The launch of The Mindful Kitchen Retreat on Saturday 13th May at The Kitchen School in Lodsworth, West Sussex brings together Miranda Gore Browne (Bake Off Finalist and cookery writer) and Gillian Higgins (international barrister and meditation teacher). To find out more about the retreat day, see Latest News. This week, Miranda tells us about her passion for baking and how she came to meditation. 

"I have always been passionate about everything I do. From my full-on career at Marks and Spencer to reaching the final of The Great British Bake Off, pitching for a book whilst moving into a major house project, developing book recipes in a tiny kitchen as it was demolished around me, launching my book at Fortnums and running corporate press days whilst hugely pregnant with my third child. I have always thought I thrived on being busy and doing my best. 

I love creating memories and have a brutal determination to give my three children as idyllic a childhood I can, enjoying the simple things, paddling in the harbour, licking the icing off homemade cakes, watching the sunset with fish and chips and generally living their lives in the moment, being present and happy.

With my father falling ill and my mother becoming more of a carer, I found my role as Head of Happiness growing and it was increasingly difficult for me to juggle everyone's needs. A dear friend said to me 'remember the oxygen on the aeroplane' and I realised that my family, my business and all of our happiness would come to nothing if I didn't look after myself and make sure I put the oxygen mask on first, so I could then look after them. Baking and cookery has always been an escape for me, an outlet for my creativity, a moment of calm, a sense of achievement, a way to show I love and care.  It has also provided the chance to find sanctuary in the quiet of the kitchen at night, after days travelling with work or once restless babies, unsettled toddlers or needy children had finally found sleep. Even during the demands of Bake Off and book writing, creating recipes and baking allowed me to find me. 

I found another escape and revived a childhood love by rediscovering ballet with its combination of discipline, abandon and joyfulness. Yet I found it hard to carve out even one hour a week for me to dance. I was cynical about meditation but as I hared in to the class every week, late and usually stressed, I found comfort in conversations with Gilly in class and her calmer approach to her stressful life.  I was curious to know more and fascinated by her assurances about the effect a more mindful approach could have on me and those close to me. I have never looked back. Gilly's soothing voice, her honest confessions about her busy mind, the distractions it was acceptable for me to feel and her real approach to meditation has been uplifting. It has not stopped me rushing headlong into life but it has allowed me to experience a sense of calmer perspective and is constantly rejuvenating. 

I am hugely excited to 'Breathe and Bake' together and can't wait to bring together the benefits of mindfulness and the natural joys of the simplest things in life...food, baking and being in the moment."

Early Bird Price £125

The Kitchen School, Lodsworth, West Sussex

For more details about the retreat day, see Latest News