Philip Marsden joins us as guest author

philip_marsden_cr_gina_lundy2011__fullWe are delighted to announce that Philip Marsden will be our mid-week guest author for our retreat on Life Writing and Time to Write at Bosloe in early November. The retreat runs from Tuesday 31 October to Sunday 5 November and Philip will join us for dinner and an author’s talk on Wednesday, and return the next morning to run a workshop.

Philip is the award-winning author of a number of works of travel, fiction and non-fiction, including The Bronski House, The Spirit-Wrestlers, The Levelling Sea and, most recently, Rising Ground (Granta, 2014). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into fifteen languages. After years of travelling, he now lives on the tidal upper reaches of the River Fal in Cornwall with his wife, children and various boats.

The Levelling SeaWe’ve recently read and enjoyed The Levelling Sea, his dramatic account of the history of Falmouth, awash with pirates, sailors, politicians and maritime adventurers. This brilliant read taught us much that we didn’t know about our home town; a walk along Arwenack Street and around Pendennis headland will now be even more fascinating.

Philip brings the perfect set of writing skills to our retreat; an understanding of ‘life writing’ and its sub-genres of travel writing, memoir, and creative non-fiction, and knowledge of ways we can use real life events as a basis for fiction. You can find our more about his work and read some of his excellent reviews here.

Our retreat is booking now, and there are some lovely rooms available. Bosloe is a very special setting in the autumn, with its sweeping views across the Helford, and its own gorgeous gardens just next door to the National Trust’s spectacular Glendurgan. Don’t miss out – you can find out more and book here. We will be delighted to welcome you to The Writing Retreat.

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Soup du jour

A good breakfastA writing army marches on its stomach. At The Writing Retreat we like to send people home full of ideas, new skills, inspiration, motivation and – the essential fuel – delicious home cooked food. We both love cooking and, with the help of the Rosemerryn farmhouse kitchen and our fabulous kitchen angels Amy and Charlie of Cornish caterers White Radish, we serve a delicious menu every day.

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Breakfast is a help-yourself affair, with fresh bread, cereals, local farm eggs, juice, yoghurts and a fruit bowl piled high, plus fresh coffee and a variety of tea, from Tetleys to organic fruit tissanes. We break from our workshops mid-morning for coffee and cake – Kath’s flapjack and brownie, and Jane’s lemon drizzle cake were on offer at our most recent retreat. Then it’s onwards to lunch, and a spread of Kath’s home-baked quiche, platters of cold meats, pate, hummus and falafels on different days of the week. And, most importantly, the soup.

Each day we enjoy a steaming bowl of freshly made soup, with bread from the village shop at St Buryan. Cauliflower soup, tomato soup, parsnip and apple, and mushroom soup were all on the menu in March.

IMG_20170316_125808It’s amazing that we have such appetites for dinner… but that’s another story. To give you a flavour of those lunches, here, by popular demand of our March retreaters, is our mushroom soup recipe. It’s best served around the Rosemerryn kitchen table, where the chat is all about writing, reading, stories and how best to tell them… but we’re sure you can replicate that at home.

Here is the recipe. Enjoy.

MUSHROOM SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 30g butter
  • A sprig of thyme
  • A packet of dried porcini mushroom, soaked in enough water to cover them
  • 750g mushrooms, a variety of Portobello, large field mushrooms and smaller white or chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 large floury potato
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour 
  • 1.2 litres hot vegetable stock ( we use Kallo gluten free organic cubes)
  • 100ml double cream, plus extra to finish
  • A few gratings of nutmeg
  • A sprig of tarragon (fresh or dried)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

  • Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the enough water to cover them in a bowl, then drain, keeping the liquid
  • Chop the garlic and mushrooms and sautee with the butter in a large non-stick pan
  • When the garlic and mushrooms are softening and starting to brown, add the stock and the liquid from the porcini mushrooms
  • Grate the potato, skin and all, into the pan and stir well
  • Add the spring of thyme and shake of salt and pepper
  • Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for about 25 minutes or until the mushrooms and potato are soft
  • Add a few gratings of nutmeg and the tarragon and check for seasoning, adding a little more salt and pepper if you wish
  • Allow the soup to cool a little, then blend to a smooth consistency
  • Add the cream and warm to serve.

