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James Renshaw returns to Pendle Hill

Londoner James Renshaw first came to Pendle Hill three years ago as a resident student during the spring and summer terms. He explains what brought him back.

St_Pauls_logoI am from London, England, where I teach Classics at St. Paul’s School, an independent secondary school (roughly equivalent to Middle and High School years in the United States) located along the banks of the River Thames in Barnes, a suburb of London.

I first came to Pendle Hill as a resident student during the spring and summer terms of 2011. It was a shot in the dark for me – I have no Quaker background, but was looking for somewhere restful to spend a sabbatical term. I had very enriching experience during that time, and made great friends, and so it has been a great pleasure to come back a couple of times since. This summer (2014), I returned for three weeks to work on a writing project – I write textbooks aside from my teaching, and have been working on a second edition of a book called In Search of the Greeks. It was the first time that I had used Pendle Hill as a place for a writing retreat, and I was working to a submission deadline of 31st August, which I have just managed to make!

From an academic point of view, Pendle Hill proved to be a wonderful environment to immerse myself in writing – I got a great deal done. One advantage is that there are a number of different spots on campus where one can find a corner to work, and I enjoyed that variety. Moreover, what I appreciated most was that when I needed a break from the work, there was the wonderful environment to enjoy – I took a number of breaks where I just sat quietly in the gardens or went for a walk to get some fresh air and revitalize. However, the very best thing about the environment is that there’s always someone interesting around to have a chat with – it was lovely to be able to wander into Main House or the Art Studio and just chat for a while. I find this one of the most refreshing things about Pendle Hill – you never know what conversation you are going to have next.

I am always shaped and enriched by these conversations.