "all-inclusive" but in a unique way, with a lot of thought and time put into it. So to then have had time to finish a weaving AND knitting project ( I knitted this hat with the help of Natasha) was an incredible feeling.
Every meal was cooked by Aaron and wow is all I really have to say. That man has some serious stories... and skills. As well as a gorgeous home cooked meal using local produce, we were left amazing gifts:
- Cypress & pink Peruvian salts from @shop_ila
- Elderberry & sumac syrup from @woodenspoonherbs
- Wintery tea crafted by @marbleandmilkweed
- Campfire & fig scented soy candle from @goodcandlebk
- "You Can't Ration These" book from @persephonebooks
- Skeins of luxe yarn handspun by @camelliafibercompany
Of course Beth and Marie also cooked up a storm using recipes found on their blogs and then allowing us to watch them style their table setting and then teaching us how they tell the story through photography. Beth taught us the basics of Lightroom, something I already knew how to use but had always been curious about how she uses it to edit her photos.
I had such a wonderful time on this retreat with Beth and her "family". The people I met on this retreat have also become great friends who on my travels in Japan and America provided me with great fun, comfort, hospitality and knowledge Each on a path similar to mine. I felt more at home with them than I had done with anyone for a while. They understood the pressures of being in the creative industry and not having everyone understand what we do.
I had such a (drum roll cliche ...) life changing time that I decided I had to go to another one of her retreats... this time in JAPAN!!!! This then started my three month journey of learning with the best in the business (photography, creative direction, floral design, event design), as well as catching up with old friends (some I hadn't seen in 10 years).
My next blog posts will be about my travels around America, as well as my experiences and what I have learnt studying from: Sarah Winward, Sinclalir & Moore, Ginny Au, Erich McVey, Haruka Sakaguchi of The Denizen Co. And meeting Emma from A Quiet Style, and Emma of Owl and Emma, and many many more!!!!
I highly recommend doing one or more of her retreats (I am not the only one to have gone on more than one of her retreats :p ). What you gain in experience and friendship, knowledge, skills and more outweighs the initial price point. I genuinely feel I learnt more about life, photography, light, Lightroom, humans, friendship, food, styling etc. on that retreat than I ever did at school or university... and that all cost a billion times more. So.. just putting it into perspective for you all.. and the best part is you don't have homework or exams!! :p You just take away what you want from it and relax, eat like Henry the Eighth during it and chinwag like a bunch of old souls. It's an experience I will never forget. Thank you Beth for creating such a wonderful thing.