 

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People say the nicest things

IMG_20170318_090214We’re back from another wonderful Craft of Writing week at Rosemerryn with a lovely group of writers who came from as far away as Worthing and as close  as just down the road in Newlyn.

We always ask for feedback at the end of the week, so we can learn what has worked and what our guests have enjoyed about the week – also what suggestions they have to help us plan our future retreats.

Here is a selection of comments from our Rosemerryn retreaters. Thank you everyone for making our time with you so enjoyable and productive. We’d love to welcome you again.

“A wonderful week with excellent workshops, great advice and lovely new friends. I shall return home buzzing with new ideas for writing. I learned so much about the art of writing” Ann

“Really appreciated being able to enjoy all the wonderful food despite being gluten free – and with no fuss” Jil

“A space away from everyday life, crawling with imaginary characters and plots under (re)construction. Fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in a story while being doted on.” Camille

“It’s the perfect combination of gorgeous setting, beautiful accommodation, generous and welcoming hosts, fantastic catering, a nurturing atmosphere. Highly recommended.”Jil

“Relaxing atmosphere, interesting fellow students; I learned much of real practical value on the business of writing.” Anon

“The relaxed atmosphere lends itself to creativity and new ideas.” Ann

“The morning workshops had such excellent (and interesting) examples. I felt very encouraged to act on what I had learnt – such stimulation!” Anon

“Thank you for another wonderful week – my adventures in writing continue because of The Writing Retreat!” Jil

 

 

 

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Where am I now?

Many thanks to our retreat guest, Moira Fitt, who has given us permission to share this poem she wrote about what it means to write in the companionship of other writers. The poem was inspired by In the Room of a Thousand Miles at Mudita House by Billy Collins

Where Am I Now?

Where am I now?

This room of scribblers

Gazing intently at lines in a book,

A chin is scratched

A leaf is turned

A pen flies across the page.

 

Where are they now?

Miles away in a distant land?

Dreaming of spires or castles in the air?

A line is penned

A verse completed

A sigh of satisfaction tells it all.

 

Where are we now?

This room of scribblers

Filling our notebooks,

Welded by words

Humming in unison

Sharing the song of our souls.

                                                                   Moira Fitt

 

 

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Back at Rosemerryn

It’s wonderful to be back at Rosemerryn on retreat. This morning, Ginny the retreat dog took me for a walk in the ancient woodlands that surround the house. Always inspiring.

 

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The Writing Retreat Winter Newsletter

The year that was:

2016 was a busy and productive year for us at The Writing Retreat; a year in which we welcomed back several past guests – always such a pleasure – and met many new ones, and a year in which we consolidated some old partnerships and formed new ones.

In May we launched our new venue, the beautiful National Trust house at Bosloe, over looking the Helford. The Arts and Craft charm of the house and the stunning sea views were a hit with guests old and new, as was our guest author Patrick Gale. The setting at Bosloe is spectacular, even by Cornwall standards. We promised we would be back, and we will be in 2017 (see below).

In March and November, we retreated to lovely Rosemerryn, tucked away in the woods above Lamorna, where everyone worked hard and made fantastic progress with their writing projects. We are thrilled to be returning to Rosemerryn again in March for our popular Craft of Writing retreat.

In November 2016 we were delighted to be invited to judge the 9th annual Barbara Scannell writing competition for the Falmouth and Truro U3A group. At the presentation lunch, we discovered pockets of real talent and one unexpectedly familiar face – yes, one of our recent guests (you know who you are!), who turned out to be among the prize winners we had judged anonymously. It was a lovely occasion.

The year ahead:

In a world where things are changing at a dizzying pace, we look forward with relish to the opportunities in 2017 to retreat from the world for a few short spells and forget about everything except being writers, surrounded by our fellow writers, thinking only about writing. Bliss.

