A Week in the Country

A curious week in the country www.ShopCurious

This week our intrepid style guru gets scrubbed, pummelled, prodded and poked on a trip to the countryside…

Where were you on the day Margaret Thatcher died? It may turn out to be one of those occasions you will never forget – like JFK’s assassination, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11 or 7/7.

I spent last week in rural West Sussex, not much more than an hour’s drive from where I live, though actually a world away. The bluebells aren’t flowering yet, but the daffodils, primroses and wood anemone are. I heard a woodpecker for the first time in years – and saw several… one right outside my window. I saw blue tits, buzzards, pheasants, and the fattest thrushes I have ever seen. I even watched a barn owl hunting for its prey.  There were plenty of sheep too, though I didn’t spot any lambs – I hope they haven’t perished in the freezing weather.

I visited an old railway station, now a private home, which was used in a 1957 BBC adaptation of the Railway Children. I stood on the remains of an ancient pagan temple. I was snowed on, rained on, enjoyed the sun streaming into my room, and got my wellies and walking boots thoroughly caked in mud.


I was staying at Alliblaster House, the venue for detox retreats, run by an organisation called Simply Healing. The early Victorian house, formerly a gentleman’s country residence, is a sprawling affair – full of cosy sitting rooms, log fires and the pervasive aroma of woodsmoke. The décor is chintz-meets-New Age circa 1985, with crystals, knick-knacks and artefacts from the owner’s travels to the spiritual epicenters of the globe liberally scattered throughout. The atmosphere is warm, homely, relaxing and unbelievably peaceful.

Here my body was scrubbed, pummelled, prodded, poked and bandaged up like a mummy. Meals for the week consisted mainly of fruit and vegetable juices, with a token salad on day seven. Every evening I sat down with my fellow inmates to a welcome cup of ‘potassium broth’ – vegetable soup with the vegetables removed. If that weren’t enough, there were colonic treatments too. The mind and soul were also treated to hypnotherapy, meditation and healing sessions – plus the occasional talk on a relevant subject.


A nutritionist told us about Jeanne Calment, the French woman who lived to 122. She took up fencing at the age of 85 and decided to give up cycling at 104. She remained in her own home in the south of France until she was 110, when a cooking incident, resulting in a small fire, signalled it was time to move into a nursing home.

Of course, she grew up in an era when junk food didn’t exist. Her freshly prepared food came from local markets, along with her cherished olive oil. She never worked, drank a glass of port every day and ate a kilo of chocolate every week. It also says on Wikipedia that she two smoked two cigarettes a day between the ages of 21 and 117.  Scientists discovered that Calment had a total immunity to stress. She did everything she wanted to in life and had no regrets. Her philosophy was ‘if you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.’


I’m not sure I’d like to live to 122, unless all my faculties are still fully functioning. Margaret Thatcher had a good innings, though latterly not in the best of health. It’s a struggle for any of us to balance the demands of the modern world with a healthy regime for living. But I certainly feel a lot lighter in mind and body – and definitely healthier – after a re-energising week in the country.

Susan Muncey is a trend forecaster, blogger and founder of online curiosity shop, ShopCurious.com.
Share This Post

About Author Profile: Susan Muncey

Trend consultant Susan Muncey, is Editor of Visuology Magazine. In 2008, she founded online curiosity shop, ShopCurious.com. She writes on style and trends for several blogs, including Visuology.com, ShopCuriousMag.com and The Dabbler. She previously owned cult West London boutique, Fashion Gallery, one of the first concept stores in the world. Susan graduated in geography from Cambridge University and is also an Associate Member of the CFA Institute. She lives in London with her husband.

10 thoughts on “A Week in the Country

  1. finalcurtain@gmail.com'
    April 16, 2013 at 09:02

    The strapline drew me in Susan – with the promise of you being ‘poked in the countryside’ I had to put to one side my bowl of Multi-Cheerios. But it was not clear whether you went ahead with the dreaded colonic?
    I have a friend, three doors up, who was given a ‘course of three’ last year for his birthday, by a daughter. Bumping into him in the street, he said it left him ‘walking on air’. I thought to myself ‘Gimme some of that’ and took the address, in genteel Beckenham. And working on the age-old principal of being prepared to try anything once, except incest or morris-dancing, I signed up for a ‘course of three’ in the vain hope that several unemployed Russian models would have been snapped-up by the ‘salon’ to work in this relatively unskilled world – after all, it is just Dyno-Rod for people, isn’t it, I argued to myself?
    If it gets past the strict censorship employed by the Dabbler Editor-in-Chief, look out for ‘too much information’ on a future Lazy Sunday post – with music.

    • info@ShopCurious.com'
      April 16, 2013 at 10:07

      Sadly not a ‘poke in the countryside’, Mahlerman (though sounds a fun way to burn calories and perhaps even feel like you’re ‘walking on air’).

      Colonics are probably as polarising as Mrs T. Some people would simply never go there… But, after five sessions of colonic hydrotherapy my tummy is so flat my disco pants are loose at the waist again. A walk in the park compared to the twice daily self-administered enemas of a previous detox retreat. Apparently, it’s possible to become addicted to the ‘sense of euphoria.’ Sorry is that TMI?

  2. wormstir@gmail.com'
    April 16, 2013 at 13:04

    I’m sure a colonic is very energising, especially the coffee ones that people seem to get addicted to. Still wouldn’t do one though!

  3. owen.polley@talk21.com'
    April 16, 2013 at 15:18

    Worm – that’s the first I’ve heard of a coffee colonic. Is it performed using standard filter coffee or is there any benefit in flushing a venti half white mocha through the system?

  4. finalcurtain@gmail.com'
    April 16, 2013 at 15:38

    Owen – Espresso Macchiato is best – no sweetener. But make sure you let it cool down first.

  5. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    April 16, 2013 at 19:04

    Within the Santa Maria Novella (the church, not the railway station) in a dusty corner is the library of the museum for the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica. Among it’s treasures is the recipe for the Aceto dei Sette Ladri seven thieves vinegar, rumoured to be the favoured ingredient for the renaissance enema. Originally used in the manufacture of body oils (early Itie scent) it proceeded downwards in the general direction of the bottie.

    Picture if you will the Badia Fiorentina, said to be the quietest place in Firenza. Dante has, for the first time, bumped into Beatrice………..

    “Ere missus, you don’t half look in good nick, wot’s the secret?”

    “It’s me colonic innit, just had another one”

    “Colonic, wot’s that then petal”

    “Blimey, don’t you know nuffink, it’s the vinegar, up the jacksy innit”

    Dante, pausing for a moment, the thinks bubble expanding rapidly, muses “vinegar, up the arse, tottie galore, if I play the cards right there’s a comedy series here”

    • Brit
      April 16, 2013 at 23:19


  6. Gaw
    April 17, 2013 at 07:58

    Simply Healing sounds anything but simple – wouldn’t Expensively and Complicatedly Healing be more like it?

    That elderly French lady having ‘a total immunity from stress’ – I bet that’s very important for health. But not many people really focus on managing stress – it’s all about diet and exercise and popping things up one’s butt.

    • Worm
      April 17, 2013 at 09:04

      aka ‘The german lifestyle’

    • info@shopcurious.com'
      April 18, 2013 at 14:08

      Call it what you like, Gaw, but the cost is relative – depends how you value your health and spiritual wellbeing.

Comments are closed.