Saturday 13 March 2021

Longing for lockdown by Sheena Wilkinson

 So it’s been a year now. A year of lockdowns and anxiety. We all miss something.

The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, County Monaghan

One of my friends, a globe-trotting sophisticate, has been missing travel – she pops over to Colombia the way I go to Cork – and I said that wasn’t really an issue for me. Living in Northern Ireland and doing a lot of work – pre-Covid – on mainland GB, I’d had enough of airports and planes and trains. 

The Clockhouse at the Hurst, Arvon (Shropshire) 

But just this last week I’ve been starting to fantasise about getting away. Not too far; not too exotic. I don’t especially want to see a bustling foreign city or lie on a beach. I just want to go on a writing retreat. 

Gladstone's Library, Flintshire

It started with an email from one of my favourite places, Gladstone’s Library, where I’ve been lucky enough to stay several times. Gladstone’s, like everywhere else, has had to close, and is making tentative and hopeful plans for re-opening. I remembered wistfully the days I had spent there, writing all day, walking in the local countryside, breathing in its calm, scholarly welcome. Those long days of quiet busy-ness when nothing matters but your story. When will I have them again? I mean, I write much of the day here anyway, and walk in my beautiful local countryside, but as any writer who’s been on retreat knows, it’s just Not The Same. 

Gladstone's Library, Flintshire

I hadn’t realised how I missed retreats, how much they were part of my routine, until these places were forbidden me (and everyone else of course.) Somehow, just knowing I could book a few days away, and concentrate on nothing but a manuscript was a sort of sanity-saver. 

Charney Manor, Oxfordshire 

In case you’re feeling the same way, I’m illustrating this post with my favourite retreats. Let’s look forward to when we can be locked down in a different way – tucked away in a library in a bubble with our writing. Maybe I'll see you there. 

The River Mill, County Down


Lynne Benton said...

Entirely agree, Sheena! Look forward to seeing you at the next one...

Penny Dolan said...

Good to have these memories of retreats - and hopes for other retreats in the future.

Mind you, so many things I used to do or be involved with are no longer possible, so lockdown often does tick the "isolation" factor for me too.

Sue Purkiss said...

Fingers crossed for Charney...

Shirley-Anne McMillan said...

Have you ever done the 'space to write' weekends in January at Downhill beachhouse? I'd so recommend them. I go every year and, like you, I really, really missed it this year. I honestly felt like it upset my whole writing routine not being able to go and just have nothing to do but read and write for a couple of days. I always get something substantial done there- maybe a synopsis written, or a new book planned, or an important scene completed. I'd absolutely love to go to Gladstones some time as well, it looks beautiful.