This week I’m at a writing retreat in South Devon. Set in the hills between Bovey Tracey and Hennock, I’m surrounded by farmland and peace – the perfect setting to do the developmental edits for my next book (A Summer’s Lease, the first book in my new Shakespeare Sisters series). There aren’t many places you can go to in England that have more animals per acre than humans but this old farmhouse in the west country is one of them.
Run by Urban Writers (hats off to the lovely Charlie), this retreat feels like a home from home only infinitely better. Mainly because I don’t have to cook, clean, or scream at my teenagers (though I have to admit I quite miss doing the latter). On arrival I was shown to my room (see pics below) – a lovely attic turret complete with King size bed, slipper bath, and the perfect window seat for an avid reader. I arrived at 5pm, which gave me 3 hours until dinner, which I spent writing this blog.
Having been here before, I didn’t need the grand tour this time around. But our host is always willing to help out with suggestions of places to write, pretty walks, and of course she is the beloved bringer of food.
In the evening we met in the living room for wine and nibbles, and introduced ourselves. A few people have been here since Friday, but there are four of us who arrived today (Monday), and it’s nice not to be the only newbie. Once dinner was ready, we sat down and ate, drank and were generally merry. Everybody’s work is very different – there are people writing a screenplay, editing non-fiction books, and finishing a first draft. It gives us a lot to talk about when we’re taking our breaks.
The evenings are fairly quiet. Most of us retreat to our rooms to either work, take a bath (did you see my slipper bath?) or read. I expect some of us even get some sleep! All ready to get up first thing tomorrow to start all over again.
There’s something about a retreat that makes me feel very productive. Perhaps it’s because I don’t need to walk the dog (although I DO walk – it’s to beautiful around here not to). Or maybe it’s because I don’t have to interrupt myself to make food (it’s all laid on for me) or do the laundry. Whatever it is, I have to admit I love it here. And since I’ve now written this blog, I’m already beating my targets. How’s that for overachieving?
The view from my bedroom window
Urban Writers Retreats run residential stays in Devon around 8 times per year. They also run one day retreats in central London. For more information see their website here.