Stepping Stones

You think I would know better by now, forty years into life, that lessons are learnt in small steps.

Three days ago, nausea, accompanied by clammy palms and shallow breath, threatened to overwhelm me as I arrived at the writing retreat.

I hadn’t felt so nervous about meeting new people and sharing an interest since pony club camp twenty eight years ago.

One of my biggest fears was that Bryher inspires me so much. The wondrously wild and beautiful environment that is my home is what creates musical words in my head. How would I be able to write here?

I really shouldn’t have worried so much. Not only have all the hosts and guests been warm and friendly, patient and encouraging, but the house was nestled into the most magical little woodland. Complete with a small yet feisty stream that I could hear bubbling and crashing from my bedroom, as it made it’s speedy way to Lamorna Cove and the open sea.

Lamorna Cove in the evening sun

Plenty of opportunity for woodland wonders and dips in the cool water.

A wet walk to the Merry Maidens, rain fell straight and heavy. Along the road, tiny rippled rivers of muddy water ran, sploshing along with the rythmic thud of my boots on tarmac.

The rain was not enough though. It couldn’t quell my restless craving to be in cold water.

On my return to the retreat, I hurriedly rid myself of clothing and wrapped in towels sneaked down to the calling stream.

Soft-soled feet pressed bare against the hard gravel until, once under the canopy of dark, dripping trees, the layers of squelching, decomposing leaves softened the ground.

Stepping down over the wet, moss-covered stones, my feet moulded themselves to the contours of the rocks, careful to grip tight.

I momentarily worried about pine needles or brambles slicing through skin, but soon my feet were too chilled to feel and I too content to care.

Near to where the stream joins another, stepping stones continue the path deeper into the wood. Here a little waterfall seemed the perfect place to slip into the stream.

Naked and feeling the rain and leaves tickle bare shoulders, I stepped down into the cold water, which after all the rain was a torrent of wild, foaming bubbles.

It was deliciously refreshing. The air a deeply damp, earthy mulch. The rush of the stream whooshed through my head.

My dip was short, shallow but oh so sweet.

The house when I returned was warm, lit by soft corners of cosy light and silent, except for the stairs that creaked a now familiar welcome.

A friend told me as I left Bryher she thought the retreat would change my life, and she was right. I have been introduced to so much about the craft of writing, met new friends and enjoyed the most relaxingly creative time I’ve had in a long while.

I just need to trust those little stepping stones in life learning and keep leaping, one stone at a time, further along the writing path.

Stepping Stones at Rosemerryn#writingretreat


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