Writers Retreat

Carefully removing the wedding ribbon from the car, The Dapper Swindler and I leapt out of London for an entirely platonic Valentine’s Day Long Weekend in an isolated cabin on the Jurassic Coast. The day was gray, and the first service station we stopped in had no fuel or food of any kind. “Hmm”, I said. “Well”, said the Swindler.

The next service station had five separate Starbucks. This blog is occasionally prone to exaggeration, so I feel I must stress that there really were five of them. “Nnaha”, said the Swindler. “Ahh”, I said. Over the long cold bridge, a Waitrose outlet had run out of everything except Extra Virgin Olive Oil Hummus. “I forgot my skillet”, said the Swindler, settling back into the sheepskin he’d placed in the driving seat for added comfort.

(The Swindler drives now. And if you add all the previous adventures to the accumulated bus fare he owes me from school – plus interest – he owes me quite a few miles of quiet panic from the left hand side).



Service stations having failed us, we stopped at a surprise Minster in the middle of nowhere for a brief cultural experience. The Minster was closed. We made tea in the car park. “Raw milk?”, said the Swindler. “Delicious”, I replied.

Our romantic serious writing cabin was in a little wood down the end of a grey country road which resembled a large-scale concrete ryvita. It would be inaccurate to call it “pot-holed”: rather, occasional bits of road stuck out of a long, thin hole. The Audi (yup) fought its way through the gloaming. “Here we are”, said the Swindler, brightly. It was four hours since we left London. The rain picked up a little bit.

2017-02-14 21.18.08Inside the cabin, the situation dramatically improved. Friend Naomi had laid in plentiful supplies and the Swindler unloaded a collection of artisanal meats and cheeses into the fridge. The woodburner was going. The Mario Kart was chronic. The guitars were in tune. In the morning, business took us over the nearby cliff on an unsuccessful fossil hunt – atop the precipice, a lone tree stood bravely against the elements. “Let’s write a song about it”, said the Swindler.

2017-02-14 12.37.24Almost immediately I lost my voice, then the Swindler got a temperature. We over-ate to compensate, the Swindler stood by a massive picture of a sandwich, the artisanal Steak went off before we could cook it, I tried to write some lyrics which were physically impossible to fit into the demanding¬† rhymescheme and gave myself a migrane, and the Swindler wrote a guitar part which wore out his fingertips so thoroughly that we had no choice but to play Mario Kart over and over again whilst the fog thickened outside and the tea brewed gently in the Yugoslavian kettle I’d saved from the Peug. In short, you already know what I’m going to say: it was an ideal trip, and I will rush towards the next one. 13/10

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