After a few unseasonably humid 30°C days at home in Oakville, I was happy for the escape to Algonquin Park, a quick 3.5 hour drive north. It was a welcome relief to escape to more comfortable 20°C – accompanied by cool breezes, a bit of rain and the sound of loons on the lake.
I was one of 16 participants in Brian Henry’s Writing Retreat at Arowhon Pines. It was a lovely experience.
ACCOMMODATIONS | Fabulous! It was Arowhon Pines opening weekend and I anticipated a few glitches. There were a couple which were handled quickly and with humour, no big deal. My bed, in Tanglewood Cottage, was incredibly comfortable, the shower had plenty of hot water and good pressure, everything was very clean. I had the best sleeps I’ve had in months as I left my screened windows open all night and snuggled in under the douvet and blankets. There are a number of cabins with many rooms in each, a central communal living room with fireplace, couches, chairs, and a fridge for any wine you might have brought (there is no alcohol served at Arowhon Pines so remember to pick it up or it’s a long drive to the closest LCBO.) The setting is a peaceful one on Little Joe Lake. You can hear wildlife, the loons and rustling leaves, what you can’t hear are the bings and pings made by electronic devices as there is zero connectivity, you are completely unplugged. There was a pontoon ride available on Saturday afternoon (I was having my review with Brian at the time) where much wildlife – including a baby moose – was observed. There are plenty of canoes, kayaks and other water craft available for guests to use. Last, and by far not least, is the incredible food! We met for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the main building for meal upon tasty meal. No one left for home feeling hungry. You also have an option for a packed lunch in case you go for a day hike or paddle. We had packed lunches for our working lunch and I can vouch that they were delicious. Everything is so relaxed and easy. The only complaint? Totally my fault. I should have brought some industrial strength bug spray! When I head back – and I will head back – it will be during a less buggy season, end of August or start of September.
WRITING WORKSHOP | As anyone who reads here, or follows me on Facebook, knows I am a huge fan of Brian Henry and his Quick Brown Fox workshops of which I have taken part in many over the years. I have attended two of his retreats at Arowhon Pines and this, my third, did not disappoint. This time I knew people from current classes which was a fun change. It is truly a working weekend. Brian has it well structured taking in exercises, lessons, writing time, one-on-one time and meals. I appreciate the lessons as it reinforces things I know about writing but often forget. The writing exercises have me come up with stories on the spot which is always fun – and challenging. It’s the sharing of them that can be scary! I admit I have a hard time switching gears from random writing prompts to writing my own work and need to work on making the transition easier on me. I appreciated my half-hour allotted meeting time with Brian who was able to answer a number of questions and clear up some misunderstandings and misinformation I have received over the years about query letters, how long to wait for a response, timing of publishing, pros and cons of agents and more. Our meeting gave me the motivation I needed to spend my extra day (I gave myself an extra 24-hours) mapping out my novel – I got all 24 chapters plotted and now I have a lot of writing to do!
I look forward to my next visit!
What about you? Where is your favourite place to go and unplug? And when you unplug, what do you do?