Who runs The Writing Retreat?
The retreat is co-hosted by Kath Morgan and Jane Moss, two writers based in south Cornwall. We are both qualified tutors who have run numerous creative writing courses, workshops and retreats between us. We founded The Writing Retreat in 2014 because we wanted to create the kind of retreat experience we’d like to enjoy ourselves. And we do!
How do you run retreats in the current Covid-19 pandemic?
We cannot run our normal residential and day retreats at present because of government restrictions on the number of people who can gather together. We hope to be able to offer residential retreats again in future, but for the moment we are offering half day retreats on Zoom.
When will you be able to start your residential retreats again?
To be honest, we don’t know. In normal times people travel to our venues in Cornwall from all over the UK and aboard. Until the pandemic is under control, and people are confident to travel and stay with others – mostly strangers – under one roof, we cannot plan for residential retreats.
How do you Zoom retreats work?
Our Zoom retreats are monthly, on Sunday mornings, in the comfort of your own home. We open the Zoom room at 9,45am for a 10.00am start, and the retreats wend at 1.00pm. They include some tuition about our theme, some writing time, and time for sharing (optional) and discussion. Zoom can be quite tiring so we take regular breaks and we invite you to bring your own favourite hot beverage and a snack treat, to replicate something of the ‘real’ retreat experience.
What happens on the Winter and Summer Sunday retreats?
Our Sunday retreats are designed to give you a mini-retreat in a day, with a taste of life on one of our longer 5-night residential retreats. The mornings are spent exploring the theme of the day and learning useful techniques to enrich your writing. After a delicious home-cooked lunch the afternoons offer time to write, putting the learning of the morning into action. The last hour is spent sharing and discussing the draft writing you will have produced, fueled by tea and cake. The days start with coffee and tea at 9.45pm and finish at 4.00pm.
What happens during a 5-night residential retreat?
We plan each 5-night retreat to give you a good balance of time to write, workshops and tuition, and time to enjoy talking and sharing experiences with your fellow writers. When you arrive on the first afternoon we’ll show you round the house, then there’s usually a short workshop to introduce you to the week’s theme, followed by dinner and some further introductions to help you settle into the retreat.
After that, workshops take place each morning, followed by lunch, your own writing time and afternoon one to ones with us. All activities are optional; if you wish to stay in your room or find a quiet space in the house to write, or go out for walks, you can do that.
Evenings are our social time, with a guest author coming to talk to us midway through the week. After dinner on the final evening we invite our guests to read to us, if they would like to, then have a final round up and reflections on the week. We depart by 10.00am on the last day.
What is a typical day like?
On a typical retreat day you can help yourself to breakfast from 7.30am until 9.00am; choose from our selection of breakfast ingredients in the kitchen or take breakfast back your room, as you wish.
In Bosloe morning workshops are held in the kitchen diner at the far end of Court, and at the Old Sawmills in the Conservatory. In Rosemerryn we use the Studio. On a ‘Time to Write’ retreat we have shorter workshops after breakfast to provide inspiration for your writing day. Other themed retreats have longer workshops from 9.30am to lunchtime, with a break for coffee mid-morning. All workshops are optional.
Lunch is from 1.00pm-2.00pm with a daily choice of home-made soups and salads, and a variety of quiche, pies, pate, hummus and cheese (the choice varies each day). You can have lunch with your fellow guests or take something back to your room if you prefer. The afternoons are free for you to write, read, dream and explore the surroundings or take yourself off on a local adventure.
One to ones take place in the afternoons so you have plenty of opportunity for feedback and discussion of your writing with both of us. You can sign up for the one to ones when you arrive.
Dinner is at 7.00pm. We serve a delicious main course and dessert with wine, followed by cheese, Port, coffee and chocolates by the fire. After dinner we have a range of talks and readings, with time to chat and socialise; or you can have an early night or carry on writing in your room.
Should I bring my own snacks and drinks?
There is plenty to eat and drink on retreat but if you have a favourite nibble, do bring it along. The village shop closest to Bosloe is in Mawnan Smith, which is about a 20 minute walk. From Old Sawmills the nearest shop is a little further afield but we can place orders through the venue manager who will bring things to us by motor launch if necessary and when the tides allow. At Rosemerryn the nearest village shop is in St Buryan, a mile and half away.
