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View Full Version : Anyone here ever availed themselves of a personal writing retreat?



Perks
03-05-2015, 12:24 AM
I know there are places you can rent to sequester yourself away to write, removed from your regular distractions.

Have any of you ever done this? Would it be something that interests you?

mccardey
03-05-2015, 12:32 AM
I'm going to a writers retreat in June for the first time ever. There will be five or six other writers there, but we each have a room with a desk and we're not to disturb each other. We'll meet at meals and in the gardens. Sound like enormous fun - I haven't spent much time with writers IRL.

I'll let you know how it goes. (Or if I get expelled...)

kestra
03-05-2015, 12:34 AM
Yes, I did this a few months back. It was at a religious retreat centre, but you didn't have to be religious to stay there. It was great. I was able to crank out about 22,000 words of first draft/outline in 3.5 days. The only technology I used was a laptop and music. No internet, no TV. Meals were provided so all I had to do was write, rest, and walk around.

heza
03-05-2015, 12:38 AM
I never had, but it's one of my goals. I'd like to try one out in the next couple of years, when I get the funds and time to do it.

Old Hack
03-05-2015, 01:36 AM
I've been to a few, and most have been great. But the best ones have been the ones where I've booked myself into a cheap hotel for a few days in order to get my work done in peace.

While the ones at organised writing centres have been just lovely, I've found the company and cooking requirements to be distracting, and haven't done so well there.

mccardey
03-05-2015, 01:40 AM
I meant to add that one of the best things so far has been the requirement that the first draft is finished (there'll be a couple of one-on-ones with an editor during the week - though I've requested an historian instead so that I can learn about research and retrieval.)

I'd forgotten how much better I do with an external deadline looming ;)

mrsmig
03-05-2015, 01:43 AM
Last September I spent three days at a place called The Porches (http://www.porcheswritingretreat.com/) near Charlottesville, VA and recommend it highly. It was peaceful, quiet and surrounded by beautiful countryside. There are writing groups that rent the place but I went strictly on my own, and because I was there mid-week had the place almost to myself. I'd go back again in a heartbeat.

Diana Hignutt
03-05-2015, 02:55 AM
La Muse Writer's and Artist's retreat in southwest France was the single greatest experience of my literary life. And probably the two and a half best months of my life, period. Their usual retreats are for three weeks or one, but they're flexible.

www.lamuseinn.com (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAUoeqvedMo)

I wrote the best novel of my career there. When I got off the plane I had a title. When I got back on the plane I had a novel finished.

I highly recommend writing retreats. I highly recommend La Muse.

Myrealana
03-05-2015, 02:59 AM
I have.

I had a week of extra vacation and a friend with a timeshare in Breckenridge she wasn't using, so I took my notebooks, Alphasmart, music and tea up to the mountains to write.

For me, it sucked. I wrote for most of the first day, but as much of an introvert as I am, pure isolation isn't for me. I need someone to remind me that time is, in fact, passing.

I have been on a retreat with fellow writers, however, and that worked out well. Quiet conversation and support when needed, and plenty of quiet spaces and time to write.

cmhbob
03-05-2015, 03:21 AM
I've thought about it several times, and even researched it to some extent. But my bane is internet access. I depend on it to research, but have an incredibly difficult time restricting my activities. I'll start researching women in wheelchairs (for a character in the next book) and end up down some weird rabbit hole for an hour.

Namatu
03-05-2015, 04:17 AM
No, but I'd love to try it. I too easily prioritize daily tasks above writing, feeling like I can't write until those things are taken care of.

Toothpaste
03-05-2015, 04:27 AM
I did it with a group of other female authors two summers ago and it remains one of the best experiences of my recent couple years. We booked a cottage on a lake. It was just 5 days but we were all very invested in being productive. In fact, having others there who were uber keen made you all the more keen - kind of competitive :) .

A day in the life of Toothpaste at this retreat:

- 8am: wake up, have breakfast
- 8:30am: write
- 11am: finish (around 3K), go for a walk
- noon: group lunch where one person would make it (we created a schedule ahead of time)
- 1pm: swim
- 2pm: write
- 4/5pm: finish (another 2K)
- 6pm: group dinner (again one person would make it)
- 7pm: swim
- 8pm: watch a movie with everyone or hang out and talk, just chill
- 10/11pm: go to bed


IT WAS AMAZING. One day I walked over to a pottery shop and the woman who worked there offered to take us out on her boat and tour the lake that afternoon. And the ladies were so much fun, and we talked and offered publishing tips and drank wine and . . . yeah. Also, I got SO much writing done. It was productive, relaxing, fun and inspiring. In conclusion, it was all kinds of awesome :) .

