I have just come back from a wonderful two-day writer retreat in the heart of the Devonshire countryside, a stunning, quirky thatched cottage in a tiny village called SheepWash.
I traveled with my friend Clare, a fellow writer and person I have known since we were thirteen years old. Combating slow road works and some heavy rain, the journey there didn’t feel like five hours as we laughed so much and had an airy feeling of excited anticipation of what was to come.
We weren’t disappointed. The retreat is owned by a lady called Debbie Flint (a QVC TV presenter, she had an array of QVC products all over the cottage, which I recognized immediately due to my mothers-in-law insatiable buying habit from that TV channel!). Unfortunately, Debbie was away that weekend and we were left in the very capable hands of Linda (not unfortunate), who cooks, cleans and is seriously the hostess with the mostess and is clearly the heart of the home. Linda was such a vibrant character, I felt like she had been paid to act out her role as half Mrs. Doyle from Father Ted and half Mrs. Goggins from Postman Pat (the village certainly reminded me of Greendale).
She had more stories to tell than were published in the large oak book cabinet in the dining area and a way with words that I found hilarious, endearing and so genuinely real. She had grown up the area and her life was in the bubble of SheepWash and it made me realise that sometimes, being detached from the busyness of city or town life, bad news and fast careers, tube lines and people chaos is actually damn well idyllic. But is it for me? Maybe one day, but not for now.
The cottage, thatched, wonky and romantic was the ideal setting for me to write and finish the first draft of my fictional novel about the afterlife. There were nooks and crannies where you go and write or read, desks placed in different rooms, outside and in, and between hearing Linda hoover or call “Coooo Eeeeee” to a neighbor whilst passing a homegrown cucumber over the cottage fence I absolute escaped into my story.
What made this weekend was not only Linda but it was the wonderful group of ladies (and one man!) who joined us, all at different stages of our writing journey and no judgment or ego with that, it was refreshing! I’ve been in the mediumship scene for a while now and it is full of who can be better, who has more work, who is well known, blah blah blah. Not here. Everyone was encouraging, inspiring, motivating, they wanted each other to do well and shared a genuine interest in each other’s work. Those that are published or self-published shared advice and tips, we talked about the books we read, the ones we hated, the ones that changed our lives. I came back with a new reading list which excites me to the core!
Going on the retreat made me realise about the purpose and importance of doing things yourself, stepping away from wife and mother, finding your identity, finding a new tribe. Being in a place built for creativity, that oozes inspiration left, right and center. When you are vibrating with those that get you, that is where it is at!
So, find a retreat, be it a silent one, yoga, meditation, or chess-playing, find one that floats your boat and go. Those two days will feel like two weeks and you will learn so much about yourself in the process that I would say everybody should go to at least once a year!
The best part was laughing with my friend Clare, we traveled Thelma and Louise style, just us two, on a mission to enjoy ourselves and achieve some personal goals, which we did, in two days! I would never have gone if it wasn’t for Clare telling me about it and I am so grateful for that. I think it may be a yearly treat…….