NEW DATES: August 14-24, 2013
Write, Travel, Transform
Traveling takes us out of our daily routine and opens our hearts and minds. When you add writing, the guidance of a seasoned and experienced teacher, and the supportive presence of a community of fellow adventurers, the natural benefits of travel are enhanced into something far more powerful and life-changing.
Join Laura Davis in Scotland this summer for the Writing Retreat of Your Dreams. Surrounded by the unparalleled beauty of the Scottish Highlands—an enchanting land of castles, bagpipes, and history—you will be immersed in the profound quiet necessary for deep creativity. Daily writing circles, coupled with outings to magical places such as Findhorn, Inverness, and Cawdor Castle will provide you with the inspiration you need.
“Laura’s writing retreat was a rare and beautiful gift. It was a real treat to be with an eclectic, quiet, exuberant, creative group of people gathered to write our hearts out. Laura created a safe, accepting space for us to let go and pour ourselves onto the page. There were no red letter Fs for us-just lots of great food, a beautiful setting and a wealth of wild writing.”
–Jamie Willamon, stay-at-home mom and retreat participant
The rich culture of Scotland weds past and present together. The distant sound of bagpipes echo as you stroll along the river in the historical city of Inverness. Sleepy one-lane roads reveal rugged terrain dotted with sheep and barrels of hay. The vistas are open and spacious, giving you room to slow down and take in the staggering beauty of the land. From the clouds to the soil, everything pulsates with vibrancy. This is a place where you will be able to truly unplug and experience the joy of being alive.
Slow down, connect with yourself, and awaken the writer within you!
“I got way more than I expected and I expected a lot. It has been a long time since I have felt so nurtured and so free.”
–Barbara Levitt, Santa Cruz
–Allison Summers, Casuarina, Australia
WHO THIS TRIP IS FOR:
Our daily itinerary will include one or two group writing sessions each day with afternoons free for a wide variety of options: hiking, napping, walking in the surrounding woods, local explorations, mini-classes with local artisans, massage, more time to write, and more. During our ten days together, we will take several special excursions to historical landmarks, local villages and pubs. You will experience breathtaking scenery and dive deep into the rich and varied Scottish culture.
Non-writing spouses and friends are welcome to join us, if they’d like to use the hours of writing class for rest, relaxation, massage, exploration on their own, unexpected adventures, photography, painting or whatever else they enjoy doing while on vacation.
“There is no other word to describe the writing retreat with Laura Davis than just plain JUICY….In the midst of the retreat, I looked around and noticed I was peacefully surrounded by other writers. “Of course,” you say, “you were at a writing retreat.” Well, it is one thing to say that and another to feel the sacred presence of other writers who are committed to bringing their true voices to the page. I treasure the experience, and it only could have happened in a gorgeous setting with Laura’s fierce protection of the sacred writing space.“
–Erica Ross-Krieger, author of Seven Sacred Attitudes: How to Live in the Richness of the Moment
“The opportunity to be surrounded by a community of soulful people is what makes transformation possible. This trip gave me renewal of my body, mind and spirit. Thank you for giving me such a gift of healing and transformation.”
–Marci Drimer, Baltimore
WHERE WE WILL BE STAYING:
Our retreat will be held at Newbold House, a beautiful Victorian mansion that is a sister center to the famous Findhorn community. The house is set in extensive organic gardens and surrounded by woods. It is the perfect setting to savor nature, experience deep relaxation, and dive, as never before, into your writing.
“From the minute we walked down the driveway until the taxi took us to the airport, our hearts opened and went into full bloom. At Newbold House, we were cradled in the arms of grace, simple elegance and timelessness. Time in the garden there is more than restorative; it is enchanting. Both indoors and out, Newbold House offers a plethora of experiences for the inner and outer landscapes. The more time we spent there, the more we had a sense of coming home.”
–Robyn Boyd, Santa Cruz, California, May 2012
Newbold House provides a warm and welcoming home both to its resident community and to guests from all around the world. During our time there, you will be invited to participate in this remarkable, sustainable community.
Food: You will be well nourished and fed by the innovative chefs at Newbold House. Most of our meals will be vegetarian and include fresh organic produce from the gardens, although sometimes, local grass-fed lamb will be served. The bread is baked fresh and the eggs are organic from the chickens on the land. Vegan and gluten free options are available as well.
