Retreats For You, Devon, England
Peaceful, nurturing retreat for creative or me-time in the heart of Devon
Best for: Anyone in need of space to create, especially unpublished and published writers
Not for: Those who don’t like dogs
Takes up to 12 guests
Retreats for You is tucked into the picturesque village of Sheepwash, between Dartmoor and the North Devon Coast. It offers a cosy, creative space to work on your novel, your screenplay or memoir or simply on yourself – this is me-time on your terms, with all your needs met so that you can concentrate on what matters most. The surroundings would also inspire visual artists such as painters or photographers. Author and TV presenter Debbie Flint is a kind, creative and generous host, and if you wish to be sociable, you’ll enjoy both the creativity and useful insider tips from other like-minded people. If you prefer to just sit by the fire and chill, that’s fine too.
The down-to-earth authenticity of the hosts. Debbie and Wendy strike just the right balance of friendly nurturing without it feeling intrusive, leaving you to work with a sense of cared-for wellbeing. Great home cooked food and wine o’clock just before supper.
Currently the (albeit pristine) bathrooms in the guesthouse are shared, although Debbie has plans to create at least two ensuites.
Writing Retreat and Yoga Week
Retreats for You offer a 4 night writing retreat for novelists wanting to improve their writing skills with writing sessions, relaxation and stretching for an inspirational effect on your body from two daily yoga sessions. There are many other weeks available without tutors, and for non-writers to just relax.
Mix your creative time with chatting, working out in the home gym, locally arranged yoga classes, massage or a ramble – the choice is yours.
The guesthouse is set up with a dozen nooks and niches to entice you to sit down and write. From the cosy fire-lit lounge, to the pretty dining room, to the sun-drenched back garden: sofas, tables, chairs and benches are placed thoughtfully throughout. Each bedroom is furnished with a writing desk and you can eat your meals here if it suits. Debbie is a mine of useful information about the writing process and is happy to offer constructive criticism on your work. As a TV presenter of some 25 years, she also offers media skills training and interview experience for rookie writers who need a bit of help.
If you need extra pampering then massage treatments can be booked through Debbie with a trusted local therapist, who has a treatment room not far away or will come to the retreat. There’s also an automated massage-chair in the sitting room to ease those stiff muscles after a hard day’s writing! You can book one to one yoga sessions with Jennie of nearby yoga studio Nimble Limbs. Or if you feel the urge to move more, then there are several pieces of gym equipment out in the studio that guests can use, including a pilates machine and a stepper.
There’s hassle-free parking in the village square at no cost. Bring anything that will help you feel comfortable writing or creating, from slippers to extra reading material.
For anyone not keen on dogs, note that though they are kept out of communal areas, the resident labradors Daisy and Gracie feel like part and parcel of the guesthouse experience.
When to Go
Any time. Whether you’re relaxing in the summer sunshine or hiding from the winter rain, Retreats for You offers a good space to write, create or simply be in any season.
The dining room has the feel of a vintage tea room, with a long communal table for sharing meals and smaller tables dotted in the corners. The food is healthy, varied and delicious, including dishes like salmon marinated in soy sauce and red wine, Greek salads and spaghetti bolognaise. Wine is served with dinner (and before too!).
Debbie can cater for all dietary requirements including veggie, vegan and macrobiotic. Her and co-owner Wendy’s experience and knowledge of diet means that the food has a thoughtful and considered feel to it.
Cooked breakfasts are offered and are personally tailored – bacon, mushrooms, beans and local eggs cooked just the way you like them, plus fresh homemade bread. There are also a range of cereals and home made yoghurts on offer. Lunch is often a buffet style help yourself when you’re ready’ option. Everyone usually gets together for dinner, where the chat is enlightening and interesting – a good place to meet new friends.
During the day, the dining room dresser displays a varied range of herbal teas, and there is a well-stocked fruit bowl and a range of delicious homemade muffins, flapjacks and banana bread set out for guests to help themselves to.
The kitchen with its original character floor tiles and Rayburn is warm and cosy, with cupboards clearly labelled in case you need to go in search of teabags or milk – of which there are many kinds on offer including almond milk, at no extra charge.
Nothing goes to waste here – Debbie uses everything she buys, and has a strict recycling policy. Each room has a thermostat on the radiator to avoid an overuse of oil. Food is locally sourced wherever possible and local staff help out regularly.
Debbie also helps in the local community shop just over the road. The occasional vintage pop-up tea rooms also raise funds for Medical Detection Dogs, for which Debbie is an ambassador: clever canines helping humans in the detection of disease.
Sheepwash, Beaworthy, Devon
Exeter St David
Transfer Time: 50 minutes from either the train station or airport