Personally planned and supervised by Gerry and Anne Hobbs, nothing is too much trouble for them. It runs from Sunday afternoon through to Friday morning, with no less than fourteen courses to choose from. I was leading one on the historical novel in the second half of the week, so in the first part I chose the painting course. I doubt I’ll be putting my picture on my wall but it was great fun to do, and my first effort with acrylics.
The course got off to a lively start with a most entertaining talk by Ray Allen (Some Mothers do 'ave 'em). I’ve heard him before but he never disappoints. On Monday afternoon Julie Cohen told us about her struggles to get published, her writing life, as well as letting us in on many of her writing secrets. She was a generous and lively speaker and I should think everyone would rush out to buy her wonderful books as a result. On Tuesday we listened to Leila and Ali Dewji tell us about their new publishing venture: Acorn Press. For anyone interested in going down the self-publishing route and needs support, they certainly seemed to have the necessary expertise.
Wednesday was excursion day, but I chose to visit the Roman Museum and baths in Caerleon itself, which were pretty impressive. Far bigger than I´d expected, and with such realistic sound effects I half expected to see a Roman diving in. I did, of course, manage to squeeze in a chocolate muffin and cup of tea somewhere along the way.
Here is John Townsend, children´s author, reading one of his delightful poems. I can quite see why children love his books so much. John specialises in writing for special needs.
After tea each day there were several interesting talks to choose from on a wide variety of topics, followed by Tai Chi for the enthusiasts among us.But there´s also plenty of time to share writing experiences, pick up tips, or just sit and chat.
On the last night, Thursday evening, we were royally entertained by the Cwmbach Male Choir, which made my heart soar. What power they possess in those wonderful Welsh voices. Afterwards they repaired to the bar to sing some more. This is only half of them as there were 60 in all.
150 delegates stay in single en-suite accommodation, albeit of the basic student variety, but perfectly adequate, and you can request a ground floor room if you wish. I clattered up an iron staircase to one on the third floor which was fine, next door to the kitchen so I could make myself a cup of tea or coffee whenever I wished. I’d recommend taking your own pillow if you can carry one, as only one was provided. And coat hangers seem rare, but other than that I had no complaints.
I came away stimulated and inspired, having had great fun, a catch-up with old friends and made many new ones as everyone is most welcoming. Oh, and I booked for next year.
For more information take a look here: