Thursday, 22 September 2011

Writing retreat at Heartspring


I wanted to go away somewhere peaceful to finish the book. Earlier in the year I was craving Wales; missing the sound of the mud popping on the estuary and the curlews calling and the gentle rolling hills and the quiet. Rather than visit Laugharne where I used to live, I went round the bay to Llansteffan. Somewhere I had visited from time to time for a quick walk on the beach but not explored.

My friend told me about Heartspring House. A peaceful retreat centre where you can do group retreats or simply go and rent an apartment, which is what I did. See the big, pink house on the side of the hill. That's it.
Arriving at this grand house on the side of a hill took me back exactly 20 years when I went down to Art College in Carmarthen and lived in a large and beautiful house at the top of the hill in Laugharne. I was shown to my room with a large bay window and estuary and castle views, and I had the same sense of adventure and freedom that I felt when I was eighteen and saw my Castle House room for the first time. All alone, with a new stunning place to explore with no responsibilities , no phone signal and no wifi. Just tea drinking, walking, cooking, drawing, yoga, reading, a massage booked (ok couldn't afford such luxury at 18) and friends joining me at the weekend. Well I did have a book to write but I felt remarkably chilled about it given the long week ahead to focus solely on it.
The house has a deep peace about it. A really nurturing place, with inspiring books on the bookshelves, flowers from the garden in every room...
...shelves of herbal teas to choose from, cupboards full of herbs and spices for cooking, a flourishing vegetable garden, a big swing at the top of the garden, a trampoline...
...window seats to dream in and wonderfully welcoming and friendly staff.

Being on a tidal estuary the tide goes out for miles and you can walk and walk on the sands, which change every day. I loved it there. So utterly beautiful. Such peace.There are walks up to the Norman Castle where you can climb right to the top of the tower (about the only place I could find a phone signal) and walks through the woods right round the headland to take in spectacular views that photos cannot even begin to represent.
Even though I was there to work I found a good balance and went out to play every day....

collecting things on the beach (I got into feathers)...

and drawing. Every day I came to the writing in such a relaxed way. I'd sit down to work and hours would fly by. It was wonderful, and quite new for me, to get completely immersed in the flow with no disturbances, except perhaps the need for a cup of tea. This was good. Very very good. I tackled my intro (which I was scared of), tidied up lots of passages and reached my 20,000 word mark on Wednesday. Hooray!

My lovely friend Rachel came to stay for the weekend and Lynn joined us on Saturday. We had the best beans on toast and friend egg on toast ever in the beach cafe and then embraced the changing weather for a walk on the beach...sunny one minute, huge raindrops the next. Look at that sky. Shame that Rachel discovered a hole in her beloved wellies....and look what we found!
The rock people of Llansteffan had landed!

Let me introduce you to their creator. This is Mark and he lives at Heartspring, looking after the house and the guests, running retreats and being lovely. He had been telling me about his love for making art on the beach and showed me photographs of his beautiful sand circles so it was lovely to find him in mid creation on the beach making 'rock people'. Majestic and serene....
...and attracting quite a bit of attention from passers by!
I was very sad to have to leave my peaceful haven. I got up very early on my last day for a last walk on the beach. It was a grey morning when I set out but when I got on the beach I was greeted by an awesome sunrise.

There was a light rain too and the sunrise made a rainbow. The birds were going nuts and I closed my eyes to listen to them for a few minutes trying to bottle up the sound of the dawn chorus to bring it home. When I opened my eyes it was a grey morning again, not a trace of pink to be seen. Blink and you'd miss it!

I will definitely be going again. I might make it an annual thing. I feel very lucky indeed.

9 comments:

Lara Admin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helen said...

Wow, Hannah, what a wonderful time you've had! I can't believe you went to Carmarthen...so did I! I only lasted a year though and ran back home and ended up in Derby. I've been back since though and now appreciate it a lot more. The beaches are amazing round there. Glad you had such a lovely retreat, it looks like a beautiful place.

Heart Gallery said...

I really want to visit now Hannah, lovely post x

Isabelle said...

it looks like a magic place ... lucky you !!

Amy Hauschild said...

wow that is so very you! fantasitc you were able to meet you aim ion writing! and find time to play good find! love the rock people too...

glad you are well, by the way it's another girl!

love Amy xx

haptree said...

looks amazing, and the rock people are fab :)

Juliette Crane said...

wow! just gorgeous! so wishing to go there sometime or find somewhere similar in the states! what a wonderful time :)

xo, juliette

colleen attara said...

Oh my. Thank you for transporting me away this morning. I spent a semester in the UK in college and Tenby Wales is my favorite place on earth I think.

Pure magic. I loved looking at pictures of your retreat. What a gift you gave to yourself and your talent....

See you class!

Colleen

get stuff done said...

wow. that is a.maze.ing

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