About Fire & Rain

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. {Leonard Cohen}

My story

The decision to set up Fire & Rain came out of my own story. In April 2015, only four weeks after we got engaged in Paris, my fiancé David died suddenly and completely unexpectedly of an asthma attack at the age of 50. My world fell apart from one second to the other, it felt as if a large part of me had died with him and I could barely function. Many things lost their meaning, others – like being in nature or reading helpful words – became lifesavers. The thought of even going through another few weeks filled me with dread and my fellow widow-friends and I were only half joking when we discussed which bridge would be most suitable…..

At around one and a half years into this journey I had never signed up for, I was walking along the canal and realised I didn’t want to die anymore. One day, but not yet. Instead, I want to make every day I have here until I see him again as meaningful as possible.

The pain hasn’t become any less and I still miss David every moment of the day and I don’t want it any other way. I don’t want to move on but forward.

David and I…happy times, not long before his sudden death

Working on Fire & Rain for me means using many of the things I’ve learned through working as a management consultant for many years, setting up and running my other business Wild at Art Ltd (www.wildatartscotland.com) and through the cruellest of all life lessons – my own bereavement – to help others.

I want to create feel-good breaks in beautiful surroundings for people to just be, and enjoy themselves as much as they can, and to share some of the things that have helped me on my journey.

I firmly believe there are no coincidences – when you’re on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.

It also can’t be pure coincidence that a bunch of wonderful people have crossed my path to contribute their skills and personalities to the retreats as co-hosts: meet my co-hosts

I recently got invited by one of Scotland’s biggest national newspapers, The Scotsman, to write down and submit the story of Fire & Rain. It was published just before Christmas, on 23 December 2019. You can read the full story here.

Scotsman article Dec 019

So what do guests get out of a Soul Spa?

Offering nice retreats and holidays is one thing… but what really counts is what guests get out of them, the difference they make. Like all businesses Fire & Rain started with an idea, a vision. I saw a great need for uplifting, authentic and personal holiday experiences for people who, like me, have lost their life partner. I wanted to create something that can make a real difference to people’s lives by offering new inspiration and hope, using a range of ingredients I’ve found helpful on my own grieving journey. And this is what I hoped guests would get out of the experience:

  • A soul spa is an opportunity to step back and relax and just allow anything that comes up – something we usually don’t dare to do in daily life.
  • The soul spas are a reminder how important self-care is. We often forget this. And just being cooked for can be so nice!
  • Guests get new ideas and inspiration – They can try out new things which they may want to build into their daily lives, into their new normal – yoga, writing, walking, creative things, making natural skincare, and much more.
  • Being in this inspiring environment can kind of spark something in people that leads to other positive steps.
  • And, very importantly, they make new friends. We have some very active Whatsapp groups and people soul spas tend to keep in touch with each other. Even if they don’t  – they know they could if they wanted.

It makes me very happy to report that the soul spas are indeed achieving their “intended outcomes” (excuse the consultancy speak, I was a management consultant in my “old” life), and more! I know this from the feedback guests give during and after the soul spa. And because many of us are still keeping in touch long after the soul spa has ended, I also know that the outcomes seem to be real and lasting.

To give you a sense of what guests get out of the retreats we’ve just added more feedback and photos to this website – click here to find out more.

Thank you Ute and Andrew. This week has been a revelation on many fronts. My yoga and meditation journey will continue, along with the friendships I have forged. Ute, thank you providing the perfect environment that has enabled me to feel safe, so looked after and able to be myself. Every day brought new experiences, meaningful chats, loads of laughter and tears. I feel ready to face another day.
Maria x

Hebridean Wildscapes Soul Spa, Isle of Mull, Scotland

Where does the name Fire & Rain come from?

After a lengthy period of scribbling down lots of potential names and picking my lovely friends’ brains there came the moment when it became clear that Fire & Rain is THE ONE. The only one that feels absolutely right…. It’s connected to the elements, to nature.

Fire & Rain is the title of my fiance’s favourite James Taylor song which he often played on his guitar….and probably also James Taylor’s best known song…it’s about loss and surviving through troubled times….it has something deeply comforting.


Listen to one of my favourite versions here 

Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.
I walked out this mornin’, and I wrote down this song;
I just can’t remember who to send it to.

I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain.
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
But I always thought that I’d see you again.

Won’t you look down upon me Jesus?
You gotta help me make a stand.
You just got to see me through another day.
My body’s achin’, and my time is at hand.
I won’t make it any other way.

Been walkin’ my mind to an easy time,
My back turned towards the sun.
Lord knows when the cold wind blows,
it’ll turn your head around.

Well there’s hours of time on the telephone line
to talk about things to come:
Sweet dreams and flying machines
in pieces on the ground.

{James Taylor Fire & Rain}

Fire & Rain founder Ute and her wonderful co-host Sarah on the beach on Iona

In essence – what the soul spas are…and what they are NOT

Fire & Rain Soul Spas® are retreat holidays with a focus on the “treat” bit. As well as organising these breaks we also offer thoughts and resources you may find interesting or helpful. There are certain values and ways of thinking that underpin everything Fire & Rain is about and does:

It’s important that we look after ourselves and develop a real feel for what’s good for us and what isn’t, who or what we want in our life and what we don’t. To help you do this we want to create an empathetic atmosphere in cosy and inspiring surroundings.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one and precious life? {Mary Oliver}

Connecting with nature can contribute greatly to the healing process and we often feel closest to our loved ones – but also to ourselves – when we have the time and space to really take in how beautiful our planet is and how perfectly everything works in nature. We don’t even need sunshine for this…there is no bad weather!

We believe that everybody has some creative talents somewhere – even if they’re not aware of it at all….the beaches, gardens and forests might inspire you to create…we’ll bring some tools and materials anyway in case you feel like it…

The “five stages of grief” are nonsense. Grief is chaos, crippling, unpredictable, doesn’t follow any rules or pattern. It’s deeply personal and different for everybody. You can’t run away from it, it will always catch up with you. It can sometimes almost feel good to fully lean into the pain as you connect to the love you share with the person you lost.

You need to have been there to really understand. There are all sorts of hurts and losses and each brings their own pain. No matter what the hurt is, only those who have experienced it themselves really understand. Peer support is at the core of Fire & Rain offerings.

What Fire & Rain Soul Spas® are NOT

Formal therapy – although we have experience of and are qualified for counselling to some degree, the breaks cannot replace professional support. We firmly believe that the soul spas will contribute to healing, but if you are seriously struggling you should also seek professional help such as that provided by Cruse Bereavement Care (in the UK).

Religious or New Age – Wrestling with meaning, perspective and purpose most likely leads to exploring spirituality. Spirituality often has a religious or new age ring to it. But when we think about it, all our everyday activities can be spiritual practices. So although this type of “real life spirituality” and some buddhist values are an important part of Fire & Rain’s “ethos”, they aren’t linked to any religion.

Non-stop entertainment – The programme for each soul spa break combines a mix of some organised, but optional, activities with plenty of free time to read, chat, sleep or do nothing. Such space can be really nice, especially if you’re not used to having time to do nothing. Time and space to just be is essential to the healing process.

Overly clean-eating – Of course it’s important to stay healthy and pay attention to what we eat and drink. But in our opinion an obsession with clean-eating may be counter-productive as it can take away the enjoyment that helps with healing. We take allergies and food intolerances seriously and will also accommodate specific preferences, such as vegetarian diet, as much as we can. But we also promote a tolerant attitude to different tastes, and wine, cakes and chocolate will be on offer for anybody who wants them.

Chocolate with 75% cacao isn’t actually a food…it’s best used as bait in snake traps or to balance the legs on wobbly chairs. {Anne Lamott}