Thursday, 25 October 2012

Rafael Contemplates his Fate

Rafael stands dauntless above their heads, balanced on the narrow wire. Behind him the silks of the evening sky lie ripped with defeat. The air is radiant with jasmine or snow. Way below him, the strong man moves in random ways amongst the crowd, unseen by Rafael who leans into the curved air and doffs his top hat. From behind a parapet of dark Alisha's raven flies towards him, a lit cigarette in its beak. He lands on Rafael's head, the chip of molten light dancing.
Rafael drops. The crowd gapes with a capricious longing for blood, but elegance and fate bind him and the cigarette describes a resurrected arc. The strong man breathes out and dips away from the tent. Looking up Electra sees them, bird and man sharing the light. Finally, she thinks, you came true.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele

Friday, 19 October 2012


She was born with a sense of bravado, a strawberry birthmark over her right eye and all the opulence of the earth's kingdom up to the hilt in hock. She was born to a mother in mourning, born on the very day her granny was to be cremated. The air was bitter, disastrous, framed with snow. The day had lost its focus, the birds refused to sing, and the edge of her granny's coffin was thick with lint, which so distracted her grieving mother she could barely think of anything else.
It was then that she decided that the time to be born was upon her, and she pushed herself into the gaping world in a whoosh of water, to the scent of lilies and the astonished weeping of the family. Like a fish in a net she looked up at the faces of an unfamiliar world.
'Truth, to be understood, must first be believed.' her mother would say later when she told Lena the story of her birth: 'You were wrapped in an ostrich-feather cape', which Lena thought must have prickled, though she would have looked magical. She pictured herself in a black feather nest, shadowed by grief, held in the shallow crook of her father's arm, while the congregation felt both blessed and cheated and commented on the lack or surfeit of taste.
She imagined him looking down at the tomato stain on her brand new face and planting a kiss there, for the wisdom and sheer bravado it took to be born.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Magical Journeys 2013

Join us in 2013 for three more amazing magical writing journeys
Morocco 14th- 21st March 2013:  A week’s retreat in the beguiling 18th
century fishing port of Essaouira - beautiful, mellow and full of vibrant
Turkey 9th-16th May 2013:  A week’s retreat in the heart of Istanbul.
Bursting with story and richly textured with historical and cultural
diversity, Turkey offers a completely unique writing experience.
India 7th-21st October 2013:  Two weeks in the beautiful laid-back Southern
Indian state of Kerala. Cruise the tranquil backwaters in a traditional rice boat,
enjoy the bustling pleasures and antique palaces of Fort Cochin; an inspiring
extended retreat among the waterfront spice warehouses perfumed with
cardamom and sandalwood.

These retreats are designed to be both vibrant and uplifting. If you seek peace,
space and inspiration to rekindle the creative process, they offer a revelatory
time of creative pleasures. Complementing the writing workshops are lazy
lunches, convivial evening meals and visits to local sights. You will have the time
and opportunity to expand your creative life and explore your astounding
imaginative potential. Morning writing workshops are held on roof-terraces, in
pavement cafes and in simple sunlit salons. The rest of the day is free for you to
browse through the markets, soak up the sun, or indulge yourself in a spa. Oneto-
one supervision is available. All sessions are optional so you are free to write
as much or as little as you wish.

"Spices, minarets and silk carpets inspired our writing under the guiding hand of our
wonderful teacher, Claire. Yet again she managed to take us all on a magical journey
from which we were reluctant to return" Helen

“Our trip to Turkey was sensational and how we laughed. We didn't have to worry
about a thing except to be at the appointed place in time to write. And write we did
...We came home with reams and reams of inspired writing... truly a remarkable
writing holiday.” Cath
“It is a taste of renewal in a creative and nurturing atmosphere, where
fun and laughter surrounds the whole group”. Valerie

“My Morocco week was a wonderful exploration of hidden depths and unlocked
for me different styles of writing... and a treasure trove of laughing, talking and
bonding with a bunch of wonderful women. Claire is inspirational.” Mojo
Happiness is a writing holiday with Claire! Claire’s retreats work for anyone,
complete beginners to accomplished writers, she is a ‘magician’ at her craft of
drawing out story. In unique settings that are her second home, there is an easy
friendliness, a sharing, a sense of freedom and real holiday. Debs

A relaxed and thoroughly memorable week in the company of the nicest and
most generous bunch of writers you could wish to meet. Judy P
Claire's knack of sourcing extraordinary "one-off' hotels,
combined with her undoubted ability to draw the personal voice
out of each of us make her magical holidays a must. Lesley

"A magic carpet of a retreat to place of peace and stimulation, a city of
inculcating contrasts, amongst the atmosphere of ancient and
modern, and with a group of ‘write-minded’ souls." Gabby

If you would like more information or to book any of these retreats please
Magical Journeys
Creative writing retreats in the sun 2013


Where it begins is in a concealed garden. A nimbus of insects lit by the sun dances us into being. In the first wilderness an iron bell peals an uncertain matins and calls first him and then me to communion. God's work is done. We can rest. The smell of mud and bladderwrack scents the air. A breeze stipples our skin, pricks out the patterns of chill on our new lives. The wind recalls to us that we are mortal, and blows random maps our way, which we must learn to decipher before we can begin the journey.
Here I work in the hollow of God's land, measuring the Earth's deco curve with every peeling of the fruit (still blissfully unaware of anything fanged or sharp-tongued in the apple tree).The ocean flexes its blue muscle and spreads the cryptic shape of things to come across the shoreline. We salvage what we can, as though somewhere hidden in these signs is the knowledge that we are truly where it all begins.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Tiger decants himself from the branch on which he has been lying, eases his way through the filigree of light and vines that provide sanctuary to the inhabitants of the garden, and lies in a patch of grass, a perfect halo of buttercups gentling his head. Above him fieldfare and sparrows swoop in and out of his vision, ribboning the sky with their grainy flight. Tiger has a passion for small birds and, in spite of himself, begins to purr. That the day sees fit to offer him the miraculous renewal of delight seems itself a gift. Meadowsweet and wild mint release their perfume in serpentine sockets of bliss. Tiger hums his passionata, deep and low, for these are his glory hours, revealed in the perfect splendour of the inculcate wholeness of the hunt.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele