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Writing Retreats - Testimonials


What a glorious time we had! We feel restored, affirmed, cleansed by the healthy food, and renewed in all sorts of ways. Among the many highlights were the convivial and supportive plenary sessions, sitting by the waterfall, watching the donkeys eating hazelnuts, our talkative meals and washing up, roasting our knees around the chiminea, massages…. For me, writing three more scenes of my play and hearing it performed for the very first time!” Anne Boileau & Pam Job, 2016 writers open retreat, Lucy and me
“A wonderful, restorative and affirming week.  The company, the food, the ambiance and the conviviality were a perfect remedy for accumulated tiredness and tension; I could feel it being washed away by the champagne air, the clear river, the massage oils, the wholesome food and our lovely plenary sessions in the evening. Many thanks to Lynn and Pam and Julie who rehearsed and performed my play for me, and the rest of you who listened with such attention.

(Anne Boileau, Writers Open Retreat, 2016)

A fantastic week’s conviviality. Thanks everyone.

(Roger Knight, Writers Open Retreat, 2016)

I arrived in the huge green bowl of Gardoussel and was immediately at home. I had to scrape myself out at the end of the week and then try to take the shadow of it with me. Everything seemed to have its own flow; mealtimes, writing time, walks, a swim all found their place seamlessly, and with such good companions and the gentling presences of Sharon and Lucy that can only be inspirational - and it was! Particularly valuable were the feedback sessions at the end of each day - it was amazing to have people share their work so openly and then to hear what others took from it and offered back. These sessions were mentored so well we hardly noticed the rigorous nature of Sharon and Lucy's feedback. A real 'mistress class' in constructive comments. Frances kept us entertained and she and Julie made sure we were well fed so our muses couldn't fail. Mine is complaining already about the lack of puddings here at home!

(Pam Job, Writers Open Retreat, 2016)

What a tremendous week. The writer in me feels recharged, by the wonderful location – the tables in the meadow, the fireplaces to talk around in the evening, the mountain views and even a river to swim in – the nourishing food, the best massage I’ve ever had on site, but above all the company, and our wonderful feedback sessions in the Buddha garden. I can’t thank Sharon and Lucy enough for their wisdom in facilitating our group of poets, short story writers, novelists and even a playwright, in a supportive and good-humoured way, with the eye always on what we would write next.

(Margaret Dolley, Writers Open Retreat, 2016)

“It took me quite a big effort to get to Gardoussel but wow isn’t it worth the effort! I’m amazed it was only a week that we were together.  Sharon and Lucy provided such a safe place to share our work, thoughts and doubts as well as many laugh-out-loud moments that we were able to grow strong bonds in a very short time.  Frances and Julie cooked up a storm every day and who knew that I could actually enjoy washing up! Spending a week in such exquisite surroundings with the support and encouragement from everyone in the group was one of the most nurturing, restorative experiences.  It was like one wonderful, week-long hug.  And by the way, it’s unlocked my block so that I can look at a blank page now without feeling sick.

(Lynn Levy, Writers Open Retreat, 2016)

Gardoussel may take a long time to reach, but is it worth it, you may ask? Yes it is; every precious minute.  I relish the freedom of the Gardoussel Open Retreat.  You can do whatever you like, swim in the stream, lie in a hammock, eat scrummy vegetarian food, have a massage, walk to the nearby village, attend market day in St Jean du Gard...and there is no obligation to join the group for the late afternoon feedback sessions. Thanks to this freedom, I found myself not only writing prolifically every day, but joining every single feedback group, thanks to the wise and perceptive comments from Sharon and Lucy.  The rest of the group also contributed useful ideas, including a much improved title for one of my stories, and offered endless support.  I went to Gardoussel once, I went twice, and I intend to go again. Every year, if I can manage it!

(Julie Norris, 'Writers Open Retreat', 2016)

A fortnight at Gardoussel was exactly what I needed to finish a major revision of my novel. The first week, a tutored retreat, offered the structure I craved as I transitioned from my busy life back home to the slower, more contemplative pace of les Cévennes. The daily contact with others through meals and structured writing helped me prepare for the more solitary work of the second week. Throughout, the healthy, delicious meals, the surrounding mountainous landscape, the river (which I swam in every day!), and the generous warmth of Sharon, Alex, Frances and Julie provided the support I needed to take my work seriously and dive in.

