Annual Minster Abbey Retreat 2011

I thought I would give a few lines as a first-time visitor to our annual Spinning Retreat at Minster Abbey. I had been looking forward for ages to getting away from it all and getting plenty of “work” done during the stay – and I was not disappointed!

We arrived a little before lunchtime on Monday at the Abbey and were made most welcome by Sister Benedict, the Guest Sister. Cars were unpacked – spinning wheels and yarn and equipment were put into the room we would be working in. Cakes and biscuits and other goodies were stocked up in the kitchen. Cases were taken to bedrooms and we relaxed with the packed lunches we had brought along and chatted about what we all planned to get done in the next few days.

We were only six in the party and we were very sorry that Lizzie and Sigi weren’t able to join us because of ill-health – we thought about you both many times during the week and hope that you’re soon back on track!

Later on Monday afternoon, Mel and I had a wander around the grounds and she showed me all the plants and trees that grow there – the place has a wonderful sense of peacefulness with all the birdlife and the ancient buildings.

Minster itself is a smashing village – although it is rather lacking in pavements in some of its narrowest places! During the next few days mini “raiding parties” set out after breakfast, as we nabbed the best bargains from the local Charity Shops. And we definitely found some treasures!!

Sister Benedict and Sister Mary Magdalene provided wonderful meals for us, mostly accompanied by home-grown veggies, salads and fruit which the Sisters cultivate in their Kitchen garden. Mealtimes are even better when you don’t have to prepare them or wash up afterwards! We were so lucky during most of our stay as we had the most brilliant sunny weather, although it was somewhat breezy; I know that the Sisters were a bit concerned that it hadn’t rained for some time though, and keeping the grounds watered was quite a duty. However, on our last night there was a thunderstorm which ushered in the rainier weather we have been having since – I’m sure this will have done the trees and plants and vegetables at the Abbey much good.

During our days there, some of the Sisters were able to pop in to chat in between their Offices and their work, it was a time for folks to catch up with news since the last years visit to Minster.

I think we all got plenty of “work” done during our stay – I know I did! Plus I got lots of wonderful tips and ideas from the chats we had
while we were spinning and such. There was a great example of “synchronised knitting” of socks with Diane and Diana – one of the abiding memories of our stay! We had day visitors too; Maureen came on Wednesday with her wheel and some fleece she had dyed with food colourings – I got some excellent ideas from this which I have put into practice since I came home – even if my first try did end up as felt!! On Thursday we had Pam, Deborah and Darren as our visitors and lots more “hints and tips” were passed on during that day too. Deborah gave some lessons to Sister Joanna on how to handle a drop spindle and I showed Darren my technique of making rugs/throws using giant sized Tunisian crochet hooks made for me by my husband.

Then, all too soon it was our last day – I know I packed up the car with a rather heavy feeling. I had looked forward to the trip so much and the pleasant company; the wonderful grounds and hospitality; the days spent chatting and working; the stories that were told along with Mel’s excellent cordials; the lovely Sisters; everything went together to make an experience that I can’t wait until next year to have again. If you haven’t been on a “Spinning Retreat” I urge you to come along next year – you don’t know what you’re missing!!

Cathy Pinnock