Rustic self-catering retreats

No workshops or classes

Just days on end of blissful writing to focus on your own project.

Your own self-catering cottage

With oodles of charm, a full kitchen and bathroom, a separate living room and two mezzanines.

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Seven nights

Arrive in the afternoon so you can find us while it’s light.

Rural bliss

15 miles/30 mins/£30 taxi from a mainline station (Tiverton Parkway in Devon).

The annexe looks out over a lush, almost deserted valley filled with trees. It’s your very own bubble of serenity where you can think, create and just be, far away from the endless to-do lists of normal life.

It’s heated by a woodburner and the water is fed by a spring. It’s rustic, quirky and a little bit magic.

I’m sorry, but the site is not accessible. Please take a look at the FAQ section to see if it’s suitable for you.

Time to think

Get away from the stresses of everyday life and just write

A place to relax

I’ll take care of boring practicalities like food so you can just work

Space to write

Your own double room, with a desk and a comfy chair

About the annexe

We believe the annexe was once a cow byre. The narrow doorway between the living room and bedroom would have allowed only the calves through into a separate stall. Now it’s one of the many features that give the place a lovely feel.

In addition to a simple kitchen and new bathroom there’s a double bedroom and a living room, each with a mezzanine level and vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, skylights, a wood burning stove and a verandah outside to make the most of that view.

I live next door with my partner. One or the other of us is often around – if not we’ll try to be here when you arrive to show you the ropes, and I’ll be contactable by phone.  

Outside

Bedroom

Bathroom

Living Room

Kitchen

Dates go up in batches every few months, so pop your details in the big turquoise signup box below to hear about new dates. They do sell out quickly and writers who have been before get priority booking, but if you want to be added to a temporary waiting list for a sold-out session, let me know.

Autumn 2019 Dates 

All self-catering retreats are a week long, from Friday to Friday. They start from 3pm on your first day and end at 10am on the final day so that you can arrive before dark.

This (sadly) isn’t a fancy booking system, but I do update the page regularly. Please hit refresh and double-check that your preferred date is still available before booking.

Introductory offer: £350 £275

Fri 13th – Fri 20th Sept SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Fri 20th – Fri 27th Sept SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Fri 27th Sept – Fri 4th Oct £350 £275
Fri 4th – Fri 11th Oct SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Fri 11th – Fri 18th Oct £350 £275
Fri 18th – Fri 25th Oct £350 £275
Fri 25th Oct – Fri 1 Nov SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Fri 1st – Fri 8th Nov £350 £275
Fri 8th – Fri 15th Nov SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Fri 15th – Fri 22nd Nov SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Fri 22nd – Fri 29th Nov SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
Fri 29th Nov – Fri 6th Dec £350 £275
Fri 6th – Fri 13th Dec £350 £275
Fri 13th – Fri 20th Dec £350 £275

 

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Bookings are first come-first served, and please make sure you check availability before filling in the booking form.

Once you’ve booked, I’ll email you (this can take a few days) to confirm I’ve got your request and to send an invoice, and you’ll then have a week to transfer the money in order to secure your room. Rooms can’t be held without payment.

Cancellations and date changes must be made six weeks ahead of your retreat start date for a refund. If you cancel or change dates between three and six weeks ahead of your retreat date you’ll be entitled to a 50% refund. After this date, no refunds or changes are possible. All cancellations and booking changes are also subject to a £30 admin fee.

Please make sure that you have travel insurance as soon as you book in case you’re unable to come to the retreat at the last minute, have trouble on the journey, etc.

You’ll arrive from 3pm on your first day (no earlier please), and departures are at 10am on your last day.

 

Questions

 

So just how rustic is it? What's it like?

We believe the annexe was originally a cow byre. It’s now a one-bedroom cottage with mezzanine levels in the living and bedroom. Everything in it is a bit wonky – there’s no door between the living room and bedroom, just a narrow opening you may have to turn sideways to get through. The bathroom is built into the overhang of the verandah so you may have to duck.  It’s definitely rustic, but we think it’s also pretty nice.

 

HEATING: It’s true, we don’t have central heating. Gasp! Heating comes from the wood burner. It’s definitely a woolly jumper and slippers type of house and it does tend to be chilly in the morning when the fire has died down, but it’s not as bad as it sounds! We’ll show you how to drive the fire, and there’s a plug-in radiator for cold mornings. You’ll also have up plenty of blankets and a hot water bottle.

BATHROOM: Your newly-renovated bathroom has a shower, loo and sink.

WIFI: We do have wifi but be aware that we are very rural and things can go wrong with the system quite easily. It’s pretty good when things are running smoothly though, good enough for video calls.

WATER: The water comes from a spring, not the mains. It’s UV filtered and delicious. However, if you have the slightest concerns or your immune system is compromised at all, then we have a Brita filter you are welcome to use.

NOISE: We’re set in the middle of farmland with a carpenter close by and we may need to do our own work on the land, so obviously we can’t guarantee quiet. Having said all that, this is one of the most peaceful places I know.

THE SITE: You’re very welcome to roam our 3 acres. We have paths down into the little wooded valley and along the river a little way, and a very friendly cat who might come with you. It has hazards aplenty (the bridge is slippery!), but hey, you’re an adult. We trust you to be sensible and safe.

THE CAT: We have a cat, in case that’s a problem for you. You can keep her out of the annexe very easily though.

ACCESSIBILITY: I’m really sorry, but there’s no getting around it: this is not an accessibility-friendly place. There are steps to the property and inside the property, and the whole thing sits on a precipitous slope.

