You may find the following books (available from Amazon) of some help:
Otto Meinardus "Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity"
Mark Gruber "Journey Back to Eden"
Christian Cannuyer "Coptic Egypt ? The Christians of the Nile"
Brahana Selassie "Towards a Fuller Vision ? My life in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (A Short History: Part One)"
Benedicta Ward "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers" (also several other editions of the lives & sayings of the Desert Fathers)
Tadros Malaty's "Introduction to the Coptic Orthodox Church" can be downloaded from the following web address <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/thecopticchurch/Intro_to_the_Coptic_Church_fr_yacoub_malaty.pdf">http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/thec ... malaty.pdf</a><!-- m -->
There are also a number of books available from the British Orthodox Press (accessed through the British Orthodox Church website) including Fr V C Samuel's "The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined", "The History of the Coptic Patriarchs to 849 AD", "The Letters of Severus of Antioch", "The Syriac Chronicle of Zachariah of Mitylene" (a resource of writings from the anti-Chalcedonian resistance) and numerous commentaries.
As for retreats, our Bournemouth Church is hoping to organise two weekends during 2010 - but the South Coast is rather a long way from Cheshire! Anyway I hope the book suggestions help to be going on with.