A writing retreat – Is it more than wine & cheese?


A few months ago, I was lunching with a group of writer friends when it was suggested we should hire accommodation and go on an informal writing retreat. Four of us committed to a date and I spent last weekend packing for my big adventure.

My son sat on my bed as I haphazardly threw an array of clothes into a case and then I spent an inordinate amount of time carefully selecting notebooks and pens.

‘Like you’re going to use those,’ my son scoffed.

‘Of course I am!’ I was a little offended.

‘It will be like the “revision” sessions I used to have with friends during A’Levels.’ he said.

‘I thought those were really valuable?’

‘Yeah. In terms of drinking beer and eating pizza. You’ll be the same but with cheese and wine.’

‘I’ll be writing.’ I stressed again, as though he didn’t know me really well.

At this point my other son wandered into my room. ‘Mum, isn’t an untutored writing retreat really just a holiday.’

‘Umm… no?’ Yes.

Monday, led by Word Warrior Tina, we checked into Centre Parcs and immediately headed to the shop and filled a trolley with wine and cheese. After we’d unpacked, I lounged on the sofa, opened my notebook and jotted down the available times for a massage. Damn my children for always being right.

But although this week there has been much talking, eating, laughter and drinking there has also been much, much more. It was such a privilege to watch and feed the wildlife including this adorable deer who slept on our patio.

The gorgeous surroundings, dusted by the unexpected snowfall, created the perfect creative environment.

Although we’ve been out – our first day saw me heading to the spa after a humungous afternoon tea – we’ve also given each other the time and space to work on our individual projects. We’ve bounced around ideas, read aloud and critiqued each others work with love. I feel relaxed, energised and as I look back at what I’ve achieved this past week I’ve also written more than I thought.

It’s been a really valuable experience and one I can’t wait to repeat. You can listen to my 90 second summary here: –


19 thoughts on “A writing retreat – Is it more than wine & cheese?

  1. Great post. To be relaxed with like-minded creatives is wonderfully inspiring. I’m running a writing retreat this September in Tuscany, with a tutor and looking forward to a writing kickstart. Enchanting snowy location. Thanks!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. I’ve always wanted to try Centre Parcs. I have writers’ retreats at my house if Cyberspouse is away on a photography break. Local writer friends from three groups and none. Drop in 11am – 4pm tea, coffee and homemade cake, bring their own lunch if they want to stay a while. Does it work, does anyone turn up? Yes, to an extent; I’ve done quite a few now, worst one was only one person came, we sat in the garden, nice person but she talked non stop and stayed till 7 o’clock – I was in a total daze when she left!. But usually one person turns up in the morning, we chat about writer things and we write, aftenoon more people turn up and often no writing gets done, but guests have met new people and we have the time to talk more about writing, publishing and coping with technology than we do in our groups.
    My best writing holiday was with my sister, also a writer, my daughter and my sister’s friend – the friend has always lived alone, needs her own space and so it was agreed we would not be in each others’ pockets. We stayed in the sort of cottage I could never have afforded in the Scottish borders and it was a new experience just going off to sit on a bench looking out over the river and hills without having to fit anyone’s agenda.

    • I’d never been to Centre Parcs before – I thought it was more of a kids holiday camp and would be crowded and noisy but it was beautiful and tranquil and I’d definitely go again. The time of year probably helped the peace! The retreats at your house sound fabulous. And Scotland is so gorgeous – I had my honeymoon there.

  3. Wow! The 5th book on the way. Yay!
    What a wonderful way to spend your time. Lovely post and photos. Your video too, is great Louise. 🙂

Thanks so much for reading!

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