FEBRUARY 10 – 21 2024
After many years of running retreats at Cafe Tissardmine, Linda is COMING BACK!
This twelve day adventure takes you into a fantasy of land- and cityscapes starting in the hustling bustling city of Marrakech; through the grandeur of the High Atlas Mountains; down through the Dades gorge and onto the Sahara. After ten nights under the vast night skies and nine days of workshops helping you to unlock your stories, we take you back to Marrakech for a final night and flight home the next day. If you wish to extend your stay in either Tissardmine or Morocco in general – let us know and we can help organise this for you.
Writers of all levels of experience and writing in any genre are welcome.
In her own words:
“This 10 day travel and writing adventure next February takes us from Marrakech to Cafe Tissardmine in the Sahara, surrounded by stars, sand, camels, and eating sumptuous tagines. I will be running writing workshops but the surroundings make it hard not to be inspired! To see more of my last trip there, you can read more here and here.
How far would you travel for a transformational writing workshop? There are many on offer in interesting locations — Greek islands, the South of France, south-eastern Spain â€“ that suggest a holiday atmosphere. So what about the Sahara Desert – a day’s camel-lope from a tarmac road? After my recent experience of leading a writing retreat in Morocco, I would encourage anyone to go a step or two further to ‘Cafe Tissardmine’ near(ish) Erfoud.
We know about the power of travel as a writing stimulant. Firstly there’s the effect of an unfamiliar setting, language, culture; a tonic to the senses. Suddenly we notice how much more we notice. Alastair Reid has written wonderfully about this in “Notes on Being a Foreigner”:
In a foreign country the pattern of days is less predictable each one has its character and is easier to remember. So, too, the weather; and so, too, the shape and feel of newspapers, the sound of bells, the taste of beer and bread. It is all rather like waking up and not knowing who or where one is. If, instead of simple recognition, one can go through a proper realization, then quite ordinary things take on an edge; one keeps discovering oneself miraculously alive
Then there’s the effect of motion itself on our writing minds, whether it’s walking, train travel, or the rhythm on the back of an animal. Tahir Shah, whose In Arabian Nights was one of my literary discoveries on this Moroccan adventure, captures this in describing his own response to the journey from his home in Casablanca to the South East of the country and the desert:
‘Movement has a magical effect on the mind. It stimulates the eyes, distracts them, allowing real thought to take hold’.”
here is what previous participants have said
“This is an inspiring workshop in a magnificent desert location delivered with flair and imagination by committed and engaging tutors. It’s a great opportunity for writers at all stages of their development to explore their creativity and enhance their practice.”
“another trip rich in experience, not just in creative writing.”
“A great success thanks to the skill, friendliness and great experience of the two mentors, and the relatively small numbers which enabled everyone to have a fair crack of the whip. Tissardmine is an excellent place to work, isolated and comfortable. The scenery is glorious and I enjoyed our adventure into the desert. I didn’t mind the electricity not always working. The food was wonderful, as was our host.”
“Tissardmine is a magical place which helps you tap into your creativity. Linda and Sarah make it an encouraging and stimulating environment for writing, with Karen ensuring delicious meals, and the opportunity to sleep under the stars in the desert. Unforgettable.”
I loved sleeping in the tents – they were extremely comfortable and warm at night and made an intimate and friendly shared space. Definitely need a good torch! The food was just gorgeous. Overall 10/10
I liked the balance of activities; writing, walking, and trips with plenty of free time.
I liked the structured workshops with a variety of exercises and some free writing as well. They were very helpful and constructive for my own writing. The tutor was wonderful – serious about writing process, willing to share her ideas and humorous and sympathetic. I learned a lot.
“I went to Cafe Tissardmine on a writing course run by the excellent author Linda Cracknell. I went for the course, but Karen and Youssef at Cafe Tissardmine ensured it was an even more inspirational and enthralling experience than I could possibly have imagined. There is a guesthouse, but we stayed in Berber tents, complete with ensuite bathroom. It can be chilly at night despite the warm blankets, but you quickly forget that after getting up to watch the sunrise. The food is spectacularly good, and there was always enthusiastic applause when the lid was lifted on that evening’s tagine. This is by no means a luxury break, but neither is it roughing it. (We spent one night out in the desert in Erg Chebbi, which involved a camel ride which some might find a bit challenging, and the tents there are not ensuite – find a suitable bush… But that expedition isn’t obligatory. I fell in love with my white camel, Amalel, and clambering up the dunes for sunset and sunrise was well worth it.) Everywhere in Cafe Tissardmine is elegantly decorated, and there are plenty of areas to sit quietly, including two open Berber tents. Tissardmine also boasts a very handsome hound called Safi. He nicked my pen – we thought he might be planning to write his autobiography, but he was just trying to get our attention so that we would play with him.” Olga
To book; email Karen direct on email@example.com
Linda Cracknell is a British writer of fiction, radio drama and non-fiction. Her work is often inspired by landscape, specific places and by travel, particularly on foot. Character and voice are key to her stories, but the creative journey from idea to conclusion may be accompanied by muddy boots, blisters, and windburn! Her short stories have been collected in two volumes, Life Drawing and The Searching Glance as well as broadcast on radio and anthologised. Her most recent play for BBC Radio Four was The Lamp broadcast in December 2011, concerning a Kenyan librarian visiting Scotland’s first public lending library. Her novel Call of the Undertow was published in October 2013, and a book of essays inspired by walking in pursuit of memories, Doubling Back, in May 2014 which is also the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week May 2014. Her most recent novel, The Other Side of Stone is out now in paperback https://taprootpressuk.co.uk/
She teaches and facilitates explorations in creative writing in a variety of settings and for differing ages and levels of experience.
Situated in Morocco at the edge of Erg Chebbi, one of the largest sand dunes in the Sahara, CafÃ© Tissardmine is a unique guesthouse and artist retreat providing a creative oasis for artists and travellers amongst the desertâ€™s beauty, grandeur and stillness and the culture of the indigenous Berber people.
It was created by Australian artist, Karen Hadfield, and local Amazigh Youssef Bouchedor who bought an old ruined building in Tissardmine, and slowly breathed new life into it. Karenâ€™s artistic expertise is accompanied by Youssefâ€™s incredible knowledge of the desert.
The retreat at Tissardmine includes structured sessions every morning followed by afternoons free for your writing. Every evening we will have readings in the Salon before a sumptuous dinner.
There will also be an excursion by camel for an overnight camp to truly experience this extraordinary part of the Sahara