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 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, 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. Fresh fruit, 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.
How to get there: Cumbrae is easily accessible by public transport. There are regular public transportation services from Glasgow to the ferry slip at Largs. From Glasgow Airport, take the rail-air link bus to Paisley Gilmour Street Station (5 minutes). From Paisley take the train to Largs (about 50 minutes). Turn left out of Largs station and walk towards the seafront, about 5 minutes. You will see the ferry slip straight ahead. 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 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. A prize-winning poet, she is currently writing a novel set in West Texas in the 1930’s. For over 20 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 member of the Texas Writers League, Straw Dog Writers Guild, the Berkshire Writers Room, and the American Poetry Society.
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 first novel, Truth, was first published in 2003. Lost & Found, her second, appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List and was followed by a sequel Picture This in 2012. Her third novel, Now & Then, was published in 2009 by Harper Collins. The Center of the World, 2016, Kensington Books, is set partly along the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Her 6th novel, Tiger in the House was published in 2017.
She has published travel articles, short stories, and numerous essays and radio pieces. She also teaches at Grub Street in Boston, Maine Media, and Writers in Progress.
Contact Jacqueline at www.jacquelinesheehan.com
Jane 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 Jane Mortifee
A graduate of NYC’s School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Photography, Vivian has exhibited in galleries in NY and MA. She is a working photographer and her current Fine Art project is Florence Bank’s upcoming 2018 calendar.
Vivian Bresnitz LMT also has been facilitating wellness and relief from pain, injury and stress since 1990. She obtained a certificate degree in 1992 at Stillpoint Center, in Hatfield, MA, and was part of the first wave of Massage Therapists to obtain National Certification in the U.S.
Vivian has been an on-site Clinical Supervisor for Stillpoint Center, a rehabilitation team member at a Head Injury Center, one of the first Massage Therapists in MA to be state-funded in a hospital setting, and a successful owner of a private practice for many years. Find out more at: Well Being Therapeutic
What Writers Have Said About Our Retreats
“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
“I expected a lot from my first ramble across the pond but the retreat exceeded my expectations and then some. It was indeed magical and was so lucky to be a part of it.” Cheryl N., Massachusetts, USA
“Your careful and loving planning and leadership created a wonderful time to explore both Iona and the writing process. Well done!” Deborah D., Massachusetts, USA
“It has been an unforgettable experience – wonderful in all aspects. Especially the people.” Jill J., Cumbria, England
“The startling beauty of the outside world and the guided crafting of our inner world made life perfect.” Bonnie S., New York, NY
“It was one of the few experiences that I got more than what I bargained for in more ways than one.” Katia A., Cyprus, Greece
“Patricia created a truly supportive and creative sacred space within which I could continue my search for self-expression. I was inspired and aided by the care and committment that they both generously provided in helping me to find a more authentic ‘voice’ and in such a wonderful setting. Their guided meditations ‘connected’ me with both the energy of this island and my own inner promptings.” David M., Moray, Scotland
“I have come to see the craft of a writing life as a form of meditation – and greatly important in my life. Thanks for the opportunity of connecting to my writing in the context of a respectful group.” Nancy S., Michigan, USA