Writing Retreat

Cornwall Four opinionated and independent women writers in the same house for a week – sounds like a recipe for disaster. But I don’t think I’ve ever been as relaxed as I was in Cornwall. The weather was gorgeous. The house stunning – perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. The company was fabulous, warm, intelligent, scorchingly funny. The entire experience was restorative, inspiring, tranquil. And I’m not even finished unpacking my suitcase of adjectives.I woke early each morning, battled with victorian plumbing, made coffee and sat outside while the grass was still wet with dew. After breakfast, we worked. Each writer in a different part of the house. Plenty of room for solitude in that  labyrinth of windows with sea views. We wrote to music, drank too much coffee, ate too much chocolate, had more coffee, took afternoon naps and walks by the sea.The evenings were communal: cooking, drinking, laughing, dancing, singing and in general behaving like we were in a rom-com montage. After the meal, we gathered round the sitting room with our laptops and shared snippets of writing we’d worked on earlier. Each person read a piece out loud, with the benefit of realtime comments, critiques and most importantly encouragement.Stories. So many stories. Ghost stories by the fireplace that never stayed lit. Stories of men, books and writers with limp prose. Mostly we talked about our own work, our experiences, and what we wanted to achieve. It wasn’t just time out to write secluded from the world. We had undisturbed glorious scenery in which to think about writing. And friendship. The kind of intimate conversations you have with people who understand what you’re going through.So what if I returned with a sunburn from sitting outside all day drinking vodka and staring at the lighthouse. Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse no less. It was worth it. All of it. Even if I’m peeling now and missing a place I’ve only known for a week.


  1. Aah, it makes me wish we were still there. It was so inspiring, I want to live like that for a month at least. I’ve had no head space since being back and way too much office admin. I want to scream from the top of that lighthouse and wait for a ship to rescue me.

  2. Mariko

    Your description of the week is just perfect. Am beginning to wonder if it was all a dream. Did we really take that five-hour train trip down south west? Did we really see those stars? Do you ladies really exist? Will tell you this though: my face is still suffering from disgusting pimples from all that coffee and chocolate – that’s one proof I was really there. Unless I was elsewhere.

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