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.