It is with great joy and many excited tummy butterflies that we can at last reveal the location for Brewhaha Book Café’s First Annual Writing Retreat!
In a mere month from now, the Sippit Sisters will be heading to England’s coastal West Country (aka ‘Poldark Country’). And we’ll be bunking down in none other than “The Pearl of Dorset”: Lyme Regis.
Turns out, Lyme is a twin city with Bermuda! The seaport town certainly earns its ‘pearly’ nickname with its picturesque fishing harbors, it’s sweeping, jagged cliffs and its (weather-dependent) turquoise waters which were once the playground of Pirates and Smugglers!
As if pirates weren’t enough to whet our whistles for our trip to Lyme, there’s yet more! Lyme is also famous for local-brewed cider, and – get this! –The Dorset Coast is a prime location for hunting primordial remains: ie. Dino bones!
But for Bri & me, it’s not so much the Jurassic fossils or the cider that call us to Lyme’s stony shores. At least, it’s a fossil of a different nature we’re after – the deep imprints left by literary giants in romantic days gone by.
Turns out, we aren’t the first writers to make Lyme our creative haven. Some notable others include Thomas Hardy who based his imaginary county of “Wessex” on Dorset, and nearest & dearest to our hearts, Jane Austen.
Bri & I spent out teenage days together in Jane Austen fantasy land, swooning (just a little) over Mr. Darcy’s “look”, hosting J.A. movie marathon nights, even recreating our own home-video production of Pride & Prejudice (don’t look for it on youtube – you will NOT find it!). Ever since Bri has been visiting me in the UK, we’ve been lucky enough to visit Jane Austen’s home in Bath together on a number of occasions. But… there is still one ‘must see’ item on our J.A. bucket list we are waiting to tick off.
Can you possibly guess what it is? Yup. Lyme Regis!
For all our kindred Jane-ites out there, the mere mention of Lyme will immediately conjure up images of Persuasion, when the flighty & flirtatious Louisa Musgrave tries to impress Captain Wentworth by leaping from the steps of the Cobb. Needless to say if you’ve read the book, flirtation comes before the fall!
So how did Jane choose Lyme of all places as the setting for her last-published & most personal novel? As the J.A. Society’s website informs me, Jane visited Lyme on multiple occasions (1st at the age of 29 – quite the coincidence as I’ll be turning 29 four days before we arrive! I’ll take it as a sign!). The author expressed her high opinion of the town through her characters in Persuasion, singing some very high praise indeed!
“The scenes in its neighbourhood…with its high grounds and extensive sweeps of country, and still more, its sweet, retired bay, backed by dark cliffs, where fragments of low rock among the sands, make it the happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide, for sitting in unwearied contemplation; the woody varieties of the cheerful village of Up Lyme; and, above all, Pinny, with its green chasms between romantic rocks, where the scattered forest trees and orchards of luxuriant growth…where a scene so wonderful and so lovely is exhibited…these places must be visited, and visited again, to make the worth of Lyme understood.”
‘a very strange stranger it must be who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme to make him wish to know it better’ (from Persuasion)
You heard the woman. Lyme must be visited. And Bri & I can hardly wait to get to know the charms of Lyme better for ourselves. In fact, we are literally counting down the days (see Friday Countdowns!)
And we’re inviting you to join us! Follow our adventure as we hunt for literary buried treasure, walk the Cobb, frequent Lyme’s tea shops &… hmm, am I forgetting something?
Oh yes. Write!
It is, after all, a Writing Retreat. And how often do two writers get the chance to write where their literary hero wrote before them?
Lyme Regis, here we come!