Do you cater for vegetarians?
Yes, we provide vegetarian alternatives as part of our menus and most lunches and some dinners are entirely vegetarian. If you are a non-meat or fish eater, or if you eat a plant-based diet, please let us know when you book so we can include vegetarian and vegan alternatives.
How about food allergies?
We plan our menus in advance and bring all the ingredients with us to the retreat. If you have a food allergy or intolerance it is vital that you let us know when you book so that we can adjust the menus accordingly. In a few cases we may recommend that you bring your own special ingredients in case we have difficulty sourcing them locally.
Can I have my own room?
Yes, we think it is important to have ‘a room of my own’, unless you specifically want to share with a writing friend. We have a range of double and twin rooms, which you can spread out in or share if you are attending with a writer friend or partner. There are writing tables in the rooms and other spaces perfect for writing around the house.
Is my room en-suite?
We have some en suite rooms and others that have bath or shower rooms close by. The sooner you book the more likely you are to have an en-suite room, although we cannot guarantee it. We aim to allocate rooms on a first-come first-served basis, but we sometimes need to take other considerations, such as accessibility, into account.
Can I bring a friend or partner?
If your friend or partner is a fellow writer who wants to come on retreat, then yes. You can book a room each or we have double and twin rooms that can be shared, so let us know your preference when you book. If your friend or partner is not interested in writing you should come on your own. You’ll have plenty of good company among your fellow writers.
Can I bring my dog?
Sorry, but your dog cannot come on retreat with you. We may be able to accommodate an assistance dog by arrangement with the venue, so please ask us.
Is there wifi?
There is free wifi at all our venues. You should be able to connect to it automatically but we will provide the password when you arrive, in case you need it.
Is there a mobile phone signal?
Mobile phone signals in Cornwall are a bit variable and most people (us included!) find that mobile reception is not available in the house. A stroll to the end of the drive or in parts of the garden in Bosloe or Rosemerryn will usually find a signal, depending on your network, but at Old Sawmills the mobile signal is non-existent. We recommend WhatsApp and email if you wish to stay in touch with the outside world.
In an emergency the venue manager at Old Sawmills can contact people for us; likewise the owners at Rosemerryn who live in their own house in the grounds. At Bosloe there is a pay phone in a nearby out-building.
Is there a TV?
Yes, but it is not in use during the retreat. At Old Sawmills there are TVs in the bedrooms but we recommend you hang a towel over them or disconnect the aerial! We also discourage radios and music unless you have headphones. A retreat is a time for peace and quiet so please do not play anything that might disturb or interrupt your fellow guests.
Can I park my car?
There is free car parking in the grounds of Bosloe and Rosemerryn. At Old Sawmills there are limited allocated parking spaces in Golant close to the quay from which the motor launch will meet you to take you the short distance along the river to the house. There is also pay and display parking but we hope the allocated spaces will be enough for everyone. Please let us know when you book if you plan to bring your car.
How near is the station?
Falmouth Town is the nearest station to Bosloe, on the branch line from Truro, and the house is about 15-20 minutes from the station by taxi. For Old Sawmills, the nearest station is Par, on the mainline, which is about 15 minutes from Golant, the nearest village. Penzance is a 15 minute taxi ride from Rosemerryn.
We can put you in touch with other guests arriving at the same time if you would like to share a taxi together. We can book return taxis to take you back to the station at the end of your stay.
Is the house accessible?
Bosloe is made up of three adjoining houses, with small steps up to the front doors of all three, then access is level throughout the ground floors. One of the houses, Chatham, includes a ground floor bedroom with fully adapted en suite bathroom and its own un-stepped door to the outside, suitable for someone using a wheelchair. Of the other two houses, Bosveal has a ground floor single room with wet room and WC nearby, and Court has a downstairs double room with the same wet room and WC next door.
Old Sawmills can only be reached by motor boat (about 5 minutes on the water) or a twenty minute walk through the village and along a wooded footpath that leads down to the house. There is no access by road. Once at the house, there are steps up to the conservatory entrance or, alternatively, a path to the back door.