Craft of Writing retreat at Rosemerryn, 13-18 March

This retreat is now full, and it’s lovely to have the carrot of a springtime retreat dangling just six weeks in front of our noses. This retreat is the one where guests can really hone their skills as writers of fiction. Our guests will take home a whole raft of new tools and techniques to help them move forward with their writing, as well as inspiration and ideas. If you would like to be added to a waiting list for this retreat, do fill out a contact form here.

Life Writing and Time to Write at Bosloe, 31 October-5 November 

Building on our partnership formed last year with The National Trust, we’ll be back at Bosloe for our November retreat, and bookings are already coming in. Writers who simply want a Time to Write retreat, with one to one tutorial support, will find this retreat offers a perfect space for that. Alongside this, we will be focusing on Life Writing, and will offer morning workshops on various aspects of this exciting genre.

Other news

We have one or two other plans up our sleeves for 2017 (shhhh, we can’t say too much just yet), but if you ‘like’ or ‘follow’ us on our website, Facebook page, or Twitter account, you’ll be among the first to hear about it.

We love to keep in touch with our guests and hear what you’ve all been up to, so if you have any writing related news you would like to share, please drop us a line. We’d be thrilled to hear how you are getting along.

Warmest winter wishes,

Kath and Jane.

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An orange cake for Christmas

Jane Moss describes the pleasure of cooking in the Rosemerryn kitchen and shares a recipe that’s perfect for Christmas.

One of my favourite moments in our retreats comes near the beginning, when Kath and I arrive and begin to make Rosemerryn our home for the week. It’s the peaceful morning before our guests arrive, when the kitchen is ours and the supplies for the week are all put away, ready to be used.

In those quiet hours cake-1we make preparations, so that later in the week our soups, stews and cakes can appear effortlessly, as part of the retreat magic. In November I baked a new dessert, to go with our lamb tagine evening meal; a Spanish orange and almond cake, completely free of dairy produce or flour. It sounds unlikely on the page – oranges, ground almonds, eggs and a little sugar – but I had tasted it before and knew it would be a delicious addition to our autumn menu.

Is there anything more soothing than the scent of two whole oranges, skin, flesh and juice, all simmering away for several hours in the warm kitchen? This is a recipe that requires time; ideally the oranges are cooked in advance of the cake being baked, so the flavour mulls and deepens before the oranges are mixed into the other dessert ingredients before the final baking.

It’s a pleasure to share this recipe. I shall be making making it again for Christmas and serving it with homemade ice cream and a dash of Pedro Ximenez dark sweet sherry. At Rosemerryn we served it warm with Cornish ice cream (of course) and, for our dairy-avoiding guests, Swedish Glace, a delicious alternative that tastes of rich vanilla and feels like velvet on the tongue. Sainsburys and Tesco both stock it.cake-2

Here is the recipe for Spanish orange and almond cake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oranges, scrubbed and roughly chopped, with the skin on
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 200 g (7 oz) caster sugar
  • 225 g (8 oz) ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • Sifted icing sugar to decorate

Method:

  1. Put the chopped oranges in a small saucepan, discarding any pips. Add 1 tbsp water, then cover and cook gently for an hour or until the oranges are soft and excess liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool overnight, then mash or blend to a soft pulp.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Line the bottom and sides of a 23 cm (9 in) spring form cake tin with baking parchment. Finely chop the oranges in a food processor or blender, or with a large knife.
  3. Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in half the caster sugar, then whisk for 1 minute.
  4. Using the same whisk, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar in another bowl for 2–3 minutes or until pale and quite thick. Whisk in the finely chopped oranges, then carefully fold in the ground almonds.
  5. Stir in 3 spoonfuls of the whisked egg white to loosen the mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites with a large metal spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and level the top. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
  6. Bake for 50–55 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Check the cake after 20 minutes and again at 30 minutes, and cover lightly with foil if it is browning too quickly.
  7. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then turn it out, peel away the lining paper and transfer to a serving plate.
  8. Warm gently before serving, dust with icing sugar and slice into segments with a nice blob of Cornish (of course) ice cream.

cake-3Have a wonderful Christmas, from Kath and Jane.

Enjoy.

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