Cooking with The Clover Mill
Julie is the founder and director of The Clover Mill – an ayurvedic spa and yoga retreat in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside. Julie runs the business, was the chef for the first six years, and can usually be found in the kitchen or the vegetable and herb garden accompanied by her dog Millie.
Julie happened upon an Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka when looking for a healthy yoga holiday, and her interest was sparked. Returning to the UK after only a week away Julie was amazed at how energised and well she felt, and her friends and colleagues were intrigued as to where she had been to have such a result. Research in her spare time led to more forays to UK clinics for treatments and then Kerala in India for another retreat. It was here that she had the idea to open one in the UK when her friend suggested they should visit one regularly to keep feeling so good. Realising there wasn’t one, Julie suggested that’s what should be done!
In 2009 Julie left her corporate job in the pharmaceutical industry, her modern London flat and busy social life and moved into a small cottage attached to a disused, rundown water mill, untouched since the miller died in the ’70s and hidden in secluded countryside. Occupied by several species of protected bats, birds and various insects, Julie fell in love with the mill with its a leaking roof and rotten floors, and its natural, untouched setting in acres of land with a lake and an overgrown garden.
On a steep learning curve, Julie set about renovating, conserving and building what is now a thriving and successful Ayurveda and yoga retreat. The Clover Mill has become a haven for people who are stressed out, unwell, or just seeking peace and quiet and some time out; somewhere they can be nurtured and spend time in nature. Yoga teachers and massage therapists were found and trained, but the right chef took longer, a lot longer – six years longer! So Julie, having always loved cooking for friends and cooking from scratch, took on the job and developed ayurvedic recipes to appeal more to westerners. She used ingredients found or grown on her land and that, of course, tasted delicious. On each retreat, guests would ask for the recipes so over the years her good friend and professional photographer Nick came and spent a few days patiently photographing dish after dish of food appearing from the kitchen, with Julie hurrying him along so they could then eat them while they were still warm – nothing in these photographs is false and it’s all been consumed afterwards!