About Our Retreats
We have happily offered creative writing & yoga retreats in the British Isles since 2000. Participants include people with a wide range of writing & yoga experience, from very little to professional. We are always enriched by the diversity. While we will offer a daily schedule of suggested activities, all sessions are optional: your time is your own.
Writing Practice. For 3-4 hours each morning and several evenings, you will have opportunity to write in an encouraging, confidential and inspiring setting, in response to exercises Patricia & Jacqueline suggest. You will be invited to share what you have just written, and to respond to the writing of others with what is fresh, what you like, what you remember. (See Our Writing Method.) As time permits, Patricia & Jacqueline will offer individual consultations on (short) manuscripts written prior to the retreat or on any writing problems you wish to discuss.
Yoga Practice. Jane will offer gentle yoga sessions in the early morning. The practice of yoga, the joining of body and mind, can open pathways for your writing into the feelings, memories, stories and images embedded in the tissues. We will encourage you to use your yoga practice to develop a deeper relationship with your body as well as to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of practice. The sessions are, of course, completely optional.
Where We Will Stay
Set in 8 acres of woods and fields and five minutes from the Isle of Cumbrae’s broad sea-front, you will find the College of the Holy Spirit to be a unique and beautiful place for your creative work and personal restoration. It adjoins the lovely Cathedral of the Isles, the smallest cathedral in Britain, which is open for your use at any time. Comfortable lodging is provided in two buildings flanking the Cathedral. 16 bedrooms provide accommodation in a mixture of single, double/twin and family rooms, with tea and coffee-making facilities in each room.
You are invited to explore the surrounding gardens and woods and the Cathedral. Mapped walking trails lead from the College grounds into hundreds of acres of hills and woods.
Delicious meals are served in the original Refectory, an attractive room with a high arched ceiling and window. In South College, there is a large library and reading room; North College has a common room that will be our yoga space. All facilities are non-smoking.
You will enjoy full cooked breakfasts with bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, and potatoes, as well as hot porridge, fruit, cold cereals, yogurt, eggs, juice, toast; lunches of soups, quiche, salad, cheese, and fresh fruit (which can also be packed for adventurers); and full dinners of fish, chicken, or other meat, cooked vegetables, green salads, breads, and lovely desserts. Biscuits, tea and coffee are always available. Vegetarian, vegan and other special diets can be catered for provided that adequate notice is given.
Things To Do
The Isle. The small and beautiful Isle of Cumbrae is situated in the Firth of Clyde, close to the islands of Arran and Bute. It enjoys spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and islands, and is renowned for its wild flowers and birds. Seals are a common sight in winter. Cycling around the island is a particular pleasure, and cycles are available for hire locally. Less than 4 miles long and 2 miles wide, Cumbrae has one town, Millport, with a resident population of 1500. Millport is an excellent holiday center, with a good variety of shops and restaurants. Other facilities include a bowling green, tennis club, riding and golf. There is an interesting Marine Biological Station, with museum and aquarium. The Scottish National Watersports Centre (situated near the ferry slip) provides skilled training in most water sports. Boats for hire will take you to visit nearby islands.
History. Cumbrae is from a Gaelic word meaning “safe haven.” Millport, with its beautiful curving bay and tiny harbor is a safe haven for shipping, and since its foundation in 1851, many have found the Cathedral and College to be a safe haven from the demands of life. Millport has from Victorian times been a favorite seaside resort, being sheltered from sight of the mainland by its graceful hills and yet only a short ferry ride away.
Travel to and from the retreat is not included in the registration package, but writers often travel together to make the journey more enjoyable. We will circulate a list of everyone’s travel plans to assist you finding each other.
How to get there: From Glasgow Airport, take the rail-air link bus to Paisley Gilmour Street Station. There is also a bus and taxi service that will take you directly to the center of Glasgow. The train from Glasgow leaves Centre Station every hour for Largs. Train Info here. Once in Largs, it is a 5 minute walk to the ferry. The 10-minute ferry crossing from Largs connects with a bus to Millport. Ferries run about every half-hour. Round-trip fares are about $10.00. Last ferry times are normally 8:15 pm in summer. On return from Largs there are good connections by bus/train to the centre of Glasgow and to the international airports at Glasgow and Prestwick.
Scotland is a magical land. Why not extend your visit a few days? Contact the British Tourist Authority, 551 Fifth Avenue, Suite 701, NY, NY 10176; tel. (800) 462-2748; Internet is www.btausa.com for more information. Check www.priceline.com or www.kayak.com or Google Travel for the best airfares.
About the Staff
Patricia Lee Lewis, a native Texan, lives and works at Patchwork Farm Retreat in Western Massachusetts, where she shares the world with trees and stones, chickadees, writers and bears. Patricia is a prize-winning poet, whose poetry books include A Kind of Yellow and High Lonesome. She is currently at work on a novel set in West Texas in the 1930’s. For over 25 years, she has led weekend writing retreats and weekly workshops at Patchwork Farm and throughout the United States, and yoga and writing retreats at sacred sites around the world – in Guatemala, Mexico, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe and New Zealand.
Patricia holds an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and completed her undergraduate degree at Smith College, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1970. She is a founder and past president of Straw Dog Writers Guild and a member of the Texas Writers League, the Berkshire Writers Room, and the American Poetry Society. You can contact Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqueline Sheehan, Ph.D., is a New York Times Bestselling author of fiction. She is also a psychologist. A New Englander through and through, she spent twenty years living in Oregon, California, and New Mexico. Her novels include, The Comet’s Tale, Lost & Found, Picture This, Now & Then, The Center of the World, and Tiger in the House. She was the editor for the anthology, Women Writing in Prison, a compilation from incarcerated women.Jacqueline is one of the founders and past President of Straw Dog Writers Guild.
She has published travel articles, short stories, and numerous essays and radio pieces. She also teaches at Grub Street in Boston and Writers in Progress in Florence, MA.
Jane Mortifee has the RYT500 certification and has been practicing and studying yoga and various forms of meditation for some forty years. Her approach to yoga is gentle and accommodating to all levels of practitioners. She has been delighted to lead the yoga for Patricia’s Creative Writing retreats in Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand. Jane is also certified in the AWA method of leading creative writing retreats. She has been active in the music industry, theatre, film and television for over forty years and was inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2002. She has recorded 3 CDs and is in the midst of trying to get her first novel published. Find out more at www.janemortifee.com
What Writers Have Said About Our Retreats
“I made remarkable progress on my novel. The quality of the writing within the group and the positive, insightful responses buoyed me. What a congenial, talented group you gathered!” – Lois R., Oregon
“These retreats are a magical formula for diving deep into your writing and coming up with surprising treasures. They are also a wonderful way to travel to marvelous places on your own. The locations are always both comfortable and exotic and the facilitators make the trip smooth and interesting.” – Alida T., Oregon
“A superb retreat to fire up the engines in a writers mind – the prompts, the guidance enabled me to “go deep” and produce much more than I believed possible in one week.” – Sarah R., California
“What does one say about the most amazing week I’ve ever had? Thank you so much.” – Julie L., British Columbia
“The Isle of Cumbrae retreat was absolutely the only time, in my adult life, when I have gained inspiration to write and the encouragement to let the pen stroke the page without inhibition. There is nothing to compare to flying under Patricia’s wing and feeling safe enough to reach my writing potential.” Diane N., Massachusetts, USA