“As a workshop organizer, I have found Newbold House to be the perfect venue. From the beautiful house and gardens to the warmness of the dedicated group of people who lovingly run the place, Newbold offers a sacred space that is perfect for participants to embark on healing or transformational work. I feel privileged to have spent time there.“
–Rob Egan, Peak States, UK
“Newbold House is the perfect location. Thank you very much for your love and your sensitivity. You managed to make us feel welcome and full of joy.“
–Andrea, Italian group teacher
This is a basic outline of our days and plans. Our schedule will be flexible, subject to weather and other considerations that arise in our circle. We also want to remain open to the unexpected opportunities that always present themselves when traveling.
Wednesday, August 14th: Arrange your transportation so you arrive at Newbold House in the early afternoon. Unpack, check-in, rest and explore. Enjoy afternoon tea, and walk around the garden, and get settled in. Dinner at 6:00 PM features fresh organic produce picked from the Newbold Gardens, lovingly prepared by Newbold’s innovative chefs. After dinner, we will begin our retreat with, “The Heart of the Matter” an opening circle featuring a traditional Scottish welcome and Findhorn-style “attunement.” Our evening together will include New Games, laughter, the opportunity to get to know each other, and a ritual to set our individual and group intentions for our ten days together.
Thursday, August 15th: On your first full day in Scotland, enjoy sleeping in and take things slow and easy as you regroup and enter this enchanting land. For early risers, we suggest a walk in the surrounding woods or joining the morning meditation and Taizé (meditative) singing, which will be available every morning before breakfast. Your morning will be open, to give everyone a chance to rest, explore and arrive more fully. Our inaugural writing circle will be held after lunch, on Thursday afternoon. After a wonderful Newbold dinner, we will take advantage of the long hours of daylight and go on a walking tour of Findhorn Eco Village, Findhorn Gardens, and Findhorn Bay. We’ll end the evening with an optional visit to Kimberley Pub, a favorite hangout for locals, with a spectacular view of the Bay.
“Laura’s retreat felt timeless. I got so much more than I ever imagined. I got rest, instruction, stimulation, and a deepened capacity to listen. I learned to listen more carefully to the voices around me, to the silence and to the voices within”
“When you take an exceptional teacher and put her in the perfect setting, the combination is unbeatable.”
–Doug Sawin, Ph.D, Guide-Trainer-Coach, The Life Skills Training Institute
Begin the morning with optional morning meditation and Taizé singing. After breakfast, the writing circle will continue, with a break for Scottish style morning tea. The writing group will also meet most evenings, after dinner. In between, after lunch, the afternoon is free for your choice of activities: napping, walking, wandering, daydreaming, writing.
As a guest at Newbold House, you are also invited to spend your afternoons (or part of them) working alongside seasoned members of the community helping out in the kitchen, the house, or in the gardens. This is an opportunity to have a powerful first-hand experience of the Newbold community motto, “Love in action,” to live, work and play alongside a remarkable group of multi-talented, diverse, creative people, all committed to sustainable living.
We will also provide you with a list of optional outings and activities you can take advantage of during your free afternoons. These include massage and bodywork, activities at Findhorn or the Moray Art Center, crystal bowl meditation, cooking classes, guided nature walks, weaving and basketry classes, a distillery tour, as well as mini-courses on beekeeping, mushroom foraging, beer brewing, herbal medicine and much more. Some of these activities are free; others require a fee not included in your tour package. You can choose to experience many of them, a few, or none. The choice is yours.
On this particular Friday, however, in the evening, we’ve been invited to enjoy (and if you like, participate in) an open mic music jam, created especially for our benefit at Newbold House. If you play, bring your instruments! If you sing, bring your voice!
Saturday, August 17th: After breakfast, we will walk to High Street in the picturesque village of Forres. From there, we will catch a bus (enjoying the impeccable Scottish public transit system) to the center of Inverness for a magical day in this ancient city. There are a multitude of shops to explore and a beautiful riverfront with pedestrian bridges and islands in the river. We will meet for lunch at 1 pm at a wonderful Mediterranean-Turkish restaurant, Aspendos. After lunch, we’ll walk down the street to Hootananny, a local pub, for an afternoon of traditional Gaelic folk music. We will return to Newbold House for dinner and an evening writing circle.
Sunday, August 18th: Repeat of Friday, August 16th day and afternoon schedule, with a second writing circle in the evening.
Monday, August 19th: After breakfast, we will be transported by van to Clava Cairns, an ancient Bronze Age burial cairn with a surrounding standing stone circle. This site is permeated with mystical, inspiring energy and a deep feeling of ancient time and peace.
