On Retreat

Since I spent last week on retreat in the West of Ireland with other members of my Writers’ Group you may be here expecting my writing to have reached new heights of eloquence, wit and beauty. Those of you who have known me for longer, however, will be expecting the same sort of stuff that I always produce.

We didn’t write a lot.

In our defence we had expected to be trapped in our cottage for the week, staring out at driving rain while trying to think of something that rhymes with “saturated”. We had not expected that Ireland would get its first summer since 2005, nor that the West, normally the wettest part of the country, would have the heatiest of the heat wave.

So we had swimming to do, ice-creams to eat, salads to prepare, sunscreen to apply (I used an entire bottle in six days) and lolling about complaining about the heat to be getting on with before we could get down to actual work.

We did try. All of us wrote something. We also tried painting, to see if that would stimulate creativity (since I paint like a four-year-old my attempt will not be featuring here, even though it might well have been the funniest thing ever to appear on the blog).

The cottage was in the grounds of the Park Lodge Hotel, just outside Spiddal, which is run by the nicest and kindest family that you have ever met in your life. We would wake to little baskets of croissants or banana bread left on our kitchen window sill. When thanking them for their wonderful hospitality I promised I would mention them here, and am delighted to do so.

They would refer to us to the other guests as “the writers”, filling us with pride. We didn’t quite gate-crash a wedding one night, but did sit drinking in the beer garden where the wedding guests came out to smoke, so ended up chatting merrily away to them.

And one evening the family in the neighbouring cottage, walking home at midnight past the hotel’s childrens’ playground, did pass us playing on the swings.

So we were vain, we were eccentric and at times we acted like kids.

We may not have written much, but as least we behaved like writers.

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