On Thursday 24 September 2015, our proprietor, John Varney was interviewed about the benefits of High Trenhouse as a venue, on BCB Radio by presenters, Alan Keeling and Tina Watkin. For all who missed it, fear not! You can listen again on podcasts.canstream.co.uk. If you are short of time, John’s interview starts 7.25 minutes into the show.
I used to think that it was great when people staying at High Trenhouse took the opportunity to go out and encounter raw nature. Then I discovered that what sometimes happened was not that they encountered nature, so much as that nature brought them into contact with themselves.
We are embedded in the fabric of society and these days society sees itself as other than nature. Our history and culture and language, our upbringing and everything about our modern lifestyle alienate us from our relationship with life on earth. It is quite something to re-discover our one-ness with nature.
“High Trenhouse offers perfect facilities for a retreat. Every human need is effortlessly catered for so real reflection can occur.”
Lauren Deere – Birmingham Museums Trust
Participant on the Museums and Resilient Leadership programme
So when we pause in our onward rush, when we allow ourselves to slow down, when circumstances still our minds and open our perceptions, then something different can happen. It is not something we can do. It is something we can allow or invite.
When the time and circumstances permit, a simple walk outdoors might be enough. Some clients have their participants spend time on the hillside. As the artificiality of daily activity falls away, as inner turmoil stills, as perceptions open up, you eventually get to meet yourself.
You are beautiful.
You are awesome.
There is no greater gift than this.
Nature smiles on us if only we can be in tune. After all we are naturally part of nature. These days we, as a society, have alienated ourselves, largely because of our fragmentary way of thinking, that causes us to see everything as separate from everything else, when it might otherwise be seen that everything is connected with everything. Our way of knowing (our epistemology) shapes the world we live in.
When we allow our true self to surface and to encounter whatever is before us, only then might we encounter a different world and hence a different self. It happens more than we recognise or acknowledge. Those unguarded moments when we encounter the beauty of nature or the joy of living. Moments when we really see a flower or an insect or some play of nature with light in the mist or the drowning of puddles in a rainstorm or we wonder at the stars on a clear night.
For myself, I recall discovering that it was always worth the effort to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag and brave the elements in the hills, because nature would surprise me. In my unguarded moments she would present an unexpected vista or bring before me a deer or share some other gift. That discovery was itself a gift, which has stood me in good stead ever since. It is always worth making an effort to meet nature.
I would go further and say that without direct contact with the physical world “out there”, as unspoiled and natural as we can find, we are ourselves diminished.
As we experience a new springtime, make the opportunity to meet yourself in nature. A few moments is all it takes, in the right place, in the right state.
A recent discussion on LinkedIn set me thinking about why place and space matter so much when you want to make a difference; to run a conference, a workshop or even a meeting. It is easy to assume that whatever space is provided will be good enough. That is to miss the huge difference that is made by having things just right for your purpose. Many people seem to be blind to this obvious truth.
So what sort of things are you looking for? It depends on your purpose, of course. If you want open communication and creative contribution you need a very different space from, say, a sales briefing or a pep-talk. Most spaces in offices are designed for formal meetings – often with an immovable table as its main feature or else stiff seating arrangements sub-consciously asserting who is boss. It is difficult to get people to feel relaxed, confident and creative in such surroundings.
Different kinds of layout correspond to different modes of thought and different kinds of relationship. We can equate these roughly to serious-play. Serious is left brain, logical and didactic; necessary for gathering facts, absorbing information and making decisions. Play is right-brain creative, interactive, pattern-making, exploratory. Put in terms of creativity and Serious tends to be convergent where play tends to stimulate the divergent.
An ideal way to cater for the two is to have a space big enough for alternative layouts; formal at one end of the space and informal at the other. Big enough, perhaps, to let sub-groups form and even to allow for interactions around refreshments or adjoining outdoor space. In any case natural light and fresh air will help. If you are just thinking about workspace, then it will be useful to allow different spaces for different functions, not assume one kind of space will suit all purposes.
Open Space, as developed by Harrison Owen, is a way of maximising informal interaction. The title refers to the method of working – a space for ideas to grow – but it also reflects the principle of providing a physical space in which something can emerge. Ideally there would be no furniture whatever. However it might be prudent to provide some chairs so people can sit when tired. Similarly, small portable tables might be useful for drinks or for people to draw or write. On the other hand vertical surfaces – whiteboards and flipcharts – encourage people to have conversations as they think visually and look at one another’s work. These might be on the walls, although portability would again be an asset so that groupings can change and move. Flexibility is a useful attribute. Much is gained by everything being in a state of flux that allows for new connection, physical, social and mental.
In terms of off-site workshops we have particular experience in establishing conditions for creativity to flow. Our ‘inspiration centre’ is a residential facility that combines adequate comfort and safe space in natural surroundings. Friendly and discrete service and wonderful food enable deep experience of being apart from the needless rush of modern life. It provides stimulus with space to think. Such a quality of place and space combines to facilitate the emergence of new ideas and new relationships. It provides a kind of magic that bears little comparison with the kind of constrained or opulent spaces many people try to use. It is a vessel supportive of regenerative interaction for individuals and teams – This is especially valuable to leadership teams as they evolve their organisations’ futures.
Wherever you go these days you are asked to fill in feedback questionnaires.
We have no idea what use they are to other people, but to us they are very important. They enable customers to get any issues off their chest, they help us to be sure we are somewhere close to target on satisfying their needs and they enable us to elicit recommendations from satisfied clients.
Last, but by no means least, they help us understand what we can do better to meet customer expectations and continually improve our client experience.
That’s what it means for us, but we would like to hear how you view feedback questionnaires – what do you see as valuable feedback, how do you put that feedback to good use, how do you elicit your feedback?
We would love to hear from you!
Following numerous requests over the years, we are delighted to announce that High Trenhouse now offers self-catering breaks for groups of up to 10 people
Bennett’s at High Trenhouse is a large detached converted luxury barn, probably the site of the original farmstead dating back to the middle ages. It is available for weekends and holidays on a self-catering basis and offers a well-equipped kitchen, a comfortable lounge/dining room with wood-burning stove and easy access to private patios and garden.
Located on Malham Moor, Bennett’s at High Trenhouse enjoys a wonderful upland location only 2½ miles from the picturesque village of Malham.
If you are looking for that perfect weekend away with your family or friends visit our website for more information
www.high-trenhouse.co.uk or call 01729 830322 and speak to David or Helen
It is very easy to see why High Trenhouse truly is a ‘Different Kind of Venue’ and has such a great level of popularity amongst businesses. During December 2009, the National Skills Academy Process Industries held a two-day team-building event at High Trenhouse set in the heart of the magnificent Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The relaxed environment, away from everyday interruptions was invaluable to us and we came away feeling that we had achieved a truly memorable team building event and more importantly for us, achieved our objective of improving communication between colleagues.
Throw in some healthy competition, a picturesque setting, excellent food and great outdoor activities and you have a recipe for a highly successful team-building event. High Trenhouse certainly delivered on all of these areas and we look forward to hosting more events with them in the future. <