Saturday, April 02, 2011

Wildcard Weekend - Weekend Retreats

Our regular columnist, Annie West, looks at one of life's great treats - the weekend away.

As I write this I'm planning for a weekend away, and in one of those amazing coincidences, am not long back from one. It's not that I have weekend breaks often, but I'm not going to say no when the chance to get away from it all beckons. The weekend just gone was a romantic treat weekend. The one coming up will be a busy one, meeting lots of people but as they're all people interested in romance books, I figure that counts as a retreat.

I love the idea of planning a long vacation, poring over maps and travel advice books for information on where to stay and what to do. But long holidays away aren't always possible and in our house, where the family holiday away has sometimes been a bit of a luxury, weekends away have been a lifesaver sometimes.

There's a weekend retreat for every mood. How about renting a cottage somewhere scenic? Somewhere away from it all, where you could imagine a charismatic, handsome stranger knocking on the door? Can you tell I write romance? A writing friend and I have for years talked about a writers' retreat in the wilds of Scotland but I fear we'd spend too much time talking and exploring the local area rather than writing.

Personally I love going to the mountains when the air is crisp and the leaves are changing colour and it seems perfect weather for curling up in a window seat with a book or going for a brisk walk then browsing in a bookshop. Here's a photo of a cottage we've rented in the mountains complete with gorgeous garden, massive kitchen and window seat perfect for those early mornings when no one else is up and you've got a fantastic book to read! It's only 5 minutes away from some wonderful bushwalks too, so I'm not too slothful there.

Some people prefer getting back to nature, roughing it under canvas and enjoying the taste of food cooked over an open fire and maybe some freshly caught fish. A weekend in the fresh air can be rejuvenating, especially if you're stuck in an office through the week.

Of course there's always the city escape. A weekend spent among the bright lights and seeing shows or sampling new restaurants could be just the thing. However, I confess when I found this picture of Paris I knew instantly I'd be tempted to spend the weekend in that room if I got a chance to stay there. Doesn't it look delicious?

And finally I had to include something a little different - a place I've been and still have the fondest memories of. If you could have a retreat anywhere, why not in a castle? OK, so I only stayed one night not a whole weekend but I have plans to go back one day for a weekend stay of fairy tale luxury. Wouldn't it be nice?

What is your idea of a perfect weekend retreat? Camping? A log cabin in the wilderness? A chic city apartment? A caravan by the sea? Have you had a weekend retreat that was so wonderful you'll never forget it? Or perhaps a retreat where everything went wrong?
Annie's celebrating this month as she has two releases out now inthe UK. PRINCE OF SCANDAL is a May release out in stores mid April. It's a sexy marriage of convenience story about a charismatic prince used to getting his own way and a most unlikely princess who turns out to be the perfect heroine for him. SHE CAN'T SAY NO TO THE GREEK TYCOON is a By Request Anthology which includes Annie's THE GREEK'S CONVENIENT MISTRESS. You can find out more about both books at Annie's website.


  1. Hey, Annie!
    Your escape destination suggestions are all too fabulous to choose just one! Each has something special to offer!

    Actually, it's funny you should ask about the get-aways... I've just come back from a wonderful week away on Bruny Island! A writers' retreat with Rachel Bailey, Nikki Logan and friend, Alison. Some gorgeous places to explore, a lighthouse, great company. No reception for phone or internet - though that was kinda odd at least to start with since we're all so wedded to our instant accessibility these days! LOL

  2. Hi Sharon, it's terrific to hear from you. If I had my way I'd have weekend visits to all sorts of places, each of them different.

    Your week at Bruny Island sounds good (even though I don't know where it is). What a terrific time you must have had. The idea of no internet sounds strangely appealing - I'm imagining you got lots and lots done. I recenly spent time writing away from the internet and was fascinated to see how much more I concentrated on the story without the internet to distract me when the going got tough.

  3. Annie, congratulations on the forthcoming releases. The world has a treat in store with PRINCE OF SCANDAL coming up! Yum!

