A luxury Ayurvedic spa experience at The Clover Mill.
When I first arrived at The Clover Mill, I was greeted by Millie, who was sitting contentedly under the mulberry tree. Millie used to live in a dogs’ home, until her luck changed and she was rescued by Julie, who is the owner and inspiration behind the Clover Mill Ayurvedic spa. Millie now lives in the rose-covered, black and white timbered house at the heart of the 11 acre site. It didn’t take me long to work out why Millie looks so content with life. Clover Mill is a glimpse of heaven.
The property is so rural you can’t hear any traffic noise. Instead you hear breezes, insects, doves, water. I arrived in sunshine, at the start of summer and was immediately transported to another world – for me, it was memories of rural France, and carefree childhood days locked away from the real world. It’s the kind of place where time slows and pressures recede, ousted by some urgent sense that the present is good.
My stay was to include an Ayurvedic supper (avocado soup, delicious homemade paneer with yummy root vegetable mash, peashoots, chutneys and strawberry and apple jelly to finish ) a comfortable overnight in a luxury Ecolodge, an early morning yoga session in the mill loft, followed by an Ayurvedic breakfast and a full-body Ayurvedic massage in the old grain store.
It’s a luxury destination and a huge amount of care and attention has been put into the venue. The Mill resonates with history. You see it everywhere as the old machinery has been integrated into the design. But you also feel the history.
As Julie showed me round and told me the extraordinary story of her 4 year renovation project, I got a sense of just how much she has invested – not just time and money, but love. It explains why this well-travelled 54 year old, who reassuringly is the picture of health, no longer has itchy feet.
I knew very little about Ayurveda before I arrived, other than it is one of the oldest systems of healing, having originated in India over 4,000 years ago and still in use there today.
Over breakfast, I chatted to the other “yogis” – the fascinating ladies I’d just done the yoga session with. The yoga teacher, already a grandma, has taken on a 3 year commitment to train as an Ayurvedic nurse. She and Julie helped me to understand more about the Ayurvedic approach, which refreshingly believes in treating the whole person, not just symptoms.
Ayurveda uses a combination of nutrition, herbal remedies, yoga and massage to heal and nourish both the body and spirit. She took my pulse, looked me up and down and confirmed my likely “dosha” – body type. It was fascinating.
So off I went for my treatment. My chronic problem with pain in both shoulders and arms had defeated the NHS and was getting worse. I was keen to try something new. There was a wide choice of treatments available to me. I’d chosen a Marma Abhyanga – a full body massage to help one relax and let go of anxieties.
Amanda who did my treatment was lovely: kind, sensitive and knowledgeable. The Ayurvedic treatment oils smelt wonderful. They are made from authentic recipes and their ingredients are sourced ethically from India. I can’t say the treatment was pain free, and I felt ropey immediately afterwards. But three days later I felt fantastic, and could lift both arms over my head without pain, for the first time in nearly seven years. I still can, three months later.
So if you want a touchy, feely massage that doesn’t hurt at all, book into your local high street beauty therapist. But, if you want to try something new and open up the possibility of healing, try this.
It isn’t cheap. But you wouldn’t expect it to be, as it is both luxurious and in an exceptional setting. A two-day retreat starts at £490, but this include two hours of treatments each day, yoga classes, all meals and accommodation. You can do a cheaper day spa or just book in for a one-off treatment, from £40. My full-body massage would cost £75 if booked separately. If you think of it as an investment in your long-term health and well-being, it could be money well spent. I know what I’m asking Father Christmas for.