After a picnic nearby, we will travel to Cawdor Castle, the 14th century castle made famous in Macbeth. We will tour the castle and the grounds, which are still home to the Cawdor family to this day. Our final stop on this day of touring will be for High Tea at the Boath House, one of the most notable restaurants in Britain and among the top four in Scotland, where we will enjoy fine cuisine among a beautiful ambiance. Your soul and your palate will be delighted! After dinner, our writing circle will continue.
High Tea at Boath House
Tuesday, August 20th: Repeat of Friday, August 16th day and afternoon schedule, with a second writing circle in the evening.
Wednesday, August 21st : Repeat of Friday, August 16th day and afternoon schedule, with a second writing circle in the evening.
“Laura’s retreat reminded me that laughter lightens the heart, supportive writers give space for the story to be told, nurturing, delicious food lights up the soul, and comfortable and beautiful surroundings make the spirit soar!”
–Gayle Herman, MFT
Thursday, August 22nd: For our last major outing, we will take a beautiful drive through iconic Scottish Highland scenery to the UK’s largest national park. We will visit the beautiful Loch Garten, home to the RSPB Osprey Centre, and a little further, Cairngorm Mountain itself. After a picnic lunch, provided by Newbold House, we will take a funicular (cable) railway up to the top of the mountain to enjoy spectacular views. We will return to Newbold House for dinner, followed by an evening writing circle.
Friday, August 23rd: Repeat of Friday, August 16th day and afternoon schedule, with our closing circle in the evening.
You may also want to consider extending your trip by checking out Experience Week at Findhorn. There is a weeklong program starting on Saturday, August 3rd and another beginning on Saturday, August 24th. You could easily transition right from our retreat to Findhorn.
“I rediscovered how much I love to write and was relieved to meet other people like me, who need to write as much as they need to breathe.“
–Stephanie Huff, Director of Marketing for firstRain, a software company
WRITING RETREAT INSTRUCTOR:
Laura Davis is the author of seven non-fiction books, including The Courage to Heal, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be and I Thought We’d Never Speak Again. Laura’s groundbreaking books have sold more than 1.8 million copies around the world. Laura has also worked as a columnist, talk show host, radio reporter, radio producer, blogger, editor, and speaker. Words have always been at the core of her work and her self-expression.
She has been mentoring and supporting writers for the past 20 years. It is truly the work of her heart: “I love teaching. I love watching my students find their natural voice and their rhythm. I love it when they find their true stories and discover the courage to put them on the page. I feel like a midwife as my students birth their stories, and I feel honored to witness their bursts of creativity and pure life energy pouring out on the page. Our writing circles are safe places where skills are honed, tears and laughter are welcome, and each writer is seen, heard and deeply known.”
Currently, Laura leads weekly writing groups and memoir writing retreats in the Santa Cruz, CA region, as well as international retreats like this one. She also sends out The Writer’s Journey Roadmap every Tuesday–an inspirational quote and writing prompt. In response to these prompts, a wonderfully supportive online community has sprung up–and continues to grow.
“Laura Davis is an inspired, natural teacher who brings tremendous heart to her work. Laura has taught me to write lucidly from a depth I never imagined. I am deeply grateful for the gifts she has given me.”
–Doug Sawin, Ph.D, Guide-Trainer-Coach, The Life Skills Training Institute
OUR HOSTS AND DAY TRIP GUIDES – Robyn and Geoff Randolph:
Robyn Randolph is the author of RawSome Recipes, a chef, nutrition educator, workshop leader and organizer of retreats, Healthy Highland Holidays, and eco tours. Together with her husband Geoff they have created a business, Pure Highland Living, which is devoted to sharing the joys and adventures of eating and living a sustainable, healthy lifestyle in the gorgeous Scottish Highlands. They are currently writing a new book as well as hosting their own You Tube channel where they produce and post videos related to Pure Highland Living.
Having both parents born in London, Robyn came to Scotland several times in her youth and fell in love with the Findhorn area in her twenties. After returning for a visit last spring, Robyn and Geoff instantly felt drawn to sell everything and make Scotland their permanent home.
TRIP COST: $3500 for European-style shared accommodations. The early bird price before March 1st is $3100. There is a non-refundable deposit of $500. Airfare and transportation to Scotland is not included.