BenPanced
03-05-2015, 06:26 AM
I've been to a few, and most have been great. But the best ones have been the ones where I've booked myself into a cheap hotel for a few days in order to get my work done in peace.
This is what I'm thinking of doing, as well. There are several hotels that I can easily get to, but I haven't gone beyond the "look up prices online" phase.

We also have a local literary center with offices to rent. I've toyed with this idea, as well, but I'm not sure I'm willing to scramble against however many other people to schedule time (first come, first served).

Siri Kirpal
03-05-2015, 07:33 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

The very best writing retreats I've ever had are the ones where my husband and his "little" sister go on a vacation, and I stay home and write.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Neegh
03-05-2015, 08:15 AM
I know a number of campsites with hook-ups out in the desert and along the eastern Sierra where—in the off-season—you can write for days and not see anyone. One late summer/early fall I drove all over Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California looking for lonely places to sit and write for a day or three.

Sage
03-05-2015, 08:45 AM
I do at least one a year. Sometimes it's a major one--a cabin in the woods for a week, a beach house at Martha's Vineyard--and sometimes it's just a long weekend at an inn in my college town. Sometimes I'm super-productive (I wrote an entire novel in 3 days in a cabin!), sometimes it's a good boost to get me through some hard stuff, and sometimes it's me being more interested in querying and playing online and reading and stuff.

Putputt
03-05-2015, 08:54 AM
I haven't done that, but I would so love to! Some day...

Gringa
03-05-2015, 09:13 AM
La Muse Writer's and Artist's retreat in southwest France was the single greatest experience of my literary life. And probably the two and a half best months of my life, period. Their usual retreats are for three weeks or one, but they're flexible.

www.lamuseinn.com (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAUoeqvedMo)

I wrote the best novel of my career there. When I got off the plane I had a title. When I got back on the plane I had a novel finished.

I highly recommend writing retreats. I highly recommend La Muse.

This looks great. Thanks for sharing.

Gringa

CrastersBabies
03-05-2015, 10:27 PM
I would love to, but it seems like these things are weeks long and that isn't happening with the way my life is structured. I could do a weekend and that would be it.

MarkEsq
03-05-2015, 11:10 PM
I had a couple offer me the use of their writing retreat, a place several hours from Austin, no internet. It was a designer little cabin, very modern and perfect. I got a lot done but I discovered that solitude isn't my thing. My life is normally SO full of people and distractions that when they're all gone, I get antsy.

I think it's also hard for me to write for more than a couple of hours at a time, so three full days of just that... well, enough was enough. :)

That said, I would LOVE to join a few other writers at a retreat, maybe a structured one, where we could write AND hang out.


What did you have in mind, Jamie?

Maggie Maxwell
03-05-2015, 11:55 PM
Over a dozen of folks from my critique group have pitched in to rent a place for a weekend in April. Everyone'll cook or supply one meal, and we'll just spend all night Friday and all day on Saturday writing. I'm looking forward to it!

Snowstorm
03-06-2015, 12:00 AM
I have a cabin a quarter-mile away, so it's quick and easy to get to ... when I can get away. But getting away to that relaxing, distraction-free place works wonders!

Perks
03-06-2015, 12:21 AM
What did you have in mind, Jamie?I don't know yet. But I'm thinking on it...

mccardey
03-06-2015, 12:27 AM
I don't know yet. But I'm thinking on it...

Invite me! Invite me! :hooray:

brainstorm77
03-06-2015, 12:44 AM
I'm far too antisocial to even consider such a thing.

Jamesaritchie
03-06-2015, 12:44 AM
Several times early on, and I enjoyed it, but then I realized I worked better with a truly personal writing retreat, rather than one where a bunch of other writers go. I've used many places, ranging from a hotel room, to a cabin way out in the woods, to a houseboat, to an apartment rented just for writing.

