Retreat -- by Sarah Nicholson

To retreat means to fall back, to escape, to withdraw or disentangle from daily life, I particularly like the idea of disentangling.

Concentrating on the treat part, it is an indulgence, for pleasure, a delectable diversion.

We were even sent chocolate as a welcome gift for booking.

I have just returned from such a haven of solace in Criccieth, North Wales, a long drive for most people and I was no exception as I drove almost from the East coast of England over the hills of Snowdonia to the Western shore. Others joined in from as far North as Aberdeen and far South as Cornwall.

Criccieth beach on a sunny morning

Our journeys were varied as were our individual reasons for being there but the common theme was writing, particularly wanting to learn from Cathy Rentzenbrink, an author with five books to her name, memoir, self help and a novel (she is currently writing novel number two and it sounds fantastic, she even gave us a glimpse of what she would like the cover to look like – it will be interesting to see how similar it looks when it hits the shops.)

Cathy is generous in sharing the process of writing, with great advice about not showing your work to too may people in the early stages. This is where I fall down every time. I want people to read my words and tell me how marvellous they are – when they don’t I get demoralised. I have learnt much about the editing process recently.

We were told from the start that nothing we wrote down would be read out. While there was a collective sign of relief from most people, I was the odd one, thinking “How are you going to realise how good my writing is?”

That makes me sound pompous and big headed, perhaps I am, was I really writing about self-doubt only a couple of months ago???? 

I suppose because I have been blogging for over ten years, I have got used to scattering my thoughts online for all to read. And I enjoy the performance of reading what I’ve just written, my writing voice is very LOUD in my head.

Maybe it’s time to rein in my words and be a bit more secretive and selective. Perhaps my biggest lesson of the weekend is to percolate my words for longer in private spaces. Writing, crafting, editing until I have something book length to send out into the world.

I think I finally understand the idea of show not tell, and I really need to revisit my current WIP through that lens.

There is still so much to ponder but the weekend was also about relaxing and being pampered. Each guest was given a goodie bag of treats, locally sourced from small businesses. Candles and toiletries giving off a soothing aroma, note books, pens and writing journals provided inspiration, jams and fair-trade chocolate satisfied the sweetest tooth. 


The programme encouraged having a lie in each morning, breakfast was available to take back to bed. There was personal writing time or the chance to explore, a masterclass with Cathy each afternoon and lots of lazy lounging on sumptuous sofas happening before an exceptional two course dinner served at 7:30. Writerly chats continued late into the evening.

It was blissful and Tanya from Ease Retreats was the fabulous facilitator behind it all. Her attention to detail was spot on and she even arranged some massage treats for us all, a most welcome surprise.

We came away learning more about the craft of writing, making new friends and feeling thoroughly relaxed and reinvigorated.

If you want to experience a similarly luxurious retreat just follow this link


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