So in the days of my die-hard trendy/muso friends ‘doing Glastonbury’ and my Harvey Nic’s darlings ‘doing Knightsbridge’ and of course my frayed-round-the-edges mummy friends ‘doing stuff with the kids’ and in some cases ‘doing the kids,’ well this weekend I ‘did Wentworth’ … although ‘went Wentworth’ sounds so much more hip/slang – yeah whatever! #coiningthatone Wentworth Castle is a glorious South Yorkshire venue – particularly basking, as it did, in the April sunshine. Everything looks so much more ethereal under a sunbeam. I had these notions of well turned out butlers and four-poster beds, of meandering the grounds a la Pride and Prejudice (80’s Lady Di blouses notwithstanding), and I was terribly excited for a weekend away to push my creativity to the extreme at the very least. Although all dreams of my luxurious first ‘kid-free weekend’ in over a year, were dashed ever so slightly on the drive over by my lovely travelling companion and old pal. Soph highlighted, from conversation with a previous Writing Retreater and mutual friend, Jason, that all was not quite as we’d perhaps anticipated.
The house and grounds far from disappoint – they are just as stunning, as foreboding and elegant as the online photos dictate. The gardens all the more so in their spring glory. Our rooms were located in the basic and functional Home Farm Cottages, and the restaurant was ‘school canteen style,’ not that I’ve any reason to complain. It was a weekend away and to be honest that alone was a draw after just over 2 weeks with my 3 delightful wards for the Easter hols. Back to school tomorrow folks (I’ll actually really miss them – but the peace and quiet will be a refreshing change)! I have to be honest, half a bottle of much deserved Prosecco down and I’m writing this with one eye open … after 3 days almost dry (the Blue Room bar at Wentworth was lacking in atmosphere, alcohol and access!) I can’t remember when my life was quite so sober, (not for a while admittedly) I’ve had 3 glasses of fizz in rather quick succession and I can’t lie – I’m seriously tipsy … I’d say I’m fizzalaciously toxic – but I’d receive a wrist slap (stop making up words Mrs W-F!). I’ve already had more than a few of those this weekend for self-depreciation, over use of adjectives and general weirdness tbh .. The fact that I just make up words when I can’t find anything suitable might be deemed a step too far! In this current state of mind I’d say bugger it – sometimes you just have so wing it! The weekend was heralded by none other than Alison taft, renowned for the accolade of her noveltastic abilities, wonderfully warm and personable (and definitely familiar – although we’ve not quite struck on where yet). Sadly on this occasion Alison wasn’t joined by her partner in prose, the very lovely James Nash (Poet and novelist extraordinaire). I have to say what a genuinely friendly and ridiculously talented bevvy of female talent. I was somewhat honoured to be a part of such an affable and able group. However, I fear that we all lost our inhibitions freely, pretty much from the outset! Our tongues liberated by the mutual joy of literature, laughter and gin … we swore like troopers, shared some wonderfully warm moments and were just generally game … Alison managed to cajole us into agreeing to anything and everything. Apparently I’m about to write a novel in a month (but not this one or the next one – I grant you!) … I’ve postponed all writing shenanigans of a record-breaking nature until the summer holidays, when free from academic regulations again, I can safely gaffer tape my three kids to the wall without them being black-marked for not making it through the school gates in an orderly fashion. I’m not daft am I? I’m thankful that, after having had the absolute shittiest start to the year, I’ve been dealt a wild card. I needed some ‘me time’ some time to get a grip of life, to find myself, to indulge myself and to get back on track and I can confidently say that this weekend I got it. This was that very opportunity. If I wasn’t so imbibed I’d say it was a minor epiphany in that sense – but unless I was drunk that would be ludicrous. I had moments of tears (far from emotionally inept I was moved by literary genius), moments of wonderful laughter (Jackie Onassis eat ya heart out), I made new friends, relished the old one, and I was given the motivation and the inspiration to continue in my endeavours and, quite frankly, that’ll do me! I was even roped in to reading the ‘posh bird’ role for a radio play (who knew I still had it in me) by an up and coming script-writer who I expect to hear over the airwaves some time soon. The fact that we’d actually ‘peaked’ in rehearsal was by the by (where were you Ms Taft!) … and after a slug of vodka the fact that for the ‘live’ presentation the special FX were ever so slightly out of time and/or the cues slightly lacking just added to the hilarity and audaciousness of the piece. I confidently sat ever so slightly off centre (I’d say stood up front because it sounds so much the better – but I can’t lie for toffee) in front of 9 brilliant literary talents and read out a chapter of my almost forgotten book-in-the-making AND I got incredibly positive and constructive feedback – enough to encourage me to continue and get the damn book finished. (Mr Nash you so know what I mean by WTFT and I will!)! I’m now blessed with having two wonderful renowned author mentors who are urging me to crack on. I promise that is very much what I intend to do. The thing that meant the most to me, this weekend, was that a number of these forthright and empowered women writers would have thought nothing of telling me, or indeed one another, that our offerings just didn’t cut the mustard. We were cocooned in that honesty and camaraderie that doesn’t come about very often and has to be earned and to be appreciated for sure. After a particularly shitty start to the year, I’m thinking this weekend was JUST what I needed; my turning point – my cornerstone (funny that I thought of that Alison Taft) but it’s true! I may have been reserved and somewhat flushed in my appearance this weekend – but I really didn’t miss a trick and I’m so pleased that I threw myself into it wholeheartedly. I’ve come away with a spring in my step and a well-heeled kick up the posterior. I intend to pursue my dreams with gusto…. albeit possible geared at 15 minutes a day! So, this weekend has proved that I still have the ability to make new friends (you can never have too many good ones) and I may well have a novel hidden deep inside somewhere (maybe just struggling a little to get out), oh and I don’t need ‘tights’ (It might be apt at this moment, as a woman of a certain age, to admit that I’m still totally baffled by the confessional ‘tights’ reference #in-joke ?) AND I have three new much coveted books to read! Let’s get cracking – that’s what I say! Alison Taft, as James Nash before her, reinforced the need for me, us, for everyone to read. It’s imperative to the development of a developing mind, imagination and expansion of literary talent – which I’m pleased to say I am still doing at a rate of approximately one book per week. However … on returning home, after discussing clutter and ‘shelf life’ today in class – I am truly abominated at the clutter and naffness of my #shelfie … something has to be done about this!! I suggest now I’ve shared mine you simply must share yours … maybe to my twitter feed @sjonlegs? My significant and ridiculously LOUD other is already snoring at the side of me (and has been doing for the past hour or more). I wonder if a long weekend of our three delightful offspring has taken its toll. Oh Daddy Daycare! Now, before I lose it completely … dinner money cheques must be written, uniforms dragged out from the depth of wardrobes and much needed sleep in my own bed! Soon peeps x #Shelfie #Scandal #Books #get reading