At Rosemerryn there is a small step through the front door of the main house and access is then level from the hallway into the main living room, the kitchen and the two ground floor bedrooms. There is one step up into the cottage, then level access to the living room (where some of our one to ones take place). There are three stone steps up into the studio where we hold our morning workshops and some of the afternoon one to ones. Take care on these steps, as there is no hand rail. If you need assistance please let us know.
Please ask us if you need advice about access to any of our venues.
What writing materials should I bring?
Everyone has their personal preference but we recommend you bring a paper notebook and pens for the morning workshops, which include some practical writing exercises, and your laptop and charger. If you are coming from outside the UK remember to pack a three pin plug adapter to use in UK sockets.
Should I bring any books?
You are welcome to bring as many as you can carry (!) to help with your writing project; for example research materials and things you won’t be able to access online. We have a travelling library of books that comes with us including books about creative writing technique, books by our visiting authors, and other sources of inspiration. You are welcome to borrow these during the week, or any of the books you find around the house. Bosloe and Rosemerryn are well stocked with novels and general reading, Old Sawmills less so but we will bring a selection.
Should I bring wellies?
We recommend you pack waterproof footwear and a waterproof coat or jacket. This is Cornwall… ;-).
Will I need a torch?
Yes. On one evening towards the end of the week we will dine at a local pub, and if you choose to walk there and back a torch is essential. At Bosloe and Rosemerryn we can arrange transport for those who prefer a lift. At Old Sawmills we will walk to the pub and back for dinner on one evening and because of the position of the house there is no alternative route other than by foot.
Are towels provided and should I bring a dressing gown?
Towels are provided. If your room is en suite you probably don’t need to pack a dressing gown unless you want to, but the other bedrooms have bathrooms nearby so a dressing gown or something to pop on over your PJs would be useful.
Does my room have a hair dryer and kettle?
You won’t find a kettle in your room but you can pop to the kitchen to make a hot drink whenever you like. You are welcome to bring a small travelling kettle if you need a morning cuppa before getting out of bed (we sympathise). At Old Sawmills and Rosemerryn there are some hair dryers but not in every room so it is worth bringing your own. Bosloe has them in all rooms.
How warm is the house?
We have wood burning fires and central heating with adjustable radiators throughout in all three venues. The bedrooms have adjustable radiators and warm bedding, but if you want to bring an extra layer, please do so.
What else is there to do in the area?
At Bosloe, you have free access to the neighbouring National Trust gardens at Glendurgan and the spectacular coastal path on the Helford river. The gardens have beautiful sea views and a host of paths and places to sit among flowering shrubs and the sub tropical plants that thrive in this part of Cornwall. The village of Mawnan Smith, less than a mile away, has a selection of shops, a pub and tea room, and the harbour town of Falmouth with its famous harbour and beaches is a 15 minute drive away.
At Old Sawmills you have the gardens to explore and woodland walks including the nearby Saints’ Way. The walk to Golant takes about 20 minutes and the views along the wooded river are simply beautiful. If you have left your car in the village you could take the short drive into Fowey to explore one day if you fancy a change of scene. The walk to Fowey is about 45 minutes with some ups and downs.
At Rosemerryn, Lamorna Cove is a scenic beauty spot with historic artists’ studios and the coastal path running through it, about 30 minutes walk down a gentle sloping valley road. Cornish landmarks including St Michael’s Mount, Mousehole harbour, Sennen Cove, Land’s End and the famous Minack Theatre at Porthcurno are all short drives away. The ancient Merry Maidens stone circle is a mile up the hill, towards St Buryan (which has the nearest village shop). We recommend you explore the grounds of Rosemerryn by foot and look for the famous Boleigh fogou, which is an excellent place to park your ‘inner critic’ for the week.
Can I stay on for a holiday after the retreat ends?
The properties that make up Bosloe – Bosveal, Chatham and Court – and the little Bothy in the grounds, are available to let for holidays through National Trust Holidays.
Old Sawmills is available to hire as a holiday home, and as a recording studio.
Rosemerryn is available as a holiday let and B&B throughout the year. For details of how to book, visit Rosemerryn’s own website. The house and cottage play host to other retreats during the year, which are also on the website.
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