Communicated by Adele Duffield
I registered for a place on the above-mentioned writing retreat run by Natalie Scott, a regional poet and educator who runs Pen Power which is designed to improve mental wellbeing through reading and writing. I was looking forward to simply having a whole day dedicated to my writing and just getting away from all other thoughts and interferences.
The retreat was hosted by the Hall Garth Hotel, a country club, spa and golf course, near Darlington set within stunning countryside, and the views from the library windows did not disappoint, while providing plenty of inspiration on this fresh spring day of April which had the hallmarks of seasonal weather with sunshine and showers throughout the day.
The itinerary for the day began with coffee/tea and biscuits at 9.45am followed by round the table introductions and a few warm-up writing activities for the first hour. There were nine of us including Natalie and we all had different hopes for the day. Some writers wanted to complete action scenes for a novel, some writing for wellbeing after the loss of a relative or simply to find their creative juices, while some were writing poetry and prose, or preparing for a forthcoming performance piece.
After the warm-up exercises, we felt charged and ready to write so we had the free reign of two rooms the library with a large circular table and then a study/drawing room with open fire and comfortable easy chairs and settees facing over the golf course. This session lasted two hours before we were led into the conservatory for a very enjoyable hot and cold buffet lunch which was well received. It is amazing how much you need to feed the brain while writing!
After lunch we had a further two hours to soak up the atmosphere and write. Some used laptops, some note pads and pencils, and others special writing journals. All minds were focused and without the worry of distractions from pets, housework, mobile phones, T.V. or other daily demands on life, we produced a great deal of new writing. I managed to produce a short story in the morning and two poems for a proposed anthology in the afternoon.
The final hour, following afternoon drinks and cake, was a round-up workshop where we could share our experiences of the day or excepts of writing if we wished to do so.
I would heartily recommend this event. Natalie runs four workshops in the year, one for each season, and the cost is currently £38 for the whole day (£35 for the first session), including all refreshments and lunch. There is ample parking at the venue and I certainly hope to go the summer event, when it is publicised.