With nearly a quarter of British workers feeling increased pressure at work, our dearly departed colleagues can make August a particularly challenging month for those left behind to pick up the pieces. Using up a half day’s leave earlier this week, I sought sanctuary at Mayfield Lavender Farm – a Provencal paradise promising a soothing few hours of peace and relaxation away from the stress and strain of holiday leave cover.
Located only fifteen miles from central London in Banstead, Surrey, the family-run 25-acre site is the brain-child of Bryan Maye, the former Managing Director of the fine fragrance division of Wella UK. Believing that consumers need to witness first-hand the beauty of Lavender to make it relevant to today’s market, Brian set out on all-consuming quest to create today’s Mayfield Lavender Farm on the spot where lavender was first farmed in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Rocking up in distinctly un-glam hiking gear, I’m struck with the slightly surreal vision of statuesque Asian ladies gracing the lavender rows. Attired in Edwardian Country Lady style-garb, they patiently compose themselves into fascinating poses – ranging from the coy clutching of lavender posies – to Julie Andrews-style out-stretched arms. The spectacle is unexpectedly enthralling and I find myself wishing I had dressed up for the occasion too. (The best time for photos are the peak summer months from July through to the end of August.)
Visitors can wander the fields freely on condition that you don’t jump over the plants and dogs with well-behaved owners are also free to enjoy the fields. The colour and intense fragrance hit you immediately and wandering up and down the rows is both grounding and comforting.
Armed with a purple-hazed ream of photos, I make my way into the small gift shop and café which lurk under a precarious-looking marquee. Research has revealed that lavender essential oil may be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression and restlessness as well as more specifically, dental anxiety. Those who suffer from work worries during their sleep are recommended to put a few drops of the essential oil onto their pillow at night. Adding five to ten drops of the oil to a warm bath is also a great way to unwind and relieve stress after a particularly challenging day.
Lavender also has a strong track record in relieving digestive issues such as vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas, upset stomach and abdominal swelling. With such glowing credentials, I felt obliged to indulge in the intriguing array of lavender-infused foods – from scones through to ice cream, short-bread, lemonade and tea. Extensive testing reveals ice cream to be the overall winner – refreshing and not-too-sweet with a delicate lavender after-taste. Other delicacies to take home include jellies and chutneys but I was a little disappointed to note that there’s no lavender honey. With the number of smug bees buzzing around, surely they’re missing a trick?
Laden down with our lavender supplies, we make our way back from Mayfield Lavender Farm through the fields to Coulsdon South train station. With lavender essential oil to calm and restore me before the onslaught of work tomorrow, August may just be one of my best months yet.
Mayfield Lavender Farm is open from the 1st June until mid-September.
Directions: Take the train to West Croydon and the 166 bus route to the stop marked Oaks Park.
What’s your favourite stress-relieving place to go to when you feel overwhelmed?