Little Retreats

Little Retreats

Hardcover(1 AMER ED)


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780609609026
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/12/2001
Edition description: 1 AMER ED
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 9.44(w) x 10.17(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Jane Tidbury is a freelance writer and stylist contributing to a wide range of interiors magazines, including House & Garden and Country Homes & Interiors. She is the author of Zen Style.

Read an Excerpt

The idea of escaping from the world we know is a frequent theme of childhood play. But the notion seems to stay with us into adulthood, arguably becoming even stronger as the pressures and pace of the real world make increasing demands on our lives. Perhaps it is a yearning to find a place where we can recapture the innocence of youth, or experience a different kind of existence — one which offers not just a secret hideaway, but a place where one could also live, far away from the adult world, in a private haven. For most of us the dream is to find a place surrounded by nature, isolated and beautiful, where we can find time to connect with the simple things in life, enjoy a slower pace.

The romantic idea of such solitude and adventure is not a modern symptom. For example, in the late eighteenth century, French monarch Marie Antoinette commissioned “Le Hammeau,” a model farm, mill and dairy, to be built in the grounds of Versailles. Its purpose was to provide her and her close companions with an escape from their formal lives, where they could simulate the lives of peasants. A century later, fashionable and wealthy families of New York indulged in the rustic timber lodges of the new Great Camps, in the Adirondack Mountains, which drew inspiration from the cabins of pioneering days. And in Germany and Russia, landowners frequented remote hunting lodges for respite.

In the main, the allure of a retreat, both past and present, is that it is temporary. For example, many of us may toy with the idea of living on a desert island, yet how many of us would really wish to be cast away for four-and-a-half years like Scotsman, Alexander Selkirk, the real lifecharacter on whom Daniel Defoe is reputed to have based his novel, Robinson Crusoe? Similarly, we are unlikely to pursue our craving for escape to the extremes of writer and environmentalist Archie Belaney, or Grey Owl as he became known — who, in the early 1900’s moved from England to Canada to adopt the life of a Native American. However, many of us harbor the same spirit and nagging desire that fuelled Archie in his quest to retreat to far-flung shores.

Such places of escape do not require us to change our lives completely. We do not need to sell up and reinvent ourselves — although some may choose to do so.

What we seek instead is a place that allows us to indulge in our dreams for while, to find a momentary solitude that fortifies the spirit and rejuvenates our energies. A beach house that looks out onto golden sand and the limitless boundaries of the ocean beyond; a treehouse set high above the ground; a clapboard summerhouse reflected in the still waters of a lake; a log cabin nestled among secluded woodland. Such secret places do not have to be luxurious or modern; rustic charm will do, especially since it is more often the humbler properties that are sought after, and which hark back to simpler times and lifestyle. Indeed, it is by its very nature of being in a backwater, on a lone hill, or at the end of a remote coastal path, that the little country retreat makes more adventurous demands on us. It does not require us to give up on the life we have, merely to enjoy for a while the chance to swap the ordinary for the extraordinary, banish the modern pressures, and claim a little corner of the world for ourselves.

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