Rebecca Coley was delighted to escape her home island of Jersey for the London hoo-ha. But she found herself missing the sea, so took one almighty plunge…
I was born on the island of Jersey and, like many people from a small place, an urge to escape and see the wider world overtook me. And so I travelled and worked in London in the film industry for seven years.
It was the day I had spent six hours shuttling around the network of London’s public transport system chasing a futile agenda that I decided it was time. I’d had enough. The love affair with London was over. My mind flickered with a montage of waves breaking on a distant shore, when here the only tubes I was riding were the ones full of sweaty and angry commuters.
I needed to get back to the sea. It wasn’t just a little urge, it was a yearning and a tidal pull back to my home island.
My mind raced. If I stayed on this train until the last stop I could be at Gatwick and in less than an hour I could be sat watching a spectacular sunset on a five-mile beach of golden sand.
That was 18 months ago.
I took the plunge and moved back. When the sun is shining, Jersey is about as magical and beautiful as any other spot on the planet. But what would I do?
“Life’s about balance and sometimes I miss the hustle, vibrancy and energy of the city. Some days I crave the excitement again. But sometimes the need to be still and escape for a while takes over.”
DRIFT was born from trying to pull together the moments in life when I’d been happiest: managing a surf school when the beach was the office, running directors’ labs at film festivals when filmmakers collaborate and everyone comes together to be creative, learn and share. I still love filmmaking but I wanted more from life, and a lifestyle I actually loved. So I got together with two amazing friends, Gemma Bartlett and Natalie Fox, and DRIFT was born.
Gemma had set up Wild Health, an amazing catering service specialising in everything as healthy, organic and wild as possible, and Nat is an amazing yoga and surf teacher who cares passionately about conservation and the sea.
We all agreed that the world where we are surrounded by everything digital had begun to feel toxic. We didn’t want to be addicted to checking how many likes or messages we had.
DRIFT is about simplicity: the relationship between us and our environment and each other, away from the clutter and noise of modern life. It’s about reconnecting. It’s about sharing healthy, nutritious, delicious food, good conversations and spending time on body, mind and spirit to feel rejuvenated.
We wanted a safe haven and so we searched the island and found the Kempt Tower, lovingly restored by Jersey Heritage. It’s an iconic tower made of Jersey granite that has lived through many storms and invasions. It’s a strong, secure structure that feels like a sanctuary. Renovated with all the mod-cons, it feels very special to be somewhere you could have been 100 years ago.
Here we have no WiFi or phone signal and that is just how we like it. It makes you take time to connect with nature, watch the tide drift in and out and the birds fly overhead in Jersey’s national park.
We practise yoga twice daily and we get in the sea, whether we swim, surf or SUP (stand-up paddle board). There are loads of extra activities to get involved with, from raw chocolate making, coastal foraging walks, barefoot beach walks, making nori rolls together and menus from wild food, to ideas for keeping it up when you go home, creative options and some mindful activities for yourself and your future intentions. It’s a pause to evaluate. A reset button.
If you want to come drift with us, our next retreats are:
LADIES ONLY: Friday 23 September to Monday 26 September – 4 days/3 nights
MIXED RETREAT: Friday 30 September to Monday 3 October – 4 days/3 nights
First of all, it’s very SCARY. Face the fear, accept it and trust that if you do your best, then whether you succeed or fail you gave it your best shot.
Be careful who you listen to. Some friends tell you to TRUST, others ask, “What the hell are you doing?” Surround yourself with people who are supportive and who understand what you’re trying to do, and connect with people whose advice you trust.
Trust yourself. It’s been a big lesson in self-reliance and learning to trust myself, but it’s also made me realise how crucial it is to build a good team and choose the right people for the job – then let them get on with what they are good at.
If cash is king then time is queen. Time is what you do have and you will have to stay up late into the night writing emails etc.
On that note, any thought of giving up a 9-5 to work less is madness. You’ll need to work more and work harder doing absolutely everything from the most mundane admin to the exciting bits that made you want to do it all in the first place.
At the same time, remember to take a break. Working flat out for 15 hours a day isn’t sustainable: going out, having some fun and returning replenished and clear headed is much-needed brain space that should have you coming back with new inspiration and raring to go again.
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Rebecca is a writer/director hailing from the island of Jersey. When she’s not trying to make films, she likes exploring, drinking tea, visiting as many islands as possible and getting in the sea all year round.