(Lania Knight, Writing the Bright Moment & Seize the Week, 2016)

I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful and supportive environment in which to work on my writing – an old stone farmhouse setting with hedged and wooded nooks in which to sit and write.  I had the opportunity to share some work-in-progress with fellow writers and mealtimes were convivial and delicious.  Our hosts were incredibly helpful and enthusiastic without being intrusive. I loved the early morning exercise on a platform down by the river, which really energized me for the day. To get a break from the writing slog I swam in the river and walked in the forests!

(Pauline Plummer, 'Writing the Bright Moment' & 'Seize the Week', 2016)

"Gardoussel was an amazing venue for two superb writing retreats. I was blown away by my gentle hosts and the fantastic individualised spaces they have created, by the stunning natural beauty of my surroundings - mountains, waterfall, meadow and forest, the plethora of animals and insects.As for the food - the best vegetarian food I have ever tasted, a treat for the eye and profoundly nourishing and delicious. Oh yes … and the courses! Roselle's deep and thoughtful humanity, her affinity with nature, her skilled handling of material and participants, her inspirational writing and readings created a deeply healing and creative space for us. Lucy's wry intelligence, her playful humour and insight, her thought-provoking exercises led me to take risks and discover a new confidence and enjoyment in my prose writing. Fantastic! I will be back."

(Chloe Balcomb, 'Writing the Bright Moment' & 'Writing From Life, 2014)

"If you enjoy writing, I could not recommend a course more highly. And you could not find a more helpful, enthusiastic and scholarly tutor than Lucy Wadham, to help you along. One of those cherishing "lifetime moments" encapsulated in all too short a week. I won't forget it."

(Tim Holmes, 'Writing From Life', 2014)

"Another year retreating to write in the stunning Cevennes Mountains - Gardoussel is the perfect place. The warm welcome, relaxed atmosphere, cosy rooms, delicious locally grown food, wild walks in wild forests and inspiring company. Time to write, time to laugh, time to stand and stare and so much more ... I'll be back next year."

(Jenny Cater, 'Writing From Life', 2014)

"Wonderful! It couldn't have been more up my street. To be able just to write (with instruction) and then to have feedback was a treat in itself. But to also feel so supported: in the actual physical place of Gardoussel, in the food that was light on the stomach and made me feel so well (partly because I didn't indulge in the wine!); in having an enthusiastic and inspired leader in Lucy and to witness her being supported so well by Sharon. To have the wonderful care and attention from Frances with her Ayurvedic massage. I was a physical wreck when I got to you and my mental state was pretty gloomy too. When I left, I felt light, free of pain and able to cope and enthused about writing."

(Daphne Wilbraham, 'Writing From Life', 2014)

'I've had the most amazing week - an alchemic success of guided mindfulness sessions, clever writing exercises, an experienced teacher and an extremely trusting group of wise women participants. (NB this is not just a retreat for women writers, but this year it happened to be an all-women group.) It's been a time of deep transformation, learning, growth, vulnerability and healing. Personal and skill development that I could not have imagined when I signed up.'

(Writing The Bright Moment', 2014)

'It isn't easy to put into words what a haven of peace, quietude and relaxation Gardoussel is. Having never attended a creative writing course before this was a revelation for me and I wrote more in a week with Roselle than I have in my life so far. Her techniques, encouragement and critiques set my creative juices flowing and gave me tools to continue my writing when I get home.'

(Kerryn Alt, 'Writing The Bright Moment', 2014)

"Thank you so much for last week. A wonderful setting, delicious meals and a caring environment"

(Suzie Immediato, 'Writers' Open Retreat', 2014)

'I went to Gardoussel to kick-start the writing of my book and pick up a few tips along the way. The week was marvellous and truly inspirational, in so many different ways. The exercises in poetry writing fired up my neurons and this improved my prose writing as well. Highlights were the delicious, healthy food, the atmospheric fire pit in the evening, the fun, laughter and the sharing of poetry and prose.'

(Anja de Jager, 'Writing The Bright Moment', 2013)

'I have been twice to Roselle's retreat, once on the Hebridean island of Iona and once in the Cevennes Mountains of France and have already come to look forward to my week with her as the still point in my year, a truly wonderful week out of my life during which I can be certain that, with her kind and skillful guidance, I will remember why it is that I write.'