Far more often than not, I use such retreats when deadlines pile up to ridiculous heights, or when something prevents me from writing at home. I usually use such a place for a minimum of thirty days. Less than this, and I don't have enough time to get everything done. I have stuck it out for two months, but thirty days is, for me, ideal.

The main this is that the retreat be far enough away from home that you can't run out and see friends or family, or do other things at familiar places. Then you need the discipline to stay off the phone and off the internet. I have no phone, and no internet connection, at any of my retreats. And no TV, for that matter. It makes self-discipline a heck of a lot easier.

It's amazing how much work I can get done in thirty days when I have no distractions, and nothing else to do except write.

I got the idea for this from Lawrence Block, and I'm glad I did.

Hugh
03-06-2015, 01:12 AM
I once thought of renting the motel room where Janis Joplin OD'ed to lock myself away for a few days. But then I thought it was too weird. I still like the idea of locking myself away in some fleabag motel, but wouldn't somebody steal my laptop?

Becky Black
03-06-2015, 01:53 PM
I once thought of renting the motel room where Janis Joplin OD'ed to lock myself away for a few days. But then I thought it was too weird. I still like the idea of locking myself away in some fleabag motel, but wouldn't somebody steal my laptop?

They can't steal it while you're sitting there pounding away on it. ;)

Becky Black
03-06-2015, 01:58 PM
I'm not sure I would get much writing done. I might like it for some intense brainstorming and planning without distractions - but I'd probably end up sleeping twelve hours a day. :D

For getting more words done I tend to need a deadline or competition or a restricted amount of time in the day to work. If I had twelve hours to write I bet I wouldn't get any more done than I do in four hours on a weekend day the way I do now working around my day job. My most productive periods are usually during things like NaNoWriMo.

Cathy C
03-06-2015, 04:07 PM
I do it at every out of town con. I always plan for a hotel night before and after the event and hole up in the room, writing for long stretches. I once wrote an entire short story for an anthology during one con retreat. It's awesome! :)

Diana Hignutt
03-06-2015, 05:08 PM
I hope to go back to La Muse sometime within the next two years...probably just for three weeks next time...

Jamesaritchie
03-06-2015, 07:36 PM
I once thought of renting the motel room where Janis Joplin OD'ed to lock myself away for a few days. But then I thought it was too weird. I still like the idea of locking myself away in some fleabag motel, but wouldn't somebody steal my laptop?

I think a fleabag motel is probably a bad idea. But even there, you should be able to leave any valuables, including a laptop, at the front desk when you live.

But i suggest staying at a hotel that has room service, and/or it's own restaurant. It doesn't have to be a five star hotel, but it should have four stars, if you're going to spend more than a couple of days there. It needs to be good, roomy, clean, safe, and have everything you need without leaving the hotel, which means food, internet, laundry service, and anything else you want.

Staying in one tiny room, or in a place where you have to leave the hotel to get anything, is not conducive to good writing. I want a bedroom, a sitting room, a kitchen, a work area, meaning a decent desk with some room around it, a patio, and room service, and/or a decent restaurant inside the hotel.

This isn't cheap, but it doesn't cost a fortune, either, at least around here. There's one hotel here where I can get such a suite for only a hundred and thirty per night during the off season, if I book for a week or more. It's the perfect distance from home, just about fifty miles, and it's a bit isolated, so there's no temptation to run out and see the sights.

There are cheaper ways of having a retreat, but from my experience, the average hotel room is not a place I've want to stay for more than two or three days. If you want to stay at a hotel for a week or more, stay at a good one, or you'll regret it.

My favorite retreat is a cabin way out in the woods, A friend used to own one I could stay at for free, but no longer. I just found another that I can stay at for four hundred a month, and it's perfect. It has nothing except room, comfort, isolation and beauty.

Jamesaritchie
03-06-2015, 07:38 PM
I'm not sure I would get much writing done. I might like it for some intense brainstorming and planning without distractions - but I'd probably end up sleeping twelve hours a day. :D

For getting more words done I tend to need a deadline or competition or a restricted amount of time in the day to work. If I had twelve hours to write I bet I wouldn't get any more done than I do in four hours on a weekend day the way I do now working around my day job. My most productive periods are usually during things like NaNoWriMo.

