NESTLED in the heart of Glansevern Hall is a growing enterprise that offers the perfect girls day out, sophisticated hen party or mum and daughter getaway.
Fed up of a going to the spa as your treat? Then Kay and Carrie are encouraging you to awaken your mind and do something different with your leisure time.
Hence why, after listening to women from all over the country who said they wanted to gain something different, learn something new and widen their experiences in the time they had set aside for themselves, the two women set about forming Solo Qui, a day away from day-to-day life – a retreat, a mind-spa, an escape and a chance to revitalise.
“Solo Qui is as diverse as your imagination,” explained Kay Jones, an educationalist and farmer’s wife.
“From chatting as two women of a certain age, Carrie and I agreed there is a lack of things do as a group of friends who want to treat themselves, but don’t fancy the usual spa day.
“At Solo Qui you can do practically anything you choose. It is a place where you leave your diet at the door and enjoy the finer things in life, while at the same time taking part in an array of fantastic activities put together by a host of wonderfully talented local people.”
A day at Solo Qui starts with a real decadence - a champagne breakfast, fresh ground coffee, croissants and cake.
“We know that being pampered is important and will strive to make every guest feel extra special,” added Carrie Jones, a successful businesswoman and beauty professional.
The day continues with a number of activities, a fantastic lunch provided by local caterers, the Capel, based near Berriew, followed by further activities, more chit chat, and of course more champagne and cake!
“Who doesn’t like champagne and cake,” jokes Kay, an enthusiastic, warm, mother-of-four, whose infectious charm in irresistible.
On the face of things Solo Qui sounds perfect, a haven, a place to escape the mundane, but to find out more I myself joined a group of ladies for a day of inspiration and indulgence inside the beautiful grounds of Glansevern Hall, situated just off the A483, near Berriew, between Welshpool and Newtown.
First impressions as I pulled-up outside the 19th century country house were good. The background music was calming, the decor charming and the welcome, welcoming. And as promised there was croissants and freshly ground coffee for breakfast.
Activities started after breakfast and my first of the day was entitled ‘Grow your own drugs’.
“We like there to be an air of mystery,” explained Kay, “it makes it more intriguing”.
With all kinds of thoughts whizzing around my mind we were led outside and into an outbuilding where we met by Richard Edwards, a self employed market gardener from Llanmerewig, near Abermule, and half a dozen plant pots.
Armed with a variety of herbs and salad plants we were taught the benefits of eating organic greens while at the same time munching our way through edible purple flower heads and flavoursome leaves.
We were then given rooting plants, coupled with a large tub of soil, and told to plant our own salad bed to take home and impress our other halves with our new found skills.
Once finished we then enjoyed a fabulous lunch, which consisted of the best locally sourced lamb and organic vegetables, and discussed the morning’s fun over a glass of specially selected Rioja.
Everyone was laughing, even I a 28-year-old man whose idea of gardening is putting lettuce leaves in my cheese sandwich, had enjoyed myself.
But one question hung over me, why was this fun? I mean, my mother has a large herb garden yet I have never once been interested in helping her.
Kay puts it perfectly when she says “what we offer is the opportunity for people to try out new skills in a fun and friendly environment.”
She adds: “People are always up for learning new skills but they don’t want a six-week course held inside a cold community centre. There are no certificates on offer at the end of our activities.”
When placing a booking at Solo Qui you can either sign-up for a pre-arranged day where the activities are selected in advance or alternatively you contact Kay or Carrie and tell them exactly what you want to do.
Carrie adds: “Clients are a mix of people from those who know exactly what they want to do, to those who are feeling more adventurous and want a complete surprise.
“Some will ring us up and say they are looking for a really girly day out and leave it like that, while others might be more specific and say they want to do something with computers in the morning followed by a sewing class in the afternoon.
“The choices really are endless and so far we have found all the experts we need within a 30 mile radius of Glansevern Hall.”
For my second activity of the day they brought in Eva Dutton, an equestrian and animal painter who brought along her adorable springer spaniel ‘Lucky’, for a brief masterclass in drawing.
Eva, whose sketchbook is in constant use for exploring a myriad of life forms, started by attempting to dispel the myth that some people simply can’t draw. This was done by teaching us techniques, showing us her portfolio and then giving us a pen and a sheet of paper to draw Lucky with.
Once Eva had seen my finished drawing of Lucky, who by this point resembled a cat crossed with a donkey, she probably found her opening line hard to believe, but once again I had had a ball.
When the time came to leave Solo Qui I was left to mull over the days events and, like Kay and Carrie promised, I had been challenged and I had explored new ideas, but most importantly I had been inspired and indulged.