    What wonderful photos. I can tell you had fun looking for all these pics and picturing yourself in the middle of them. Yeah, the Paris one would have me staying in bed, especially if I had a prince of scandal to share it with, LOL! Oh, love the idea of the Scottish retreat. Hey, looking at men in kilts counts as research - well, it does if you write historicals!

    Hope your weekends away are all wonderful!

    Sharon, dead jealous of the lighthouse retreat. That's been a fantasy of mine ever since I read the Famous Five book set in a lighthouse!

  4. LOL, Annie! I never even thought to say where Bruny Is was! I know so I assumed that everyone else does!

    It's right down on the southern side of Tasmania. You get there by car ferry and then to get the lighthouse you drive down to the very southern tip of the island.

  5. Hi Anna,

    Yes, I've got PRINCE OF SCANDAL on my mind. I got home yesterday to find my author copies have arrived. It really is a lush looking book and I had to dip in to check out the book - it's such fun seeing Luisa and Raul's story on the page.

    Wouldn't a Scottish retreat be fun. Yes, I can definitely imagine you admiring men in kilts. Why do I suspect you'd be waiting for a windy day?

    I'm hoping to get to Paris again later this year, Anna, and that pic of the bedroom looking to the Eiffel Tower is such an inspiration. Makes me look forward to the trip enormously even though I doubt I'd get a view like that - it doesn't hurt to dream.

  6. Sharon - what a perfect writers' retreat! Actually, when I read your post I wondered if you meant in Tasmania and then thought you'd probably headed elsewhere. What an adventure!

  7. Hi, Annie! Sorry to join in so late. It just so happens I've been away. We celebrated our wedding anniversary by staying a beautiful five-star hotel on the harbour and enjoying Sydney's fabulous food. The funny thing is it was only 15 minutes from home, but's nice to get away from the everyday.

    I love the look of that stone cottage by the lake. What a fantastic location for writing!

    Congrats on your latest UK releases! I'm in the mood for an Annie West fix.

  8. Hi Vanessa,

    Congratulations on your anniversary! The 5 star hotel on Sydney Harbour sounds like a marvellous way to celebrate! Plus you didn't have far to travel. I bet you had a wonderful time.

    Yes, the cottage by the lake would be great for a writing retreat. I've just been in Sydney and managed to get some pages down while listening to the sound of the surf rolling in - I'm sure it was inspirational.

    Thanks for the congratulations. I was so thrilled to see my UK edition when I arrived last night. A very glam cover I think.

  9. Oh boy I wished I lived close enough to go to some of your weekend retreats but then I think about what's available just hours down the road. Usually we just make day trips into Banff National Park but if we go as far as Jasper NP it's an overnight escape. Then there's the trips to the mountains where I was born and out into the prairies where my husband came from. Calgary itself has lots of interesting places to visit.
    When we got married over 40 years ago my husband's job involved transfers across Canada. We always tried to play tourist where we were transfered to. We did things that lost of locals had never done.
    Just getting out into the fresh air is marvelous and if it would stop snowing we could start going places again.

  10. Kaelee, well it's not as if I've been to every place in these photos - but the ones I have been to were marvellous. Usually it's being with special people that makes a weekend away so good. The memories you make together, the laughter and sometimes the disaster - like the wonderful weekend my son and I sneaked in for some walking in the mountains. We stayed relatively dry through a massive thunderstorm, then walking back along the plateau to our rented accommodation a truck came by and managed to saturate us by driving through a flooded area at just the wrong time. We laughed all the way to our hot chocolate and pastries...

    I'd love to see Banff National Park. Actually, all of Canada sounds terrific. I'd swap you a weekend at one of our local retreats for one of yours...! Thanks for sharing, Kaelee.

  11. Oh, Annie, you have me hankering for a weekend retreat now! The lovely thing about weekend retreats is that you don't have to decide that one kind of retreat is better than another -- you can sample them all. I think the only factor that MUST feature is relaxation -- whether it's bobbing in the sea (or a spa), or walking the length and breadth of a shopping precinct or catching a show or setting off down a picturesque path at one with nature. My oh my, but they can recharge the batteries