Wednesday, 22 July 2009
TWO WEEKS, THREE COUNTRIES. 3.WALES
The inaugural Fiction Workhouse Writers' Retreat, Capel Cader idris, Llwyngwril, Wales. A fabulous, newly converted Welsh Chapel in a quiet quirky seaside village, a few miles from where I spent five years at boarding school. The Welsh equivalent of St Trinians. Back row: Pauline, Jo, Martin. Front Row: Claudia, me, Valerie.
The chapel is the perfect venue for writers wanting to spend time together working, being inspired, walking, thinking, dreaming and talking. The occasional bit of eating and drinking as well. The chapel has been recently converted to a very high standard, and is equipped with computers, printers, whole libraries of craft books. There are collections of poetry, short stories, novels. There is a bar billiards table, and a vast television. Neither of which got used, even once. There are not two, not three but six huge leather settees, for dolloping, and reading. A farmhouse table, which accommodated four writers plus laptops books paper, and feet up on chairs. The well-equipped kitchen hardly got used, as there is a cafe right opposite whihc serves everything from baaked spuds to welsh lamb cutlets or fish n chips, and delicious salads. We did eat cereal and make loads of coffee. And Jo made a scrummy lentil thing one day.How did we get on? Well, I'd met ev eryone. And I knew how nice they were. But they hadn't. It was fab to arrive a day later than the rest and find that they'd all gelled - and after a few mins it was as though we'd known each other for years. Tons of work got done. I started a new bit of the novel and wrote 2 shorts and 3 flashes. We all went for walks (only I couldnt get up the mountain!)
We met some fascinating local characters. Steve the window cleaner, who has the secret of the crystal skulls...the 'pastor' who lives in a converted church, who told us how you can hear the souls of the damned in hellfire if you listen down specially drilled shafts in Siberia. And Roger, who supplied all the luggage for the Harry Potter films and lives in great splendour in another converted chapel, every inch of which is faux-gothic and filled with stunning antiques. Including a child's funeral bier made into a coffee table. Not my bag, but beautiful. We worked to a routine every day... quite disciplined. And we played hard. I did say we played hard! This is my famous Quasimodo with can of Fanta impression, and Jo's famous 'watch me while I lug a box of wine and a bottle all at the same time down Llwyngwril High Street and hope no one notices...' act. I cant recall what on earth we were doing, right now. ... But the whole week was terrific and we left inspired and refreshed as creative beings.
The chapel is owned by writer Alex keegan, and is perfect for weeks away, whether writers, or families. Five bedrooms, four bath'shower rooms, very comfortable, and huge airy living area. All watched over by Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, who hangs aloft at one end of the chapel.
Last word for Leonardo himself:
"The outstretched arms and legs of a man form a square and a circle: the square symbolizes the solid physical world and the circle the spiritual and eternal. Man bridges the gap between these two worlds.”
And so do writers.
A great week. Thanks all!
And back home last Saturday. A long drive, but the road across Wales is stunningly beaitful. There you go. Two weeks, three countries. I am one lucky girl.
(For more info on the chapel, rental rates etc, it has a website HERE)packed with photos. Squillions of them. Even the hot water tanks...(?)