I only use a retreat when there's writing that has to be done, and there's a deadline. But even if you do sleep twelve hours per day, that still leaves a heck of a lot of time for writing. Many writers would kill to have twelve hours available each day.

Maggie Maxwell
03-06-2015, 07:54 PM
I just recalled a story a member of my crit group recounted once. He used to take regular retreats like this to a quiet old hotel. He's always get the same room for a few days and just write like mad while he was there. He said he was never more productive than in that room. After doing this for almost a decade, the hotel changed ownership. The next time he returned, he asked for his usual room, and was told the price had gone up exponentially. Any other room would be cheaper, but that particular room was $$$. Why? What was so special about that room?

Apparently he'd been writing for a decade in the same room F. Scott Fitzgerald used to write in whenever he stayed there.

cmhbob
03-06-2015, 11:24 PM
If you're setting up a retreat for yourself, don't forget about Priceline, Trivago, etc, and all the other price-shopping websites.

raburrell
03-07-2015, 12:05 AM
As it happens, I'm at one right now - my agent (who is beyond awesome) set it up and invited all her writers, so there are 15 of us here at this fabulously crazy beach house in SC. (Seriously, there are life-sized pirates everywhere. One room has fake grass on the ceiling and monkeys. Etc. It's like the best kind of tacky.).

First full day here and I already have more words than I get in a week usually. I was concerned it'd be a little chaotic with this many people, but so far it's working great - there's so much energy :)

mccardey
03-07-2015, 12:54 AM
As it happens, I'm at one right now - my agent (who is beyond awesome) set it up and invited all her writers, so there are 15 of us here at this fabulously crazy beach house in SC. (Seriously, there are life-sized pirates everywhere. One room has fake grass on the ceiling and monkeys. Etc. It's like the best kind of tacky.).

First full day here and I already have more words than I get in a week usually. I was concerned it'd be a little chaotic with this many people, but so far it's working great - there's so much energy :)

Oh so that's where you are!!

raburrell
03-07-2015, 12:59 AM
Rep'd you a link to the pikkies :D

Jamesaritchie
03-07-2015, 01:14 AM
As it happens, I'm at one right now - my agent (who is beyond awesome) set it up and invited all her writers, so there are 15 of us here at this fabulously crazy beach house in SC. (Seriously, there are life-sized pirates everywhere. One room has fake grass on the ceiling and monkeys. Etc. It's like the best kind of tacky.).

First full day here and I already have more words than I get in a week usually. I was concerned it'd be a little chaotic with this many people, but so far it's working great - there's so much energy :)

Some writers love retreats where many writers gather. I found they weren't to my taste. After teh first day or two, it seemed every writer there wanted to talk more than write, and I had a terrible time getting any privacy.

raburrell
03-07-2015, 01:16 AM
This is a work hard, play hard group, so I think it'll work. Plus the house is big enough to hide as the need arises. :)

Diana_Rajchel
03-07-2015, 02:14 AM
I've been wanting to do one and craving a proper writer's retreat since i moved to California. I've done a little Googling but it's all a bit...daunting, I guess? Not really sure how to winnow it down.

Jamesaritchie
03-07-2015, 04:06 AM
This is a work hard, play hard group, so I think it'll work. Plus the house is big enough to hide as the need arises. :)

I went to one retreat that had other writers there, but each had his or her own small cabin, breakfast and lunch were delivered to the cabin, and there strict, and enforced, rules, against bothering other writers.

Mingling was allowed only at supper when everyone ate together at the main building.

That worked great, but it also made me realize that I could do it as cheap, or cheaper, on my own.

raburrell
03-07-2015, 04:11 AM
I went to one retreat that had other writers there, but each had his or her own small cabin, breakfast and lunch were delivered to the cabin, and there strict, and enforced, rules, against bothering other writers.

Mingling was allowed only at supper when everyone ate together at the main building.

That worked great, but it also made me realize that I could do it as cheap, or cheaper, on my own.

