In November/December 2017 I was lucky enough to travel to the UK and Iceland, and more specifically to join five other amazing writers from across Australia . We met in Criccieth, North Wales, to attend a writing retreat organised and run by Perth author, Tess Woods. It was a dream come true, our excitement escalated during the 12 months of preparation as ideas were swapped for other places we might visit while in the northern hemisphere.
On arrival at Mynydd Ednyfed, heritage listed and steeped in history, we were given a warm welcome and tour of the home. Each of us had a double room with ensuite bathroom, and a gorgeous view over the diverse landscape - to one side lush green farm land and to the other the ocean. The house itself was beautifully furnished and decorated for Christmas..
Tess and her family, hubby Paul, and teenagers Tom and Lara, went above and beyond in making our stay comfortable. We were indulged in every way possible with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and unlimited snacks. Tess is an amazing cook and put a lot of love into cooking super delicious meals.
A few months prior to the retreat, each writer provided a synopsis and the first 40 pages of her work in progress. Tess immediately gave each author suggestions on how to improve her synopsis. During the retreat, we received comments on our 40 pages at a one-on-one session with Tess. This feedback provided an insight to how Tess worked.
Our daily workshop topics:
Our days usually went like this:
Both sessions were invaluable. Tess was insightful and provided suggestions which made our writing tighter by weeding out the unnecessary.
Tom was intuitive and very creative in his discussions on updating or creating a web page. He had a knack for finding out what we liked and knew almost instinctively what we needed.
After lunch, we spent time writing, or took time out to explore the surroundings.
Day 1 – we woke to a winter wonderland – the continuous snowfall covered the landscape with around two to three inches of snow. Some of us rugged up and ventured outside to play and pat the property horses.
Day 2 – an exceptional day for writing thanks to the rain. Everyone was happy to remain indoors and focus on works in progress.
Day 3 – the snow had all but melted away, and the countryside was again lush and green. Though the weather was chilly during our stay, we were never cold. We ventured into the little coastal town of Criccieth in the afternoon. Some of us chose to wander the streets and do some shopping, while others ventured to Criccieth Castle.
Day 4 – the afternoon was spent working on our edits and/or chatting around the fire. Given that some of us had met for the first time, we all blended so well, the relaxed conversation full of laughter and great stories. We tossed ideas around and have made friends for life.
Day 5 – in the afternoon, we headed out to the bustling town of Porthmadog to mix it up a little with the locals. We wandered in and out of shops, listening to the locals speak their native Welsh language. We met up at a local pub aptly named The Australia for a few drinks. Our new favourite drink is Rhubarb Liqueur and lemonade. If you find it, grab it – you won’t regret it.
Day 6 – we were feeling somewhat melancholy as we knew our week was quickly coming to an end. We spent most of the day at the property, chatting and laughing as we did some craft, or enjoyed free time to work on our stories. We headed out later that evening for our farewell dinner in Criccieth.
Day 7 – none of us wanted to leave, and eventually, around mid-morning, we said our final goodbyes. The drive through the picturesque snow-covered Snowdonia National Park on our way to Manchester, UK, was a fitting farewell to Wales. We were off onto another adventure to Iceland.
Was it worth it? Hell Yes!
Would we do it again? Absolutely!
Would we recommend it? Positively!
Lara created a little video:
Below is small sample from the photo gallery.