Menu

Reading Retreat

Taunton, Somerset - April 2018

We held two retreats in April at an incredible riverside cottage near Taunton which spanned all of April’s weather (except snow!). Roaring fires and hot chocolate the first half of the week gave way to sunny lunches outside and ice-cream snacks.

Our walks included a round trip to the nearby Willow and Wetlands centre.  I asked for directions for the way back and was told to ‘walk up the hill with the windmill on it.’  The woman then paused and said ‘although the windmill isn’t there any more.’ According to the plaque at the top of the hill, the windmill hadn’t been there for over a hundred years - but they have long memories in Somerset.

Our weekend author, Chris Ewan, shared some of the research he’d undertaken when writing his Good Thief series of books.  We can’t disclose what he showed us, but let’s just say that our readers have gone home with new and exciting skills that might be useful if they’re ever locked out!.

Our weekday author, Alice Jolly, led a really thoughtful discussion about what we get out of reading, and what we really feel connected to in books.  We also heard about her experiences with the crowdfunding website Unbound and her new novel, Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile, which will be coming out in June.

Books read included The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Charlotte’s Web, Middlesex, and The Last Tudor.

We loved the house which had plenty of good reading space, including outside on the riverbank when the weather allowed.  We’ll definitely be coming back for another Retreat here next year.

 

" I have so enjoyed such a perfect few days - tranquil and stimulating at the same time. Sara's food is so delicious and decadent it compliments the whole experience. Cressi, you are a fount of knowledge and enthusiasm for books, I feel we could have a 'discussion retreat' and never get bored! I will certainly return."

Jude

 
 

Sittingbourne, Kent - March 2018

Our March retreat was in a beautifully restored and unique Oast House in Kent and some of our readers had the unusual experience of sleeping in a perfectly round room!  The reading room led out into the garden but the rain kept everyone indoors. Our walks were… eventful. Lovely area but very muddy and Cressi lost her shoes at one point. Sara’s Bakewell Tart was hotly fought over - we think we’ll make this the first recipe in our possible new title Retreat and Eat.

Books read included A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towes, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne and The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater.

Our author Giselle Green gave a fascinating insight into her encounters with her mentor Rosemary Sutcliffe and also talked about the experience of being both self-published and traditionally published.

You can catch a glimpse of the Retreat on ITV local news in several regions - we’ll be putting the video on our Facebook page if you want to hear all about it from the readers who were there.

 

What a wonderful way to spend a few days!  So relaxing, reading where and when you liked, no distractions.  Discussing books and sharing opinions over lovely meals. Thanks Cressi & Sara for all the attention, everything was wonderful and I look forward to repeating the experience.”

Chris

 

Thorpeness, Suffolk - February 2018

Our first retreat of 2018 was in Thorpeness on the Suffolk coast, in a comfortable and spacious beachfront cottage with a roomy reading room that had plenty of couches to relax on.  The weather ranged from sunshine to hail, but we managed to stay dry while walking along the beach, and exploring Thorpeness.

Books read included The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma Jane Kirby,  Women and Power by Mary Beard and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.  

On Saturday night, we were joined by Penny Hancock, author of the bestselling novel Tideline and two more books.  She led a lively and thoughtful discussion about what books have helped us through key moments in our lives, and we enjoyed getting very nostalgic about childhood favourites.

We were very excited to have been visited by BBC journalist Emma Jane Kirby who grilled everyone on the reading retreat experience for a Radio Four report - we’ll let you know where and when her piece is on air!

 

“Thank you, thank you, thank you Sara & Cressi, for the most gorgeously indulgently luxurious weekend I’ve spent in a long time.  It has met and far exceeded my expectations.  You created five star relaxation with more thoughtful special touches than I could have imagined. The food was out of this world - my five portions of Bakewell tart are testament to that! And the house was so well chosen for its sofas, candles, wood burner and cosy feel.  We were waited on hand and foot!  Plus the whole thing has really reminded me of the value of setting aside precious reading time.  I’ll be back!  Thank you.”

Helen

 

Bungay, Suffolk - November 2017

Our venue this month was a beautiful pink Suffolk house buried deep in the countryside, filled with character, creaky floors, latch doors and a roaring fire.  We huddled down and revelled in the warmth, letting the rain beat against the windows.  Our readers' many books included, How to Stop Time by Matt Haig; The Power by Naomi Alderman; Munich by Robert Harris and Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty.  When the rain let off, there were walks to the local village and then to the nearby micro brewery. 

Our chosen author this weekend was Guinevere Glasfurd, whose debut novel The Words In My Hand, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.  Guin joined us for dinner on Saturday and shared with us the books and authors who have shaped and influenced her as a writer.  Food and refreshments flowed and many, many pages turned.  Here is what one of our readers had to say...

 

"I’ve been to lots of retreats over the last few years - generally for writing - but this was the most luxurious, indulgent, well-catered weekend I’ve ever spent. They really had thought of everything - goody bags full of wonderful gifts, spare essentials in case you forgot to pack anything, reading lights for borrowing, and an amazing range of food, to suit any dietary requirements. As someone with diabetes, I’m used to organisers just assuming I won’t have dessert, and that I’ll forego snacking, which is always rather depressing. Here, though, there were cheese plates to round off each delicious meal, low sugar muesli for breakfast, and both low sugar and savoury snacks, so I felt very well looked-after."

Annie