Yesterday, I spent the day in heaven. I was surrounded by nature. I was in the company of creative writers with a passion for the written word. I was taught by a master of the craft.
Joy Winkler, the former Cheshire Poet Laureate, ran a masterclass in re-writing myths and legends with a modern twist, from the grounds of a beautiful National Trust Park.
From the minute I entered the gates of Tatton Park, I was inspired. The tree-lined driveway leads past reindeer, quietly grazing in the morning haze. It continues on to the impressive architecture of the old hall, then on through farmland. I actually stopped the car on the drive to have a “moment” with an adult deer, which stopped eating, looked up and made eye contact, gently tipping his head to one side as he did. By the time I got to the car park, I was peaceful, relaxed and ready for a day’s writing.
To add to my bliss, there is a very short walk through a tree canopied pathway, which is one of my favourite spots in the park.
As I turned onto the path, I was greeted by crowds of golden daffodils, with heads swaying in the breeze.
Pink and white blossom trees shed their petals as the wind rocked their branches. They fell like wedding confetti as I walked by.
Turning in to the stable courtyard, deep purples and violets burst from the filled planters, vibrant crimson crept up the exterior walls of the kitchen gardens.
What a welcome.
Reluctant to leave the fresh air and sunshine but excited to join the writers; I entered the classroom, which for today was a converted barn. A few people had arrived. There was a lovely atmosphere as everyone greeted each other and settled themselves down with cups of tea and coffee. Joy is a wonderfully personable lady, who has the comforting presence of an old friend, from the first moment you meet her.
She began her lesson in re-writing old myths and legends. She introduced the topic of our own family stories which had been handed down the generations, told and re-told perhaps by the fireside, perhaps as bedtime stories. Changing the time period, slowing the pace, embellishing with detailed descriptions were techniques discussed.
Following a writing exercise the group read out their work. I always enjoy hearing how others have interpreted the prompt. Their personalities are revealed by glimpses of their passions and fears, it’s fascinating to hear and observe.
I very quickly realised I was in the midst of very accomplished writers, people who loved their craft and were passionate lovers of literacy. I learnt more than expected from the lively conversation as we shared our experiences and knowledge. It was a dream to spend the day with book lovers and creative minds.
After lunch, a walk around the gardens, more writing, readings, and discussions, the day came to a close. Everyone was reluctant to leave. It was a perfect day, in the most wonderful surroundings, with the best company.
I’m very grateful to have been part of the magic and will treasure the memory – perhaps I may tell the tale to my children and grandchildren in years to come… with an added elf, monster, wizard and princess, of course.