ACCESS: The road is one-car-wide for a few miles from town, with grass growing up the middle and a lot of potholes. Do not bring your low-slung sports car.

NEARBY: You might wonder what facilities are nearby – er, none. The nearest pub is a 10/15 minute drive, the nearest shop a bit further, 5 miles or so. You probably wouldn’t want to walk it unless you really like hills. Did I mention it’s hilly round here? If you’re worried about it, the Country House is generally a bit more accessible both for people with limited mobility and in terms of access to services like healthcare and fancier facilities.

 

What's included?

You get exclusive use of the annexe. We’ll supply bedding, towels (for one person) and firewood. We’ll also leave you a small stock of basics like cooking oil, salt and pepper.

Can I bring a second person?

Yes. For self-catering, there’s no charge at the moment if you want to bring another writer with you. However, there’s just one double bed, and there are no proper doors between any of the rooms (including between the bedroom and bathroom).

Can I come with a small group and hire the cottage too??

Yes! At the moment, for any week that’s showing availability for self-catering, you can hire both the house and the cottage, 3 double bedrooms in total, for £600.

If you want to bring more than 3 people and are happy with the bedroom/bathroom situation (all double beds, no door between bedroom and bathroom in the annexe), that’s fine. Let me know though so that I can provide extra towels. I can also add a single mattress to the floor of the attic reading nook – it’s not a classy place to stay and again there’s no door but if that suits you better that’s fine!

For more details and pictures of the cottage, take a look here

Is it accessible to wheelchairs or people with limited movement?

I’m really sorry, but the annexe is distinctly unfriendly to people with accessibility issues. The whole site sits on a steep slope, requiring steps to get to. The inside of the annexe is full of little oddities – steps here and there, mezzanine levels reached by ladders, narrow doorways you have to turn to get through, low door lintels and a tightly-sloped bathroom.

These are problems with a very old building that we just can’t overcome.

How do I get food?

Self-catering at the annexe is easiest if you’re driving here, because the train station isn’t in town so you’d need to get yourself to a shop in town, then up to us. It’s do-able, but more awkward, and having no car means you can’t just pop out for a pint of milk.

The nearest shop is Morrison’s in Tiverton – Tiverton also has a large Tesco, and I can point you in the direction of a great independent butcher and the market.

Supermarkets do deliver (certainly Sainsburys and Tesco do), and you can book a slot that will arrive shortly after you do.

If you forget something, it’s a 20 minute drive each way.

I’ll supply some basics like oil, salt and pepper, and a few spices.

How much contact will there be with you/other people?

I live with my partner further down the garden (like a gnome). We will try to be there to greet you and show you how everything works.

Beyond that, we’re quite often at home and around for the odd cup of tea or in case there are any problems. We do have to go away regularly for a couple of days at a time though, which may happen while you’re here. If we go away, you’ll have my mobile number.

We don’t normally have other writers on-site at the same time (unless someone requests the cottage to come with a friend, or unless you want both the cottage and annexe for a small group), so you will have glorious isolation to follow your muse!

What are check in/out times?

You can arrive from 3pm on your first day, meaning that if you’re driving you can arrive in the light and hopefully find us (!) Departures are at 10am for self-catering retreats.

How do I get there?

I’ll send the location after you’ve booked, but it’s a 30-ish minute taxi ride (14 miles) from Tiverton Parkway, which is on the main train line between London and Paddington. Tiverton Parkway is a 15 minute bus ride (leaves hourly but not always well-timed) from Tiverton itself. Taxis are £30 from the station. 

For self-catering retreats, it’s probably going to be easier for you to have a car.

Driving, it’s a 20 minute drive west of Tiverton on country lanes. It’s only fair to be completely honest about this, we are on a very narrow, winding road with plenty of hills and fewer passing places than you’d like. It’s only one car wide for a long way, and there are a lot of potholes. Even with directions you might think you’re lost at least once (if we can share a WhatsApp pin it’s much easier – google maps seems to go a bit skewiff around here). Think of it as an adventure, or the price you’re paying for rural bliss…

Is there wifi?

Yes, usually, and it’s pretty decent, but, ehhhhhhh, this is the middle of the countryside so it has been known to vanish after storms, in high winds or just because it’s Tuesday.

BARTER: it may be possible at some times of the year to barter your skills for writing time and a place to stay. This would probably mean that you’d get to stay with us (self-catering mostly) in exchange for 4 hours of work a day on the land or on admin and/or marketing. Enthusiasm and a conscientious nature are probably more important than specific skills for this, but a love of gardening or DIY wouldn’t hurt. We could arrange this so your afternoons were free to write. CARETAKER: these spaces would come up when we need to be away. There would be less work to do (probably only garden tasks that need to be done that week and caring for the ducks, chickens and cat) but obviously more responsibility if we’re leaving our home in your hands. We are very remote and it’s critical that we have a self-sufficient problem-solver with practical skills caring for the place, in order to deal with any issues that arise when we’re away. A car would be essential, and there will be a vetting procedure. Your lodgings would depend on who else was on the site at the time, and there are varying degrees of rustic here (i.e. only the main cottage has hot water and a standard water-flush loo)! If this sounds interesting, email me at hello@urbanwritersretreat.co.uk and let me know what you’re interested in, if you have any relevant skills and if you have particular timeframes or need a certain amount of notice. I’m not sure what’s likely to come up, but let’s chat.