Tag Archives: literature wales

A Welsh retreat for writers

You’ve probably noticed that we’re big fans of writing over here at We Are Cardiff. We presume some of you are as well. You might even be writers, or just want time to spend on your writing. So … it’s not in Cardiff … but if you need an excuse to head into the incredible countryside of north west Wales, and want some time to focus on your writing, Ty Newydd is the perfect spot.

Ty Newydd Gwynedd

The creative writing centre is run by Literature Wales, and features a series of courses, workshops and retreats throughout the year. Ty Newydd is a pretty sweet place to focus on your work … and Criccieth isn’t bad, either!

Cricieth

_KM27323

_KM27255

Tŷ Newydd

The courses for this year cover everything from poetry, to non-fiction memoir, to young adult mythology. View all Ty Newydd’s courses on their site (or scroll to the bottom of this article to go through them all).

We Are Cardiff went along to a Yoga and Writing class that took place in 2017 – a three day course that combines two creative practices that energise one another: yoga, plus writing. There was also meditation, breathing, and movement with writing exercises, added to some Hindu mythology and free time to write in the blissful surroundings of Tŷ Newydd. It was ace to meet guest reader Vivienne Rickman-Poole, photographer, film maker and outdoor swimmer who lives in Snowdonia (we followed her #swimsnowdonia project for some time now – she even took us for an outdoor dip!)

If you love the idea of attending a course at Ty Newydd, but aren’t sure you can afford it, Ty Newydd also offer bursaries and financial support for people to attend. Find out more: Ty Newydd financial support

Ty Newydd – view all courses 

More beautiful images of gorgeous Criccieth:

***

Yoga and Writing: The Sun in the Self writing retreat

This summer, blog kween Phoenix headed up to Criccieth for a short writing retreat at the Literature Wales house, Tŷ Newydd. Here’s what she got up to.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a reluctant writer. I long to indulge that part of myself that creates words, but I find sitting down for periods of time difficult. My day job involves a lot of spreadsheets and emails, which makes the occasions where I’m trying to do creative work that involves my laptop even harder. Also there’s all that stuff about YOU’RE A WRITER CALL YOURSELF A MOTHERFLIPPING WRITER. But also cringe, and pride, and all those things.

Anyway. So I’d been thinking about doing a writing course for a while, but the thought of being so stationary (sit down and write!) kept putting me off. Some joyous synchronicity in my life, then, that drew my attention to a Literature Wales course, Yoga and Writing: The Sun in the Self. The course promised to combine meditation and movement, seeing what ideas we could generate – what we could churn up from the milky sea within – over five days in the beautiful house up in Criccieth. (Also an amazing excuse to get myself up to north Wales – in amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK). 

And it really is an incredible setting. Originally built in the fifteenth century, Tŷ Newydd is a Grade II* listed building that was the last home of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and the grounds were restyled by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (of Portmeirion fame) in the 1940s. The gardens are full of thick, edible hedgerows (the rosemary bushes are thick and pungent, and absolutely amazing in Tony’s focaccia – more about Tony shortly!).

Our programme over the week consisted of morning meditation, storytelling, writing exercises and yoga practise every day, with free time in the afternoons for wandering and absorbing from the beautiful surroundings. Our practice was facilitated and led by yoga instructor and writer Sian Melangell Dafydd, who is totally fabulous and is currently based in Paris (which just adds to her fabulousness as far as I’m concerned), but leads workshops back in the UK throughout the year. She told us stories from Hindu mythology, focusing around water as the main theme for the week. The milky sea was a reference to our own deep consciousness … and how the practical aspects of the week and the exercises would help us churn up ideas and new themes for our own artistic work.

We also had two awe-inspiring female artists come to share their work with us: the first was Vivienne Rickman-Poole, a wild swimmer whose photography has been featured in the Guardian and other places … and Amali Rodrigo, a Sri Lankan poet who now lives in London, and who focuses on using mandalas in her creative work.

Also Vivienne took us wild swimming to a Snowdonia mountain lake! A lifetime highlight. No jokes.

On the last day, I took advantage of the afternoon free time to do some solo exploring, seeking out an abandoned local mansion that Sian had visited some years before: Plas Gwynfryn Mansion. I got covered in soggy cow pats and possibly wandered a little way off the public footpath. But it was so incredibly worth it.

It was one of the most stimulating and challenging experiences of my entire life. Besides the visiting artists, and Sian, the other people on the course all brought with them their own ideas about writing, poetry, art, yoga, and artistic living. The exercises that we did, along with the visiting artists and the free time all served to challenge me to generate new ideas, and challenge existing modes of thinking I was stuck in, especially with my writing.

Also, I can’t really complete the review without saying something about the house’s chef, Tony. I’m not a vegan, or even a vegetarian – but we had vegan food all week, and it was absolutely delicious. I volunteered in the kitchen one afternoon, and Tony even showed me how to make focaccia, a skill that I have brought home with me … and don’t intend to forget.

So in conclusion: it was the perfect retreat, and I would absolutely recommend to anyone who’s looking for a few days out to indulge their “inner child” in. 

And if all the yoga and meditation sounds a bit much for you, Tŷ Newydd also has a whole range of other kinds of writing courses – specialising on poetry, non-fiction, memoir, scripting, short stories, and even modern mythology, delivered in English and also some courses in Welsh. A highly recommended investment in your writing self.

Ty Newydd

Literature Wales

***

Cardiff Book Festival / Gŵyl Lyfrau Caerdydd

Seems like 2016 is the inaugural year for many things here in our fair Cardiff. We had our first theatre fringe, and now there’s a crowdfunder open for our first Book Festival!

Loads of cities have Book Festivals, right? So why doesn’t Cardiff have one? Here at We Are Cardiff, we’re very partial to a good yarn – so much so, we published our first book for the We Are Cardiff Press late last year (it’s called The 42b and is a collection of short stories about an unconventional bus route through a dystopian Cardiff), and we’re currently scheming on our second one.

Anyway, back to the book festie … here’s all the official blurb …

Cardiff Book Festival Gŵyl Lyfrau Caerdydd is backed by award-winning writers and leading figures in Welsh public life.

Here’s the background:

https://vimeo.com/174498399

This year, the aim is to host a three-day festival aimed at promoting reading, writing and debate to the Welsh capital for the first time this autumn (28-30th October 2016).

It comes in the year the city celebrates the centenary of its most famous literary son, Roald Dahl.

The ambition is to continue to grow every year adding more events and putting the Cardiff Book Festival on the literary map.

Events will include artists like Ifor ap Glyn, the national poet of Wales, award-winning writers including Rachel Trezise and Jonathan Edwards and the investigative journalist, Martin Williams.

Festival organisers are aiming to raise £5,000 via Indiegogo but the more they can raise the more events they can organise at the festival.

As well as helping the festival get off the ground, they’re offering supporters a range of experiences including signed books, a Roald Dahl walking tour with one of our favourite Cardiff writers, Peter Finch, masterclasses with award-winning authors including Rachel Trezise and workshops with publishers and agents on how budding writers can get into print.

They’re promising a diverse and inclusive programme featuring talks and debates from high profile figures on topics ranging from poetry to politics, crime writing to children’s events, fiction to feminism and the Welsh language to walking tours.

Get involved! 

There are a whole bunch of great rewards offered on the Cardiff Book Festival Indiegogo page. (In case you were wondering, we’ve already booked ourselves on the Peter Finch walking tour – they’re good fun and always very interesting).

peter finch

***