Before staying at Hawkwood I had never been on a retreat before. Over the past few years I have been trying to finish writing my band’s second album, but have been suffering with the cliche ‘difficult second album syndrome’. I find writing music comes quite naturally to me but lyrics are a struggle. Like most people I know, life has been chaotic to say the least over the past couple of years, so I was really excited when I got the opportunity to come to Hawkwood. A chance to escape to somewhere idyllic and put all my focus into writing sounded really good to me.
Equipped with just my guitar, some recording equipment, some recent 30th birthday tequila and a notebook, I headed from my hometown of Cardiff to Stroud on the train. I managed to fall asleep on the way and woke up just outside Reading rather than Swindon where I needed to change. Eventually I arrived at Stroud and headed to the college grounds. I ended up having a great time on the first night of my stay, despite my travel mishap. Having not done a retreat before, I was a bit nervous about what to expect, but the college staff were so friendly and the fellow residents on retreat could not have been more welcoming to me. Throughout my stay they were a really inspiring group of people. It sounds cheesy but having (delicious) meals with this group was such a treat and I still feel genuinely inspired by their company.
I was over the moon with my allocated studio, a warm and spacious room in the converted stables. It was such a pleasure to have access to a beautiful piano and a surprise harpsichord. I spent the rest of my stay going on long walks through the stunning grounds and beyond, soaking up inspiration and then dedicating full days to try and solve the puzzles found in my songs. By no means did I finish writing my record but I think I made significant headway and definitely have a clearer idea of what I want the album to be. It was a real pleasure to stay and write at Hawkwood and I would love to come back. I feel like I have some good creative momentum since being home and am more focused in general. I hope to maintain a solid routine and have this album written in the coming months. Thank you very much for having me.
Full credit to Dave Newington, with thanks to the DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding.