The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A winter reading retreat

It’s been a very busy few months with my head down working on one project after the next with barely a pause for breath. So when I saw a gap coming up in my schedule, not only was I looking forward to a much-needed rest, but also the chance to catch up on myself professionally. I had a couple of books I wanted to read and a long list of bookmarked articles and academic papers. I also had a collection of post-it notes with ideas for blog posts jotted down. So I decided to book myself a ‘reading retreat’, a week away in a country cottage to hunker down and catch up.

So for the past 5 days, I’ve been installed in a really cool rented cottage in the Somerset village of Bruton, about an hour by train from home. Slightly to my surprise at this time of year, I’ve had a few fabulously bright, sunny, frosty days which have tempted me out to explore the countryside. 

I did a wonderful 6-mile walk up a big hill that gave me amazing views across the area, I walked up to the Dovecote, a local folly ...

... and I had a fun morning exploring Hauser & Wirth, a trendy art gallery and gardens.

Slightly less successful, though, has been my attempt to settle down and read. I’ve struggled a bit to keep warm in the cottage. It’s a big, open-plan stone building which the heating has struggled to warm up and although there’s a lovely log-burner, that only really heats the immediate area. That’s left the kitchen-diner where I’d hoped to work at the table and the conservatory with lots of natural light too cold to sit in. 

And then there’s the vexed question of chairs ... with all my regular aches and pains, I really need a good chair that supports my back properly, whether that’s sitting at a desk/table or reading in an armchair. And although the cottage is full of lots of funky furniture, which would be perfect for a holiday, I haven't really found a spot comfy enough to sit for very long. This morning, I found myself sitting at the top of the stairs next to a radiator to keep warm and on the edge of the conservatory to catch the light, but absolutely crippled by the awkward sitting position after less than an hour!

So I’ve decided to cut my losses and head home tomorrow morning, a day earlier than planned. I’m longing for a night in my own bed and a good long swim to stretch out all the painful knots! 

Although my week hasn’t been a resounding success in terms of all the stuff I’d hoped to do, I have done a bit of reading and I’ve got a conference proposal and a couple of blog posts drafted. And perhaps more importantly, I’ve had a break from my usual routine. I’d been tied to my desk, starring at the same four walls for so long, just having a change of scene has done me the world of good. And Bruton is a fab little place, I’ll definitely be back, maybe for a long weekend in the spring or summer ...

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Blogger Tyson Seburn said...

I love this idea of a reading retreat alone, away from everyone to focus. Sorry it wasn't warm enough or with adequate seating... :)

2:49 pm  
Blogger The Toblerone Twins said...

Thanks, Tyson. Even though it hasn't been quite as comfy as I'd hoped, it has still been great to have the head space to get into a few things which I'd been meaning to read. Some things have had me enthusiastically jotting down notes and one thing I was reading just now, found me sticking a post-it note on the page that just said "Bollocks!"...

3:03 pm  
Blogger Tyson Seburn said...


9:36 pm  

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