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Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Winter Retreat

It should have been a journey filled with anticipation and excitement, finally I was taking the retreat that I’d dreamed of for years, a whole week to myself in a winter wonderland of the Peak District with only my muse and my imagination to keep me company. Paradise.
Well, that was the dream, anyway. The reality was unfolding a little differently. Instead of driving along with a grin on my face, marvelling at the beautiful countryside and singing at the top of my voice like a scene out of a cheesy chick flick, I was seething with anger and cursing everyone and everything under the sun, from my best friend Jenny who’d clearly suggested the most ludicrous place possible for my perfect week away, to my Sat Nav which apparently had gone on strike as soon as we ventured more than 20 miles from London, because an hour after I was scheduled to arrive at my little cabin in the hills, I was still driving aimlessly along ridiculously narrow and windy roads, my car low on petrol, my stomach growling with hunger, utterly and hopelessly lost.


It should have been a journey filled with anticipation and excitement, finally I was taking the retreat that I’d dreamed of for years, a whole week to myself in a winter wonderland of the Peak District with only my muse and my imagination to keep me company. Paradise.
Well, that was the dream, anyway. The reality was unfolding a little differently. Instead of driving along with a grin on my face, marvelling at the beautiful countryside and singing at the top of my voice like a scene out of a cheesy chick flick, I was seething with anger and cursing everyone and everything under the sun, from my best friend Jenny who’d clearly suggested the most ludicrous place possible for my perfect week away, to my Sat Nav which apparently had gone on strike as soon as we ventured more than 20 miles from London, because an hour after I was scheduled to arrive at my little cabin in the hills, I was still driving aimlessly along ridiculously narrow and windy roads, my car low on petrol, my stomach growling with hunger, utterly and hopelessly lost.
Maybe I’d been so busy seething that I’d missed a turn, or maybe the villages around here were too small for my stupid Sat Nav to even recognise them as villages at all. I didn’t know what had gone wrong, but I did know that I’d taken so many turns and backtracked so many times it was entirely possible that I was in the wrong county by now, and at nearly 4pm, darkness was descending on this winter afternoon, which only added to my mounting frustration.
Of course, the real source of my anger was 200 miles behind me in London, probably enjoying his new found freedom.
There’s just no spark… my mind betrayed me again and replayed a snippet of our conversation, causing my eyes to well up with tears again. I banged my hands down on my steering wheel and tried to push the thought away, as I had every time he’d crept into my mind. I couldn’t think about what he’d said, it was too painful. I knew he didn’t mean it anyway, so his words were unimportant – just a lie, a defence mechanism. He was probably just scared, I reasoned. Maybe I’d been moving too fast. A week away would do us both good, he’d miss me and realise what a mistake he’d made, and when I returned I would convince him to take me back for sure. In the meantime, I could not let it ruin my retreat.
I’d been dreaming of this week for years now, my little fantasy, but something had always stopped me from actually doing it. Maybe an inner fear about stepping into the unknown, going for my dreams, who knows, but with Greg’s encouragement, I’d finally gone ahead and booked myself a week alone in the country. A writing retreat. I smiled briefly as I said the words to myself. Every day at work for the past three years as I wrote more boring celeb gossip columns for the magazine, I’d promised myself that one day I would go on a writing retreat away from all the distractions and demands of everyday life and finally finish my novel. Then my dream life could truly begin.
Ha, what a joke. Now I had to wonder about the real intention behind Greg’s persistence in encouraging me to go away.
You’ll have more space and inspiration to follow your dreams babe, he’d said, and I’d truly thought he really cared about me, about my passions. Now I suspected he’d just been trying to get rid of me.
You’re so clingy. Was I? Was I that bad?
“Arrghhh,” I let out a yell of frustration. Why couldn’t I let it go? I’d only been dating the guy for a few months, as Jenny had pointed out during our tearful conversation earlier. Well, tearful on my part, Jenny had been surprisingly unsurprised by Greg’s revelations. Apparently she’d been able to tell from the beginning that he wasn’t that into me, that he wasn’t playing for keeps, 

to be continued....