Included in this trip:
- 10 days of shared lodging at the beautiful Newbold House
- All meals at Newbold House
- Optional morning meditation and Taizé singing
- The Heart of the Matter opening circle
- Visit to Clava Cairns
- Trip to Cawdor Castle
- Walking tour of Findhorn Eco Village, Findhorn Gardens and Findhorn Bay
- Walking tour of Forres & Inverness
- High Tea at the Boath House, one of the top four restaurants in Scotland
- Musical jam night
- Bus ride to Inverness
- Visit to Loch Gardens
- Trip to Cairngorm Mountain, including railway and picnic lunch
- Tour guidance and support by Robyn and Geoff Randolph
- All writing sessions with Laura Davis
- RT airfare to and from Scotland
- Transportation to and from the airport
- Meals in restaurants and pub visits
- Optional classes, workshops or massages in the afternoons
Deposit: A non-refundable deposit of $500.00 per person is required at the time of booking. A second payment of $1000.00 is due on March 15th. Final payments will be due by May 15th.
Cancellations and Refund Policy: A fee of $500.00 will be collected for cancellations up to May 31st. Cancellations between June 1st and July 10th will be for half the total amount paid. No refunds will be made during the final month before the trip, after July 10th. There will be no refunds for leaving the retreat early or arriving late. Further, there are no refunds for any part of the program that you choose to opt out of. Although we do our best to avoid this, it may occasionally become necessary for The Writer’s Journey to cancel a retreat due to insufficient registration or any other cause. If a trip is canceled due to low enrollment, you will be notified at least 60 days in advance, and your entire payment will be refunded to you. In the rare event that the Writer’s Journey must cancel a trip, Laura Davis and The Writer’s Journey are not responsible for any additional expenses incurred, such as non-refundable airline tickets or passport fees.
Trip cancellation and medical evacuation insurance are highly recommended and should be purchased at the same time you buy your tickets. A referral will be included in your confirmation materials.
ACCOMMODATIONS: We will be staying in beautiful, comfortable shared bedrooms at Newbold House with other guests from our retreat. These accommodations will give you a wonderful opportunity to bond with your fellow writers.
Since workshop participants will be arriving from all over, you will be arranging your own transportation. By the time you arrive at Newbold House, some of you will have already spent a week in London or elsewhere in Europe and will arrive by train. Others will come overland or fly directly from the United States or other locations.
If you are traveling from anywhere in the UK, there are excellent rail and coach connections to Forres, the town where Newbold House is located. There are also several flights each day from London to Inverness airport and Aberdeen airport. You can also make connections in Amsterdam for a commuter flight that goes direct to Inverness.
Please arrange your travel so you arrive at Newbold House between 3 and 6 PM on August 14th, so you can check in and unpack before dinner at 6 PM. The retreat will officially begin right after dinner.
Check out time on the 24th is at 11 AM. You are welcome to remain at Newbold House until you need to depart that day.
The retreat begins on Saturday, August 14th and ends on Tuesday, August 24th. Your accommodations before and after the dates of the retreat are your responsibility. If you wish to arrive early and have a day or two to settle in at Newbold House or you want to stay after, please call or e-mail Robyn Randolph or 07449 944 544, and she will help you make arrangements. But please contact her as soon as possible, as rooms book up quickly this time of the year.
You may also find this site helpful. It’s from the nearby Findhorn Foundation and lists some of the smaller commuter and airlines that serve the Inverness airport.
Between the two pages, you should get a good start on arranging your travel. Remember, the earlier you book, the cheaper your fare will be.
Passports, Visa & Health: A passport is required, valid six months from date of entry with proof of onward transportation.
No inoculations are suggested or required.
“Under Laura’s wise and expert tutelage, what was once a solitary endeavor became a group activity where the synergy of like-minded others and a safe space allowed me to hone my voice and markedly improve my skill as a writer. The writing exercises, camaraderie, and feedback energized my writing process and enhanced my self-confidence. I would wholeheartedly recommend a writing retreat with Laura Davis.”
“The canvas here in the Scottish Highlands is about the hues and tones of a life very connected to the sky and the earth. It is a land rich in history, destiny and manifestation. Sometimes I am in such awe that I weep from sheer delight because something deep in my soul is being re-awakened. This is the place to create and feel the creation; the place to expand and feel expansion. The veil between heaven and earth feels so much thinner here. You just have to come and feel it for yourself!”
–Robyn Randolph, tour leader
More questions before you sign up? You can email Laura or call her at 831-464-9517.