(Vicky Field, 'Writing The Bright Moment', 2014)

“Still glowing from an incredibly rich week. Roselle's zen-based, gentle approach; her encouragement and her resourcefulness was the perfect mix for someone like me who felt quite unsure about my writing when I arrived. I left feeling empowered and surprisingly proud of my own voice. I particularly enjoyed the way Roselle constantly involved the environment both in terms of landscape, nature and place but also in terms of the other participants in the group as resource and inspiration. Very grateful to the team at Gardoussel for creating such a welcoming and warm home in such beautiful surroundings – it is brimming with places to retreat with a notebook or computer and with places to gather as a group and share. The home-made vegetarian and Ayurvedic meals made with love and creativity were a real unexpected treat. I really look forward to coming back!”

(Petra Hilgers, 'Writing the Bright Moment’, 2013)

“An amazing week. I imagine it is not easy to both inspire people to personal insights and also leave them with the impression that they laughed solidly for an entire week, but that's basically what happened...”

(Alicia Pau Keane, 'Writing From Life’, 2013)

“Lucy was superb and the workshop has given me the inspiration to continue my writing but also to recognise and appreciate good autobiographical prose. I arrived with no experience and left with a belief that I have the ability to write my memoirs. A very special place and a perfect retreat”

(Heather Binney,  'Writing From Life’, 2013)

“Am still buzzing from a wonderful week at Gardoussel.  Our writing retreat was worth the fear of going, having signed up on the spur of the moment. Lucy's quiet and often humourous lead was just what we needed to lose ourselves in what to me was a totally new adventure. A wonderful place with beautiful walks in the hills, picturesque villages and market towns”

(Judith McHugo, 'Writing From Life', 2013)

“The past week at Gardoussel surpassed my expectations ten-fold. I started the week thinking I might like to try writing, by the end of it I honestly felt I might actually become a writer! Fiona's passion and knowledge blew me away. She gave me the confidence to find my voice and discover my strengths as a writer. Gardoussel was the perfect location. I was able to completely switch off from the outside world and just focus on my writing. There are so many places to sit and work without disturbance and the breath-taking landscape means you are never short of inspiration”

(Richard Hay, 'Kickstart Your Writing’, 2013)

“I still have the warm afterglow of my wonderful week at Gardoussel and despite all my daily tasks I'm organising myself to give myself space to write! I felt a hundred percent privileged to be on this course surrounded by so many creative people"

(Cherryl Taylor, 'Kickstart Your Writing, 2013)

"The venue was stunning. The perfect combination of relaxation and calm surroundings to let my mind wander into the world of writing. Our hosts were fantastic - as was the food and accommodation, right down to the resident cats and donkeys. 

"The course was an excellent way to hone my skills in one place without external distractions but still allowing time to unwind with a dip in the waterfall after a day of writing"

(Kasey Butler, ‘Kickstart Your Writing’, 2013)

“I stayed at Gardoussel on an individual retreat for two weeks.  It was exactly what I was looking for. Beautiful, inspirational location, comfortable room, great people (I ate my meals with the course participants), fabulous food, peace, quiet and hammocks - I finished my novel.  Perfect.  I thoroughly recommend it for anyone looking for some head space to finish a project."

(Triona Miller, Writers Open Retreat, 2013)

“My writing and I needed a kick start and Gardoussel provided me with no escape route. It was just the perfect place, providing shelter, focus and warmth of every kind. And superb food. I'm so very glad I went"

(Kate McGuinness, 'Finding Your Voice', 2010)

"Gardoussel is such a nourishing place to be - fields, streams, woods, walks, real food and wine. I have a wonderful memory of reading our poems one evening outside by the fire under the stars, the kind I've not seen since childhood"

(Mavis Howard, 'Poetry', 2009)

"Despite manoeuvring words all week, I have inadequate superlatives to describe the course, Gardoussel and the warmth of the welcome"

(Glen Lee, 'Finding Your Voice', 2008)

"A fantastically interesting blend of people with a fine teacher, beautiful surroundings, lovely food"

(Donald MacEwan, 'Finding Your Voice', 2008)

"Wonderful surroundings, wonderful tuition, wonderful company, wonderful writing"

(Barbara Jennings, 'Finding Your Voice', 2008)










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Abri Creative Writing Courses & Holidays in the South of France

Postal Address: Abri Creative Writing, Gardoussel, St Andre de Valborgne,

Tel: 0033 964 283 271 (dialing from UK or international) / 09 64 28 32 71 (dialing within France)

See our sister site: www.gardoussel.com for more events and info about the venue.