Go with the flow
It’s rooted in ancient history, but recent years have seen a resurgence in the art of calligraphy. CATHERINE COURTENAY picks up her pen on an unusual retreat
Aquick Google search reveals that using a dip pen and ink to create beautiful letterforms is all the rage. Modern calligraphy, using freer, more personalised alphabets, is put to good use for invites, cards and stationery. But it’s also heralded as a mindfulness tool, a way to ease stress and train your mind to ‘live in the moment’.
Two people who know full well how beneficial calligraphy can be are Lyndsey and Erica from Anon Design Studio in Plymouth who offer workshops in the technique and also bespoke luxury day retreats which combine calligraphy with another tool to aid mindfulness – yoga.
These retreats take the form of two workshops, a morning yoga session followed by a beginners’ calligraphy class in the afternoon. In between there are refreshments, plentiful coffee and cake, and lunch.
Erica and Lyndsey choose their venues well, to complement their workshops. One of these venues is Pengenna Manor in north Cornwall, an 800-year-old stone property set in 300 acres of countryside.
Taking up an invitation to experience one of the Anon Design retreat days, I find myself driving up a wooded lane off the main A39, Atlantic Highway. Pengenna Manor is beautiful. The house has been in the same family for over 150 years and current sixth generation Richard, who is on hand with arrival coffees, has created a beautiful private venue for weddings and events such as this.
It’s a fine, warm day and so the 90 minute yoga workshop takes place outside, on a patio and lawn plateau overlooking the wooded valley. The session is led by Amy from Next Wave Yoga and Therapy and she strikes the perfect balance of gentle flowing moves which stretch and unwind tense muscles. It’s a blend of hatha and yin yoga. Amy has practised yoga all her life, from childhood, and she has an innate understanding of its ability to restore weary bodies and minds.
Lunch is another very carefully considered affair. Cold meats and fish with plentiful salads, fruit and freshly baked sourdough bread – it totally fits with the mood of the day and is laid out on trestle tables in a barn just across from the main house.
It’s heads down for the afternoon calligraphy session and soon everyone is immersed in dipping pens into ink bottles and tracing out letters from a workbook. Lyndsey flits between everyone, guiding and sharing her passion for her craft, which becomes increasingly addictive as the afternoon drifts by.
It’s the attention to detail that marks out any special event such as this and the care shown by Erica and Lyndsey goes above and beyond. You can sense just how much delight they take in creating the whole experience. There’s the beautifully wrapped box of delights that comes with your welcome package ahead of the day (in addtion to the gift box you take home with you) and little touches like the personalised table settings and handwritten ideas on how to spend your downtime, which on this day was a walk through the fields and woodland surrounding the manor. It must be a labour of love for Lyndsey and Erica to devise such personalised and thoughtful retreats but the result is something truly special. anondesigner.co.uk