Sure. But then there are no life sized pirates, and what's the fun in that?
:tongue

ap123
03-07-2015, 04:13 AM
I never have, and while I love the idea, I suspect I would get very little writing done. I'd be too busy glorying in time to myself. :tongue

Diana Hignutt
03-07-2015, 05:49 AM
I never have, and while I love the idea, I suspect I would get very little writing done. I'd be too busy glorying in time to myself. :tongue

When I was in France, in a very large thousand year old house with several other writers, I kept a strict regimen:

I tended to get up between six and seven in the morning. I'd go down and make my breakfast and coffee before anyone else got up. Then I go back up and write. Generally for two to three hours, then I'd take a hike in the mountains (unless it was Wed., Sat., or Sun, when the locals were wild boar hunting), have lunch. Chatted in the library or read. Write a little more or do correspondence, dinner, chat, do readings, drink some wine, read, go to bed.

The place I stayed really wanted you to work, and quiet hours were in place except 7-9am 12-2pm and 5-10pm, and then people were still generally very considerate about noise and distraction. Someplace where you can take breaks and get out into nature is important as well.

I wrote as much in my mountain hikes in many ways as I did in my room on my laptop. Inspirational recharge is important too.

ap123
03-07-2015, 06:41 AM
When I was in France, in a very large thousand year old house with several other writers, I kept a strict regimen:

I tended to get up between six and seven in the morning. I'd go down and make my breakfast and coffee before anyone else got up. Then I go back up and write. Generally for two to three hours, then I'd take a hike in the mountains (unless it was Wed., Sat., or Sun, when the locals were wild boar hunting), have lunch. Chatted in the library or read. Write a little more or do correspondence, dinner, chat, do readings, drink some wine, read, go to bed.

The place I stayed really wanted you to work, and quiet hours were in place except 7-9am 12-2pm and 5-10pm, and then people were still generally very considerate about noise and distraction. Someplace where you can take breaks and get out into nature is important as well.

I wrote as much in my mountain hikes in many ways as I did in my room on my laptop. Inspirational recharge is important too.

Sounds absolutely lovely. :)

Jamesaritchie
03-07-2015, 07:43 PM
Sure. But then there are no life sized pirates, and what's the fun in that?
:tongue

Damn it, I never thought of that. I wonder if I could combine a writing retreat with Disneyland?

juniper
03-07-2015, 10:14 PM
I went to one retreat that had other writers there, but each had his or her own small cabin, breakfast and lunch were delivered to the cabin, and there strict, and enforced, rules, against bothering other writers.

Mingling was allowed only at supper when everyone ate together at the main building.

That worked great, but it also made me realize that I could do it as cheap, or cheaper, on my own.

Would you please say what retreat that is? Is it still around?

Jamesaritchie
03-08-2015, 10:43 PM
Would you please say what retreat that is? Is it still around?

No, it's not still around. Hasn't been for about fifteen or more years. There's another that was run along the same lines, that even had separate cabins, that was still around last time I checked, but I can't remember the name. I'll see if I can find this one. I have a friend who may know.

Namatu
03-08-2015, 11:32 PM
Sure. But then there are no life sized pirates, and what's the fun in that?
:tongueI'm distracted by the monkeys. I could write with a monkey peering over my shoulder.

bearilou
03-10-2015, 07:00 AM
I'm distracted by the monkeys. I could write with a monkey peering over my shoulder.

I read that as peeing.

...what?

Perks
03-10-2015, 04:27 PM
I do it at every out of town con. I always plan for a hotel night before and after the event and hole up in the room, writing for long stretches. I once wrote an entire short story for an anthology during one con retreat. It's awesome! :)

Oh wow. I kind of like that idea!

BethS
03-10-2015, 06:09 PM
I know there are places you can rent to sequester yourself away to write, removed from your regular distractions.

Have any of you ever done this? Would it be something that interests you?

I've done this informally with fellow writer-friends. We rent a house at the beach or in the mountains, and the idea is to write, write, write while still enjoying good company and a pleasant environment.

This works better for some than for others. Me, I'll sequester myself away and write, only coming out for mealtimes or walks. This is harder for others, though, who end up spending the whole weekend gabbing and eating. This doesn't bother me unless I can't get away from the gabbing. :D The biggest issue, for me, is that I'm a lark and many of the others were owls. They want to stay up and talk until the wee hours, and even in my room I couldn't get away from the noise. Which meant I didn't get enough sleep, which in turn played havoc with my concentration the next day.

raburrell
03-10-2015, 06:20 PM
I'm distracted by the monkeys. I could write with a monkey peering over my shoulder.

