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Thursday 3rd Feb was Time To Talk day. Mental health and wellbeing is something we care very deeply about at Swallowtail Hill.  

When we moved here twenty years ago, burnt out and stressed by city living, we wanted to spend time living more mindfully and in a more connected way with each other.  In starting to create a place in which that was possible we soon realised that those values were increasingly important to everyone we knew and so it seemed like a natural next step  – to create a way for visitors to enjoy our little corner of East Sussex so they too could slowdown for a while. That’s how Swallowtail Hill as you all know it came to be.

Often, when we’re chatting to guests at the end of their stays, they tell us that it was wonderful to just have ‘time to talk’, that a couple of days respite from the noise and bustle of everyday life has afforded them the space to do something they didn’t even know they’d been missing.  A recent visiting couple said that they’d had a wonderful evening sitting around the campfire just talking about how they feel – and they couldn’t remember the last time they’d had a chance to do that. We know too that visiting families who arrive with hyped up kids fractious and irritable at the prospect of a weekend without tv leave more relaxed having spent time around the campfire telling stories and sharing memories with each other. These are moments of real connection, all too often missing from our rushed and stressful lives.

We are always deeply touched when you tell us quite what a difference it has made – to simply have a pause, a moment in which to really hear from each other and to share something meaningful. We recognise the importance of this. All too often we bottle up our feelings because it isn’t the right time, or we feel fearful, or too anxious, or ashamed. But we also know that in doing so, we are only pushing them aside to trouble us afresh another day. It’s only in giving them airtime that we can unravel our worries and reassure our fears.   

And we know that here at Swallowtail Hill, the campfire is often a catalyst for those moments. There’s something primal and meditative about fire gazing – a space where we feel safe to share. Sometimes I think it helps that you might not even be looking at the person you’re talking to – it’s like when you have those difficult conversations with the kids in the car – it’s easier because you’re not eyeballing each other, there’s something less confrontational! 

Whether or not you have a campfire to sit around – Time To Talk day is a reminder to take a moment to check in with those you love. It doesn’t matter how you do it – but asking someone how they are, and really being able to listen to their response is the connection we are all truly seeking, even if we don’t like admitting to it sometimes! 

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