I’ve seen a lot of authors on Facebook and Twitter, asking if anyone knows of any good writer’s retreats. I’m ashamed to say that I do – but I’ve been guarding it as a secret for over a year, now.
Because you know that when you’ve found a good thing and word gets out – that good thing gets harder to get hold of! But I think now’s the time to let the cat out of the proverbial bag.
This is the place: http://www.penpynfarch.co.uk/
It’s in South Wales, not too far from Carmarthen – and it’s perfect.
Andy and Eeva
Before I get onto what it’s like, I ought to tell you a bit about the couple who run it, Andy and Eeva.
Andy worked for a Long Time as a professional Story Teller, working the circuit around London. He also studied at the Le Coq studios in France and is the only resource you’ll ever need, when it comes to learning about clowning, Matiers and things like mime. His missus, Eeva, is equally creative and invests her time teaching somatic dance, movement classes and other dance-based stuff. As far as creative couples go, they take some beating! On top of that, if you’re a creative, they know exactly when to leave you alone and exactly when to stop for a chat and a cuppa. You might even get some of Eeva’s banana bread.
Peace and Quiet – and Inspiration!
The cottages are perched on a hill, overlooking an ice-cream-scoop of a valley, all lined with trees and with a stream at the bottom. If you’re looking for peace and tranquillity and somewhere to go and inspire your brain with a bit of nature – it’s all on your doorstep.
Here’s the best bit: there’s no mobile phone service! I spent a week there, working on The True and Untold Story of the Outlaw Tam Barker and the sheer liberation you get from not hearing your mobile kick off every few minutes is extraordinary! The guys have got wi-fi, but I used a mobile dongle, which served my purposes.
The accommodation’s superb. I stayed in Mill Stream Cottage, which could easily have accommodated five people. Think timber beams, reclaimed furniture and a log fire and you’re nearly there. There’s also a fire-pit outside, where I sat with Andy and Eeva one night, serenaded by owls and distant foxes.
Across the way, there was another cottage – really beautifully done out and all very eco-friendly. On top of that, they’ve got a studio space, which was being used as a rehearsal room for a dance company but, apparently, they get bands rehearsing and recording in there and theatre folk, putting plays together. Like I said, this is a creative place, run by creative people.
It’s also the place I got the idea for my next book – but that’s for another post.
The Secret’s Out
With all this going on, I did have to ask myself why more people don’t know about Penpynfarch. And then I worked it out – it’s because people like me try and keep it secret.
Well, the cat’s out of the bag. If you’re a bunch of authors, a band, dancers, singers, poets, artists or whatever, I seriously suggest you get yourself down there and soak it all up.
Just make sure you leave a slot for me – summer or winter, it doesn’t matter. Fires and hot chocolate are fine by me.