Now that we're home, here's a link to the listing (http://www.vrbo.com/292113) for the place (if anyone was curious about the pirates and monkeys :)

Final tally for me was about 3k in 4 days, which is at least twice my usual (glacial) pace of late, plus a huge bump in my confidence of where the book is going. Not to mention twelve new friends. So, definitely worth it for me. :)

Maggie Maxwell
03-10-2015, 06:34 PM
Now that we're home, here's a link to the listing (http://www.vrbo.com/292113) for the place (if anyone was curious about the pirates and monkeys :)

Final tally for me was about 3k in 4 days, which is at least twice my usual (glacial) pace of late, plus a huge bump in my confidence of where the book is going. Not to mention twelve new friends. So, definitely worth it for me. :)

Oh my god, this is the gaudiest, most incredible place I've ever seen in my life. :ROFL:Holy cow. I almost wish my group was staying there instead of the mountain place we're renting. The swings overlooking the ocean look just perfect for writing. Way to go on the word count!

juniper
03-10-2015, 10:39 PM
Now that we're home, here's a link to the listing (http://www.vrbo.com/292113) for the place (if anyone was curious about the pirates and monkeys :)


Not a bad price if you split it up with a lot of people.

raburrell
03-10-2015, 10:44 PM
It varied a lot by season - the weeks on either side were a couple of grand more than the one we picked. It ended up being under $300/person for the 5 days :)

So that's a piece of advice for anyone who might be looking to set one of these things up - check into off-season weeks in resort areas, and you can often get some really great deals. :)

MarkEsq
03-10-2015, 11:38 PM
It varied a lot by season - the weeks on either side were a couple of grand more than the one we picked. It ended up being under $300/person for the 5 days :)

So that's a piece of advice for anyone who might be looking to set one of these things up - check into off-season weeks in resort areas, and you can often get some really great deals. :)

I'm in for that price, anyone else?!

KTC
03-12-2015, 03:34 PM
I know there are places you can rent to sequester yourself away to write, removed from your regular distractions.

Have any of you ever done this? Would it be something that interests you?

YES. There's actually a place here in Toronto...on the island...for artists and creatives. I haven't done that one, yet. But I have done it. I'm at the moment looking into Europe houses for cheap rent to writers. Italy has a collective. They are crazy cheap and specifically for writers. You are reviewed previous to acceptance. I just don't know if I have the time to do it this year or not...as my travel itinerary is quite heavy already.

There's a house in Nova Scotia (? Somewhere in the Maritimes) that is on the ocean and the owner rents it out cheaply to writers. If you're interested I can dig through my email for the link. (-:

Not full the same thing, but every July I head to cottage country here in Ontario...and I do the Muskoka Novel Marathon. 72 hours locked in a room with 39 other writers. We each attempt to write a complete novel. I focus best when I put a block of time together to write write write. Retreats are my passion, really. Almost the only way I write now. Always negotiate your stay...whether or not you decide to stay at a place specifically designed to accommodate writers. I once secured a cottage to write in for a weekend at $50. Some people are just mesmerized by the idea...and they will be generous.

From a freelancing point of view...when I do stuff like this, I always secure an article in a publication before I leave for the retreat. Send in a proposal to a writing pub to write about the experience. They eat that stuff up.

juniper
03-12-2015, 10:01 PM
There's a beach house in Oregon for members of the Oregon Writers Colony. I've been meaning to go for a few years. Maybe this is the year. Costs $25 per night, I think. Two beds per room, so perhaps a private room would be $50. Or, if you're lucky, you might be the only one using the house at that time, so it would all be yours.

scifi_boy2002
03-13-2015, 07:09 PM
I don't have to go to a retreat. I usually have a few hours to myself everyday so I have time for quiet and alone time. Though, I would love to write at my dad's house. It is near Lawrenceburg, KY and is at a lake. It is so peaceful there and pretty secluded. Wildlife all around. It would be a perfect place to write. A true Zen place.

Diana Hignutt
03-14-2015, 02:32 AM
A friend just sent me this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym1jBQbhcdg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym1jBQbhcdg)

I don't know the people singing or in the video, but it's set at La Muse, that retreat in France I was at Sept-Nov. (it was green and warm then). Pretty neat, and some good shots of the retreat's house dog, Homer, my dear pal.