We only quilted on days ending in “y”
The Quilt Retreat – A Review
If you are looking for an escape from the every-day and want to sew and quilt to your hearts content, then The Quilt Retreat is a tranquil haven for quilt lovers of all skill levels. Bunts Barn was once an old dairy barn in a rural location amidst open countryside, with outstanding views, in Hooe near Battle in Kent, which has been sympathetically converted into the Quilt Retreat by husband and wife team Julie and Michael Barnes.
It was with great excitement that our group of 5 – Mandy, Pat, Patti, Rosemary & Sarah headed off to the countryside for a completely new experience. We had no idea what to expect, none of us had ever stayed at a quilting retreat before. There were 2 other ladies at the retreat with us, both named Sue!
We were made welcome from the moment we arrived with friendly greetings at the car and offers of help to take our belongings indoors for our stay. There was a déjà vu moment when first meeting Julie and it wasn’t until she explained her friendship with Isabel Hall from Compton Quilting that we realised we had previously met her before at Isabel’s Open Days.
It didn’t take long to settle in and discover the delicious food on offer, starting with some very yummy homemade carrot cake and tea. Each day we enjoyed new culinary delights - from continental breakfasts, to lunches and evening meals prepared with enthusiasm and variety. It was a luxury not to think about food preparation or cooking, everything was done for us by a local lady chef who came in for the duration of the retreat. Attention to detail on dietary requests was exemplary and we all felt very spoilt and enjoyed the food enormously.
Our rooms in the newly converted barn were spotlessly clean with quality linens and comfortable beds - equal to any top hotel. It was the personal quilt related touches, like themed quilts in each room, the sewing machine lamps or quilts hanging from the rafters that made us realise this was really a holiday with a difference. The views from the barn and balcony were amazing – you could see The Royal Observatory at Herstmonceaux on the horizon – now a Grade II listed monument.
A definite highlight was being shown all the many quilts Julie had made, their stories and how they evolved and seeing the long-arm quilting machine set up ready to quilt. Julie has over 20 years’ experience in patchwork and quilting and makes quilts as a hobby and professionally. Julie is also one of the UK’s longest providers of long arm quilting services.
The quilting workshop was huge with plenty of light, was well equipped with space for all our ‘stuff’ whether we wanted to spread out on tables or use the trolleys and bins provided. Thank goodness for the ironing and cutting table height – our home tables will never meet that level of comfort! We were fairly competent and happy to be left to get on by ourselves but it was lovely to have Julie or Michael pop in every now and again to chat and make sure we were OK. Surprising how much chat and laughter goes on during quilting!
Despite, or maybe because of all the banter and chat and many stops for food & refreshment we achieved lots of quilting and sewing to take home.
Sewing and quilting can be pretty intense without distractions but we were on holiday and also wanted to see a little of our surroundings. A morning’s outing to Hailsham, a very old Market Town was a must – mainly because the lovely fabric shop The Pumpkin Patch was situated there -and who can resist the opportunity to add more fabric to our stash!
Hailsham is very pretty with a variety of local and national shops and restaurants. We enjoyed a great coffee at Bucklers Café/Tapas Bar in the heart of Hailsham and we also discovered Millies – a wonderful little gem of a shop with a variety of gifts, ladies’ outfits and homewares spread over 3 floors of quaint rooms.
Our hosts provided a beautiful quilter’s retreat, giving great thought to everyone’s comfort and wellbeing. Spending time there was like going home to family or a special friend where everything was done for you (yep, even the dishes!) with a smile and it made for a most enjoyable holiday.
The retreat was only opened October 2016 and Julie and Michael have set a very high bar for any other quilting retreats! Judging by how much we all enjoyed our stay I don’t think it will be a one-off, we are hoping to go again next year. As much as we would like to keep them to ourselves, here is the link http://quiltretreatuk.co.uk