What Simon thought of his Retreat

If I’d drawn up a wishlist of what I needed to ensure I could get the next chapter of my novel written in a short space of time, it would have read like this: a beautiful space deep in the countryside which is inspirational but not distracting, someone to bring me lovely meals, and hosts that understand the creative process and encourage you.

This is precisely what I found. I was collected from the station by Annie, and by 11.30 am was sitting on the balcony of the apartment, occasionally glancing up at the remarkable view across the Forest of Dean, and writing excitedly. By the time my lunch tray arrived, I’d not only written as much as I usually would in an entire evening, but the environment informed what I was creating in all kinds of unexpected ways. One can’t understestimate the benefits of a change of scene sometimes. I dined with Annie and her husband, Ian, on my first night, and being with people interested in what you are creating and encouraging you is something I could never have got from simply hiring a cottage for a few days. That would also have meant losing precious time by having to cook for myself etc. All in all, wonderful food and people, and a happy and creative experience. And there were plenty of opportunities for strolls in the woods when I needed a break. I came away with an exercise book filled with prose and a deep sense of satisfaction. Both calming and exhilarating, this is a wonderful place for writers, humanely priced and beautifully run. Many thanks.

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