25 October 2015

A Weekend at Gregynog Hall

Hello Everyone!
Last weekend, I spent my time in one of the most inspiring places I have ever visited. Gregynog Hall is an old building in the middle of Wales where people go to walk around the forests and take in the picturesque surroundings. It's also possible to stay at Gregynog, like we did, which I would highly recommend because it's such a fun thing to experience. Each year, the creative writing staff at University take all of the first year students to Gregynog on a 'Writers Retreat'. 

As soon as I was told about this trip, I was very excited and knew that I would be in attendance straight away. Although when they were saying that we would be really inspired by our surroundings, I didn't really understand where they were coming from. It was just an old hall, how was I going to get any inspiration from that? Well how wrong could I be?

From the moment we arrived, it immediately felt like autumn. I know that's a very weird thing to write, but it was the first time I actually felt like we were in the month of October. The leaves were falling off the trees, slowly drifting to the ground; it felt like we were part of a film. We were taken straight into the dining room and fed, which was one of my favourite things about the trip, aside to the writing, because there was always food around and the food was amazing. After living on the student diet of pasta, you really do begin to appreciate good food. Then, we were set off on our first writing task which allowed us to go and explore the grounds.

The first thing we did was run straight into the forest to go and explore. The leaves continued to fall from the trees and we saw some squirrels scurrying across the floor. It was the most calming place. It's been a stressful few weeks, settling into Uni and everything, but being there just seemed to put everything into perspective and it was lovely. Whilst wandering through the forest, and finding a headless Barbie stuck in a tree, we found some lovely little teepees made from wood. We don't know who made them, but it was so magical, and it provided me with a lot of inspiration for a story. We then sat in some trees and wrote for a little while, and then decided to build our own teepee to go with the others. Just a reminder for other people that we were once there, if we ever do become famous writers. We then headed back to the hall for afternoon tea and to get ready for our evening meal.

The first night at Gregynog was one of the funniest. I would say that my friends and I had a little bit too much to drink, and we were extremely happy for the majority of the night. However, one of the loveliest things was sitting outside on the grass and watching the stars. At Gregynog, there's not a lot of pollution so the sky is very clear on a night, if it's not cloudy, and we were very lucky enough to be able to see the twinkling stars beaming down on us. There's something about stars that just really fascinates me, when you think about it, we were all stars at one point. It was such a beautiful sight to see, I really think people take things like that for granted, I'm one of those people, but we should really start to appreciate the beautiful things that surround us.

On the second day, we were set two more writing tasks and decided to delve deeper into the forest to explore some more. In the morning, Molly, Catherine and I decided to follow a lovely woodland path to a bridge. Beside the bridge was a gate filled with beautiful red flowers. It reminded me a little bit of the secret garden, so we walked through the gate to find something that inspired me to write one of the short stories in my writing journal. As we walked through the gate, we were led back into the gardens of the hall and I found the loveliest little stone bench. On the top of the bench was a little robin, and as we got closer we noticed some mushrooms growing from the bench surrounded by little berries. It reminded me of fairies dancing around a campfire and fluttering around the enchanted forest. We then decided to walk a little bit further where I found the most fascinating tree ever. We worked out that it was over three hundred years old and when you looked up at it, the sun was just shining through the leaves and they turned into the most beautiful shade of green.

For our second task, instead of going outside, we decided to head back to the building to explore that a little more. Whilst walking around the various corridors, we came across the most beautiful room in the whole building. It was an old library with hundreds of books lining the shelves, old desks for writing on, and ladders which you could climb up to get the books on the higher shelves. I felt like Belle in Beauty & the Beast, it was the most beautiful room. When we'd completed our task, we decided to go on another little walk around the grounds. The weather was very cold so we were all wrapped up in our boots, scarfs and warm coats. On the walk, we made friends with the loveliest little horse in a field. We decided to call him 'Danger' and he took a like to Molly which was very cute.

Our final night in Gregynog was formal night. We all got dressed up and went for our evening meal, which was delicious, and then headed into the music room for the open mic night. If you don't know what one of these is, it's basically a night where students are allowed to get up in-front of everyone and read out their work. The drunker people became, the more fun the open might night became. IT was so lovely to hear what pieces of art people had created and how differently people viewed things around the hall.

I had the most wonderful time exploring Gregynog Hall. I produced some really good pieces of writing and I can't wait to return there next year hopefully!

Here are some photos I took over the weekend! :)

Lots of Love

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